"Not commercially, no," said Conzelman. "Only a limited number of music lovers saw fit to buy the sheet music. Copies of the sheet music, in fact, are now collectors' items, and very rare. I believe I am the only collector who has any."
"May I ask, Coach, where you received your musical education?"
"I studied," said Conzelman, "under a man named Brady."
"Was the Brady studio right here in St. Louis?"
"There wasn't any Brady studio. Brady was a prizefighter, a bantamweight. Tommy Brady. I met him at Great Lakes during the First World War."
"And this prizefighter taught you to play the piano?"
"No," said Conzelman, "Brady didn't know how to play the piano. He taught me to play the ukulele. I had heard him entertain at various affairs around the station and had admired his technique. He had the authentic Hawaiian stroke, which at that time hadn't been mastered by very many American ukulele players.
"I practiced hard under Brady, and when I felt I had mastered his ukulele method, I tried the piano. Then I got so I could listen to a number, work out the succession of chords on the ukulele, then find them on the piano and finally add enough of the melody to create the impression that I knew what I was doing. I mastered this deception so well that I was able to organize a dance band when I returned to Washington University after the war. The rest of the fellows in the band were pretty good, and we had so many bookings for fraternity dances and at summer resorts that I had to organize two more bands to handle all the business.
"Tommy also taught me another art. One day, after my ukulele lesson, he asked me if I had ever boxed. I said I certainly had, and I was really under that impression because I had done a little sparring in the gymnasium at Washington University. Well, I put on the gloves with Tommy. I weighed 160, and he weighed 118. He hit me about 40 times, and I never laid a glove on him. Finally I was so winded I couldn't go on. I held up my hands, and I said, 'Tommy, hold everything. Let's start at the beginning. Give me lesson No. 1. Show me how to stand.' "
Conzelman let his hands run over the piano.