Friday, November 25, 2011


At a young age William W. "Duke" Simpson and Roseline Marie "Rose" Simpson did their utmost to infuse a strong work ethic and clear sense of responsibility into their five children. By the time we were in our early teens, my siblings and I were adept at managing a small gas station and accompanying second hand store. Although, at the time, I suspected our parents might be running afoul of child labor laws, I am now forever grateful for their insistence that we learn small business administration from the ground up. Much of our time was spent pumping gas, changing tires, drinking grape soda and Pepsi packed with peanuts, filling propane bottles, loading and unloading used furniture, eating Twinkies and chips and interacting with customers. When we were not devouring the profits, we were actually working quite hard.

I recall that at the time Duke showed up with an antique Motorola phonograph neatly contained in a suitcase style container. It was to be to sold in the second hand store, but I coveted it. After an animated debate, I finally won my bid to own it. Although most of the revenues we obtained through our work related efforts were put toward growing the family business, we assistant managers were granted a small stipend for our efforts and almost always had a copper or two in our pockets. Once I obtained the player, the next logical step toward musical bliss was to amass a record collection. Rose, however, forbade me to join the Columbia House Record Club. I remember her saying something about responsibility and financial commitment.

No problem! The friend of a friend was willing to sell me an entire collection of used albums, at a discounted rate, just to help me get started. The Black Market! I blew my entire savings on that deal, and in doing so learned several of life's most valuable lessons. First, and most importantly, the term "used" is most often associated with "scratch and dent." It was also as a result of that deal that I realized it is usually best to pick and choose, paying a slightly higher price for the good stuff, instead of buying it all cheaply and winding up with a few good pieces and a load of unusable junk. The only good that came from that deal was the song Brandy from a one hit wonder band by the name of Looking Glass and the fantastic Carol King album Tapestry.

As far as I know, Carol King never released her interpretation of the song. She, like many great artists, left that to the imagination of the listener. The song is definitely mysterious and, to me, speaks of Christianity, the Father and the Son, the passing of time and the loss of innocence. It seems to speak of the tapestry of life, and the threads that combine to make it whole. Those threads often fray and have to be unbound and rewoven to make the creation a thing of beauty. It is a song of dreams and desires, and of living a life of promise. I believed it was a great message and I played that song and Carol's album until the record was completely woren out.

It was Tapestry, and my initiation to it, that popped into my head when I first heard of the passing of a dear friend.

My life has been a tapestry of rich and royal hue
An everlasting vision of the ever changing view
A wondrous woven magic in bits of blue and gold
A tapestry to feel and see, impossible to hold.

Edith Martin

Edith Martin was a believer, a wife, a mother, a weaver and an artist. Her heart gave out at the age of forty, and she will be greatly missed.

As I watched in sorrow, there suddenly appeared
A figure gray and ghostly beneath a flowing beard
In times of deepest darkness, I've seen him dressed in black
Now my tapestry's unraveling, he's come to take me back
He's come to take me back."

It is lucky for us that Edith's tapestries remain, are possible for her family and friends to hold, and will not be unraveling any time soon. Go forth Edith and worry not, you will be remembered well.

Sincerely Barry Simpson

No comments: