I dialed his number, half expecting to be put off and told to call back another time. Instead, Sal listened carefully, as I told him about my book project. He jumped in and said, “Come by any time. I go to lunch between noon and one o’clock.”
covered in a gentle snow of fine Renaissance sawdust.
Twenty minutes later, after a taxi ride up Canal Street into the Metaire, I found his tiny shop. As soon as I stepped through the door, I thought I might be on the set of Storage Wars - but in the 15th century Europe - in a room filled with piles of decaying wooden instruments, waiting to be restored by Sal. Violins, guitars, banjos, bases, ukuleles, even dulcimers were stacked everywhere. A few looked like works of art - others looked as if they'd just been rescued from a garbage can. I had to carefully pick my spot to stand in on a floor sprinkled with wood shavings. I tried to make sense of it all, scanning the walls where more violins, guitars and mandolins hung high above shelves piled with tools, bottles of glues, stains, and violin bows. Every inch of the place was covered in a gentle snow of fine Renaissance sawdust.
Sal greeted me with the warm sandpapered hand of a craftsman. He smiled, standing behind a cluttered counter, working on the bridge of a splintering bass, with the demeanor of a man who loves his work. Sal’s weathered face and long hair reminded me a little of Neil Young, his skin a bit sepia-toned, aging like the rest of the stained orchestra lining the walls. Behind him was a workbench littered with a hodgepodge of tools from his trade mixed in with instrument parts and scraps of wood; all collected during nearly 40 years in business.