Hind Musical Instruments
Beautiful, handcrafted wooden ocarinas by Charlie Hind
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Dennis comes for a visit

In April 2006 Mark Engebretson (son of Ollie) came upon my website by accident and wrote to me. For years I had hoped that someone connected with the group would find my site, and I was delighted to learn that I had some information about his father that he had never seen. Mark had stayed in touch with (former Potato Bug) Dennis Johnson through the years, and had already talked with him about how I was compiling information about The Potato Bugs for my website. Soon, Dennis and I were talking on the phone and exchanging emails. From the time we first talked, he was making plans to visit my shop, and the trip finally became a reality in June, 2007

At the time of his visit, my wife was out of town for a few days, so he and I had a great time being bachelors. We went out for dinner and then stayed up late, all the while talking about ocarinas, his early days touring with the ocarina group, my work, and his long career at NASA. It was truly the highlight of the time I've spent researching The Potato Bugs. 


Charlie Hind (left) and Dennis Johnson

I gave Dennis one of my soprano sweet potatoes as a little memento of his trip, and when he got back home he called wanting to buy an alto to go with it. He chose East Indian Rosewood and was thrilled when it arrived. A few weeks later he volunteered the following letter and encouraged me to use it on the website:


"Dear Charlie, I want you to know how much I think of the Hind Ocarinas. Their accurate tuning, beautiful tone, and mechanical design (which allows an accurate, long range) provide an instrument which the serious musician will appreciate. I find them easier to play than the wooden ones we played years ago. Beginners will be pleased with how fast they can learn to play them, but even if they never learn to play a note, these beautiful wooden ocarinas should be displayed on a mantel, a fine example of the art of wood sculpture. Charlie, I wish that we could have had such fine instruments when I played the ocarina with the Potato Bugs."          --Best regards, Dennis Johnson

 

Sadly, on November 16th, 2007, I received word that Dennis had died. At 86 years young he drove from his home in Texas to Florida, took a Caribbean cruise with an old friend, visited other friends in Florida, and then drove to his son's house. Shortly after arriving there, he suffered a stroke and died on November 15th. In typical Dennis Johnson fashion, he lived his life to the fullest right up to the very end. I am grateful that I had the opportunity to know this fine man.

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