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  • Writer's pictureMort Laitner

Parallel Universes

Updated: Feb 26, 2019

Our story begins in the Sixties, Joel Jancko enters 9th grade and meets a young English teacher named Stuart Oderman.

Little did either one of them know that they would have a unique common interest.

Their parallel universes intersected in an area called, "The Pre-Talkies Zone".

"A dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity."

The middle ground between silence and talk. 

The middle ground between organ notes and the inner ear.

A dimension where sound takes hold of your soul and rides it to the heavens.

 We now ride back to the Seventies, where both Joel and Stuart have left Fallsburgh Central High.

Joel leaves for college, med school and a successful medical practice.

Stuart goes off to a career as a silent film pianist--- the Museum of Modern Art, an author of five books including" Talking to the Piano Player, a composer---Laurel and Hardy Laugh Tunes, Pandora's Box (See it on YouTube) and a conversationalist---on the Joe Franklin TV show. (Who knew there was such a thing as a career as a conversationalist?) 

During hot Catskills summers of the Seventies, Joel's and Stuart's lives again intersected, when Joel sneaks into the Concord to see Jackie Mason, Dick Shawn and Henny Youngman and unbeknownst to Joel, Stuart is there accompanying them on the piano.

During the Eighties, Joel loved watching silent films especially Laurel and Hardy; sometimes as he read the credits at the end of the movie, there popped up a familiar name, "Movie music played by Stuart Oderman."

In the new millennium, Joel and his wife, Pam, fell in love with theatre organs.

They brought back to life the Opus 1616.

Sadly, Stuart died in 2017. He never visited the Joel's Backyard Museum nor saw or heard the Opus 1616.

But if you're in the audience on Saturday February 16, 2019  at 7:00 pm for the silent movie: "The Cameraman" starring Buster Keaton accompanied by Walt Stony, you may feel Stuart's presence, smiling, listening and humming a tune in an area we call, "The Pre-Talkies Zone."

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