Back in 1943, when I was fourteen years old, I worked, after
school, in a musical instrument repair shop, on the corner of
Broadway and 48th Street. At around that time (World War II)
my boss's partner, Julie Zefferblatt, joined the Glen Miller
Army Band, as Glen Miller's Secretary. When the band got to Paris,
France, Julie made contact with the Van Dorn Family, who manufactured
reeds for clarinets and saxophones. When he visited the family,
Julie brought them several dozens of fresh eggs, a very rare
treat in wartime Europe. He had gotten them from the army mess
hall. In return, he was given 500 bamboo reeds. During the war,
bamboo reeds were not available here; plastic reeds were being
being submitted. Julie sent the 500 reeds to my boss, Irving
Kirshner, and the word soon got around among the top musicians.
Benny Goodman and Sammy Kaye, amongst others, came to the shop,
to buy their reeds from Irving. I met them all! Artie Shaw, at
that time, had just gotten out of the Navy, and his first booking
was at the New York Strand Theatre, on Broadway and 47th Street.
He heard about the reeds, and ordered 50 clarinet reeds. I was
assigned to deliver them to his dressing room. I'll never forget
how excited I was! Just imagine a 14-year-old kid delivering
something of importance to his idol!