I got my first drum for Christmas in 1956. I was three years old.
The Call of Drums
By Richard Mabey Jr.
There is something, innately inborn in all of us that calls us to a specific purpose in life. It is that something special that is locked within our DNA, stored deeply in the core of our hearts, and it swirls through the blood that rushes through our arteries and veins. It is so very hard to define, but when a special calling echoes our name, we know without question the validity of its truth.
From a very, very early age in life; I was drawn to drums. I loved the sound of drums. I got my first drum when I was three years old, in the Christmas of 1956. But even before that, my mom told me that I would go into the kitchen closets and hit the pots and pans with spoons.
There is a belief that we are not able to remember things from our early childhood. But, I remember very well playing my drum at that very age of three. It simply fascinated me to the end of the earth.
Shortly after the Christmas of 1956, my mom and dad moved from Hazel Street in Clifton to Madeline Avenue in the same town. Our home on Hazel Street was a duplex. My dad often told me how he would have to tell me not to play my drum so loud. I would stop playing loud and would play my drum softly. But within a short time, I was back to playing my drum loud again.
Grandpa Kemmerer and I standing outside Grandpa’s house. I learned so very much about playing the drums from my grandfather.
My Grandpa Kemmerer was an outstanding drummer. During those early years of grade school, when we visited Grandma and Grandpa K, in their home in Boonton, Grandpa K would take time to give me drum lessons. I learned so very much about playing the drums from my grandfather.
My old grade school band. I am standing in the back row, second from the right hand side.
I was in the third grade when I began taking drum lessons in school. From that point on, till I graduated high school, I was a faithful member of the school band. When I first joined the high school marching band, the band director had me playing the bass drum. I wanted nothing more than to be moved to the snare drum. So, I practiced and practiced and practiced.
I would come home from high school, do my homework, then practice playing the drums. I would practice so much and so hard, that the areas at the base of my thumbs and fingers would bleed. I would put Band-aids on my bleeding blisters and then practice playing the drums some more. It was in my sophomore year of high school that I got to play the snare drum in the marching band.
I wasn’t really very good at sports. So, playing the drums meant the world to me. It was something that I could do and do very well. There was something very special about playing the drums. Simply put, I loved it.
Each and every one of us has a calling. There is that inner knowingness of the very thing that calls us. Whatever it may be, we will know it is a true purpose in life because we will work so very hard to excel in that specific thing. We’ll have this burning focus, an earnest heart, and a dedication that goes beyond normal reasoning. So much so, will it drive us to excel, that when our fingers bleed, we’ll simply put Band-aids on and practice more and more.