The Baldwin Acrosonic

Today’s guest post comes from Barbara in Robbinsdale.

A few months ago we moved my mom from central Iowa to a lovely senior residence here in Robbinsdale. In mid-September past, this spunky little woman was uprooted from her home of 52 years. We knew that since her new apartment would be smaller than the old one, she would need to lighten up her belongings a bit, and bring just the things are most central to her life. The TV was left behind, but we brought the piano.

Hope (the fifth child in a family of seven kids) has loved music from day one. As a child she tinkered around like her mom did, by ear on their old upright piano that eventually became ours. She finally took piano and voice lessons in college when majoring in music.

I remember there always being a piano in our house – Grandma’s upright This is me in maybe 1951.

I had a great role model – Mom played a little pretty much every day – simple classical pieces, opera aria accompaniments, Broadway numbers, and (whenever she was teaching) music for the programs she would put on at school. I can remember falling asleep to strains of a Chopin Prelude, the haunting slow one (#20).

When we moved to Marshalltown in 1959, we lived for a year in an upstairs duplex. There was no way to get that big upright up the stairs, so they actually went into debt for a new piano. (This was very uncharacteristic for my father, who would, for instance, save up and pay for our next “new” car with cash.) I remember the day the delivery men huffed and puffed their way up those stairs with the Baldwin Acrosonic, a much smaller and prettier piano than the old upright — and it was NEW. It had such a beautiful tone, none of the keys stuck, and it had a light and easy touch.

Mom made sure my sister and I got piano lessons. Eventually, any combination of the three of us might sit down and play a duet from (something like) “59 Easy Piano Duets You Love to Play.”

She is still in love with that piano, which she plays often. At her new residence, it fits just fine on her living room wall, and she can practice to her heart’s content for accompanying the occasional sing-along there. It’s all possible because she still has her Baldwin Acrosonic.

What was the most memorable thing ever delivered to your home?

108 thoughts on “The Baldwin Acrosonic”

  1. Just to mark the other end of the continuum from Barbara’s enchanting post:
    I was about 7, did not know such things could happen, something that came in many boxes, from Sears Roebuck, a kit to be assembled,the assembly took a few days,
    a manure spreader.

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    1. I supose a brand new manure spreader might be very much welcomed by a young guy who might already be involved in cleaning out the barn and spreading that stuff in the fields.

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  2. For the sake of Barbara’s Iowa roots, someone should embed “Wells Fargo Wagon” from “Music Man,” one of my very favorite scenes to direct.

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      1. Thanks for this, Clyde and tim – very appropo! She was even playing stuff from “The Music Man” recently.

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      2. Nice! She’s heard it, B-A, Greg Brown’s version, but I’ll show this to her, as she loves choral music too.

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  3. Lovely story, Barb i R. good for you, to make sure your Mom still has her piano with her.
    of course i’d say the goats. but i’ll try to think of something less recent while i’m out with them. vet coming at 10 and we’ll draw blood on all 7 to test for some icky diseases so that we can say we are free of them (proven) in order to better sell the kiddos this summer.
    we had a big upright like your first piano but i had to sell it when i couldn’t find anyone to move it for me anymore. 🙂
    happy day to all
    sure a cute pic of you at the piano, BiR. 🙂

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  4. i remember the first house moved into on my own. it was one of those wonderful depression era homes on portland and lake with all the wonderful woodwork. i had put the feelers out for a piano and one became available. i was very happy to pick it up and move it to the house but when i got there my roomates didnt want it in the living room or the tv room so it went up to my bedroom at the top of the stairs. there were about 25 steps going to the upstairs then a hard left with the big wooden handrail. we had to raise the piano up high enough to clear the hand rail in order to turn the corner. there were enough guys and enough beer to get it moved in but let me tell you i had to pull some big iou’s out of my back pocket to get it moved out of there. still have that piano and it still plays sweet.

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    1. We have a piano that we got from my mother-in-law which is a smaller one like the Baldwin Acrosonic. It is an old piano probably dating back to the 50s or earlier. A piano tuner told me that older pianos, like ours, are very heavy even thought they not as big as up right pianos. The strings in these older pianos are mounted on a large heavy metal plate. A lighter system for mounting the strings is used in many pianos manufacured more recently.

