MECHANICAL MUSIC BY 'MACHINE GUN' FRED HOFFER I spent the formative years of my childhood in my father's laundry; The Frankfort Steam Laundry, that is. I say 'in' because the laundry took up most of the building. The steam engine and the wash tubs took up the ground level and the first floor, the steam presses took up the second floor, and we lived on the third floor, up a long flight of stairs on the left side of the building. The sound of the steam engine and the hissing of the steam could be heard everywhere. Out back, inside a shed, was the new boiler, the yellow brick chimney that towered over the building, and of course, the coal bins. Most children love repetition, and I was no exception. That ground floor was a marvel of the machine age, with the regular back and forth motion of the steam piston, the click, click, click of the leather belts that connected the drive shafts on the ceiling to the wash tubs below with their regular tumbling of the laundry inside. Toward the front of the building, near my father's office, was the great, gleasming steam mangle that could iron a whole sheet at one time. That was the machine that caught my big sister Verlie's hand one time. Quick action by my mother saved her, but she always carried a scar on her left hand. During the war, I was sent to the Army's aerial gunnery school down at Tyndal Field, in Florida, to get some experience with machine guns before going on to navigation school. We learned to take the big .50 caliber guns apart and then reassemble them. Then we got to fire them! It was not my conscious intention to make machine gun music, but it seems that that is the way it turned out. Aside from it's wonderful harmonies, the piano has the capability of making that rat-tat-tat of a real machine gun. It fires in short bursts, sometimes three, four, five, or six, just like the real thing. It imitates the scream of a small caliber weapon, and the pun, pun, pun of a heavy caliber Bofors in the lower registers, and amazingly at the same time it is making real music. I am not a particularly bloodthirsty person, so I don't think it's the damage that a machine gun does that attracts me, it's the rhythm. It's the old song of the machine coming back to me from the Frankfort Steam Laundry, after these so many years.