The Piano Escapade

Once upon a time I REALLY wanted a piano. I had come across a local teacher – an elderly woman – who gave lessons for only $1 for half an hour. That was for me!

I started the lessons even though I didn’t have a piano of my own. I would go to my grandmother’s house to practice. And I put the word out that I was in the market for a piano.

It wasn’t long before one of my friends said they would sell their old upright for $200. So as soon as I could scrape that amount together I bought it.

Now I wasn’t exactly up-front about this with my then-husband. He wasn’t always sold on my frequent “big ideas” especially when they involved spending money.

But I knew if I told him it was already paid for – and sent him and his friends out on a Friday night to get it (which meant they could grab a few beers) – we’d work it out. And that’s what I did.

I believe it was the winter of 1982. I only know that because I remember thinking I was 30 years old and I might not be very fast about picking up piano-playing. But even if it took me 10 years, I would be able to play by the time I was 40, right?

So I broke the news to Bill and told him where to go get it. He took it pretty well. He called his friend Mike, who had a pickup truck, and another friend Jim, who lived a few houses down from us. And off they went.

I excitedly cleared a space for my new piano, ran the vacuum and told the kids we were getting a big new surprise. After an hour or so they were watching out the window for dad to return to see what it was.

But dad was nowhere to be seen.

“OK,” I thought. “I know it takes a bit of time to get a couple beers so I just need to be patient.”

More time went by.

I called my friend and asked if the guys had picked up the piano.

“Why, yes,” he said. “Over two hours ago!” And then after a pause he commented, “but they didn’t have it strapped down very well and I was a bit worried about that. I hope they’re ok…”

I waited a while longer and finally loaded the kids up in the car and went looking for the guys. I was really getting worried because a winter storm was heading in and it was time to batten down the hatches.

I drove way out in the country where my friend lived and found no sight of anyone. I drove back to town and cruised past many of the local bars looking for a pickup truck with a piano in the bed. Nothing.

Finally I had no choice but to go home and get my kids put in the house safely.

Then, just as I pulled up to my own driveway… what do I see? Three guys rolling an upright piano down the sidewalk – away from my house!


I swerved the car to the curb, jumped out and yelled “STOP!” And they did.

But they had that look of mischievous boys caught in the act.

“What are you doing?” I asked Bill.

“Oh, you don’t want this piano,” he replied.

“And just why not?” I retorted.

“Well, we didn’t mean to, but when we were driving back the lid flew off, so it isn’t a whole piano anymore,” he explained. “So I sold it to Jim because he’ll be able to do something with it.”

All three of them looked at me and grinned like this was a perfectly acceptable scenario.

“And how much did Jim pay you?” I inquired.

“100 bucks” stated Bill proudly.

Again they all smiled.

“Give him his money back” I demanded.

“Why?” asked Bill. “You don’t want a piano that doesn’t even have a lid. We’ll never find it because we don’t know where we lost it.”

“I guarantee you we will find it” I replied. “So you give him that money back right now and push that piano straight up into the garage. This is MY piano and I will see that it gets fixed.”

Bill reached in his pocket, returned Jim’s money and the three put my piano in the garage. None were smiling at that point.

That night we got 6” of snow. And this piano was painted white at the time. There was no way we could go look for that lid for over a week.

When the snow began to melt I made Bill take me out to where they had been. Turned out they took a detour from my friend’s house on Hamburg Road to an old honky-tonk called the Starlight Nightclub. We drove out past there and turned around. On the way back, with my head out the passenger window, I spotted the lid in the ditch sticking out of the dirty snow. We stopped and picked it up and it was just fine.

I was stripping the whole thing down to its former oak glory anyway, so a week in a wet ditch had soaked some of the paint off for me.

And I was never overly mad at Bill for being the rascal he was. He was always so funny and good-natured I could never stay mad at him. But we did have our moments. And this was one.

Sadly I never learned to play that darn piano. But one of my boys did and that was worth it to me.

Today the piano is at my daughter’s house. We sent it there in hopes that her kids would pick up on it but they didn’t. And that’s fine. You have to have an interest in such things to pursue them.

Meanwhile we’ve got an old oak upright piano that Ellyn needs to get rid of because she will be moving soon. And I don’t think you can even give those things away now. I’ve been looking online and it seems you have to pay an enormous amount to even have it taken to the dump! Glory be!

So if you have any suggestions – or you know someone who wants an old upright and will haul it away, please let us know. Don’t let Bill have been right all these years if he would have sold it at a loss the very night we got it! That… just… ain’t… right!

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