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At age 93, piano man says he loves playing for 'old people'
Nov 11

York News-Times

YORK, Neb. (AP) _ Every Friday, music fills the dining room of the Mahoney House retirement community.

Like clockwork, Art Fredrickson pulls up a bench behind an electronic piano, and plays for the residents and employees. ``Most of them like old music, so that's what I usually play - old hymns and old ballads,'' he said.

Fredrickson estimated he's played 8-9 years at Mahoney House, rarely missing a day. ``He is here at least 45 minutes before noon,'' said Tammy Coffey, Mahoney House Executive Director.

Mahoney House residents - and staff - look forward to hearing him play, Coffey said. ``All of the residents love his music, and our employees look forward to seeing Art every week.''

The feeling is mutual. ``I enjoy doing it. I love old people because I am one myself,'' Fredrickson, age 93, said. He added that he also does it for the love of music itself. ``I like to play music the way I would like to have it played,'' Fredrickson said. ``To say I'm an expert in music - oh no!''

Fredrickson learned to play at about nine years old. ``There was an old lady who gave piano lessons,'' he told the York News-Times. ``She did her best to teach me how to play.''

Much like Mahoney House, music would fill the air at Fredrickson's childhood home. ``I love music, and my whole family loved music,'' Fredrickson recalled. ``My father was a pretty good piano player.''

Fredrickson's playing is truly unique, though. ``I haven't heard anyone else use my style,'' he said. ``I like to do it, and I do it the best I can.''

In 1943 Fredrickson took a hiatus from playing, enlisting in the U.S. Army to serve in World War II's European theatre. ``I didn't get to play much in the service,'' he said.

Instead, he found himself landing in Naples, Italy, on the way to heavy fighting in the Alps. ``We reached Rome, and that was considered a neutral city,'' Fredrickson said. ``Right on the other side of Rome was where the heavy fighting started.''

Fredrickson said he remembered his infantry sending a unit ahead to scout. ``The corporal wanted me with him,'' Fredrickson said. ``He took a trust in me and took me everywhere he went.'' Fredrickson surmised it was because he had taken Latin in high school. ``I don't talk really good Italian, but I knew how to make myself understood. That was kind of important.''

Fredrickson was discharged in 1946, and now he communicates in a more universal way: through his music.

``It's more relaxed in the dining room during lunch,'' Coffey said. ``It really provides some great joy and relaxation for the residents. He will be greatly, greatly missed if he stopped.''

``Some old people have things that are holding them back - sometimes they can't express themselves. I hope I'm helping them in that respect.''


Information from: York News-Times, http://www.yorknewstimes.com

By The Associated Press, Copyright 2019