I Should Play For Them

Many of the injured, the elderly and the critically ill, and those suffering from dehydration, have been taken across a walkway to an adjoining sports center, the New Orleans Arena.

One man was lying part way on a cot, his legs flopped off the side, a forgotten blood-pressure monitor still attached to his right arm. Some had wrapped plastic bags on their feet to escape the urine and wastewater seeping from piles of trash. Others, fearing the onset of disease, had surgical masks over their mouths. An alarm had been going off for more than 24 hours, and no one knew how to turn it off.

Suddenly, incongruously, the first notes of Bach’s Sonata No. 1 in G Minor, the Adagio, pierced the desperation.

Samuel Thompson, 34, is trying to make it as a professional violinist. He had grabbed his instrument — made in 1996 by a Boston woman — as he fled the youth hostel Sunday where he had been staying in New Orleans for the past two months.

“It’s the most important thing I own,” he said.

He had guarded it carefully and hadn’t taken it out until yesterday afternoon, when he was able to move from the Superdome into the New Orleans Arena, far safer accommodations. He rested the black case on a table next to a man with no legs in a wheelchair and a pile of trash and boxes, and gingerly popped open the two locks. He lifted the violin out of the red velvet encasement and held it to his neck.

Thompson closed his eyes and leaned into each stretch of the bow as he played mournfully. A woman eating crackers and sitting where a vendor typically sells pizza watched him intently. A National Guard soldier applauded quietly when the song ended, and Thompson nodded his head and began another piece, the Andante from Bach’s Sonata in A Minor.

Like most in the shelter, Thompson’s family in Charleston, S.C., has no idea where he is and whether he is alive. Thompson figures he is safe for now and will get in touch when he can. Meanwhile, he will play, and, once in a while, someone at the sports complex will manage a smile.

“These people have nothing,” he said. “I have a violin. And I should play for them. They should have something.”

Seattle Times, via Reddit.

4 thoughts on “I Should Play For Them”

  1. That is so cool. I don’t have anything that cool, but here it is anyway.

    Since the trump is so portable, I usually have at least one with me. Aside from random people thanking me or being amazed because “I had one of those as a kid and couldn’t do anything with it” or “my grandfather played one of those”, one incident sticks out in my mind.

    We were in a museum, the big one in Chicago, Field Museum? Anyway, Sue wanted to see their garden or butterfly area or whatever. I figured it wouldn’t do much for me, so I waited in side while she wandered out to check it out. I started randomly playing, like I usually do. I usually just play in bursts, whatever grabs me. I guess some worker/security guard liked it, because I played some tune or other, and he says “cool, play more”. I did. Then I tried to stop, because I was thirsty as hell and my mouth was really dry. “Don’t stop, keep playing!” Heh. So I did.

    The thing that’s always weird for me when people mention something like that, is that I usually am either playing tunes nobody’s heard from places they’ve probably never heard of, or just improvizing and playing whatever the hell I feel like. No Bach or anything famous for me. So I still find it a little strange that it gets such a reaction from people. It’s still cool though. That was a great story. The guy playing for the hurricane people, not mine.

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