Grandma’s Piano…

Ice added to the challenge of loading the old upright.

I wish I had some pictures of Grandma playing the piano with all of us kids gathered around.  She loved to play and she played well.  As a child, I did not appreciate her skills, nor that we were made to sit and sing songs of an era long since passed.  A time of waltzing; men in tuxedos courting women in fancy hoop skirts and silly hairdos.  Looking back, I find those times at the piano to be some of my best memories of Grandma.  She was in her element.

Bro-in-law carefully loading the piano in our truck.

Grandma was a strict Methodist and we knew we had to be on our best behavior while staying with her and Grandpa.  There were so many rules to abide by.  No screaming, no arguing or fighting, no playing in the barn, no getting out of eye-sight or ear shot. We could not say “shut up” to each other – that was difficult.  The bucket of toys contained old relics, nothing like our fancy, bright-colored toys at home.  We did like playing with the marbles.  That was allowed as long as we didn’t get too wild with them.  The best times were the board or card games we played after lunch.  If someone managed to outwit Grandma at Flinch or knock her marble back to the doghouse in Wahoo, her exclamation was always, “Well, ACTUALLY!!!” which delighted us.  Grandma was a fierce game player and the expression “actually” was as vulgar as she got with words.

FD and a good friend moving the piano from the truck, one level at a time.

Most of the time though, Grandma suggested singing at the piano. None of us could sing very well, Grandma included, and none of us really wanted to sit there and sing old songs.  She always started out with religious songs or hymns. “This Little Light of Mine” was a favorite because we all knew that from Sunday school.  We sang a few hymns, but our voices were fairly wimpy.  We didn’t know the hymns all that well, nor did we know how to read notes.  Jodi was always entertaining because she wasn’t old enough to read yet, and crooned out the melody, attempting to sing without knowing the words.  That would get us to giggling uncontrollably… until Grandma put the skids on that action.

The identification plate.

Eventually, Grandma got to the more lively music which entailed, “Yellow Rose of Texas”, “Blue Skirt Waltz”, and “Lonely Little Robin”.  Grandma was in her element.  It was as if the person she was expected to be and worked so hard at being was reflected in the religious songs, but her real personality shone in the waltz’s.  I marveled at how her fingers danced over the keys and her hands moved ever so swiftly along the keyboard.  She sang out loud, which made us a bit braver to belt out the words as well.  In time, we sang from memory and we all smiled at each other… maybe a bit embarrassed at singing as a group because we never would do that at home.  Somewhere along the way, we grew to love the melodies, and actually enjoyed singing those old songs.

Complicated mechanics only a tuner could love.

Christmas last year, FD and I made the long trek to Nebraska for the sole purpose of transporting the piano to its new home in Oklahoma.  Grandma passed away back in 1997.  Jodi acquired the piano, moved it to her home and taught herself to play.  Grandma would have been proud.  Years later, Jodi moved to a home not having room for the monstrosity, so it sat in storage for many years.  Last fall, when the person storing the old piano asked that it be moved, a plea was made for someone in the family to take it.  I didn’t really want it, but FD  couldn’t see just giving it to a stranger.  He’s sentimental about family heirlooms.

Beautiful lines… an artsy underside!

We didn’t have the best weather conditions, nor means to move a piano.  Winter in Nebraska can be brutal, and despite praying for good weather, we were blessed with a good old ice storm two days before the scheduled trip home.  FD and a Bro-in-law managed to place it in our truck with a loader.  They cushioned it with blankets and strapped tarps around it.  We carefully skated across the state line into Kansas, where soon, the weather grew sunny and warm.

A labor of love… polishing the old girl to a beautiful shine!

A brave friend helped us unload it from the truck, to the utility trailer, and finally down to the storage building floor.  I cleaned it up, washing years of dust and dirt away, not to mention a little splash from transporting on ice and slush. I gave it a coat of polish, covered it with blankets, and rolled it to an area amidst gardening tools and shelving. FD thought some day we would refinish it and put it in our home.

A couple of weeks ago FD’s Mom announced her piano was in bad shape.  The piano tuner said it was not worth fixing.  I asked the tuner fellow to come over and take a gander at Grandma’s old piano.  He looked it over and declared it was in pretty good condition and for around $200 he would have it in decent working condition.  Not up to standard, mind you, but good enough to play for pleasure.  So, it appears we only have to find a way to move it across the yard and into her home.  It will be nice to know it will once again play music and come to life.  Maybe our family will gather around singing, making memories for yet another generation.  Mom tends to enjoy the music of Johnny Mathis, Robert Goulet, and Andy Williams.  I am sure the kids today will snicker and laugh at the songs she will play just like we did with Grandma’s waltzes.  I know that I will enjoy hearing it play beautiful music once again, and I’ll remember… Grandma in her element.

