He seemed old to me at the time. No, not like that. It had not occurred to me that he was teaching little kids because that was all he could do at that time in his life, that he was not prepared for the day when the phone no longer summoned him to the next clarinet gig.
I looked forward to these Summer Saturday afternoons. The bus ride to downtown Camden was fairly familiar. I made the trip often with my mother.
And once by myself.
When I was nine, I was to sing on a Camden radio program. A talent show on WKDN. Unbelievably, by myself, I negotiated the trip, the conversation with the piano accompanist, “Please transpose the sheet music up a whole step,” and eventually, the host of the program.
“A, you’re adorable. B, you’re so beautiful. C, you’re a cutie full of charm. D, you’re a darling. E, you’re exciting. F, you’re a feather in my arms…”
Getting off the bus downtown started the second leg of lesson day. I would first pass Camden Catholic High School. In four years I would be roaming the ”Freshman Halls.”
The mile walk down Broadway to Gordon’s Music Store brought colorful events from both sides of the street. Some days I would walk down one side of the street and then back up the other side — so as not to miss looking in any windows.
The small studio shared with Mr. Bossle for the 1/2 hour lesson was a capsule to another world.The window on the wall by him looked down a shady street like a balmy, peaceful gauntlet.
He must have felt comfortable enough with me to spend quite a bit of the time relating, reliving his musical experiences — and there were many. And they were often breathtakingly interesting. (He played with John Phillip Sousa.)
Events of a different time captivated me. Everything was so different. Life passed by slower.
The Klose clarinet book was thorough. If one followed the regimen, one would emerge on the other side, skilled. One would be prepared to join the food-chain approximately below actors but above bartenders.
Some of the first Saturdays were spent maneuvering around the kind of lesson that would be mine. We must have decided I would benefit by the forthcoming time-travel, so Mr. Bossle’s stories continued to amaze me.
Mother and dad’s Benny Goodman recordings prepared me to recognize and play impeccable eighth notes. So, mostly, I could show Mr. Bossle some progress every week. Even the smallest problem solved would be enough for both of us.