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[personal profile] tyrsalvia
Back in the early 1960s, Ma Bell had an informal employee jug band made up of (mostly) ladies from the (all manual) billing department. They didn't have anywhere to go during their lunch breaks, so one of them who happened to have a ukulele asked if the others wanted to play. One had a ukulele from her grandmother that she didn't know how to play, and another couple bought them, and then someone made a washtub bass, and pretty soon there were 10 of them jamming on the patio every day at lunch. They called themselves The Gut-Tub Banjo Ukulele Band.

They got to be pretty good, practicing every day like that. Eventually, when the company would throw parties for them when they did really well at work, they'd get booked to play. Ma Bell built them a small stage, and they'd play parties and coffee breaks. My Aunt Joann played the washboard. Many of them sang.

As the years went by, enough people transferred to different departments that they gave it up for a while. But then, people started to retire, and they had a lot of free time. That first woman with the ukulele called them up and asked it maybe they wanted to get together every couple of months and play. And so they did. And then, a friend asked to join, and then somebody's husband, and someone else's cousin. They got to be more than 20 people, alternating houses every other month to spend one day eating and talking and laughing and singing and playing songs on their strange and improvised instruments.

Most of them are in their 70s now. They have arthritis, and can't hold the frets on the banjo-ukulele so well anymore. My aunt has died, as have several others; still others are too sick to go. Those that do go don't sing so well anymore. But still, they stay connected, see each other and talk and laugh and keep up the energy of The Gut-Tub Banjo Ukulele Band.

Date: 2013-09-21 10:00 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] karenbynight.livejournal.com
This is a wonderful story.

September 2013

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