Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Marjorie May Campbell's Concluding Comments on her Ragtime Fool Husband

     I guess it worked out all right, me letting Mr. Karp write in my place the last two weeks. He finished up his California signing tour yesterday by getting put on a puddle-jumper airplane from San Francisco to Portland, and then on another one from Portland to Seattle. Me, I always swore I would never ride on one of those airplanes, and I never did. Even Brun wasn't such a fool, he'd do that. And then, last night, Mr. Karp got up at 3AM to drive his daughter, son-in-law, and grandson to the airport so they could go to Virginia for the son-in-law's brother's wedding. So, he's danged glad to have me filling in today. 
      Where I left off last time was when that Mr. Paul Affeldt came by with Mr. Spiller, they were going to make some acetate records of Brun playing ragtime. Brun was out in the garage, getting ready, so when Mr. Affeldt rang the bell, I told him he'd have to go back to the garage, 'cause that's where Brun's piano was. But then Mr. Affeldt started asking me questions about Brun, like when we were young, back in Oklahoma. I just told him I had nothing to say. I wasn't about to do ragtime or ragtime people any favors. They sure hadn't done any for me. 
        After that recording session, Brun was excited like I'd never seen him. He was sure this was going to be the big break he'd been waiting for. Him and Scott Joplin were going to be famous, and Brun and I were going to have all the money we could ever use. Fat chance, I told him, you get to be a bigger fool every day. And I was right. I don't know if Mr. Affeldt made anything off the records, but we never saw a nickel from them.  
      Back in November, 1952, when Brun was dying, he still wouldn't give up. Stubborn? Like no other man I've ever seen. He said that Scott Joplin used to tell people no one would appreciate his music for 25 years after he was dead, and Brun believed that was starting to happen. I didn't have the heart to tell him no matter how hard you a person might want some things to happen, that isn't going to make them happen. After Brun's funeral, I told our daughters, well, that's the end of that.
      Except it wasn't. I lived until 1988, and I saw and heard a lot of things. When nobody was around, I read that book, They All Played Ragtime, by Rudi Blesh, who you can read about in Mr. Karp's book. I'll sure tell you, it made me even gladder I didn't ever let those trashy ragtime people inside my house. But then one day, around 1970 or so, I heard some music on the radio that I thought was really beautiful. When the announcer said it was called "Maple Leaf Rag," by Scott Joplin, I almost had a conniption, but then the man said it was played by a person named Joshua Rifkin, who was a classical piano player, and he was playing it like a classical piece, which he said was what Joplin wanted. Now, I don't know if I believe that, but I figured Mr. Rifkin had to be pretty darn good if he could turn a piece of garbage into such beautiful music. And then, of course, I saw that movie, The Sting, in 1975, where it had Scott Joplin's ragtime music in the background. Which seemed right to me, because the movie was all about con artists and killers.
      These days, people can buy a CD record of Mr. Affeldt's acetate discs, with Brun playing piano and having an interview. There's other piano players who've made CDs of Brun's music, too, and some of them call themselves "Brun's Boys" (which I doubt they would do if they ever really were Brun's boys). I bet wherever Brun is now, he's laughing, and saying, "So, who's the fool?"
      I knew Brun was different from all my other beaux, but I thought maybe I could change him. So, I guess that does make me the biggest fool of all. I'm glad Mr. Karp wrote this book, The Ragtime Fool, and it's my hope that every young woman in the country will read it, and let what happened to me serve as an example to them not to be foolish like I was about choosing a husband. And I thank Mr. Karp for letting me write this down on his blog.

      You're welcome, Mrs. Campbell. And thank you for being willing to appear in my book.

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