The Rescue Trumpet

Once upon a time there was a Guy who liked old stuff, especially old stuff you could fix up. Or recycle.

So, he was hunting in the dumpster in the church parking lot for cardboard or anything worth passing on to someone else. He pulled out a small black suitcase, certainly not expecting a musical instrument.

He opened the case and, lo and behold, it held a trumpet. He rescued it and eagerly brought it home. This trumpet and flugelhorn player is missing playing Christmas concerts this year at retirement homes with the Des Moines members of New Horizons Band.

He began carefully taking it apart, which turned into an ordeal, as some of the slides were hard to work apart, even after saturating the entire horn with oil. He worked with the valves until they worked smoothly.

Researching the stamp on it, it’s a 1945 King Cleveland 600. But the tuning slide absolutely wouldn’t let loose, even after taking a torch to it, so he stopped by Rieman Music, which is where New Horizons Band practices. Mark, who works there, got caught up in the story of the rescue trumpet. He managed to get the dent out that was causing the problem and did some resoldering. He also replaced the third valve slide and ring, the felt pads under the finger buttons, and a cute little knob.

1945 King Cleveland 600 in its recently glued nest.

Guy brought home the trumpet to its red nest, which he’d reglued into the case, and he shined up his adoptee with Brasso. This just might turn out to be his favorite horn.

The only thing better than having an old trumpet is having an old trumpet with a story.


  1. Every old item, it seems, has a backstory, even those that have been discarded as useless. Granted, some (like the one you told in this post) are more interesting and turn out better than others, but a backstory nonetheless. Thanks for reminding me of this fact through this illustration. (Now I need to go back through some of my “junk” to find those interesting backstories!)

    • Hope you’ll share some of those stories! I even relish the back stories of books. Remember Alex Haley’s “Roots”? We’d just moved back to Iowa when the mini series was on TV. I’d already read the book, but my favorite part was at the back where he told how he learned all the background stuff!

    • The band is made up of players over 50. Most are retired, so they’re missing it as much as the retirement home people! They’d take most of January off, then begin practicing for spring concerts.

  2. As a former trumpet and French horn player, I’m dismayed someone would throw one in a dumpster and so delighted it got rescued. When I decided I wouldn’t likely play anymore, I donated my beautiful Getzen Capri to the high school band so students could use it, even if they couldn’t afford an instrument. I can imagine the band really misses being able to perform this holiday season. Performing is what it’s all about.

    • This group also enjoys the practices! I played French horn in high school but never owned one. Our trumpet players were also our football players, so the French hornists played trumpet for marching band! (I became flag waver and baton twirler instead.)

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