As I polished the piano yesterday afternoon I remembered that this piano was the very first piece of furniture that Mother put in the “new” house. I went with Mother and Daddy when they looked at it. It was a Kimball with a walnut case. It was made between 1941 and 1953, according to the serial number, but it may have been second hand. I recall going into what seemed to be a warehouse and looking at the piano. The salesman told Mother that the case was just the color of my eyes. If he was hoping to appeal to Mother’s sentimental side, he had miscalculated. She was not swayed by sentiment, but she did want a piano for her girls. We bought the piano and it now sits in my living room.
When I was in grade school, I wanted to play the piano so much that I made a keyboard out of paper and pretended to play, carefully placing my fingers on the keys. After we got the piano, I took some lessons from Mrs. Philips in Richey and later on took lessons in Billings. I was never able to play very well because I was too nervous about making mistakes. I still like to play when no one is around. I remember playing at a recital in Billings. Mother made me a wonderful aqua and brown dress that I may still have hanging in the closet.
Kay played very well and played the flute too but I don’t think she sat down at the piano to play very often after she stopped taking lessons. As I polished the beautiful walnut wood, I could hear her playing “The Entertainer.” I could hear, in my imagination, my sisters singing around the piano – trios and duets and quartets. They sang songs like “Carolina Moon” and “Tiptoe Through the Tulips.”
All of my sisters are more musical than I and the next generation is very musical. My oldest sister, Lyla, taught herself how to play the piano and my two younger sisters had piano lessons too. They all sang. I often say, though, that the first full sentence my daughter said to me was, “Please, Mommy, don’t sing.” My sister Marlyn not only sings but dances, something none of the rest of us do. We would like to, but we have, as we say, Baptist Feet. Our feet just don’t move that way. Marlyn has a wonderful freedom about her and she sings and dances at the jams and we sit by, uncomfortably, wishing that we were that uninhibited.
I sat down tonight and played Christmas Carols. I didn’t play them very well – it has been too long since I played. As I played, “Oh, Little Town of Bethlehem”, “Joy to the World”, “Silent Night”, “O Come All Ye Faithful”, “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing”, “Away in a Manger” and “God Rest You Merry Gentlemen,” it warmed my heart and flooded me with great memories of past years. Even though great CD’s and tapes are available there is something even better about making music yourself.
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