Herb graciously spread his right arm around the table, indicating to Loretta that all his friends needed their coffee cups topped off. She would’ve done it anyway, of course, but this made him look … generous.
“I’ve been reading up,” said Herb Collins, who had retired from his pawn shop but not from reading up, “and I learned a thing or two.”
We settled back, in what we considered a learned and curious pose. We probably weren’t, though.
For the more forward-looking members of the World Dilemma Think Tank at the Mule Barn coffee shop, learning from Herb’s habit of reading up sometimes was entertaining, if not always educational.
“How many of you fellas ever heard of Babe Ruth?” We all raised our hands.
“Now how many of you fellas ever heard of Carl Ditters von Dittersdorff?”
There was a paucity of paws in the air.
“He was born way-back sometime in a suburb of Vienna, and started out life as Johann Carl Ditters. But through the years, and because his compositions needed publicity, and his friends didn’t think his name was impressive enough, he coagulated his name into what it now says on the billboard at the opera house.”
“And you read up on this by yourself?”
“Sure did, Doc. Now ol’ Carl made a bunch of friends who were musical and had weird names, too. Used to hang around with Christof Willibald Gluck. Name like that, you’d have to pardner up with someone who could handle himself in a dark alley. So there’s my theory in a nutshell guys. If you were a German or a fake German living in a close by, but not yet German country, and your name was too common for people to remember, you either had to give them a name they couldn’t forget … or go start a war.”
And some folks just watch teevee…
Free sheet music from the ol’ Ditters himself! If you can play this, you’re better than most mental patients. https://imslp.org/wiki/Andante_cantabile_(Dittersdorf%2C_Carl_Ditters_von).