Little accordionist Patsy Pace a national talent in 1937
A sweet and unnearving story from an Akron, Ohio history project. Worth reading the whole thing:
At age 4, he found a cousin’s accordion and began pressing keys with his tiny fingers. Patsy’s family was amazed to hear recognizable tunes take shape….
Within a couple of months, little Patsy could play standard tunes on a toy accordion. He graduated to a larger model after his family ordered an instrument from the Italo-American Accordion Co. of Chicago. The name “P. PACE” was embedded in sparkling rhinestones.
Building a repertoire of more than 200 songs by age 6, he entertained at social events, appeared at public ceremonies and performed on local radio….
“There is no way of predicting to what heights Patsy Pace will climb in the music world,” the Beacon Journal noted.
Patsy attended Jennings school and North High School before graduating from Buchtel in 1947. At age 17, he enrolled at Juilliard School of Music in New York, majoring in piano and composition before graduating with excellent grades in 1950.
No one expected what happened next — least of all Patsy Pace. In New York, he became addicted to heroin.
Casual use of drugs led him into a downward spiral. Akron police arrested him in 1951 after finding a syringe and narcotics in his car. Over the next two decades, Pace was arrested dozens of times on charges of drug possession, breaking and entering and forgery of prescriptions. He spent five years in prisons and hospitals….
“I never dreamed when I watched those little hands move over that accordion that you would ever be before me on a charge like this,” Summit County Common Pleas Judge Clande V.D. Emmons told Pace while sentencing him to probation in 1954.Breaking through the storm, Pace reclaimed his life in the 1960sby submitting to methadone treatment….
“I’ve put aside the dreams of my youth that I will do this or be here or there at this time in my life,” he told the Beacon Journal in 1981. “My ambitions of the big time are gone. My life has changed so drastically. People who knew me before don’t believe it.”
Pace was 75 when he died of pneumonia in 2006.
Beacon Journal copy editor Mark J. Price is the author of The Rest Is History: True Tales From Akron’s Vibrant Past, a new book from the University of Akron Press. He can be reached at 330-996-3850 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org