The first summer after I came to the United States my parents sent me to spend the summer on the same farm in Bucks County, Pennsylvania where my father had spent his summers while growing up.
At the end of haying season the farmer took us all for a day away from haying to the county fair. Like most everything those first few months away from my home in the Congo, everything was new, startling and amazing. I had never seen anything like the midway at a county fair.
One of the attractions was called, Power of Sound. I don’t remember what the banners in front of the tent said, but I remember the brilliant colors of: red, silver, gold, yellow, orange and the black of words and objects exploding.
I remember the barker saying something like, “Come in and see what your words look like. – Not the printed letters, but an actual picture of the sound of your words.”
I am sure that he said it in a more irresistible way than that because I paid some of my hard-earned summers pay to go in and see what sounds looked like.
There weren’t many in that tent. None of Clarence’s three sons were interested in that show so I bravely went in alone. Now you have to remember that I was just recently out of the jungle, so to speak, and most things in the civilized world were, if not a little frightening, somewhat intimidating.
The showman had some kinds of electronic gadgets and one with a glowing porthole like thing with cross-lines in it. I later learned it was an oscilloscope of some kind.
He started out by telling his audience that all sounds had electronic energy called frequency that could be seen visually on the screen. Even as he talked into the mike the white line moved across the screen.
He played a few notes on a trumpet, fired a cap pistol and each time the line moved differently. He invited people up from the audience and showed how each person’s voice was different.
His final act was to put a wine glass on a stand next to the oscilloscope. A large but attractive woman came out and started to sing. I didn’t much care for what she was singing. It was the opera kind of stuff that my mother liked to listen to on the radio on Saturday afternoons after we got to the States. But on the radio there was usually instrument playing along with the singing.
The woman kept singing, the line on the oscilloscope changed along with her singing. She hit a real high note. The line on the oscilloscope jumped and the glass on the stand shattered.
I walked out of that tent wondering if it was a trick or not, but at the same time aware that the words I speak had a force to them. I have since learned that the shattered glass was not a trick, but was done by the high frequency of the note that woman sang.
I have also learned that there are no neutral words; you are either speaking encouragement or fear. I am a writer, among other things, and like most writers I am pleased when someone likes what I’ve written. Whether or not someone reads what I have written is entirely up to them, but what I say is entirely up to me. The words I speak have an energy to both build up or shatter others and myself and I should be very careful what I say and how I say it.
Body On the Church Steps coming soon from Second Wind Publishing.