Piano from the 1800s needs a new home

img_20190824_0814447681.jpgWhat do you want to do about the piano at your father’s house? Everyone asks me because I’m the only one who plays piano. I taught myself to play on that piano. It ought to be mine, right? But wait. I already have a piano.

The piano is a Kranich & Bach cabinet grand, patented 1886. Take the baby grands we’re used to seeing on concert stages, turn them sideways, and that’s what this is. It’s a beautiful thing, and if it weren’t so God-awful out of tune, it would offer a big, rich sound. The keys are ivory and intact, the pedals are sturdy, and there is a delightful round stool that you spin to adjust the height. As kids, my brother Mike and I had a good time spinning on it at Grandpa Fagalde’s house until some grownup made us stop.

But we’re not children now. Grandpa is long gone, and now our parents are gone. We’re cleaning out the house they bought in 1950. As I understand it, Grandpa got the piano from his boss, Jack Dorrance, when he was the foreman on the Dorrance ranch in San Jose. Jack had show business aspirations. His family had more than one piano. At some point, this one may have provided music in the little theater he built on the ranch. I suppose my parents brought it home when Grandpa retired to the beach.

I didn’t have piano lessons. I envy people who did. My father apparently thought Mom, who did have lessons, could teach us. But taking lessons doesn’t necessarily mean you can teach. She showed my brother Mike and me where Middle C was and gave us her old books to teach ourselves the rest. Mike lost interest, but I started a lifelong obsession with pianos, really anything with keys. I learned the notes. I played through the one-hand exercises, moved on to two, three, and more notes at a time. I practiced counting four-four, three-four, six-eight.

Not having lessons means I never learned proper fingering, and I can’t do scales worth beans, but I can make music. I even get paid for it these days as a music minister at Sacred Heart Church.

As an adult, I didn’t have a piano for a long time. I sneaked into the practice rooms at San Jose State. I grabbed time on my parents’ piano when they weren’t around. For a while between marriages, I rented a piano, feeling bad for the guys who had to get it up the stairs. Mostly I played guitar instead because it was cheaper and more portable. Also, it was the ‘60s and everybody was playing guitar.

My late husband’s wedding present to me was a piano, a Wurlitzer spinet, not as fancy as the old cabinet grand, but mine, and I could play it whenever I wanted. Fred knew the way to my heart. That instrument is scarred now from our many moves and three decades of hard use, but it sounds good, and it’s my piano. Do I want to replace it with the old Kranich & Bach, forgetting for the moment the cost of fixing it up and shipping it to Oregon?

After my father died, I came home, looked at my piano and knew that’s the one I want to keep, not the antique that was never really mine. But somebody needs to keep it and love it. My brother and I have asked around about the value of such an old, elegant piano. It seems it’s not worth much money in this digital world. It was not a deluxe model, plus musicians are going for electronic pianos these days. I play one at church, and I love all its many features, but there’s nothing like the feel and sound of a real piano.

That old Kranich & Bach is a beautiful piece of furniture, mostly used as a rack for family photographs in recent times. Is there someone lurking in the family who secretly wants to play piano? Does anyone remember how Grandpa used to bang out songs honky-tonk style with no training at all?

Grandpa Fagalde was always buying and trading musical instruments. Remember the pump organ in the garage? In his day, pre-TV, pre-Internet, everybody played music. Families would bring out their instruments after dinner and jam. And every house had a piano. Tune it? Not in the years since I’ve been around. I have friends who won’t perform on a piano that has not been tuned THAT DAY. I guess folks weren’t so picky a hundred years ago.

I can see this piano in an Old West saloon, the kind with swinging doors, floozies entertaining cowboys, and the stranger leaning on the bar, saying, “Whiskey!”

Where do I find that saloon?

The piano is in San Jose. If anyone has a yen to adopt it for their home, a museum, a school, a senior center, or anywhere it would be played and loved, let me know at sufalick@yahoo.com. I would be willing to pay the cost of making it sound its best again if somebody wants to give it a good home.


