I'm only the piano player... I am thoroughly enjoying my ME page-a-day calendar and this illustration took me back to my childhood and my $22.50 piano. Right down to the howling little dog, although mine was a black poodle. When I was about ten and attending the First Baptist Church in Zephyrhills with my family, I was enthralled with the old upright pianos in all of the Sunday School rooms. They were fair game on Wednesday nights after prayer meeting while the adults visited and I made the most of my unsupervised time with what I considered to be the grandest of all musical instruments. I could barely read music, but I managed to pick out a fair number of tunes from the old hymnal. One fateful evening, the choir director asked my father if I was taking piano lessons. No, my father replied, we don't have a piano. The choir director informed him that the church was planning to sell the old pianos to raise money for the new sanctuary and that my dad ought to consider taking advantage of getting a good deal on a piano for me. How much, my father asked, dreading some astronomical figure. "Oh, twenty five dollars," the choir director said. "Think about it - I think your daughter has an ear for music." My eaves-dropping ten-year-old self didn't hear that part - all I heard was twenty-five dollars! It might as well have been twenty five hundred - I knew my mother was never going to go for that. I had, however, underestimated my father and his ability to deal with my mother. The next day over dinner, my father casually mentioned that the church was going to be selling some old pianos. Her response was exactly what I expected: what do we need with a piano, we can't afford a piano, besides, we have no place to put it, blah blah blah. My heart sunk. My father was undeterred. He told my mother that he thought the piano would be a good investment. We can't afford piano lessons, she countered. They went back and forth like that for a while until he finally announced that surely she couldn't say no to a piano for a mere $22.50. Wait, I thought, wasn't it twenty-five dollars? She wavered. She said she'd think about it. That was all Daddy needed to hear. The following Saturday my father and his friend with a truck picked up my new (old) piano at the church and found a home for it in the utility room just off the kitchen. And he had indeed only paid $22.50 for the piano; apparently they were willing to make him an even better deal and threw in a couple of old hymnals for good measure. I can't tell you how excited I was that day or how much enjoyment I got out of that piano over the years. I taught myself to read music and played anything and everything for the sheer joy of making my own music. I would play and sing for hours on end all by myself in that little utility room. Over the years, that piano occupied many out-of-the-way places and gave me many hours of pleasure. Yes, my father threatened to throw away my Scott Joplin songbook if he heard Maple Leaf Rag one more time, but I would have to say that he enjoyed that piano as much as I did. I miss that old piano, almost as much as I miss my father.
Thanks, Daddy, for $22.50 well spent.