Mine was built in Seattle while I was working in my first shop, a spare bedroom of a communal house on Sunnyside street. It had a cedar top with a carved soundhole rosette depicting an apple and a serpent. I never did get the mahogany sides to bend very well, giving birth to the guitar's name, the Pear. Even at that early financially desperate stage I had the dignity not to try to sell it, so the Pear hung in a corner, without case [remember the shape], too precious to destroy.
Eventually I moved to a rural farm near Morton, WA, worked part time for the local dairy farmer, and built instruments in a tiny attic shop. The Pear hung behind my workbench, at the end of a very short row of guitars enduring my still nascent craftsmanship.
One of my neighbors had a son, Vinnie. Vinnie was about 12 years old, didn't have a dad on a regular basis, and was mildly retarded. He spoke with a painful stammer, had a leg brace, and a colostomy. If you are getting a picture of a sickly, pale waif, think again. Vinnie looked, acted, and did his best to live like the toughest gangster he had ever seen on TV. Vinnie used to come over to my shop to smoke cigarettes, and after a while he became a regular. Mostly he just talked about how stupid the world was, and what he was going to do when he moved to the big city. Never a word about guitars. It was his mother who told me that when he got home, guitars were all he talked about.
Around this time I had just been accepted by my teacher, Richard Schneider, to apprentice with him in Detroit. It was December of 1974. As I packed up the shop, the thought of letting Richard see the Pear was out of the question, so in a fit of inspiration I gave it to Vinnie. Even though it was right before Christmas, I didn't have the presence of mind to wrap it, much less to put it under their tree.
Many years have passed now, and I sometimes wonder what happened to Vinnie. If I could go back, I'd wrap that guitar up with lots of ribbon and bows, and push it way under the branches where he wouldn't see it right away. Of course I can't, but Vinnie, if you're out there somewhere on this magic internet, Merry Christmas!