Bobby Dessauer’s house had a grand. When she was married I played it — the usual Wagner wedding march — as she came down the steps and into the parlor, the Mendelssohn as she and Sid turned toward us as a married couple. We had an old player piano. My mother was a whiz at playing ragtime, which she loved, and the “Cakewalk” was one of her specialties.
We had rolls and rolls of music to pedal. And my big brother took piano lessons, but I think he didn’t practice often while I gravitated to that wonderful instrument. I tried out all of his music until my parents became aware that I was the more serious piano student. My lessons began. What a joy!
Many years later, my parents moved from that large house to an apartment, and the piano was disposed of. I don’t know whatever happened to it. Curt and I were living in Dallas at this point. I only know that when I came home to visit, the piano was gone. What a heartbreak!
Eventually, we moved back to Fort Wayne, and now we had children, too. One miraculous day I called Curt on the telephone to ask him to please stop in on his way home to pick up some reeds for John’s clarinet. He agreed to do so. Within a few short hours, the doorbell rang, and when I opened the door, I saw two men with what looked like a large draped box. “We have a delivery,” one said. And to my absolute astonishment, they brought in an upright piano. I pointed to a logical spot where it was deposited and before those two were even out of the house, I was trying to play, once again, “Sur la Glace au Sweet Briar.” What a wonderful, glorious day! Curt had stopped for the reeds, seen the piano, decided it was high time we had one and bought it with the understanding it would be delivered before he came home.
That piano became an integral part of the family. John and Rena took lessons — and I should have, but didn’t; I just kept on working on improving. Curt, too, could play, so there were many evenings of family fun around that piano.
Richard Rodgers many years later wrote, “The sweetest sounds I ever heard are still within my head.” Believe me, the sweetest sounds I ever heard came from our togetherness around that beloved piano, which I still have.