They call him the "Harmonica Man."
Norman Hall, a 69-year-old native of Douglas, Neb., has performed with his harmonica for residents of nursing homes in 11 states. Wednesday, he visited Valleyview Care Home in Lawrence, which brought the number of different performance sites to 250.
He hoped to stop in at Colonial Manor and Presbyterian Manor on his way out of town today.
With favorite "old time songs" like "Deep in the Heart of Texas" and "Wabash Cannon Ball," Hall says his show is nostalgic for the senior citizens.
Occasionally, he receives a few dollars for traveling expenses, but he willingly provides entertainment free of charge.
"I guess I get my reward," Hall said this morning. "Why, if I can make these people feel good, then I feel good. Getting the smiles, a little toe-tapping, maybe a little hand-clapping, it's the general feeling that you're helping the people break up the monotony."
Hall farms 80 acres in Nebraska, but he takes off across the country with his trusty harmonica whenever he gets the chance. Usually, he and his wife, Mildred, set out to visit a friend or relative, but they tend to stop several times along the way so the "Harmonica Man" can share his music.
He learned to play the instrument without any guidance. "I bought one in high school and just started blowing. I couldn't read a note if I had to," he said.
Hall says his first public appearance with his harmonica was aboard a B-17 airplane during World War II.
"I always say that's why the Germans surrendered," he joked. "They heard me playing and they didn't want any more of that."