I was going to write a post this morning about the speed of sound, and I may yet, but then I learned of the passing of two real institutions.
When I started to play guitar in the late 1970s, it was on a cheapie that my mother had bought and never learned to play. I used the lens from an old pair of sunglasses as a pick on the nylon-stringed beast. When I got marginally better, I went to Schmitt Music and bought myself a used Ovation guitar (mine was the un-electrified, clear-finished version of the one in the photo).
That guitar was made in New Hartford, Connecticut, by a company that also made–among other things–blades for helicopters. Ovations are unique instruments, having a bowl back made of “lyrachord,” a plastic material, instead of having wooden backs and sides. The necks are made of laminated wood, and Ovation also introduced the idea of piezo-electrified acoustic sound to a broad audience. Cat Stevens played an Ovation. Boston’s trademark spaceship was based on an Ovation. In the ’70s, they were everywhere, and they still are the choice of performers worldwide.
I have bitterly regretted selling my Ovation Country Artist for over thirty years.
Today, I heard on the radio that Fender, which bought Ovation not long ago, has decided to shut down the Connecticut factory. Ovations will now be made in China and shipped to the US. A damn shame, in my opinion.
The other institution is a man named Farley Mowat.
In case the name doesn’t ring a bell, he’s the guy who wrote Never Cry Wolf. He was an acquaintance of my parents, who grew up in Canada, and I read Wolf at a very young age, and again more recently.
I knew from remarks in Wolf that Mowat had served in WWII, but it was only a few months ago that I learned that he was an intelligence officer, and that he had helped to save thousands of lives when, near the end of the war, he negotiated with the enemy to permit food drops to civilians.
So I feel a bit older and a bit sadder this morning. I’ll come back to the speed of sound a bit later.