The Tone Pitch Pipe
One of my favorite memories is going to church on Sunday. Especially dear to me is the memory of my grandpa pitching songs with this Tone Pitch Pipe and singing in the church choir.
My grandpa loved the church and devoted his life in service to its mission. It was a small country church with very few members. There were times when he was the only person to show up on Sunday morning. Although heartbroken because of the lack of interest, he didn’t lose faith. Knowing in his heart that he wasn’t really alone, he sang Amazing Grace and worshipped before going back home. Gradually the church began to grow. Partly, I believe, because of his steadfast hopes and prayers.
Even when the church membership grew into 60 members, there were numerous times when there wasn’t a pianist to play for the choir. My grandpa would always have his Tone Pitch Pipe in the left pocket of his shirt. He knew about music, that was for sure. Looking at the song they were about to sing, he would determine the appropriate key and gently blew into it to get the right pitch. In my mind, I can see him now as he sang those shaped notes, “Do, Re, Me,” and so on, up to the note that the song began in. Then we would all join in and sing with him.
My grandpa usually sang bass, but when our choir leader wasn’t present, grandpa would take his place in front of the choir and become our leader. When I think back, I remember grandpa’s faithfulness and the Tone Pitch Pipe. Even my son remembers. Although small at the time, he knew when there wasn’t a pianist present and he would say, “Blow your horn Pa.”
For a while after grandpa’s death, I didn’t mention my attachment to the Tone Pitch Pipe. Later visiting with my grandma, I asked her for it if no one had mentioned wanting it and if she didn’t mind parting with it herself. Without any reservation on her part, it became mine.
I realize that memories are a part of all of us. Mine of grandpa will always be a part of me. The Tone Pitch Pipe has a special place in my home and in my heart.
In remembrance of William (Ed) Johnson, devoted Christian, husband, father and grandpa.
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