By Vicky Griswold from interview with daughter Louise Rydberg Imperiale
Irving Rydberg first began selling sheet music in the middle of the Depression. Armed with twenty dollars and a dream, he slowly built up, piece by piece, a small stock of music, and was eventually able to establish credit with several music publishers, no mean feat during those lean years. Working out of a store on Central Avenue in Plainfield which he shared with Mr. Jay, a repairer of musical instruments, he was abruptly forced to sell the business when he was drafted to fight in World War ll. It proved to be only a temporary setback.
Returning home from the war, he went to work at Gregory's Music Store in Plainfield, where one day he met a young woman who had come in to purchase the sheet music for the song "Plaisir d'Amour." She sang it for him, and thus began a forty year relationship with his wife, Agnes.
In 1951, Mr. Rydberg left Gregory's to fulfill a dream of owning his own music store. Initially located on West Second Street next to the bank, the store's first and most loyal customers were the same teachers who had taught him to play piano and wind instruments. Several years later the shop was moved - literally - to a location on North Avenue by members of his church in full chorus, pushing the piano and toting stacks of music through the streets of Plainfield.
A man of few words, Irving Rydberg was generous in spirit, and would always go the extra mile to ensure his customers' satisfaction. His music teachers were not just customers, they were friends. Eventually, the store became known all over New Jersey for its large and diversified collection of sheet music, and in fact the New York Times mentioned it in an article as one of the few places in the metropolitan area where musicians could find such a variety of printed music. And he knew his stock! His ability to pluck the exact piece that a customer needed from a towering pile of sheet music was legendary, and he did it without fuss or fanfare.
He remained active as a musician, and for forty years was pianist and organist at the Gillette Chapel in Long Hill. He was also a member of the Chapel Band which played for church functions, including their yearly musical variety show, and at nursing homes. He also played piano with the band for weekly square dances at the Meyersville Grange, and eventually formed his own band, playing piano and saxophone for local affairs. He also taught piano at the South Plainfield Adult School.
Quite simply, Mr. Rydberg loved his work. His music was his life, his job was his joy. Through persistence and sheer challenging work, he could achieve his dream, and in the process, gave pleasure to countless numbers of people during his lifetime. For those of you who remember the many hours of happiness he got from playing the piano, we are sure he is now experiencing the same delight learning to play the harp up in heaven. We remember him with gratitude and appreciation.