What the heck? My dad, a hard working government administrator, upright, publicly non-political, fedora-wearing, came in the front door every day after work. Just to the left of the entry of our moderately upscale tract house was the front closet. It was mostly for the winter stuff and the vacuum cleaner. He stowed his fedora in there on the top shelf, closed the door, and entered the family room.
There was other stuff up there; the hats that completed our brownie uniforms for example, and there was much similar in the basement in the fiber drums we brought home from Japan. We girls were pretty much low circulating hurricanes as we destroyed all that stuff. My mother’s old dolls. The “Little Big Books”, whatever.
Looking for mittens or a scarf, one day I found an amazing plastic thing. I got used to it being in there, in a little box, but don’t think there was any discussion about it. It was just there.
Why did dad save this? He was not musical in any way. He did not sing in church; he just stood there. And why did we not destroy this as we did everything else? Well, it was kind of out of reach on the shelf, and who would know how to play with this thing?
Turns out every soldier during WWII was issued one on their way to Europe. My dad was only old enough for the occupation, and it seems then that the administration should be most worried about the men. Not enough to do, when you simply “occupy”. The Army must have had a great musical notion. Dreams of an ocarina band of 25,000! Can you imagine? How about the ocarina salesman who got THAT order from the US Army! Art goes mainstream, for sure!
Well I know that my father was not playing his ocarina ALL the time. He had a French girlfriend over there. I think the ocarinas were given to counteract the French girlfriends; such a pure time in which to have lived!
Our book group went to see my friend Janet Kozachek to look around her studio. Aside from being a brilliant painter, she has fun making mosaics, Chinese (it would be sumi-e if Japanese) pen and ink drawings of tango couples, books, wonderful pattern on pattern pencil drawings. And ocarinas from local clay.
Janet sent me the above image, and describes its features: