Repairing a keepsake

Some of you know that I’m trying to learn to play harmonica. My dad played. Although I heard him on a few occasions, he apparently was really into it before I was born. I thought I had his Hohner 64 Chromonica here, but it turns out my sister has it. She says she’ll send it to me. She says, ‘It smells like dad.’ He was a smoker, and I guess the smell is still in it.

Harmonicas are known to ‘go bad’ after a while. I suspect dad’s is in need of repair. Should I ‘destroy the ch’i’, and have a playable instrument; or should I leave it as-is as a keepsake? My options are:
[ul][li]Repair it and have a usable instrument;[/li][li]Repair it and another vintage Hohner 64 Chromonica I have, admire dad’s, and play the duplicate;[/li][li]Don’t repair it. Repair the duplicate and play that one.[/ul][/li]I’m starting this thread to solicit opinions on how to preserve dad’s harmonica, but I’m curious about other keepsakes you may have.

I know nothing of harmonicas, but do too much work to Dad’s, and you’ll end up with a Harmonica of Theseus.

If you want it for sentimental reasons, do nothing to it and have that duplicate one worked on.

My keepsakes are from my Mom and I just keep them as is for the most part. Her sewing notions, her old iron from when I was little, her jewelry. My father took off his ring when she died so eventually I will have their rings and her engagement ring. Not sure what to do with those!!

I have a few keepsakes from my Dad; an old uniform, his old pocket knife that he carried for like 60 years, some odds and ends. If something works I will use it but if it stops working I put it away and just admire it. One I never considered using was/is his knife; being left-handed he had a certain edge and wear my right-handed use could change and I don’t want that to happen. So it lives under a bell jar where I can look at it and remember both how we were different and how alike we are at the same time.

I like the bell jar idea - maybe on a stand of black walnut.

Why not just get a new(er) instrument which is ready to play? Maybe somebody else can use an old Hohner 64 as a memento?

J-LA – Or some day in the future add yours to a display with your dad’s while he/she plays their harmonica?

You know the story of George Washington’s hatchet, don’t you? :slight_smile:

It’s a keepsake because it was used by and smells like your Dad. If you want to learn harmonica, get a good new one that you know is in good repair.

I have several things that belonged to my dad. My general rule is that if the cost to repair is reasonable - equal to or less than a new one (or it’s own value if unique) - then I repair and use. For instance, I had his boots repaired and wear them on occasion. I also wear his leather jacket every winter and will have the liner repaired soon for next year. I’m in the middle of restoring his Winchester thumb trigger .22 rifle and will use it at the range. OTOH, some of his guns would cost more than they are worth to repair, so they are on display in the gun cabinet. I wouldn’t be surprised if the cost of restoring the harmonica is more than it’s value.

My dad wouldn’t look kindly on keeping useless ornaments around for sentimental reasons. He and I would both agree that minimal repair to keep if functional and useful would be vastly superior to letting it rust or gather dust on a shelf somewhere. I mean, your dad didn’t just sit around and look at the harmonica, did he? In my opinion, to properly honor the place this keepsake had in your dad’s life, you need to use it, just like he did.

Of course, if repairing it might cause it to be destroyed, or if it will alter the character of the keepsake so much that you won’t consider it to be the same thing afterwards, there’s not much you can do but put it on a shelf and look at it, like a museum piece. But I consider that a less ideal outcome.

Repair and use, if you can. But I have no use for keepsakes that don’t do anything and just sit around. My keepsakes are mainly jewelry and you bet your ass I wear those. I don’t really comprehend keeping things just for keeping them, but then I don’t collect things either.

Results so far are 2:1 for not repairing it.

That’s the thing. I have another vintage Chromonica 64. OTOH, I do like things that work. I’ve heard the Ship of Theseus argument, and to a certain extent I agree with it. But it would be nice to play dad’s harp. I’m leaning toward getting the ‘duplicate’ repaired and leaving dad’s alone. But I’d like to read some post from people who think I should repair dad’s.

FWIW, I’m learning on a diatonic harp.

Sis sent two harmonicas. I thought I’d had them both, then found out she had one, and now I know that she had both. The case for one is missing. Maybe I have it somewhere, and that’s why I thought I had them? As expected, not all of the holes blow.

Every time I see the thread title, I always read it as “Repairing a karaoke” and my brain screams in agony “throw it in a lake!”

Anyway, I say repair the piece and use it, unless it is an karaoke machine. In which case drown it.

The answer to your question depends on another question: What is the actual keepsake? The instrument itself? The music your father made with it? His scent? I voted for “repair and use”. Because you’ll be sharing an experience, the experience of making music with that harmonica, with your dad. Did he love the harmonica, or did he love what he could do with it? Tools are meant to be used; instruments are meant to be played.

If on the other hand, you value most the your dad’s scent - and smell is powerfully linked to memory - don’t take the chance of destroying it by cleaning and repairing the harp.

Neither is the wrong choice; you just have to decide what it is you want to preserve.

Maybe its just my defective brain or the odd day I’ve had but I laughed my ass off after reading that.
American English – when your vacuum cleaner doesn’t suck, that really blows. And when you fan won’t blow, it totally sucks. :smiley:

My keepsakes are also mostly from my mother. I have a tiny wooden elephant charm that belonged to her when she was a young girl. It has gold bands wrapped around the legs and the body. I gave it to my boyfriend after his son suffered a stroke. He kept it in his pocket all throughout his recovery. While he had it, the trunk broke off. A couple of years ago he fixed it with glue and gave it back to me along with a beautiful gold chain. The break is barely noticeable, and the charm is even more special now than it was before. I only wear it on special occasions, or when I’m missing having a mom.