Ms. Grinnell’s life story; a piano history.
I ask everyone who walks into my house if they want my piano. They all take one look and race out the door without looking twice. They either have sudden back problems or have a rare allergy to not just one key, but eighty eight. I don’t even get a chance to explain my life history with this Grinnell Bros. (Detroit, Windsor, Canada, special grand) relic. I call her Ms. Grinnell.
Okay, so it takes four gorillas to move her. It is not the first thing that I mention. That’s not so bad, especially when you consider that what you’re getting is a wonderful instrument. Well, maybe she needs a teensy little work, like total overhaul, tuning and exorcising ghosts of the past that indicate many a child sat and poked scales through the innards until Bach, Beethoven and Shubert spun in their graves.
I was one of those children and sat before her learning my finger exercises and major and minor keys until the entire block begged me to stop. There is a photo of me looking innocent at some sheet music at six years old. There was no one in the background, but I’m sure that relatives and neighbors were cringing. Then later, I stopped because I was more interested in the cute boys than minor things like middle C.
Meanwhile, Ms. Grinnell sat in my grandmother’s dining room for the next round of cousins that filed in and out carrying sheet music. They discovered the cute boys, also, but not after we all giggled ourselves to death about our piano teachers who wore nerdy dresses, bifocals and emoted all over the keyboard at every note.
Then it had some lag time at grandma’s in those years after we all grew and got our cute guys in order; marriages and things. Then because I switched my musical training to the ballet, my then husband and I made a trip to move the thing to my dance studio near Chicago. I don’t remember four gorillas that day, but somehow we got Ms. Grinnell with eighty eight keys onto a truck.
Well, as sometimes schedules are tight, we didn’t have immediate time to move her into my studio, so she whizzed around Chicago to and from his workplace for a few days. Luckily, the weather report said “no rain on Ms. Grinnell upright pianos today.”
So then she moved into my ballet studio and accompanied many a class with most accomplished pianists. The studio was somewhat small, so on occasion a pianist was playing her oom pah pah waltz and suddenly screamed that a dancer flew too close overhead of her flying fingers. One Russian-born pianist complained that the “E” key got stuck once too often and called upon me to suddenly race over and reach in to free the thing. I guess Ms. Grinnell was just beginning to deteriorate by then.
She was revived, however, in her next life as she moved with me to another house (without the husband). I don’t recall the particular gorillas at the time, but you can bribe them with something. It was then that a musical talent acquaintance sort of drifted in and out of my house. He had an ear that most of us cannot fathom. There are still shoe marks to the right of the pedals that say a pure jazz guy was keeping the beat. He went on to compose and produce with Mariah Carey (honest ‘injun!).
She still sits there remembering her past and looking forward to a future of gorillas, tuners and master musicians. Oh. And she has real ivories to tickle, though we’ll keep that a secret from past elephants.
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