Sepia Saturday challenges bloggers to share family history through old photographs.
This week’s Sepia Saturday prompt is the piano. When I was growing up in the 60’s (that’s 1960’s, thank-you), two things every family wanted in their home were a set of encyclopedias and a piano. We had both. Music was part of the family identity, I suppose.
|Momma and Daddy were obviously proud.|
I'm sure I banged out a lovely melody on my
baby grand piano that Christmas 1952.
|Mary Jollette's "first piano" was this little upright.|
Grandma Lucille Davis and I were there
to make sure Mary Jollette didn't fall off the seat.
My grandaunt Violetta Davis Ryan even had a room where she kept her piano and an organ. She always called it “The Music Room.” You could hear those capital letters when she said the words.
We’re not musical like the Osmond family, but everyone was expected to take music lessons.
Even during the Depression, my mother was lucky enough to have lessons in piano and tap at the Harman School of Music in Shenandoah, Virginia.
It’s a tiny building. My dad used to joke that the building was so small the little chorus line of Shirley Temple wannabes probably had to shuffle out the back door. But it must have been a good school because Momma used to show us the hop-shuffle-down-step-step steps. There are just some lessons you never forget.
She was less enchanted with piano lessons though. Momma could play by ear, but she was not much for actually reading music. I guess she saw no need to remember “Every Good Boy Does Fine” or “Great Big Dogs Fight Animals,” much less how to count a dotted quarter note. If she knew the tune, she could sit down and play it with a flourish.
|1993 - Momma either had been playing or was preparing|
to play some Christmas carols for the kids.
Clay Pollock, Justin Anderson, Joel Pollock.
Word of her musical prowess must have spread to her colleagues at Cradock Junior High School. When the faculty was planning a big celebration for a revered teacher who was getting ready to retire, they asked Momma to write a special song to perform at the party. One afternoon she sat down at the piano, thought for a minute, and then with all the gusto of JoAnn Castle on the Lawrence Welk Show, Momma began playing “Toot Toot Tootsie.”
Soon the words came:
Good-bye Marion, Good-bye.
Good-bye Marion. Don’t cry.
You know our thoughts of you are high
Just like the Fourth of July.
"Like the Fourth of July"? What the heck does that mean?
Well, think of it as “freewriting” or “brainstorming” in which the rule is that there are no rules. All I can say is that my sister and I were rolling on the floor laughing. Momma was laughing and crying at the same time, maybe because of the words, or maybe because she caught a glimpse in her mind’s eye of what it would be like to perform this little ditty for a woman who had been her mentor, a consummate educator, a much-loved teacher for decades.
I don’t know what the final version of the song was, but this is the one that even after 40 years can be recalled in a moment’s notice.
For more stories about pianos, please visit my friends at Sepia Saturday. They may not always be “upright,” but they are always “grand.”