Russ Mason (August, 2015):
My father wanted me to take piano lessons, and so my parents bought a Baldwin piano when we still lived in Park Ridge. My piano teacher from the beginning was Bob Gersch, who came to our house once a week, more or less, for one hour sessions, which I dreaded. I hated practicing, and can recall several emotional scenes between me and either my mom or dad over the years about why I had to continue taking lessons. But continue they did until I went off to college, where I took some music theory classes, and began to appreciate music in a way that was never conveyed by 'Mister Gersch'.
In retrospect, while he was an accomplished pianist himself, I don't think he was much of a teacher. Or at least he wasn't a good fit, since to me he just seemed like a big talking blowhard, who moonlighted at times as a local entertainer under the name Bob Savage, and liked to compete in car races, sometimes requesting that his car's number be 88 -- the number of keys on a piano.
In any case, I did acquire some familiarity with the keyboard as a result of all this, I've written a number of songs on piano over the years, and still have that Baldwin piano my parents purchased back in the 1950s.
During my college years when I returned home, I'd usually sit down at the piano at some point and play through the pieces I knew, which I think my dad enjoyed hearing. I especially recall once playing my own version of the Donovan song "Catch the Wind," after which my dad asked what it was, and told me he especially liked that one.