Last April in Provincetown, the Ukulele Caravan made its climactic stop at a memorial, mit ukulele, for Frank D. Schaefer, the proprietor of the White Horse Inn, who died a year ago this weekend, on September 14, 2007. Frank’s wife, Mary J. Martin Schaefer, a.k.a. Uke Diva, told the crowd (and it was a crowd) that at first Frank said he didn’t want a memorial, but, when pressed, he said, Well, maybe something at the Arts Association, with ukulele.
It was good to remember Frank, and touching to realize that he drew many of his friends from among people who had originally been guests at his inn. One such guest who became a friend repeated a story that Frank had told (imitating Frank's enthusiastic German accent) about a Provincetown character who invited him for Thanksgiving and put popcorn in the turkey stuffing: “Popcorn flying out the ass!”
The music at the memorial mit ukulele was enough to win over the most hardened ukulele skeptic. John Kavanagh (above, with Mary), of Nova Scotia, played Bach and “When You Wish Upon a Star.” Patsy Monteleone (right) played a sublime arrangement of Duke Ellington’s “Caravan.” Sonic Uke, a.k.a. Jason Tagg (above, with cookies) and Ted Gottfried (below Jason), the duo who produced the Caravan and who dreamt up the annual New Year’s Eve Uke Drop in the Village, did something silly in platinum-blond wigs, and a young woman called Jamie Scandal (below), who had a kind of clownish Mae West shtick, said that, though she hadn’t known Frank Schaefer, she drew comfort from the knowledge that “normal people will find each other.”
Roni and Peter, guests who had become friends and doubled as uke buffs, baked ukulele-shaped cookies. There was good champagne, and when the memorial proper was over, everyone went back to the White Horse and played into the night.
Frank would have loved it.