MOISHE STEMLICH’S PLACE IN FISHING HISTORY

Moishe Stemlich listened to Eric Rappaport play piano for the eighth million time and he couldn’t believe the kid still couldn’t figure out the right keys to hit. He had been his piano teacher since Eric was five and he was soon going to have his Bar Mitzvah. Eric’s progression had been basically non-existent. His playing was so bad that Moishe felt guilty taking money from the Rappaports.

During numerous conversations, Moishe had tried to persuade Feggie and Al Rappaport to let their child try a different instrument maybe the tuba, but they had been adamant about Eric becoming a world class pianist. Every time Moishe heard them say that, and they said it often he always wanted to break out laughing.

When Moishe said his morning prayers, he slipped in one that Eric would somehow become a little talented on the piano, so far his prayer hadn’t been close to being answered.

Moishe had been teaching piano and tuning pianos for his entire adult life. He had made a living but was far from rich. He lived in New York and was known around Brooklyn as the gifted piano guy and he stayed busy.

As a Single man he met a lot of women, but his favourite was Mrs. Elaine Singer. Her husband Moe had owned a successful deli and was a very nice man. One night on the way home from the deli (Moe’s Shmoe’s Delicious) he dropped the corned beef sandwich he was eating. As he was looking down at it on the road, he was surprised to see the pickle was still in the wrapper and hadn’t touched the ground. He bent down to get it and was wiped out by a tractor trailer. He and Mrs. Singer had a daughter, Jessica and she was a great pianist, the opposite of Eric Rapport.

Mrs. Singer had been widowed for three years when she invited Moishe out to a Brahms concert. They had hit it off and saw each other once a week plus when he gave Jessica a lesson. Mrs. Singer was very encouraging and told Moishe he was destined for more than the piano lessons, he was a smart guy and she knew he was destined for greatness. She kissed him and told him that she would always be supportive because she believed in him. Moishe was firmly motivated.

Moishe had a pretty crazy schedule, and visited a number of homes during the week. What gave him true peace of mind was when he was home with Gertrude and Dino. They were his goldfish.

One night Moishe decided to make himself brownies and he noticed that his fish came to the top of the bowl when he put the mix master on and the dough was being spun around. He made a note of it, and tried to find out how they would react when he whisked. They did the same thing, they somehow associated the mixing motion with food.

During another insufferable teaching session at Eric’s he asked him about practice and Eric said he would but he was in the middle of a game of Fortnight. He explained the game to Moishe and then they discussed different apps. Moishe found one that provided instruction for piano playing and Eric liked it. Soon he was using his phone for the keyboard and loving it. Moishe was happy that Eric had a whole new interest in learning piano.

Moishe went to the Brooklyn Public library, the Adams Street location and did research on how to build an app. He cancelled all of his appointments and became engrossed in schematics. He stayed until closing then went back to his place. He called Mrs. Singer and cancelled their date to go to a Strauss concert and focused on the job at hand. He whisked and his fish came to the surface and they were fed. Moishe laughed out of pure joy and elation.

The next day he cancelled all of his appointments again (something he had never done) even when sick and headed to Joseph M. Cohen patent lawyer. He gave his schematics for a whirling lure and paid six hundred dollars and Joseph filed for the patent.

Next, Moishe hopped on a train and went to the Bass Pro Shop in Bridgeport Connecticut and met with the store manager. He went with him to the fish tank and pulled out his whisk. When he started making the mixing motion the fish rose to the top of the tank. The Manager was in awe.

One week later, Joe Cohen called to say his patent had been approved after he had pulled some strings to speed up the process. Next Moishe took a little lure and added a special element that made it go up and down and emit a sound like whisking. It was what he had been working on in the library. He returned to the Bass Pro Shop and the Manager literally gave it a whirl. The fish went crazy for it.

It didn’t take long for Joe Cohen to arrange a manufacturing plant in Boise, Idaho to create the new lures. They soon they became the most popular fishing item in the United States. Bass Pro Shops couldn’t keep up with the demand and almost overnight Moishe became wealthy and a celebrity.

He proposed to Mrs. Singer and she accepted. Moishe took her as his date to Radio City Music Hall where there was a recital featuring Eric Rapport who wowed the audience with his piano prowess. Moishe knew it was all due to a great app on Eric’s phone, proving miracles could happen.

When Moishe was interviewed by Outdoor Living Magazine they asked who he would give credit to for his amazing lure. He looked over at his table and said ‘’Gertrude and Dino’’.

It was funny, when Moishe first started out in the piano business he was often asked can you tune a piano, and he’d reply ‘’ I can tuna fish and I can tune a piano’’ now both answers had become true.

There was one secret that Moishe carried around with him that he never revealed it to anyone. In his entire life, Moishe the Piano Teacher and Tuner from Brooklyn, New York had never ever gone fishing.

--

--

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Alan J. Schwarz

Alan J. Schwarz

Alan Schwarz loves life. He is the founder of JAMS Productions, a television production company based in Toronto . His passion is writing.