Throw-back Correspondence

I had a nostalgic moment. I seem to have a lot of those, but this one was classic, or, rather, in the classical sense of nostalgia.

I play the accordion. I’m not very good at it, have only been playing for a little more than three years, and there’s a lot to learn. I stopped taking lessons this year because it was just too traumatic to get to the lessons on time with the other demands on my time. I really thought I’d be better at studying on my own, and I have, but now I miss learning new things, other than the songs. So I began searching for books on how to play the accordion.

I’ve already bought most of the books on the subject, and there’s quite a few at the beginner’s end of the scale, a couple at the very highest end, but next to nothing in between. There are intermediate song books, but no explanation on how to play those songs.

I kept searching. Depending on the phrasing used, I’d get most of the same old stuff, or some links to what seemed to be very expensive DVD-based lessons of various styles. Today I stumbled on the right combination of search terms, and discovered a review of “Fingering the Accordion” by Robert L. Smith. I immediately ordered it.

Here’s the interesting part: it seems to be self-published, and the only contact information was a name and address posted on the reviewer’s web page. I did specific searches of the title and the author, thinking I could order it on, or eBay, or, or, but there were no other traces of the book on the internet. Spooky, right?

I doubted the veracity only for an instant. I wrote out the check. addressed the envelope, and wrote a note by hand to explain my interest in the book. That was the cool part for me, writing a note and ordering something with a letter.

In fifth grade, our teacher (Mrs. Perkins) put us through some exercises in Social Studies wherein we would write letters to our Congressman, Senator, and the President to see what we would get back. It was a lot of fun, and, sure as hell, we got neatly typed letters in return on some serious weight stock.

I also was a big proponent of ordering dumb-ass things out of the back of comic books, or from cereal boxes. My greatest acquisition was probably a Quisp ray gun that actually shot a cloud of talcum powder, but looked really cool, or the Cap’n Crunch milkshake set, or maybe the Willie Wonka chocolate factory kit. Each of those involved the envelope, a small amount of money, and writing a letter to explain things, as my teacher taught me, to ensure it’d arrive safely, rather than relying on those tiny little order forms.

I got a real kick out of writing a letter, explaining what I wanted, and stuffing that into an envelope. In three days, the letter will arrive in California, and Mr. Smith will rip it open, see my check, and begin his order fulfillment process. Perhaps in ten days, I will have his book on accordion fingering techniques in my hands.

Because Mr. Smith does not have a web presence, it seemes doubtful that he is egomaniacal enough to constantly google himself. If he did, he might see this blog entry before my letter arrives, and so he might have my order prepared and just waiting for the check to arrive.