Introduction

My name is Chaitanya das, my other name is Charles Robinson. Chaitanya das is the name given to me by my spiritual teacher, my dear friend, Jagad Guru Siddhaswarupananda.

I have been dealing with advanced prostate cancer now for almost 20 years. In my blog I want to talk about how being diagnosed with cancer affected me, and how in the years since, I have come to not only understand but experience who I am through meditation and the philosophy behind it. This has also helped me understand my relationship with others, and also my relationship with the Supreme Soul, who is beside not only me, but all living beings, always.

With a diagnosis of advanced cancer comes fear. The fear of pain and suffering. The fear of death and dying. As well as being worried about dying we also worry, and are fearful, for our loved ones we will leave behind. We are attached to many things in this world and every one of these attachments accentuates our fear of leaving this world. But this fear can be overcome.

So from time-to-time in this blog, I’ll try to unpack as best I can some of the many lessons and insights from the Vedic literatures such as the Bhagavad Gita and the great sages of Vedic history that I have come to appreciate by hearing from my spiritual teacher Jagad Guru Siddhaswarupananda.

During my life one of my interests has been vintage guitars - guitars that were made pre 1940’s. I have undertaken a great deal of research into different makers of vintage American guitars, particularly H.A. Weymann and Son. This is an interesting label and I’d like to share some little known facts about them as well as some other early vintage ‘parlor’ guitars that have come my way.

Thank you and Namaste

(I welcome and encourage comments and questions on all blogs).

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‘QUIRKY’ Individuals

I have heard the word ‘quirky’ a lot lately. My wife likes those home ‘fixer-upper’ and ‘Moving to the Country’ shows on TV and I often overhear people saying, “We are a quirky couple,” or “I am a quirky person and I’m looking for a house that reflects that.” It made me think, why do people want to be seen as quirky? What’s the attraction?

Nothing wrong with that as far as I’m concerned, and as far as Vaishnava philosophy is concerned (see post about what is a Vaishnava here).

People in today’s world are struggling to find some individuality in a society where everything can look the same. We are swamped in mediocrity and people struggle to be individuals. I think that is why people call themselves ‘quirky.’ What they are saying is “I’m an individual, I’m not like everyone else, I have my own personality, I just want everyone to know that!”
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CANCER – Why Me?

When I was first diagnosed 20 years years ago at age 51 years with advanced prostate cancer, I had an acquaintance named ‘Edge’ — whether his real name or not, I do not know.  Edge was about 65 years old and would bike everywhere. He had a lot of reconstructive surgery done to his face after dealing with a particularly aggressive form of cancer.  I don’t even know which cancer it was. 

The time I first met him, Edge’s cancer was in remission, however it had been in remission previously and come back. When it had returned some years earlier it came with a vengeance, and he told me that twice he was put into the palliative/intensive care ward for terminal patients. It seems he pulled through and survived by sheer will power.

When I was first diagnosed, Edge said to me, “are you a ‘why me’ person or a ‘why not me’ person?

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GOSSIP & RUMORS

One day a parishioner went into the church to see his priest for confession. The priest asked what he wished to confess, and he stated he had been gossiping about someone.

(Original drawing by my grand-daughter Navie)

The churchgoer was not thinking this to be a serious sin and expected to be asked to say a couple of “Hail Mary’s.”  However, the priest said to him, “Go onto the highest roof-top you can find in the community with a feather-down pillow, cut it open, and let all the feathers fly into the wind, then return to see me next week.”

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1917 WEYMANN ‘f’ Sound-hole Guitar Style 24

Owner: Richard Barnes*

I’m always humbled by the generosity of many people who contact me.  I was pleased to receive emails from Richard Barnes who owns an ‘f’ sound-hole Weymann guitar that was not known to me, a Style 24, dated c.1917.  (You can read about Weymann ‘f’ hole guitars here, but I felt this guitar needed it’s own post).

Richard Barnes and his 1917 Weymann Style 24 ‘f’ hole guitar

Richard said he acquired this from an auction, maybe around 1992 or so for the whopping price of $100.00!  For a 100+ year old guitar this is is amazing condition. It is near mint and is the favorite of all his guitars.  It’s telling that at one time he owned a Weymann Jimmie Rodgers Special but sold that and kept this guitar.

