OAK RIDGE (WATE) - At the Oak Ridge Senior Center, if it's Friday morning, it's Wendall Cook time.
Wendall is a local
musician who for the past nine years has been offering free guitar lessons to
anyone who shows up.
And lots of people show
mornings, the guitars are tuned up and the music sheets passed out.
There is a sense of
excitement. It's not Carnegie Hall, but for those gathered here, it might
as well be.
For the past nine
years, Cook has been teaching guitar at the center. He does it
for free because he enjoys it, and he feels he's doing a community service.
"We get together
and have a good time, sing a few songs and tell a few jokes - corny ones mostly,
but we have a good time," Cook said.
On the morning we visited, there was a
big crowd. Among them was Jack Copeland, who took up the guitar two
years ago. He describes his progress as slow, but not because of
fantastic. He's very patient. He loves what he's doing. If he didn't love it, he
wouldn't do it," Copeland said.
Also in the crowd was Charlie Orr. As a young man, he played some music, but he says
life got in the way and he had to put it aside.
retired five years ago and joined Wendall's class, he's gotten pretty
good. In fact, he's a member of the Golden Eagles, a group of
intermediate and advanced players who perform at nursing homes and elsewhere.
"We're not that hot, but
people at the nursing homes think we are and that's what matters," Orr said, smiling.
Wendall's teaching philosophy is
to keep it simple. He realizes that for most, this effort at pickin' and grinnin' is
just for fun.
"It's a social activity. It
helps the Senior Center and it keeps them active. It keeps their minds active
their hands and fingers active and it's a fellowship kind of thing," Wendall said.
It's also very much a
Spirit of East Tennessee kind of thing.
If you know someone who you believe is an example of the Spirit of East Tennessee, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.