...continued from Letters N-O...Naturalization Papers and the Orphaned Boy
"Ladies and Gentlemen, please welcome the conductor for this evenings performance of La Boheme, Henry Schurtz Thorensen".
As our son turned to the audience and acknowledged the introduction, I turned to his mother and said, "Look, Hilda, our Henry has fulfilled his destiny."
Henry raised his baton and with a subtle motion to the 'Strings', the violins opening chords filled the Metropolitan Opera House. Tears filled my eyes and I was transported back to the time I first heard these opening strains of La Boheme....
....he stood on the chair, violin tucked under his chin and drew the bow across the strings. The Missionary Office was packed with displaced immigrants seeking their way to become a part of America's promise of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Every man, woman and child stood in awe of the child on the chair as he performed the opera. I was among them. I was to be this childs father.
After weeks of searching, no relatives were found and no one came forward to claim the Orphaned Boy. For days after discovering his dead mother in my Naturalization Office, I could not get the boy out of my mind, or the idea that we had missed some identifying clue on his papers. The overlooked number on his citizenship papers was finally traced to his mother's application which revealed his last name and her immigration history.
The immigrant crowd burst into applause as the music came to an end. I took Henry by the hand and we walked away as father and son. Through the years, Henry continued to perform a repertoire of operatic music beyond the grasp of a child.
It was after his use of English improved we learned that his grandfather from the old country had given him the violin. "Mama's papa made violins. My Papa played the violin at a big concert house".
The 'Old Violin' found in his Mama's bag...the one tucked beneath a small boy's chin...the one that brought crowds of people to tears...the one played by a small boy standing in a chair...was a...