Blog Article

He played music in the street, now he plays in the House!

What were you doing in eighth grade? Likely playing ball, making tree forts and going to school. For our American House Wildwood resident Bob, that was the year he started his first band! Having had accordion lessons and gotten pretty good, starting a band seemed the obvious next step. Bob’s parents purchased the squeezebox with the caveat he pay them back. His aunt, a music teacher, saw some talent in him and offered free lessons. Before long, Bob was playing street corners in his hometown of St. Louis, making enough to pay back his parents and pay for his own lessons. “If you like something, you pursue it, and sometimes it pays off,” Bob says.

Later in his teens, he hit the big time. He had a regular Saturday morning radio show. It wasn’t long before Bob discovered the attraction of music to the opposite sex. “There wasn’t a pretty woman around that didn’t know I played on the radio!” he chuckles. Bob liked the money he was making and was having fun. He teamed up with a drummer and the duo, Bob & Larry, became popular in St. Louis.

Through the years, the accordion remained a steady partner in Bob’s life. After his early street corner days, there were the St. Louis streetcars. He even played on trucks! After talking with a St. Louis man who owned a ghost town, Bob was hired as entertainment. “He put me on a bus on Saturday mornings, and I would sit in the back and play for the tourists. Then, I’d play on the hayrides once we got there,” he laughs.

As Bob got older, the vehicles just got bigger . . . much bigger. He played on a naval transport, his home for four years in the service. “Wherever the troops went, I went.” Like the early days attracting girls with his playing, his accordion had added benefits. “I became very popular with my pals in the service. When we were broke, I’d pawn the accordion for money,” hastening to add, “I always got it back!” His son is currently the proud owner of the accordion that played around the world.

Bob segued to piano and lost count of the number of dance halls he performed in. “I did play a lot of dance halls, but also spent 45 years as a church organist,” Bob adds with a chuckle, “kind of evens things out, if you know what I mean!”

About 10 years ago, he began playing at American House Wildwood. The community welcomed him warmly, and it wasn’t long before his friend and partner, Judy, suggested he make it his home. A regular for sing-a-longs, Bob, over time has woven himself into the fabric of the community, playing while people gather for their daily meal. After so many years from streets to vehicles and beyond, Bob’s found happiness tickling the ivories at American House. My goal here is to put a smile on the people’s faces,” he adds, “It feels good to be able to make people happy.”

We all have a story. A story that taught us something, changed us and helped define who we are. At American House, your next chapter is waiting to be written. We’re here to help you write it. Your way.

Written By

Lori Bender

Bringing over 20 years of writing experience to American House, Lori has worked in every aspect of advertising and produced award-winning websites. She earned a Journalism degree from Central Michigan University.

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