Dad's Memories

Hock Shops Galore in NYC

- 08 May 98 - 08 May 98

I was working downtown in the Insurance Co. when Art & Pete Ledwith invited me to help out as an Instructor for the St Thomas Aquina Band. The church sponsored the Band - paid for the Instruments and uniforms out of their Bingo Game profits.

Knowing that I was downtown, Fr. Fleckner asked me to check the Pawn Shops in the area for any instruments that were in good shape. Lower Broadway, and the streets all around that section was a mecca for Hock shops. I'd window shop on my lunch hour (45 minutes) and found lots of fine Horns available for $10 or $15 - 'cept I didn't have that kind of pocket money. So the good Fr. set me up with $20 bucks to pick up whatever looked pretty good.

I stayed with the Brass - Cornets, Alto horns, Baritones, and Trombones - lucked into some very nice horns too. Got so a few of the Pawnshop Operators knew what I was after when I'd walk in the shop. Sometimes they'd have a good instrument - not yet available, had to keep them for the owner to get it out of hock for a definite period before putting them out for "sale". And I got some I liked enuff to hold onto for myself for a while before taking them to the good Fr.

Had one French Trumpet - A Courtoise, rotary valve horn. Not really special for tonal quality, but a rarity - I used that for Dance jobs - Beer garden gigs mostly, 'till it dissapeared when we moved to another house, along with a rare small Trombone pitched like a B-flat Trumpet. No use complaining to the Moving Company.

Musicians sure must have been down on their luck pretty often to be hocking their instruments so regularly - the party atmosphere at most jobs led to trouble very easily.

Along that line--the 101st Band had several fellows out of a Bklyn Orphanage, good musicians and Most of my Dance work was with them - anywhere from 4 pc Beer Garden work to 10 pc Hotel jobs. One fellow played either Tenor Sax, or Piano on different gigs. In between times he'd just play Piano at a bar as long as they kept him supplied with beer, no money - just all the beer he wanted. I don't think he had a long or rosy future ahead. Too bad, cause he was a nice guy, besides being a crackerjack musician.

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