Awaiting deft fingers to bring those keys to life again!

© Day by Day the Farm Girl Way…

 


14 thoughts on “Grandma’s Piano…

  1. Beautiful post. It brought happy tears to my eyes. I also remember my Grandma’s songs we rolled our eyes at and yet sang along; The Marine’s Anthem, When Johnny Comes Marching Home, A Bicycle Built for Two, and so many more. I would give so much just to hear them all one more time… May your Grandma’s piano have many more happy years of making music!

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    1. I am with you – I’d love to hear Grandma play just one more day. In fact, as I cleaned the old piano, I sang “The Blue Skirt Waltz” out loud. I still remember the lyrics after 40 years! Thank you so much for visiting!

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  2. Nice, a good read as usual.

    I liked “We could not say “shut up” to each other – that was difficult.” You have a way of shaping and forming a sentence that I find not only amusing, but intriguing.

    My grandma made the best fried chicken in the world … Bless her heart.

    I often miss her.

    DS

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    1. Thank you! Ah yes, the way those women knew how to please the tummy. I’m sitting here stupefied and salivating, thinking about all the wonderful meals we ate at the Grandparents. I don’t think I could decide on a favorite…

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  3. One of my favorite posts by far! I have some not-so-fond memories of Grandma trying to actually teach me to play on that old piano, with all those instruction books that must have been as old as the piano itself. Don’t get me wrong, she is a wonderful teacher. (Proven by the fact that I actually learned to plink out a few tunes.) But the teacher/student relationship between she and I would always bring out the worst in our stubbornness. (In my defense, she was trying to teach a 14-year-old girl who already knew EVERYTHING!) Looking back now I wish I would have kept up with it. If I could be there I’d sit down with her at her “new” piano, take a few calming deep breaths, and let her try and teach me again. This time without the ‘tude.

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    1. What a wonderful insight into the situation of past! Isn’t it funny as we gain wisdom we can see how much we’ve grown? Your Grandma has offered to teach me, and maybe I will take her up on it. I know I’m sure going to try to find the old sheet music that my Grandma played and take a little trip to my younger days… I’m not sure my voice has improved much but it doesn’t matter. It’ll be fun to hear those old tunes.

      By the way… you still have ‘tude’ but it comes out as confidence now! I bet you’d make an impressive piano player these days!

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  4. That piano is a treasure, and the memories more so. Ah, grown ups’ rules. It just makes you look forward to being a grown up 🙂 This was a pleasure to read, and the photos really made it.

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    1. Being 7 hours from my family, I have learned to appreciate family heirlooms and mementos in my home. I hadn’t counted on having what I considered a monstrosity at the time, but knowing I will hear it play again brings me much happiness! Thanks for stopping by!

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  5. Wow, this was a really inspirational story for me. I’ve been living away from my piano and my parents’ changing homes for about 8 years. Being separated from the piano has been quite hard. I often flick or tap my fingers as though I were playing, and borrowing time with someone else’s piano just isn’t the same as getting to play one every day, any time. My dream is to move the piano to our homestead whenever we build our earthbag house. Hopefully the trip will go as well as yours did!

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    1. We were fortunate to have caring family who wanted Grandma’s piano to find a good home. Weather conditions were not so good the day of moving and we had difficulty finding wrap to keep the piano dry for it’s long journey. So, we prayed for protection and everything went well! I hope you will be able get your hands on those keys again soon. What a gift it must be to play the piano. I wish I had learned when I was a young girl. Thank you for sharing your story! Good luck!

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    1. I know… when people say, “I wish I was 20 again” I have to wonder about them! There is no way I would choose to go through the young and ignorant days again!! Thanks for a good laugh, and for visiting my blog!

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  6. Your story brings back fond memories of my grandmother. She didn’t play the piano but she sang old time gospel songs and whistled all the time when she was working. I can remember standing on a stool at the kitchen sink drying dishes with her as she sang “Rock of Ages”. Like your grandma she didn’t stand for any sass or “potty” mouth around her house. She loved board games as well and as me and my brother got older we even had her playing “Dungeons and Dragons” with us. We just had to make sure to leave out any “evil” doings that might make her uncomfortable. My friends thought we had the coolest granny around. They were telling me something I already knew. Thanks for bringing back some great memories.

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    1. What a cool Grandmother you had!! I think it would be grand to spend one more day with those people who had such bearing on our lives. I am now more aware of the gift of spending time with kids. I revel in those times spent with parents, grandparents, and dear family friends who took the time to make a difference in our lives.

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