Editor's Note: The following is the second part of a series Jim Paul Blair penned before his recent death. He wanted to make sure the Phoenix received it while he was hospitalized and asked his daughter to send it. We are publishing it and future columns as a tribute to Blair and his passion for music.
His funeral services will be at 2 p.m. Saturday at St. Paul United Methodist Church, 2130 W. Okmulgee Ave.
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Note: This is an excerpt from a 2004 trip I took with City Moon. This is a continuation of an article first published on Jan. 30.
July 19, 2004, Monday
City Moon boarded an Airbus 300 in Pittsburgh and departed for Germany around 5 p.m. The trip was to be approximately 8 hours. I took two Benadryls prior to take-off. I was in the window seat and asleep before we lifted off the ground. I don’t recall much during the early part of the flight. I did manage to watch “50 First Dates” and “The Sopranos.” Cliff took the opportunity to watch the German language tutor. After 8 hours he learned only one phrase – “Wie geht es Ihnen?” – which means “How are you?”
The flight traveled over New England, Canada and the North Atlantic. I recall a semi-sunset, but we were so far north, there was never complete darkness even though we had traveled through the night. Though there was some cloud cover, I did manage to see some land, which I assumed was part of the UK.
July 20, 2004, Tuesday
As we approached Frankfurt, I could see the countryside was littered with numerous villages. We landed around 6:30 a.m. local time. The group (Virgil and I in our cowboy hats) made our way to baggage claim, and we walked through the terminal where I notice many smokers. Obviously, Germans weren’t near as tough with smoking bans.
Before entering baggage claim we had to pass through a checkpoint and have our passports stamped. As we waited for our bags, John’s flight landed and he joined us. Once in baggage claim our instruments were brought out separately and all bags were accounted for. Cliff’s bass case had been searched, but everything was intact. To exit the baggage claim area we had to pass through another checkpoint, where what appeared to be a young American girl asked me if I had any prescription drugs or knives in my baggage. I happened to have both — some antibiotics in case anyone needed them and a Swiss Army knife in my guitar case. I slowly answered I had prescription drugs, and before I could tell her I had a knife, she said, “Okay, go on through.”
There was a large area before exiting that had restrooms, casino games, an exchange bank and a coffee shop. I went in the coffee shop to get something to drink for Cliff and myself. This is where I encountered my first language barrier. I noticed they had “American Ginger Ale” and ordered two at €5.20 total. I didn’t have any coins so I tried to pay with two €5 bills, however, the cashier wanted change. I offered up the change in my pocket, which was all US currency. He finally took my two fives.
As we waited for our ride, a guy in a suit struck up conversation with us. He was a Mormon from Salt Lake City who was intrigued by the cowboy hats, instruments and our accents. He was doing his mission before going to college at Brigham Young University. I gave him one of my CDs and he indicated he was going to have someone deliver a book of Mormon to my house. I told Cliff I had never read “Jesus, The Western.”
Virgil finally showed up with a nine passenger Opal van. Virgil drove and Staff was the navigator. I was somewhat leery of this, knowing that during their last Germany trip it took 12 hours to make a four-hour drive. It appeared that we were driving without any idea of where we were going this time. Along our route I happened to spot a music store, where I could purchase needed mandolin strings while the guys studied the map. The music store was quite small and run by two women. The guitars were of a strange make, however, they played quite nice and prices seemed reasonable at €260-300. I bought some GHS mandolin strings and we headed out again.
Stay tuned to find out what happens next during City Moon’s trip through Germany.