madshutterbug (madshutterbug) wrote,

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Piano Dribbling

For those who knew my friend Jed, I've been thinking about him recently. Yeah, I know, "Like, Duh!" Odd twists and connections with things that come up in a day, interspersed with long-ish stretches where the activities of daily living keep me rather occupied and unable to meander down Nostalgia Way. Nothing qualifying as moping or depressing, either, rather more putting the good memories into Refreshed Status. Which is why I started down this trail when I stumbled across sunnydale47 's  excitement about acquiring a piano in my LJF's starcat_jewel's F-list here.

Go and read that, for sure; wander through for a while. Some nice "quotes of the day" and such. Besides, she like's photography. *G*

She's got to get it to her home, and I know how she doesn't want to do that.

Jed wanted to build a Celtic harp. Now, I'm not sure I ever believed he'd actually get around to doing it himself. It was possible, particularly since he would get something into his head and find a way to do it. Anyone recall his Fiat? He really wanted that sports car too... But back to the Celtic harp. He really wanted one, whether he had to build it himself or find someone to build it.

He came into Chez Tsunami one fine spring afternoon wearing a Cat Ate Canary grin and pronounced, "I've bought a piano."

OK, no worry, we can move this or that around.

"No problem at all actually; we'll put it in the garage." Chez Tsunami possessed a one-car attached garage used for neither of our vehicles but rather for the laundry room and my wood-working shop, such as it comprised in those days. Very few power tools and a growing collection of hand tools occupied not much of the garage. So putting a piano out there would be no difficulty, but why not in the house?

"Because it's no longer playable." It had, in fact, been the home for a colony of termites, evicted by the simple expedient of tenting the house within which the piano resided at the time it hosted the colony. Right. Now I understand why the Cat Ate Canary look, there's more to this than meets the eye. The piano cost all of $25 because the value of the instrument consisted primarily of the physical resources, to whit, wood, fake ivory keys, piano strings, castors and assorted hardware.

Did I mention wood? I commented that, having been infested with termites, I doubted there would be much usable wood in the piece. All Jed wanted was the soundboard. In exchange for helping him bring it home and carefully extracting the soundboard, he planned to give me the remainder of the piano.

At the time, I owned an old Volvo station wagon, certainly nothing capable of transporting a decommissioned upright piano approximately one mile from Lipham's Music to Chez Tsunami. However, Roger had access to his father's pickup truck, and I had access to Roger through another friend Steve and their shared interest in blacksmithing. Aha, it's not simply the extraction of a soundboard which will bring a quantity of old piano wood and hardware to my shop, it's also Who I Know.

We made arrangements to meet Roger along with a couple other friends, Cricket and Bob (they were along on the ride simply for muscle, and their own curiosity). We all met at Liphams, Jed riding over with me in Volov the Volvo (I see I forgot to mention, the letters spelling the company name on the hood had been transposed slightly before I purchased Volov), Cricket brought Bob in his Karmen Ghia, and Roger showed up in his father's pickup truck. Jed wanted that particular pickup truck because it had a small crane mounted by the tailgate, the better to load metal stock for the smithy. On the other hand, it never worked that well, and Roger unshipped it the day before the Piano Transport to make more room in the pickup truck.

This proved a better plan than Jed's, because as I mentioned that little crane never worked that well in the first place, and had nowhere near enough height to lift an upright piano into the truck. Following some discussion during which it seemed obvious everyone understood the ultimate fate of this old instrument (certainly Jed, the salesman, and I did, and Bob and Cricket had been party to the discussion earlier at the Barony meeting where their help was requested). With some ramps available at the store, we pushed the piano up into the back of the truck. To provide better vision for the driver in the event of a need to change lanes, we set it along the driver's side of the load bed. Jed rode with Roger to give him directions, and I followed Cricket following the pickup.

No one tied the piano into the back of the truck.

Lipham's is still in the small shopping center there at the southwest corner of SW University Avenue and SW 34th Street; Chez Tsunami barely a mile north just off of NW 34th Street which became NW when it crossed University. We eased out into traffic on University because turning left from the parking lot onto 34th always proved difficult. The city of Gainesville since re-paved that section and removed the left-turn island anyway, but I digress. An easy right turn onto University, up to the light at 34th and into the left turn lane, where we waited for the left-turn arrow.

Roger, thinking about the two additional vehicles following him and being the second vehicle in line for the left-turn green arrow and wanting all of us to get through the light cycle, bolted into the left turn.

Encouraged by this sudden application of centripedal force, the piano wobbled drunkenly across the metal ribs of the load bed to the passenger side, where when it encountered the obstruction of the side of the load bed, gracefully tripped over that edge to land, top-first, on the pavement in the middle of the oncoming lanes. A most impressive mushroom cloud of termite sawdust arose as it surrendered to the force of gravity and began disassembling itself with the rapid decelleration provided by the pavement itself.

Roger pulled into the gas station on the corner, followed immediately by Cricket and myself. We emerged from our various vehicles nearly doubling over in laughter, with the exception of Roger who rather desparately and sincerely and profusely apologized to Jed for destroying his new, used piano. This of course brought on a greater paroxysm of laughter, which elicited pained glaring from Roger.

Apparently, he did not know the ultimate fate intended for the non-playable piano, and knowing Jed's musical abilities assumed he planned to actually play the beast.

We dragged the various pieces and parts out of the road and rolled them into the back of the pickup. Being somewhat smaller in cross-section, no further piano-part distribution occured until we arrived at Chez Tsunami and deposited the remains in the garage. Roger beat a hasty but good-natured retreat. Jed did receive the soundboard, which being as thin as soundboards generally are hadn't provided sufficient real-estate for the termites.

The top, somewhat reshaped by the abrasive device known as The Road, along with the sides I built into a bookshelf for Jed. The piano wires went into an odd attempt at recreating a medieval siege weapon by some other members of the Barony An Crosaire. The castors went into a largish home made tool box, which if I recall correctly burned up in Steve's shop fire of '90. Most of the internal wood framing was too severly eaten away by the termites to do anything with other than firewood. The metal harp went off to the dump; too big, too much iron to do much of anything else with it. Some portions of the decorative external framing supporting the keyboard were turned into legs for a camp table, made as a gift for some Meridien monarch visiting Trimaris.

And that day is ever since known as An Crosaire's Piano Dibbling Day.


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