Monday, December 03, 2012

The Players

I can't say that I wasn't warned.

I knew it was coming from the moment my mother-in-law showed me the instrument in her living room and my then soon-to-be-husband mentioned bringing it to our home someday. That large piano with the defunct player mechanism on casters to make it easier to move around the living room whenever Dan's mother got the urge to rearrange the room's layout - which was more often than anyone would think. I looked at the piano, thought it was a nice (albeit heavy) idea, and put the instrument's eventual arrival at our house many, many years into the future.

That was the year 2000. Today is that future.

...well, it was supposed to be. A few funny things happened on the way to our future with the player piano:
  • My husband planned out his longtime strategy for moving the thing, which was to rent a truck and drive it from Silicon Valley to New Orleans himself. His family decided to use it as an opportunity to empty out a storage unit they rent, so my husband ended up with the player piano...and a bedroom set...and another special piece of furniture and its accessories I'll get to in a bit.
  • It took a few days for Dan to drive out here, which he did carefully and with a little trepidation on coming to Houston...during rush hour...on Friday evening. He called me back nearly 40 minutes after his first message to say, "Gee, that wasn't so bad."
  • The bedroom set was unloaded from the back of the truck, with help from a friend, on Sunday. The special piece plus accessories was taken out by the hired movers this morning. The player piano itself proved to be a juggernaut.
How much of a juggernaut is your average turn-of-the-20th-century player piano? We probably could've asked the movers to schlep our car up the stairs and gotten the same results - except that the piano actually made it halfway up the stairs before the movers gouged a hole in the wall, scraped the hell out of our baseboards, left sweaty handprints all over the rest of the place, then finally had to give up and haul the piano onto the porch, where it currently sits.

"So, I think we should enclose the porch!" Dan said, and I guffawed. That'd go over real well with our first floor tenants, who share the first floor porch.

Dan's reasoning: it's our house and we can do what we want, even if it inconveniences some of us for a partially working 800-pound instrument.

Dan has, in the meantime, measured our second floor balcony windows, assessed the likelihood of getting the piano up the rickety back stairs, gotten a line on actual piano movers that could use a crane to get it up to the second floor (but then we've got to get it through the windows), and concluded he wants to get it into a first floor tenant's place or into our first floor closet after we clear darned near everything out of it. This is a piano that has been in Dan's family for four generations. It came from its place of manufacture in Detroit to his great-grandparents' home in Hannibal, Missouri, with some stops in Peoria, Illinois, Portland, Oregon, and San Jose, California before coming to rest on our front porch. It is currently a temptation for our tenants and their friends (I can hear them tickling the ivories on the Colby even as I type this) and a small source of relief for the tenant who was standing in her kitchen when she heard the movers gouge a hole in our wall and thought the piano was going to come right through and kill her where she stood (she's relieved the piano's on the porch and not on her sternum).

He's not letting go of this instrument that easily.

As for the mystery piece of furniture I mentioned...well, check it out...

It's a 1922 Edison phonograph, a BC-34 model, made to play not the usual phonograph 78s, but special Edison "Diamond Discs" like the one below:

Yeah, it came with a bunch of the discs, too. Thanks to Twitter, I learned a great deal about the Diamond Discs (named for the diamond-tipped stylus that played them; they can only be played on Edison players and not on Victrolas). I also learned that Edison's taste in music left a lot to be desired - with the possible exception of some jazz that seemed to have been "sneak(ed) past the inventor as he napped." Looking through all the disc titles is a hoot; I'm especially fond of the title of #50686 - "Daddy You've Been A Mother to Me."

The best part? It's inside the house.

Now if anyone can get me a line on getting the "Baby Console" working, I'd greatly appreciate it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'll ask E if he has any suggestions on who might be able to repair it...maybe call McCann on Airline?