• Jack Baker

When A Woman Gets The Blues

Updated: Oct 1, 2018



"And there I was with my little boy and the four walls. I had no money for food. A couple times a week Jack would appear with a takeout dinner, and bless his heart, he would play with Thiele. And play they did! Jack was tall and lanky, and Thiele a small cherubic three-year-old. There would be the most wonderful ruckus of scuffling and laughter as Thiele pounced on Jack. I doubt I can convey the joy this brought us both for a while, when my lonely world was interrupted, and Thiele's lack of a father was temporarily healed. "You'll not get me this time you little curtain climber, you crumb snatcher, you!" Jack played with Thiele for hours, wrestling and always losing, begging loudly for mercy while Thiele shrieked with laughter, twisting Jack's arm while Jack writhed in mock pain. It's amazing how much meaning these brief moments in life can have.


Jack was also a talented and inspired musician. He had devoted most of his focus to Chet Atkins and could play just about everything Atkins had ever recorded- but he also loved and understood Country Blues and provided nonstop appreciation and support for me to play the old music. Jack ran the Fretted Instruments School of Folk Music where he established a solid career as a well respected teacher. Over the years he has been plagued by tendon problems in his hands and endured numerous operations to regain the freedom of movement required to play his beloved music. It caused him incredible amounts of pain and discomfort- but Jack never let this or anything get him down.


We used to meet for breakfast practically every day at the Bagel, conveniently located across the street from the shop. Casey was the reliable, hard working chef who flipped omelets in the window, while Frances and Gloria took orders. Occasionally owner Phyllis would make an appearance. I always had a swiss cheese omelet "soft" with rye toast- Jack was a coffee hound. I think he liked pancakes. Jack and I are still close, though now it's more about an occasional phone call since we've all moved away. For years, when visiting the city, I'd stay at Jack's little apartment. He'd leave the keys somewhere so I'd have a place to put my feet up. "



When a woman gets the blues by Rory Block published by Aurora Productions, 2010.

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