Bob Tedrow

Verse:

7

Reader:

Bob Tedrow

Location:

Birmingham

Verse 7

Has any one supposed it lucky to be born? 
I hasten to inform him or her it is just as lucky to die, and I know it. 
 
I pass death with the dying and birth with the new-wash’d babe, and am not contain’d between my hat and boots, 
And peruse manifold objects, no two alike and every one good, 
The earth good and the stars good, and their adjuncts all good. 
 
I am not an earth nor an adjunct of an earth, 
I am the mate and companion of people, all just as immortal and fathomless as myself, 
(They do not know how immortal, but I know.) 
 
Every kind for itself and its own, for me mine male and female, 
For me those that have been boys and that love women, 
For me the man that is proud and feels how it stings to be slighted, 
For me the sweet-heart and the old maid, for me mothers and the mothers of mothers, 
For me lips that have smiled, eyes that have shed tears, 
For me children and the begetters of children. 
 
Undrape! you are not guilty to me, nor stale nor discarded, 
I see through the broadcloth and gingham whether or no, 
And am around, tenacious, acquisitive, tireless, and cannot be shaken away. 
Textual Analysis
Section 7 begins with one of Whitman’s most audacious boasts: if you think it’s "lucky to be born," then, he is quick to let us know, "it is just as lucky to die, and I know it." How does he know it is lucky to die? By this point in the ...
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Textual Analysis

FILMMAKER’S NOTES

Bob, one of the filmmakers on this project, suggested we film Bob Tedrow. It was in the early days of the project, and he had described Bob as one of only 8 concertina makers in the world. Wow, I'm thinking, there's only 8 of them?! Then, what the heck is a concertina?

A concertina is a bellows driven free-reed instrument that looks like a tiny handheld accordion. It was invented in the 1830s and never gained much popularity beyond the British Isles. "If Britney Spears started playing one, it might become popular, but that's not gonna happen," Bob said. "One of the seven dwarves played one. And Pinocchio, but I had never seen one before I traded an old fiddle for one in the 90s."

I asked him why he tried to become an expert in something so unpopular. "I think that every person should leave their ink stain on the world. Anytime you want a niche to call your own, choose something that is hard to do, takes a lot of time, earns very little money, and that niche is all yours. Not a good reason other than hubris. If you look up hubris in the dictionary my photo is right there."

It took a decade to become an authority. "There might be more [concertina makers] out there in the woodwork but there are probably ten of us that I know of."

If you pick up one of Bob's business cards it reads, "Homewood Instruments – fifty years behind the times." And then there's the clothes he wears, the vests of a different era. His pocket watch. He has a clear aesthetic. He knows who he is. I think it's neat to be so grounded in stuff so analog.

Some people are really at ease with our camera, and Bob seemed like one of those people. He came off as totally comfortable, cracking jokes throughout the shoot. It went smoothly. Jason, Bob's colleague, was doing his thing, fixing a guitar in the background. The setting of the shop was beautiful.

Bob was a great person to have worked with at the start of this project. He helped breathe life into it. After we filmed him and looked at the footage, I was encouraged. Like, this project can actually happen. It became more than just an idea at that point. We had the beginnings of our work, proof we could keep going.

by filmmaker Jenn Crandall as told to writer Liz Hildreth