It’s Antique Week! Treasure-hunting in Lincoln City

 As Saturday approached with nothing on the schedule, I thought I would either clean my house or catch up on paperwork in my office. As it turned out, I did neither. I woke up from a dream in which one of my antique plates got broken and said, “I want to go antiquing.” And I did.

It’s Antique Week in Lincoln City, Oregon. Once a year, the dealers put on sales, evaluate people’s keepsakes, hold special presentations such as this year’s “A.Lincoln” show, and scatter even more glass floats on the beach than are usually hidden there.

Lincoln City is always a good place for treasure hunting. In addition to an advertised 80 antique dealers, it boasts fabulous used book stores, plus the Tanger Outlets, Chinook Winds Casino and seven miles of beautiful beaches. Off I went with five dollars cash in my wallet. But I had a checkbook and a debit card. Let the shopping begin.

First stop was Robert’s Book Shop in the Nelscott section of town. Books floor to ceiling, wall to wall, piled on the floor, piled in the aisles, books everywhere. Smart shoppers come with lists, but I just wander from science to sheet music to fiction to poetry to essays, immersed in old-school publishing. No e-books here.

By the time I came out with my literary finds, I was hungry. I hit Vivian’s Restaurant and Bill’s Barbecue, one restaurant with two names. This place, located across from the outlets, has had several different owners and personalities. I think it was Italian when we first moved here. Now it’s barbecue, plus wraps, burgers, breakfasts, vegetarian fare, senior meals and more. Hearty, friendly and reasonably priced, they’re open for breakfast and lunch daily and dinner Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

Sated with my burger, fat fries and about a gallon of iced tea, I hit the stores. The weather was gray, with a persistent drizzle which had tourists bundling up, but hey, what’s a little refreshing moisture between stores? The photo above is from Granny’s Attic, always a good place to start. There’s a parking lot behind it on NE 15th Street. Tons of treasures here, including a corner full of non-antique guitars, keyboards, ukuleles, drums and other musical instruments that drew me like metal to a magnet.

Granny’s led to a smaller shop full of surprises. I could barely get in the door for all the merchandise crowded in there. Someone literally had to move for me to step in. There was no heat, so it was freezing. The owner, a curly haired woman about my age jammed into a corner where she barely had room to move, has been ill and unable to organize her wares. She’s going out of business. But first, for the bold shopper, bargains were to be had. I don’t have pierced ears. Surrounded by racks and racks of earrings for pierced ears, I asked if she had any for ears without holes in them. Oh, did she. She handed me several bags and a plastic box full of earrings and invited me to sort through them. I found a corner of a 1960s coffee table and and started looking. Score! I came away with five pairs of earrings for $16.00. I’d tell you more about the shop, but it’s probably closed by now. Check it out between Granny’s and the Old Oregon Tavern.

Next stop: the warm, bright Rocking Horse Mall. Downstairs is loaded with glassware, doll house paraphernalia and model trains. But the blue-painted stairs is where I scored again. I found a bowl for $6 to match the set of blue Currier and Ives dishes I’ve been collecting. And then three CDs, $5 each, including one that goes with the piano music I’ve been working on.

By then I had purchased books, sheet music, a dish, three CDs and five pairs of earrings. I didn’t need to go on to the other shops, including the massive antique mall at the north end of town. Last year, I wrote about Antique Week for a local newspaper. It felt so good to visit the stores just for fun this time, with no obligatory stops for interviews and photo ops.

On my way south, I decided to stop at the beach in Taft. Despite the weather, I had to hunt for a parking spot, ending up near Mo’s, the famous clam chowder eatery. The tide was out, with people scattered on the beach looking for clams, agates and glass floats. Across the water, sea lions dotted the Salishan spit. It was a feast for the eyes and the camera.

I saw a guy taking off his coat, ready to walk the beach in his tee shirt. Crazy. It was cold and wet, but beautiful. A perfect day to run away.

Antique Week continues through Feb. 18. For a list of activities and a map of participating stores, visit the website at http://www.oregoncoast.org/antiqueweek.

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