Thursday, June 9, 2011

"Well, That's A Heavy Price To Pay, I Said, For A Vinyl Cooler!"

Mr. Junior Martin talking that accordion talk...
At the Louisiana Folk Art Tent, I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Clarence"Junior" Martin, who for over thirty years has created accordions for all those who want to "play a harmonica with your fingers." I stood there incredulous listening to the man speak about Cajun music, accordion building and his wife's obsession with all things Coca-Cola.

The sketch I drew is a pretty good likeness of Junior and I am quite satisfied with the overall sketch except it doesn't begin to show all the many kinds of instruments he had available to purchase or just peruse. I wouldn't be a bit surprised if Lawrence Welk owned a few of these babies. While standing around looking at his instruments and listening to him speak, his lovely wife came over to me and asked me if I was interested in selling my red vinyl cooler that housed nothing but a six pack of Dasani water.

"Why would you want to buy this silly thing?", I asked.

"Because, she replied, I collect Coke memorabilia and I have never seen one like the one you have with you!" Would you be willing to sell it to me?"

She then proceeded to tell me how she lost all of her Coca-Cola memorabilia in a fire years ago and has, once again, started up a new collection. I jokingly told her that I'd offer Junior a trade of one of his squeeze boxes for this wonderful red Coke cooler with a picture of polar bears drinking Coke on an iceberg. She said that he might just take me up on that trade knowing how much it would mean to her. She said it, of course, with a wink of her eye.

I proceeded over to Junior's work bench where he went back to work on his next Cajun concoction, drilling, hot gluing and screwing pieces of wood that resembled a clarinet reed.

"So, Mister Martin, your lovely wife wants you to make a trade of one of your accordions for this Coke Six Pack vinyl cooler." For a moment there, I felt like some European trader trying to buy Wisconsin or Indiana from native Indians for some trinkets or beads.

"Oh yeh?" he said inquisitively. "And which accordion would you like to trade for?"

Before I could point to any one of the lovely instruments, he said with a smirk and in his Cajun accent," I tell you what... you can have any of 'deese you desire, but 'da wife comes with part of 'da deal, eh?

"Well, that's a heavy price to pay, I said, for a vinyl cooler!" Do you make any harmonicas?"

Copyright/Ben Bensen III/ 2011

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