Oral History -

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Paul Werkheiser often says he would never trade his memories of the years he worked for the C.F. Martin & Company. He expressed the family-like relationships he had and the pleasure it was for him to be a part of the growth of the guitar company. Pauly worked at nearly every level of assembly and production and made life-long friends along the way.

Parham Werlein followed in the footsteps of his father, grandfather and great-grandfather as president of Werlein’s For Music in New Orleans, Louisiana. Like his predecessors, Parham also served on the NAMM Board and was a great supporter of the American Music Conference (AMC).

Bitsie Werlein was the last president of the famed Werlein’s For Music in New Orleans. When its doors closed in 2003 it was the nation’s oldest operating music retailer. The company was established in 1862 during the Civil War when the Union Navy blockaded New Orleans harbor.

Lars Wern is the Vice President of Em Nordic AB in Stockholm, Sweden, working alongside the company’s founder, Benny Englund.  In fact, during the 2013 NAMM Show in Anaheim, Lars and Benny were interviewed together and shared their love for the industry and spoke about some of the changes they witnessed during their careers.  Lars made his own guitars as a teenager and by 1964

Otto Werner grew up surrounded by music. His dad, a violin maker in Schönbach, produced violins at home and sold them in Markneukirchen while his aunt worked at Junger Company, the main producer of strings in Schönbach. After 1946, she resettled first in Tennenlohe, then in Bubenreuth once the Junger Company was able to reestablish production in West Germany following WWII.

Rose Wernes Drake traveled with her husband, Ivor, when he became the second salesperson hired for the Winter Piano Company following World War II. He often said the company got two for the price of one as she soon became as good an asset to the company as he was. It was Ivor’s idea to train her on all aspects of the business and she traveled with him on most every trip.

Paul Wertico grew up in Chicago with a passion for music making. At the age of 15 he landed his first professional gig as a drummer and never set the sticks down. As an award winning musician and innovator in fusion, Paul gained worldwide recognition as a member of the Pat Metheny Group from 1983 until 2001, playing on ten of the bands recordings. Shortly before leaving Metheny, Paul began a long association with guitarist Larry Coryell, becoming the drummer of the Larry Coryell Trio from 2000 through 2007.

John Wessel was born in Holland and recalled with a stern face his World War II memories of running from the Nazi's. He was just one step ahead of the SS on several occasions. After the war he relocated to America where he found a sponsor in the Estey Organ Company.

Elliott Wessel likes to point out the fact that he has had five different positions at Schmitt Music at five different times during his career. He also conveys, as many others have, that Schmitt Music employees are much like a family.

Eleanor West and her husband Pearl established a music store in Iowa City just a year after getting married in 1940. Eleanor was the bookkeeper in the early years of West Music Company and was known to make a penny last during the Great Depression and World War II.