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13 August 2009

Remembering Les Paul and Frances Fanelli Dunphy

Larry just told me about the death of Les Paul, whom we saw in 2002 at the Iridium in New York (two years before this picture was taken per AP), while in town for the BookExpo at Jacob Javits Convention Center.
That was a serendipitous occasion. Larry was reading one of those visitors' bureau publications put into the hotel room for guests' information for "things to do" (yes, and we didn't even need to fire up a laptop), and he said, "Look, Les Paul is playing. I didn't even know he was still alive." So, we had to go. Already dark, of course, as it was after 9pm on a June night. Walked down Broadway, enjoying the hustle & bustle and lights of New York City at night. Nearly passed the unobtrusive entrance to the jazz club with a lone attendant at the door. Paid the cover charge. Walked into a room where all the light was focused on the stage on which Les Paul sat on a chair with his guitar in lap with two much younger musicians accompanying him. The audience sat at small tables in almost total darkness not more than a few feet away. And, except to respond to the show (ripple of laughter, round of applause), in attentive silence (I recall little of that chit-chat you usually hear in clubs during live music). It was a very intimate setting, and an enjoyable and moving time, being in the presence of a living legend.

Let me also take this moment to mention the memory of Frances Fanelli Dunphy who passed away one year ago Tuesday (11 Aug 2008). I like to think we had a tiny bit in common. We celebrated Mother's Day together, two women who had borne no children yet were (still am) quietly proud and loving grandmothers. She had a rich life, enjoying playing cards and participating in so many groups and extension classes. I loved hearing stories and talking with her about her childhood in Amboy, IL, her stint in the Coast Guard during WWII, her family including her brother who died in The War, her sisters, nieces and nephews, the Fanelli Candy Store where she worked after school (she especially liked assignment to the Dixon branch shop where there was a soda fountain),... And she made the best fruit pies -- especially crust which "makes" the pie. She used to make a special one to order for a family member's birthday. Since Larry's b-day is in February, he once asked for a raisin pie, instead of one made of frozen or canned fruits. I had never heard of a raisin pie until I met Larry and then, Frances. We all miss you, Frances.

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