#41 - Oct.30, 2005
LET ME COUNT THE WAYS
How do I regard you, let me count the ways.
So there I go. Trying to write something about Mike
Longworth and I start out with "I" and
"My" feeling about what the living say about
the dead has been prejudiced by what was printed in the
obituary section about the death of "my" 20
year old son after an overdose of alcohol and
Once Sue, Mike's wife, when "overhearing" a
conversation that Mike and "I" (there
"I" go again) were having asked why we
said such terrible things to each other. Mike just
smiled. We both enjoyed trying to make one of the other's
leg longer than the other.
"I" met Mike years and years ago in the lobby
of the C.F. Martin & Co., in Nazareth, PA.
"I" had asked the receptionist if there was
anybody that was interested in ukuleles. As
"I" shook Mike's hand, "I" asked if
he would like to see the Martin ukes "I" had in
the car. Mike said, "Sure, bring them on
"I" went out to "my" car and
struggled back, through the double doors, into the lobby
with twelve ukes and one taro patch.
Mike had been in ill health for a long time. While
still with Martin, Mike would fly out on a trip to a
convention or festival, collapse and have to be brought
back flat on his back, after emergency medical treatment.
An unidentified person once told me that Mike would fall
asleep in his office and they would be afraid to go in
and nudge him awake, because they feared he might already
be dead. Argggggh!!!
Over the years "I" would make regular visits to
Nazareth. Our relationship was somewhat
formal. We would "take lunch". Exchange
occasional letters about ukuleles. His on Official
After some time "I" lost track of Mike, mostly
because elements of "my" life went into turmoil
, and then met Fred Fallin at a Uke Expo in a mill in
Western Massachusetts, who had a letter from Mike for
"me". Mike had retired and return to his
boyhood state, Tennessee, and was living in Bell Buckle.
"I" visited Bell Buckle. Mike would visit
"me" in Massachusetts, usually when ever there
was a Uke Expo in some near by state.
He surprised "me" by showing "me" the
first ukulele he made. That uke, black with miles
of pearl, had traditional soprano Martin shaped
body. "I" whined and whined, until Mike
said ..."....put it down on paper.".... and
what to "my" wonderous eyes should appear, but
a tiny Ditson shaped soprano body uke. The uke of
So Mike says,..."I'm goin' make a concert uke to
match that, do you want it?"
"Does a bear .........???? Do you holly stone
the poop deck???? Would you sell "my"
concert sized dream uke to a stranger?????"
"Yes, yes, "I" want it!!!!" ... says
How ill was Mike, one might ask. Once when Mike,
who was perhaps 10 years younger than
"I", and "I" were in the best
Mexican restaurant in Arlington Massachusetts,
"I" kid you not, and when Mike excused himself,
the owner came over and asked "me" if
"my" father had enjoyed his lunch??????????
For the longest time Mike had moved through the world in
pain and discomfort. And made great contributions
to his, our, world.
If "I" live to be a hundred, which isn't that
appealing in these times of economic and political
considerations, rather than humane considerations, for
elderly care, "my" favorite Mike Longworth
story, which I cobbled together from stories told me by
both Sue and Mike, is the "Riding Lawn Mower"
Now Mike and Sue's home in Bell Buckle had a lot of
land. Mike got a green riding lawn mower and, as
with any guy with a green riding lawn mower, enjoyed it a
So one day, Mike says, to Sue, "I'm goin' run
the lawn mower up on the trailer and take it over to
........" And Sue says, to Mike, "You get
someone to help you put that tractor on the
So bone head goes out in the front of the house, places
two boards between the ground and the back of the
trailer, starts to drive the green lawn tractor up the
boards, they slip, and his bad leg is pined between the
tractor and one of the boards.
Mike hollers ....."HELP!!!!!"
Sue, inside the insulated house, with various domestic
appliances in full roar, doesn't hear Mike's
"HELP", but after a time wonders where he
is. Had not heard/seen him in a bit of time.
So goes out in front.
She goes down to Mike, and his green tractor. Gets
close enough to see that other than him not being able to
move, seems in good enough shape.
So Sue--and "I'm" not sure whose side of the
story this is--backed up 5 steps, out of arms reach, and
delivered a 5 minute "I Told You Not To Load That
Tractor On The Trailer Without Help" lecture.
Then she helped release him.
"I'm" angry that Mike won't be in
"my" life anymore. Maybe "I"
shouldn't have ragged him so badly? Maybe
"I" could have been a better and more effective
Maybe "I" should have had him make
"me" a taro patch?