Introducing Herman Junior
I know I’ve spoken a lot about Herminia and Hermanette,
but I never spoke of Herman’s son, Herman Junior.
He’s almost 28 and is autistic. He lives in a group
home and we see him once per week.
people that are autistic have what is called a splinter
skill and a very few have a “savant” talent
which is somewhat incomprehensible-like the “Rainman”
character. Herman Junior’s talent is playing the
keyboard. He can play almost anything he hears by ear.
He also does requests.
first discovered this talent when his daughter, Herminia,
was practicing her piano lessons. She kept making the
same mistake, so from the kitchen Herman told her to ,
“Give it a rest.” When after awhile the piano
began again with the same piece including the mistake
in the same place, he said, “I thought I told you…”
then went into the living room to find six-year old Herman
Junior playing the piano. It was a first. He had heard
it with the mistake and played what he heard.
was the beginning of his career. Actually, he had already
had a little notoriety as the Northwest Arkansas March
of Dimes poster child the year before. Did I ever tell
you that Herman lived in Arkansas for awhile to get his
graduate degrees and run a bookstore? He tells me it was
a great time in his life. All three of his children were
highlight of Herman Junior’s career was when he
was getting music therapy at his special class in elementary
school. The chorus at the school were singing “From
A Distance” for a special concert, and when the
chorus director heard how good Herman Junior was doing
with the instrumental version of the song, she asked that
he play it through as an introduction.
Herman Junior is very speech impaired, often only repeating
what someone says to him, when asked to play for a crowd
he walked to the piano, bowed to the crowd, played the
song through perfectly, bowed again, and sat down to the
applause with a half-smile on his face.
Junior loves to eat. It’s a wonder he isn’t
fat. A favorite of his is Taco Bell food and he also often
asks for liverwurst at the house. Herman tells me he’s
always had a great affection for food. And you’d
never know to look at him. He’s quite slender. Must
be the metabolism. Herman obviously doesn’t share
that trait. He’d be the first to admit he too easily
turns to fat. Also, the musical gene skipped a generation,
according to Herman. But we’re always glad to hear
Junior when he visits.
Kathryn Spira, a native of Cleveland who pursued an acting
career in NYC and Los Angeles, now pursues free lance
writing from Caroga Lake in Fulton County. Previous columns
may be accessed at her web site www.kathrynskorner.com