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Emily Grossman

Forever Yours

December 28, 2011 at 3:05 AM

It's interesting, all the fiery darts your mind will throw at you when something bad happens. At first I was sure that my bow broke because I had been greedy about wanting another violin. Then I thought maybe I'd been prideful about my possessions, so I deserved it. And then it occurred to me that my bow must have been jealous about my affair with the Kittel, and had jumped out of my fingers out of pure spite. Silly Emily, accidents happen because accidents happen, and there's no need to find a reason, other than cold dry fingers, unforgiving concrete, and the fragile nature of bows.

I pulled myself together and called George, but as soon as I began to tell him what I'd done, I began to sob again. It took another fifteen minutes, sitting in the car, before I was able to drive. While I waited, I called Matt Wyatt and left a pretty pathetic, unintelligible message on the violin shop's machine. Then I called Karen Rile and talked with her until I felt a little better. Somehow, it really helps to have someone with seasoned moral support on the other end of the line. She gave me Elizabeth Shaak's phone number at Mount Airy Bows; she might make it all better.

Since I was going back to Fred Oster's anyway, my accident couldn't have had better timing. It made my decision to return the violins an easy one, and furthermore, I was heading to the perfect place to locate an authority for a proper estimate/repair. At the shop, they looked the damage over and quickly assured me that not only could it be splined, but I wouldn't be able to tell the difference at all. Unfortunately, Fred's bow person, Erin, was out of town. Hesitantly, I mentioned Elizabeth Shaak, not sure whether it was kosher to bring up another shop. "Oh,yes, you could take it to her!" he agreed. "Erin actually lives upstairs from her."

The repair would amount to less than the insurance deductible, but I could possibly file a claim and have the bow totaled. That is, if I had insurance, which I didn't. (I know I should, but I hadn't gotten over how bad the last insurance company was.) I knew the risk I'd taken; I was fine with that. Mostly. I have to admit, I drowned my sorrow quite impressively after we left Fred Oster's, first with a black-and-white cookie at the Reading Terminal Market, then with an Italian style hoagie at Sarcone's deli, and then with a visit to Isgro's pastry shop for a sfogliatelle and cannoli. (I'll just deduct that in next week's New Year's Resolution...)


(Puffy-eyed me, going for a cookie. Taken from George's cell phone. I finally found my camera under the seat of the car on the way home.)

A steady drizzle became heavier as we fought traffic over to Mount Airy Bows to leave the Nurnberger with Elizabeth. After reviewing the damage, she decided to spline it and came up with a modest estimate. If all goes as planned, she will be sending it off to me in Oklahoma next week, just as good as new, minus the value.

On my way home, Matt Wyatt called from his holiday in Arizona to check on me and offer his condolences. I told him how embarrassed and guilty I felt for wrecking such a beautiful bow. "Don't feel bad, it can happen to anyone. I broke one the same way when I was in college--a Voirin, actually. It was a morning gig, gym floor, I was tired... It was only two feet, too. I watched it happening in slow motion."

Like the others, he promised it would play just like it played before, and I could still get many happy years out of it. Granted, it's value now equals that of the frog's--about $500. But I could just pretend that I planned on taking it to my grave anyway, so its price tag didn't really matter. I mean, how many cherished possessions do you assign a monetary value? Your dog? Your husband? Your wedding ring? How does the saying go?

...To have and to hold, for better or worse, in sickness and in health, till death do we part.


From Mendy Smith
Posted on December 28, 2011 at 5:47 AM
Oh Emily, I feel your pain. But consider this, most top-notch instruments have had various repairs over their lifetimes. A good repair person will do it in such a way as to retain its playability and value as much as possible. Every scar is a history, so keep it well documented. It is a story to tell future generations.
From Yixi Zhang
Posted on December 28, 2011 at 5:53 AM
This is good news! It was so good that Karen Rile was there for you. She is such a gem, isn't she?
From Tom Holzman
Posted on December 28, 2011 at 1:50 PM
I am glad our story has a happy ending. There are certainly things in life where the intrinsic value is rather more important than the monetary value. My violin is like that. It will certainly be with me as long as I live, and my main concern with the experts' dispute over its provenance (12 opinions from 10 experts over the years including two who changed) and, therefore, its value, is to make sure I have adequate insurance for it. In a real sense, however, it is irreplaceable at any price.
From marjory lange
Posted on December 28, 2011 at 2:05 PM
(at least now insuring the bow isn't an issue...)
From elise stanley
Posted on December 28, 2011 at 2:14 PM
Seems to me that for some bows there are so few that in time the spliced ones will have to start being treated like the repaired violins - almost normal. Perhaps some of the original (cash) value will return... Obviously, the practical value to you will remain the same.

From the discussion it seems that a tip fracture is not the worst thing that can happen to a bow so (if I maybe be so bold) maybe you can at least be a little pleased it wasn't much worse...

From Tom Holzman
Posted on December 29, 2011 at 6:25 PM
BTW Emily, the picture of you is actually pretty good, notwithstanding your "puffy-eyed" description, which I do not see in it. The smile is just what you would expect of someone going to the Reading Terminal Market to get one of the many goodies available there.
From Emily Grossman
Posted on December 29, 2011 at 7:39 PM
Thank you! I guess I'm a little self-conscious about three weeks of insomnia and all those tears. Reading terminal was nice to finally reach, but I thought it may have gotten a bit touristy. (Or maybe that's the way it's always been?) I didn't try the cheese steak there, though it looked sooo good! Sarcone's deli subs took precedence, and I was glad I got George there. His review was that Sarcone's subs are the best he's ever had. If anyone goes there (it's in the Italian district), get the Boss or the Old Italian. Their meats and provolone are epic. Plus, the bread's the best in Philly. No question.
From Karen Allendoerfer
Posted on December 29, 2011 at 11:23 PM
I'm so glad this worked out in the end. I agree with Tom, you don't look puffy-eyed in that picture. I'd look much worse after going through all that! It seems wrong somehow that the imperfect bow, the one with a story, the one that has been tested and repaired with love and still plays just as well as before, is the one that's worth less, not more.

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