Stephenson Tales


In our cottage at Gull Lake, just as one passed through the front porch on the left side was a black curtain that separated the rest of the room from the entryway. On the other side of the curtain was an old upright piano and next to that was my parents' double bed. One weekend when Dad came out to the lake (he always taught every summer session to make enough for us to have Gull Lake) he suddenly said to me., "Let's repair the piano." I was astonished and asked him how he knew how to do that. He told me that when he was very young he had had a job in a piano factory and knew how the instruments were made from the ground up. I was in high school at the time. Old pianoSo we rolled back the curtain and laid newspapers over the bed, and with an air of someone who knew exactly what he as doing, he folded back the top, lifted out the front covers--both above and below the keyboard and proceeded to loosen the nuts holding the hammer mechanisms in place. He stood it on the floor and looked at it for a few minutes. "Oh, this is easy." I was watching him like a fox. He proceeded to repair some of the broken hammer stems, some of the return-from-the-strings springs, and felt interlocking strands which kept the hammers back from the strings. He then removed every one of the 88 parts of the keyboard--all the black and white and piled them on the bed. Just before he took them off the piano he took a pencil and drew a line from one back corner to the opposite front corner--on an angle marking all the keys with that slanting line. Then he found a couple of pennies and a dime under where he had removed the keys--along with a LOT of dust and the remains of a mouse's nest. We worked on every one of the striking mechanisms until they worked perfectly. Then he cleaned out the empty piano--underneath by the pedals, too...and started to put the whole thing back together. Since he had made a continuous line on the keys he could tell exactly which key followed which. Then he lifted the mechanism up and put it back in place and tried out each note to see that it was striking properly and then put the front facing back on and closed the lid.--and we had a piano that worked!

Thus endeth part one, part two will be later about another follow-up piano adventure in the army and then one when we brought the famous piano to Interlochen.

Composed on 1 October 2008.

© Jim Bob Stephenson 2008

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