I have, here in my hot little hand, the handle from a Millers Falls
Alford-type hand vise. At the moment, its highest and best future use
might be as a sort of maraca, because I can hear the rattle of tiny parts
and bits inside when I shake it.
And, sadly for you, that reminds me of a story. I have a good friend who
worked for some years as a gigging guitarist in New York. He lucked into
one of those bread-and-butter jobs that working musicians badly need,
working as an orchestra contractor for a caterer who ran a number of large
banquet halls in the Bronx. Now, as some of you may know, every -- by
which I mean EVERY -- musician in a large city who has a union card works
on New Year's Eve. In fact, there's usually a shortage in the metro New
York area. And so it was that my friend found himself working a New Year's
Eve party with himself as the guitarist, a keyboard guy, a bass player, and
a "percussionist" who was horribly late. When the guy finally did show up,
he had with him....a pair of maracas. And that was it. A pair of maracas.
The band struggled through the evening, as you might imagine, with the
gentle, sometimes amplified shake-shake-shake of the maracas accompanying
popular party hits. Finally, at 1 AM, a rather well-lubricated member of
the audience staggered up to the stage and said, "Can you guys play
'Stairway to Heaven'?". My pal snapped. "Look at us," he said, through
clenched teeth. " LOOK AT US. LOOK. AT. US. DO WE *LOOK* LIKE WE CAN
PLAY STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN ??!!??".
Anyway, I'd like to expand the use of the Alford vise handle beyond its
potential as half of a pair of maracas by unscrewing the cap and rescuing
whatever's inside, but the damn thing is stuck. A judicious application of
paraffin based bicycle chain lube loosened it some, but it's still stuck;
guessing the whole thing is both swollen and dry. Anybody got any good
ideas for what to do? I did try clamping it in a soft-jawed vise and using
one of those strap-type jar openers, but no dice.
Advice, and renditions of Stairway to Heaven on non-traditional instrument,
All the best,
Thomas R. Bruce