A Postcard from D.C.


I’m pleased to feature my friend and fellow choir member Bernard Tate as a guest blogger today. Bernard writes and edits a newsletter for the Army Corps of Engineers in Washington and commutes to his office there. He explained how this writing came about:

I occasionally send a “Postcard From D.C.” to my friends, and I thought you and Becky might enjoy this one.  (I cribbed the idea straight from the “Postcard From Iraq” feature that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers created for our people on duty in Iraq.)  My “postcards” are random and sporadic…I have to see something that catches my fancy.

Here’s Bernard’s account of taking the train and finding some pleasant surprises. Thank you, Bernard. I hope my readers enjoy what you’ve written.

Saxophone player

I left the office early yesterday to catch the train home, and I’m glad I did.

                I ignored several panhandlers on my walk from the office to Union Station, but as I passed the escalator to the subway, I heard someone down there playing Christmas carols on a brass instrument.  Since I had plenty of time, I rode the escalator down, and saw  a homeless man at the Metro entrance playing Christmas carols for the crowds walking past.  I assume he was homeless because his clothes had  the worn, random look of  homeless clothing, and his teeth were a dentist’s nightmare.  But he was playing a bright gleaming saxophone and blowing it good, too — the tip bag in his sax case was near overflowing.  I pulled several dollars from my billfold and told him I didn’t mind giving a few bucks for music that good.

                And then just a few moments later, walking through Union Station, I passed a quartet of young people singing an a cappella version of “Gloria in Excelsis Deo”.  Since I had plenty of time, I stopped to listen for a few minutes.  It was a standard quartet — two men and two women, soprano/alto/tenor/bass.  When they finished and the little crowd listening had applauded, I asked where they were from & what group they were with.

They said they were just people who liked to sing and had gotten together that day in an ad hoc quartet.  I was astonished…they sang as if they had rehearsed for weeks.  No tip jar there…they were just four people singing for pleasure and to entertain the crowds hurrying through Union Station.

                I sometimes miss the Virginia hills and small town life where I grew up, but this city has nice moments, too, if you have time to stop and enjoy the music.


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