This is a true story...
It was Christmas Eve, 1977. I had made up my mind to buy my wife a fiddle, but my funds, as always, were limited. I knew nothing about violins; I still don't. But I knew the difference a decent guitar can make to a new player and so I was a bit discouraged by the the fiddles I had found for the price I could afford...
On that Christmas Eve I was chatting with man on the subway about Christmas and presents, and he asked me if I had been to Weaver's Violins downtown. I said, no, I'd never heard of it. I've been looking in the folkie places, the places I knew best. After work I took the subway up and found Weaver's, I think it was on 13th Street then.
Well, it was a violin shop all right. It was the sort of violin shop, however, where the violins cost more than houses in the suburbs. I was ignorant of course, so I strolled up asked the price of the violin in the case in front the older gentlemen standing there. He looked me over, and answered rather flatly, "$35,000". He was, I found later, Mr. Weaver himself, and he turned away to help another customer whom he seemed to greet as an old friend. Clearly I was in the wrong place. I began to circle the shop as if actually looking at the violins, keeping up appearances, but I was headed for the door.
On my way out I passed the repair shop and peeked in. A young man looked up from the violine he was working on and smiled and asked if he could help me. I said thanks but I'm afraid I'm a bit out of place here. He asked me why and I told him that I was looking for a violin for my wife but not one as expensive as they sold. He asked if I played, and I told him about my folk music and that my wife had expressed an interest to learn the fiddle. I hoped, I told hime, that we would be able to make music together.
While we talked I was watching him change the bridge on a violin and I asked about the different shape of the bridge, and I sat down on the chair opposite him while he explained. We chatted for a few minutes about the difference between the setup for fiddling as opposed to violin playing, but finally I rose to leave and was about to say goodbye, when he said,
"Wait, how much money do you have?"
"Well, I only have $200 dollars."
He looked at me for a moment, and then he went to a nearby shelf and brought back a violin and handed it to me. It was gorgeous. It felt well-balanced, the wood was lovely and the finish beautiful.
"Could you play it for me?" I asked, handing it back. He did so. It had a beautiful tone.
"You'll need a bow as well."
I'm sitting there speechless as he puts the violin in a case along with the bow he had used, and then he motioned for me to follow and led me back out into the shop. He lcrossed to where Mr. Weaver stood, handed him the case, and said,
Mr. Weaver looked at him and then at me, and then opened the case.
"You're giving him this violin. Why?"
And he did. So you see there is Christmas magic. It happened to me.
Merry Christmas to all my Mudcat friends. with affection. Fortunato