Gregg Bender's “Music Manor rocked city” (May 30) sure brought back a flood of memories for me. Allow me to add more to the story, as I was one of those legions of devoted customers.
I knew and dealt with both Shorty Cook and Pat Paxson; amazingly, I even know Pat's actual name.
Recently, friends and I had a discussion about who from our past we'd most like to find on Facebook. After some thought, we decided: Pat.
Pat was lord of the manor – Music Manor, that is. When I bought my first guitar in 1979, there were three major camps for guitar players. You had the Taulbee shoppers, the Guy Zimmerman shoppers and the Music Manor shoppers. I bought from both of the latter, but was first and foremost a Music Manor patron.
As we've read, Music Manor tended to have somewhat lower prices, and overall the coolest gear – Marshall amps, Peavey amps, Gibson and Fender guitars, and about any effect pedal you could name.
Located in a converted house, the front room and porch were the shop. Shorty Cook and his wife lived in the back and upstairs part. Pat worked for Cook, and predominantly ran the store.
Pat's assistant and porch area guard was the Beast. The Beast consisted of two jaws made from foam acoustic insulation, and somewhat fierce eyes. Two stern warnings for the unwary were posted at the porch entrance: “Do not enter, or the Beast will attack” and “Please don't feed the Beast.”
Not being an idiot, I followed both instructions to the letter!
I remember distinct levels of hierarchy for Music Manor customers. Lowest was the non-customer. Those were such idiots that Pat weeded them out immediately.
If you came in looking for MIDI equipment, touched a guitar or went into the front porch area without asking, or proclaimed that anyone Pat didn't care for was the world's greatest guitar player, that was all for you. (I was lucky. On my first visit, I said I was looking for a Les Paul-style guitar because Ace Frehley of Kiss and the guys in Thin Lizzy played those. I was in. I learned a lot about spotting dolts from Pat.)
Next was the basic customer, then the repeat customer. After that, your status sort of climbed exponentially.
Pat drank Pepsi, and would occasionally send someone in the shop down the street to get him one. You'd finally achieved status when Pat sent you to get him his Pepsi.
The next level up was even better: Pat would dispatch someone to get a Pepsi for both himself and you. At that point, you just knew you'd arrived.
Think Jeff Beck is reclusive? You'd have better odds of seeing him play than you would Pat.
I actually got to see Pat play in a band one night. He was helping out some friends of his. The band's name escapes me, but the show took place in the basement of the old Calvary Temple on Clinton Street. They had two women drummers, who alternated through the set. Material was mostly originals, but Pat got them to throw in one cover. I think it was a Thin Lizzy tune, but I forget which.
Pat had two other traits I remember vividly.
First, Pat always wore jeans with a long-sleeved shirt, and sometimes a leather jacket. Always. Summer or winter, I never saw him in anything else. If he ever dies, you can bet he won't be laid out in a suit. No funeral director worth his salt would leave out Pat's leather jacket.
Second, Pat was what I'd call “of indeterminate age.” Like Johnny Winter, you just had no idea how old he might really be. Pat's true age must have been the Fort Wayne music scene's best-kept secret. I don't believe he looked any older the last time I saw him than when we first met.
One day I happened to stop by just as he was leaving to go gun shopping. Pat asked me to go along, and I wasn't about to decline. Off we went to the dealer's, where Pat picked out one or two items.
While he filled out the paperwork, I had a chance to peek at his license. What I read will not be revealed here, but I will say that as soon as I saw it, I almost wished I hadn't.
Knowing Pat's age made him seem more ordinary and less legendary, if that makes any sense. I like the legendary image of my friend better.
So if you remember Pat or anyone like him, raise a glass with me. “To those who walk their distinct path, and teach us to find our own!”
Brian Davies is a lifelong Fort Wayne resident and occasional guitarist.