I am trying to think of the first time I met Dick Lindner. But there are just some people who are such a part of the fabric of the community that you probably heard about them for years before you actually met them. Dick is that kind of guy. We had heard him mentioned as an influential music professor for years.
But I got to know Dick when he took over the old Hal Leonard Music Store which became Lindner Music at 64 E. Second St. in downtown Winona. Our office was at 56 E. Second St., right next door, which we occupied after Hal Leonard Publishing vacated the building when new headquarters were built on E. Mark St.
We had been friendly with the Hal Leonard Music Store folks, and when Dick took over the friendliness continued. Back then Curt Glenna and Eric Saecker were both selling instruments as well as playing in area bands that we followed, so we were just one big happy family down here on E. Second.
A few years into our tenure here, John and I moved into a house in town from a place up on Pleasant Ridge. Our family was getting bigger and older, and our business was becoming more demanding of our time. (And I hated the place on the ridge and its challenges, especially during the snowy winter, for a woman who was driving an old AMC Gremlin.)
We decided to have a house warming/Christmas party to celebrate our new house. But there was only one problem — we had no furniture. Sure, we had some lawn furniture in the living room and a blue velour couch and chair in the den that we had bought at an auction for $187. We had a kitchen table from John’s mom with six chairs in the kitchen. So, let’s see, that would seat fourteen people.
John pointed out that at a party, most people stand, which was a good thing. But the house just seemed so…bare. Aha! I thought. We’ll have a theme for our party and decorate around that. What we had a lot of were musical instruments. We had an upright piano we’d bought for $10, some trombones, some bongo drums, a tambourine and a bunch of sheet music. I thought a big tuba or some such thing would round it out quite nicely.
I went next door to visit Dick Lindner at the music store. Now if you know Dick, you know he has a great smile. But he’s got an even better blank stare that he uses on you if you’ve just asked him something dumb or off-the-wall. I asked if he had an old tuba I could borrow for a while, and told him why. I got the blank stare. Hmm, I thought, I wonder what I did wrong.
Then Dick said, “I don’t have an old tuba.” Okay, thanks anyway, just asking, sorry to bother you, I stammered. “But, I have this old bass drum!” he said. It was huge, an old wood-framed concert bass drum that said “Winona Jr High” on the side in stenciled letters, in case it got lost, I guess.
“Wow!” I said. “Dick, that’s even better than a tuba. You can’t use a tuba as a cocktail table!” I promised to bring it back. We had our housewarming, and John was right, everyone stood up except the pregnant women. The next Monday, I went to Dick and said that as soon as I could use the delivery truck, I’d bring the bass drum back. “Oh,” said Dick, “just keep it.” It didn’t occur to me until a little while later that I was probably the only one in town who really wanted it, including the trash man. We still use it for a cocktail table.
After Dick left the music business, he went into the insurance business, and would have his coffee break at the Acoustic, where we went for coffee, too. And of course we kept up with the municipal band, having the exact right acoustical advantage on our front porch on Washington Street of being able to hear the concerts in screened-in comfort.
We are sad that Dick is retiring from the band. His tenure there has been a boon to the entire community and people from the area who come each summer Wednesday evening for a musical experience that has endured for many, many years in Lake Winona. We welcome Myron Haug to continue the tradition.
Thanks, Dick, for all the years and talent you have given to Winona’s rich musical history and the gentle pleasure of the Wednesday night music in the park.