Remembering Emil and Christmas

Published 10:00 pm Thursday, December 22, 2016

Garland and Fran Goodwin (Photo by Kathy Woodham)

Garland and Fran Goodwin (Photo by Kathy Woodham)

I cannot say with certainty that I ever met Emil Frohlich, but I can say that I tuned pianos for the Frohlich extended family in a house built for them by my late friend A. L. “Red” Ravan of Landrum. In talking with Emil’s wife, Cindy, I learned that Ravan not only built houses for them, but became a cherished lifelong friend.

Bommer Spring Hinges brought jobs to Landrum much as Adams-Millis did to Tryon. In talking with Peter, I learned that Bommer Industries (the company’s present name) has about a hundred employees, all valued as friends. The senior Frohliches knew all of them, including their spouses and children, by their first names. Bommer is the kind of family business that I like to think of as being typical in America, like the proverbial “boy next door,” and that is why I honor Emil’s memory in this column.

Our Christmas seasonal activity continues. We enjoyed yet another Community Chorus program, this one led by the multi-faceted and talented Leslie Bush. Continuing the Chorus tradition of bringing in other people to upstage them, this year it was the Cathedral Brass. Hank Sibley filled in on trombone from his position among the choristers in the stands. And since it was “An English Christmas,” Queen Elizabeth (our own Elizabeth Gardner, of course) put in an appearance as we sang the National Anthem of the UK, “God Save the Queen.” Easy enough, because we sing “America” to the same tune.  

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Dr. Elizabeth Child lent her hands to the treble end of the big Steinway to help Pam McNeil get even more music from it for the first two numbers. One year she offered a piano solo version of “What Child is this?” and I just had to write “Why, it’s our Beth!” Dr. Child also played the second piano added for Orff’s Carmina Burana another year.

If you are not already a member of the Chorus or its audience, I hope you will realize from these comments what you are missing and will make amends. One hundred percent of your ticket purchase funds the Rotary scholarships awarded to local students.

Columbus Lions who attended our Christmas party were asked to bring food items for Thermal Belt Outreach. We filled the cargo area of our Vue (some 70 pounds) and delivered those eats to the Outreach pantry. We also delivered four large garbage bags of similarly donated jackets, coats and afghans to the WNC Lions’ Marjorie McCune (assisted living) Center in Black Mountain along with individual Christmas cards for their 75 residents. I also tuned their pianos, one of which I helped Priscilla Eichelberger donate to them when she closed her home on Miller Mountain some years ago.

When we stopped for breakfast on our way up to McCune Center, we met a man wearing a Santa hat who was a ringer for Fran’s late brother, Mitch. I addressed him as “Mr. Claus” and Fran opened her jacket to reveal the self-portrait that Mitch painted on a sweatshirt for her. I had also struck up a conversation with a telephone lineman in from the cold who knows Ken Williams. All agreed that this Mr. Claus definitely resembled Mitch’s painting and we went our ways happy that we had shared a Merry Christmas moment.

Christmas is indeed a time of sharing the love of Christ with family, friends and even strangers in our midst. I have shared it and felt it as one who was family, friend and stranger to those around me over many years. My hope is that you will also experience the love and joy that Christmas brings.