OLIVE BRANCH, Miss. — His passion became her passion. Now that he's gone, the music store George Bull left behind is a soft melody that comforts his wife's soul.
"Music was his life," said Sherrill Bull, owner and operator of Olive Branch Pickers in Old Towne. "He was in two bands. He played clarinet and sax for 60 years. We always enjoyed live theater and anything pertaining to music."
Bull runs the business now with their 36-year-old son, Dan. It's been two months since their loved one died at age 74 of a staph infection, and tears easily come to Sherrill Bull's eyes. But on a recent afternoon, music and laughter fill the air.
That's the afternoon that school bands take a day off, and the youth come into the store to hang out and play, to take lessons and to get repair made on instruments.
The store opened in March, after the Bulls closed their antique store in McMinnville, Tenn., and moved to Olive Branch to be close to family.
Since then, the business has expanded its footprint three times.
Olive Branch Pickers isn't just a music store. Intermingled among the guitars, banjos, flutes, clarinets and trumpets are antiques of every type.
Civil War period marbles, beaded purses, fancy hats, decorative ceramics and, yes, old music, sit on shelves and behind glass cases. Bull calls the store "eclectic."
Tucked in a room in the back of the store, Dan Bull runs Olive Branch Tech Support. He focuses on computer support for small businesses. He said he did not inherit the musical gene.
"I played the clarinet for a year, in sixth grade," he said. "I can't keep time."
George Bull was the biggest music lover in the family. He played in a jazz band while in college but became a mechanical and electrical engineer.
His would-be wife was a day care director. She had played the flute in elementary school and piano. Her attachment to music came through dance, and he taught her how to repair instruments.
Mostly music was all about fun.
After they retired, they opened the antique store in McMinnville. In December, they boxed it all up and came to Olive Branch.
The Olive Branch store with the white rocker on the porch had only been open a few months when George Bull suddenly died.
In her grief, Sherrill Bull discovered an extended family in Old Towne. They hugged her and made her feel loved.
Surrounded by the music her husband loved, she has moments of grief. Surrounded by young people excited about music, she opens her heart to them. Some nights she is at the business way past closing, helping the young people.
Jake South, 17, a trumpet player primarily, started out as a customer. His mother, Chickasaw Elementary School principal Selina Baker, appreciated a local music store. She didn't have to make long trips to Memphis or Bartlett for mouth pieces or valve oil.
"The convenience is great, and Ms Sherrill is always there with a smile," Baker said.
Looking for a meaningful part-time job, Jake asked to be hired at Olive Branch Pickers. He now gives music lessons on a variety of instruments.
He said what all students need is perseverance "because everybody starts out not being good. Nobody is born being a virtuoso."
The love extended to Bull helps her persevere.
"I just love to be around people . being a part of the community," she said. "The people have shown me such love. They keep me going."