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DEATH: The Elephant in the Room

‘Death and Dying’ is a subject I have read a lot about and studied extensively for the past 15 years or so. I have also spent time with friends and family as they have left this world.

We all know death is certain, something we will all face. But for most of us, it is the elephant in the room that hardly anyone wants to talk about or face head on.

Dying Patient: What is that large dark shape in the corner, it looks big!
Visitor: That’s nothing George, just your eyes playing tricks, you’ll be up and about in no time.

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1920 WEYMANN Style 22 Guitar – Dark Stain

Owner – Brett Andrew

As mentioned previously, Weymann (pronounced ‘Y’man) made many different styles of guitars.  Here’s a nice little 100 year old guitar with Weymann’s own distinctive metal tailpiece based on the letter ‘W’.  (BTW the design of this tailpiece changed slightly over the years).

1920 Weymann Style 22 Guitar.

This dark stain was used on some of Weymanns other guitars during this time (late teens, early 1920’s). The stain is over mahogany on the back and sides and over spruce on the soundboard. The guitar is lightweight like most Weymann guitars and will most likely be ladder braced. Continue reading “1920 WEYMANN Style 22 Guitar – Dark Stain”

A BIG THANK YOU!

Thank you to everyone, especially my subscribers, for hanging in there on this website.  It has been 5 years now since I started it and it’s a surprise to me I am still around.

I realize that with the variety of subjects with my posts that they are not all going to appeal to everyone, but what surprises me is the many emails and comments I get in support of what I am doing.  And although I have my email address charles@koolaru.com in many places throughout the site, in all those 5 years I have only received one negative comment.  And it was a pretty pathetic one at that!

So, a big thank you for the support of everyone who reads my posts, especially those who have subscribed to receive notification when new material is posted.

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FIRST HAWAIIAN CONSERVATORY of MUSIC – an Oscar Schmidt label , 1919-1935

Blind Willie Johnson reputedly played a FHCM guitar

The First Hawaiian Conservatory of Music (FHCM), is well documented as a mail order marketing tool for the Oscar Schmidt Company.  They were sold for lap-style (i.e. Hawaiian-style) playing.  However played as a steel string flat-top they have a woody and punchy sound which is  well suited for blues playing. The gospel blues player Blind Willie Johnson, amongst others,  is reputed to have played one.

Jake Wildwood describes the sound: They’re braced a little differently from the average Schmidt and, as a result, have a sound that flits between “normal” ladder-braced voicing and something like a Gibson-ish x-braced voice. They’re woody, loud, and direct like your average Schmidt parlor but have more of a kick in the bass and lower-mids and with a slightly-scooped treble rather than the focus being all mids. This makes them vastly more suitable for genres outside of fingerpicked country-blues and the like.

 

Examples of 2 First Hawaiian Conservatory of Music guitars – an all birch model on the left and an all koa Hilo model on the right with rope binding on the front & back.

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FIRST HAWAIIAN CONSERVATORY of MUSIC 1920’s Koa Guitar: The Hilo

The First Hawaiian Conservatory of Music (FHCM) is an Oscar Schmidt label.
Read more the FHCM label here.

THE FHCM KOA HILO No.9-910:

1920’s All Koa FHCM Hilo Model guitar

The top of the range FHCM guitar is the Hilo model # 9-910.

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FIRST HAWAIIAN CONSERVATORY of MUSIC 1930’s Birch Guitar

These birch FHCM guitars must have been produced in their thousands from around the early 1920’s to 1935.

They are a ladder braced ‘O’ sized guitar (13 1/2″ wide) and originally were given away with a mail order course of how to play slide guitar ‘Hawaiian’ style. However it was realized by many of the early blues masters such as Blind Willie Johnson that birch guitars, with their raw sound, were great for playing the blues.  At the time these guitars could probably have been picked up quite cheaply from some of the many students of FHCM who gave up playing and never finished the course!

OSCAR SCHMIDT made First Hawaiian Conservatory of Music birch guitar – Photo: The Guitar Repairers, Brisbane, Australia.

These days they command good prices because of their reputation of sounding like those early blues recordings.  Red was a popular color but there was a variety of stains from almost black, to red, to orange to natural wood.

Continue reading “FIRST HAWAIIAN CONSERVATORY of MUSIC 1930’s Birch Guitar”