Various Veins

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It's a little unnecessary to plug the Tillsonburg Senior Centre Christmas concert coming up on Tuesday, 17 November.

The tickets were pretty well all sold when I went to pick up some last week. The show begins at 7:30 p.m. Sometimes tickets get turned in at the last minute. You can always check on that.

Director Rachel Parker gave us fits at the end of last practice.

"There's been a major change," she announced.

It concerns a number that morphs through a whole string of key changes. You know about my hearing disability and can guess how well I followed her her explanation!

I'll handle it. Once I sort it out I have my own way of showing which notes I'm to follow, and what they sound like.

Then there are voices behind me pushing me into harmonizing.

I'm going to write about something told to me by a choir member last week. It illustrates the complexity of lives of people as they make their way through the years, and how one of the men in our choir played a pivotal part in history.

Martien Huiberts was in the Dutch forces in World War II. After peace was declared, a group of Dutch soldiers, including Martien were sent to help lay up the Berlin Wall.

A light American aircraft was sighted flying toward the area. The crew was not responding to radio requests form the controllers. Someone asked Martien if he could help. He could. He pulled the lead out of a socket and inserted it into the right one.

Some of you may, like me, remember the flap as this event unfolded before the world. It had completely faded from memory until Martien began to repeat it.

How in the world did you come to get on this topic, you may ask.

Martien looks after the library at the Senior Centre. I was watching him as he shelved books. I had just read a novel by Anthony Doerr, called "All the Light We Cannot See."

One of the characters found a discarded crystal set in some garbage. He was living in a home for kids with no parents. It was in the mining city of Essen which provided Germany with the coal to power its war machine. As soon as a boy was 15 he was sent into the pits, no choice. The boy spent many hours learning how the radio worked, and how to increase its power with odds and ends he scavenged.

Word of his ability to repair radio sets spread. One evening a corporal came to the house and asked to see the radio boy. The boy was led to a mansion belonging to a high ranking officer and his wife.

The officer's wife was lounging barefoot in a den. Her husband took the lad into a room where he was shown the most beautiful radio he'd ever seen. and directed to fix it.

Pulling up a stool behind the cabinet, the boy removed the back and began tracing the paths of wires and tubes as they led from the antenna toward the tuner. He touched nothing. He saw two broken places in the last coil, carefully unwound the wires, rejoined them and rewound the armature. He pressed the power button and the room was filled with the richest harmony he'd ever heard.

The wife said, "He fixed it without touching it!"

The officer arranged to have the radio boy entered in a Hitler Youth school. You can't waste a talent like that in a coal mine! But he had to compete in brutal competitions. Eventually he was sent to find and destroy secret radios in Russia. Of course it meant killing lot of operators.

No room to follow this heart-rending story any further here. I strongly urge you to read it for yourself.




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