Monday, March 16, 2009

Obbligato

Someone once asked me if I wanted some "old books" that had once belonged to his mother. I'm a bit of a fanatic when it comes to reading so I welcomed the opportunity to see what was in the collection. On the top of the stack was a first edition copy of Saki -- the pen name of H. H. Munro. If that wasn't enough, the book was signed by the author. Keep in mind, this was the author's final book of stories, containing some of his most famous works. The book's binding was dilapidated, and the pages were distressed by what looked like a large coffee stain and perhaps a cigarette burn. But my thought then was the same as yesterday when I came across this piano abandoned on the side of a driveway:

What would make someone part with something so special?

I know, I know ... this is just a beat-up old upright. And the people in the house probably needed to make room for a crib or an exercise bike.

But still.

It may not be a high-falutin' baby grand, but those little uprights have been known to make some pretty memorable music...

19 comments:

Judy Williams said...

For anyone who appreciates music or even one who has dabbled in playing, the piano is more than just a box of wood with some strings. It has soul. Yet there are those that just see it as another big piece of furniture. I predict that it isn't exactly playable in this condition, but maybe with some loving care... then again, maybe not. Reminds me of the one Mom and Dad had in the den when you used to play "The Sting" with your legs too short to touch the ground from the bench. It's rather sad to see it like that isn't it?

Yakpate said...

Maybe it's a ghost piano... left behind by a family that moved away under mysterious circumstances and inherited by new owners of the home.

At a certain time every afternoon, the piano begins to play the same haunting, old-fashioned tune, spooking the expectant mother who now lives in the home. Her husband thinks she is imagining it, or that it is a hormonal delusion caused by her pregnancy.

When she finds lovely vintage dresses in the attic and begins to wear them while dancing to the tunes the piano plays, her husband sends her to visit her mother and puts the piano out for a bulky items pickup.

Late that night, as he is sleeping alone, he hears the key notes of a slow, mournful tune playing at the end of the driveway.

Judy Williams said...

Oh Pat!! What a lovely and bittersweet tale you just weaved. I love it. And I can picture the dress too. Cotton, with a bit of a puff sleeve, small flowered print. Aaaaah - I love your imagination.

San Diego Farmgirl said...

If they traded that piano for a baby, they got the raw end of that deal IMHO. ;o)

Fintippivot said...

I want to wrap it in a blanket and take it home.

altadenahiker said...

Now the question is, will they just leave it there to let the elements do their thing.

LSaeta said...

Who said it is being abandoned? Perhaps they bought some new living room furniture and decided to move the "music room" outside? The weather ahs been relly nice in So. Pas. this past month. Hah!

Pasadena Adjacent said...

Ours is not to reason why...but to grab and post on Tuesdays

Margaret said...

Nice link. It is especially sad to see such things when there are so many families who would be so happy to take a piano for their budding pianists.

ben wideman said...

Awesome image! Makes you want to go over and see how the piano sounds outside.

dbdubya said...

Don't give up on the piano! My wife inherited a 1912 Baldwin upright. It sat in a garage for many years. It wasn't as bad as this one, but was still pretty ragged. We had it restored by a craftsman in Long Beach, or somewhere in that general area. It cost a lot, but is now worth much more than than it cost to restore.

Laurie - you should go back and offer to haul it away and then see about having it restored so your little one can become a prodigy.

Shanna said...

What a great idea, dbdubya ! Adopt it! Maybe try playing it for a minute first and let it speak to you and to little one.

Judy Williams said...

I think you should lick it and see if it tastes like vanilla ice cream. :~P

Shanna said...

I think some Irish music would be memorable too. I'll accompany on my bodhran. Someone could dance a jig in the driveway!

Petrea said...

It reminds me of an outdoor piano I read about in a park in Australia. It's there for anyone to come and play.

Laurie said...

Hey kids,

Judy, you summed it up perfectly. For anyone who has played music -- or loved and obsessed over music -- an instrument is more than its materials. I just hate seeing that piano out on the driveway! I remember when I lived in Venice Beach, a man would roll a white upright like this around the boardwalk, stopping every few yards and playing ragtime. I video of it somewhere.

If I'd been more pushy -- or in the park in Australia that Petrea mentioned -- I'd have gone up to this piano and tried to plunk out Scott Joplin or, my other recital favorite, Clair de Lune.

Shanna would have been welcome on her Irish drum!

Yak, I LOVE your story. In fact, I know I can present any setting and you will fill it in with possible plots and interesting characters. One of Yak's and my favorite pastimes in days past was to skip out on work for an afternoon, drink wine in a restaurant and write stories back and forth on bar napkins.

Farmgirl, you cracked me up with your comment about the baby/piano trade!

Finntipivot, I agree!

Altadenahiker, I didn't study it close enough to see if it looked like it had been rained on recently. The whole scene was just so ... literary. Ya know? A piano in a driveway. It's not quite Cheever but definitely John Irving.

Leslie, I like your optimism. Here I've been mourning the slow decay of this piano and you make it an opportunity. Well done. :-)

Pasadena Adjacent, I thought of you, I really did. For all of you who haven't visited PA's blog, she has some amazing trash finds posted on Tuesdays. Check it out.

Margaret, do your kids play instruments? My daughter will be 4 in a few months and really loves all things musical. She has an electronic keyboard, a harmonica, a toy saxaphone and any number of rattles, chimes, Xylaphones, a tamborine and a triangle. She really wants a guitar. Both of her cousins are musicians so I wouldn't be at all surprised if she ended up following suit.

Ben, I really wish I HAD tried to play this. I mean, what's the worst that could have happened? I could have been chased off and humiliated. (Wouldn't be the first time... ha!)

DBdubya, you give me food for thought...

And all of you give this blog great flavor and substance. Thanks for the comments and conversation. Until tomorrow!

Miss Havisham's Tea Party said...

I too love your post, Laurie, and Yak Pate is fabu. Seeds of moviemaking... all over the place.

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Andrew said...

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Thanks for sharing...
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Andrew
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