were making a record for a girl in their weekly music class,
where every Monday they played the cymbals and banged sticks
together and marched playing cardboard drums made of old Tastee
Inn hamburger tubes painted red.
— Cris Bennett — was in the hospital, burned by a vaporizer
old kind, says, Tom. The dangerous kind that looked like a
car battery with a chrome top, water roiling inside, a volcano
of scalding steam escaping out the top.
remember exactly how the little girl who lived down the block
from his family around the corner on Y Street got hurt.
remember,” he says, sitting at a long classroom table. "I
think she fell out of bed and rolled on it."
that her neck was burned, her arms, her legs.
was in the hospital for a long time.”
year, Tom and Dorothy Rivett moved to this brick schoolhouse
east of Auburn to be closer to their four grandchildren. They
turned the basement into their living quarters, kept the school
room upstairs — the big blackboard, pictures of the presidents
on the walls, bathrooms for “Boys” and “Girls,” school supplies,
rows of tables, perfect for family gatherings.
wanted to get rid of the Audiotronics 304, the boxy tan record
player that shut ups like a suitcase.
a good thing they kept it, Tom says.
after their July 13 visit to St. Francis Gift & Thrift — down
the highway in Auburn — they needed it to listen to those
voices from the past.
to one voice in particular, a little boy singing a solo, shaking
in front of the big silver microphone.
spent his career in food service. McDonald’s for 18 years,
Cisco for 14 more. For the past four years, he’s been a food
part-time work, easing into retirement.
restaurants and talks to industry groups about the cuts and
grades of meats, the nutritional value of seafood. Helps them
make informed choices for their menus, serve what customers
want to eat.
up in North Lincoln, Y Street and then Greenwood Street —
between Uni Place and Havelock — he was quiet.
a shy kid.”
were a poor family, his dad had some demons, Tommy went to
work at 12 to help out.
school, he forced himself to take a speech class, and more
speech classes in college.
comfortable now speaking to hundreds at a time.
he remembers that day in his Great Aunt Helen’s living room.
His great aunt lived with his grandparents — an unmarried
sister to his grandmother.
was like another grandma to him. She made her living teaching
piano lessons to older children and her Rhythm Class for preschoolers.
did it for years and years and years. All through the 50s
and 60s and 70s, probably the 40s, too.”
recording for Cris was the only one Tom remembers her making
— a copy for her burned student and each child who wanted
Aunt Helen died nearly 30 years ago, and Tom was the executor
of her estate.
that’s how he recognized the handwriting on the grimy 45 at
the thrift store that Saturday.
likes to hit thrift stores, hunting for antiques.
browses while he waits.
13, Dorothy’s sister was in town and they headed west six
miles to the big green awning of the Catholic Social Services
Dorothy scoured the store with her sister, Tom headed past
the knickknacks and the baby swings to a rack filled with
music — old LPs, CDs, a small stack of 45s, on the front row,
up the pie-plate sized record on top, white with dust.
the blue label first: Silvercraft.
Cris,” it said on one side.
when he turned it over, the same sloped cursive spelling out
“Muffin Man.” The nursery rhyme Great Aunt Helen asked Tommy
Rivett to sing for their missing classmate. Oh, do you know
the muffin man, the muffin man, the muffin man...
hands were literally shaking.
it over to Dorothy and the first thing I said was ‘This is
me on here.”
Silvercraft record featuring Tom Rivett's Rhythm Class.
Rivett found the record, made for a classmate in 1954, at
an Auburn thrift shop July 13
wife of 43 years looked at him.
are you talking about?”
25 cents for the record and brought it home.
it was so dirty it wouldn’t play.”
the needle on the old record player in the one-room school
lifted the grime as it spun around, spilling out a long-ago
day at 45 revolutions per minute.
was his Great Aunt Helen at the piano, playing the intro to
then a sweet, high voice, through the crackle of time.
do you know the Muffin Man who lives on Drury Lane...
fell down Tom Rivett’s face.
kind of an emotional guy,” he says, sitting at the long table
at this school house five days later.
just don’t stop to think about how fast time goes.”
got the 1968 Northeast yearbook open to page 85.
“Crissy” — Kristine Bennett — a somber, dark-haired girl.
love to find her, Dorothy says.
love to find the rest of Great Aunt Helen’s Rhythm Class from
love to have a reunion here,” says Dorothy.
that be perfect?”
they’d love to find out how this record ended up on that shelf
that day in the town they moved to a year ago on the day they
came to shop — bringing a man back to his boyhood.
of his first memories.
are the odds?”