When I was a boy, with the best of intentions, my parent tried to make me musical. Fail! Dad was a part-time entertainer. He couldn’t play an instrument. He only sang and told stories and jokes. Perhaps sensing my loner tendencies, my Mother decided that I needed to learn how to play the piano, to be sociable. Elton John had barely been born, and Billy Joel hadn’t. Everybody played guitar.
Dad bought an upright piano, and I was sent for weekly piano lessons for three years. I learned a bit of the construction of music. Later-in-life realizations about my lack of fine motor control and short-term memory deficiencies explained why I got nowhere with the piano. I convinced my Mother that it was a lost cause.
Dad put it up for sale. When summer tourist season arrived, the ad caught the attention of four young men. All musically inclined, they had pooled their money and purchased a good-sized cottage. They wanted the piano for parties there.
They came to the house of a Saturday morning to inspect and sample the piano. It was pronounced solid and well-kept, but they wanted to try it, to hear how it sounded. Each in turn sat and played it. They each had their specialty, but all played a wide range of music, jazz, dance, big band, pop, boogie-woogie, musical theater.
Mom and Dad were treated to more than an hour of great music. One guy even unfolded a section of newspaper and threaded it between the strings and the sounding board, producing an odd, buzzy tone. Finally, everyone happy, the deal was done, money changed hands, and it was theirs to get to their cottage – but how??, in their car??
One of them asked if Dad had any suggestions for transporting it. Dad knew a guy…. A strange sort of duck, 40 and unmarried, with a half-ton pickup in a town full of sedans, but no social life. He might be free, and interested in a bit of extra spending money. After a phone call, he soon appeared.
He backed across the front lawn to our raised front veranda. A couple of stout planks were produced, and the piano was eased out the front door, and carefully down into the truck bed. He slammed the tailgate shut, and headed for the cab.
One of the buyers asked, “Aren’t you going to tie it down??” “Nah, no need, she’s in there solid as the Rock of Gibraltar.” He eased back across the lawn, out the driveway to the side street, paused at the stop sign and swung onto the main street….and the Rock of Gibraltar did a 270° off the side of the truck and smashed into 10,000 pieces in the middle of the intersection.
Four guys almost cried. They got back their haulage charge, and he wrote them a cheque for the price of the instrument, but they had searched for months for this piano. They thought they would have to buy a new one in the big city, and pay to have it shipped 100 miles north. There was no joy, or honky-tonk piano, in Mudville that night. 😳