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  5. i loked on craigs list and the baldwin acrosonic is a very commonly listed item. 7 or 8 of them raiging from 350-400 dollars up to 2000 for a used piano. one guy comented they sold new for 4000 in 1990. there is one in the room my daughter studies trumpet in that is a beautiful unit. art deco kind of feel to it in a blonde wood. i love pianos. the electric keyboards dont do it for me

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  6. Good morning to all. At our house the Kitchen Aid mixer is probably the most appreciated thing that we purchased. I can’t remember anything like that from my childhood unless the kit for converting our furnance from coal to fuel oil could be considered as an item of this kind. My Dad was an engineer who had worked on maintaining electrical power plants and designing them. One night while we were in bed he converted our old coal burning furnace to a fuel oil burning furnace. I think he did this because the coal miners were on strike and there was a problem getting coal.

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    1. One of the reasons that the spreader stands out in my memory is that, other than gas, it is the only thing delivered to us. Everything else we went and got, as well as I can recall. Once we ordered a stock water tank, which came as a bunch of staves, a wooden bottom, and three metal hoops. We picked that up in about the most exciting place in my early childhood before it closed, the freight part of the train depot. You can see the top of that, although it is hardly exciting to see, in the banner photo on my wordpress page.

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      1. I have a purpose for starting this, which I have yet to get to. I will start doing more entries at some point soon.

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  7. btw. i am calling off the board games for february which had been rescheduled for this thursday. lets try 3.3 and take it back up from there.

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      1. Me, too. For the unitiated, tim has a venue for playing board games every so often at his place… take it, tim:

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  8. I’m convinced that music has special powers to feed our souls and nourish our bodies in old age. As long as your mother can play that old piano, Barb, she will be much better for it. I just enjoyed a TPT show about Frankie Manning, an incredible Lindy dancer, who was dancing like a kid up until his death just before turning 95.

    Great story, Barb, and I love those photos!

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    1. Totally agree Steve that music has special powers – it was the last remnant of a “there” there with my dad before he died. He couldn’t converse, didn’t seem aware of where he was or who was there…but he kept singing and “playing the piano” on his blanket. 🙂

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    1. Barbara, This one is so funny 🙂 Remember it so well from when my Dad used to take us to Laurel & Hardy and Marx Bros marathon when we were kids. Thanks for the memories.

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  9. Greetings! When we still had our house and got some money from my parents’ estate, I bought a brand new HE washer and matching dryer to replace the 30-yr old appliances that came with the house. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE my HE washer. Despite our moves, I still have it in storage and want to keep it, but I don’t know for how long.

    I was so excited the day it came, I watched it go through most of it’s cycle the first time we did a load of clothes. At the end when it is spin drying, it reaches speeds of 1200 rpm or something amazing like that. Sounds like a small jet engine taking off, but it is so fine for cleaning and getting a lot of moisture out of clothes. I miss it — now I have to use the coin-operated laundry in our building. boo-hoo …

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      1. Uh oh! I’m afraid my commitment to my washing machine is quite shallow, which by your rule would make my life balance precarious. It is a Sears thing in the color avocado, if any baboons can remember when appliances were either copper or avocado. I’ll work at coming up with deeper affection for the thing.

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        1. Don’t forget Harvest Gold. MAN, those colors were hideous. I served chili out of my 70s avocado green crock pot the other day. I wish it would just die so i could replace it.
          I had forgotten “copper” for an appliance color.

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        1. For small appliances, it was Avocado Green, Harvest Gold and Poppy. My cousin had a poppy coffeepot.

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  10. Morning-

    Nice story BiR, thanks.

    Like Clyde, I think anytime machinery comes to the farm is always exciting. I remember the tractors I’ve had delivered or the truck that dropped off a new bulk feed bin. And the new manure spreaders too but mine didn’t come in a box. 🙂
    Our washer / dryer is 20 years old; I don’t remember that delivery anymore… we got a new stove about a year ago, I remember that. Fridge is about 20 years old too, don’t remember that either. I remember carrying in the new HDTV!
    Our piano came from Kellys Aunt and Uncles house. It was a puke yellowish / green color and we had it refinished and refurbished. It’s an old upright and stamped in the brass of the sound board is the name “Kelly”… so we felt we were destined to have it.

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  11. When I first bought my house, there were a couple of years when I didn’t drive a car in the wintertime – it had a bad heater core and I couldn’t defrost the windshield, so from mid-October through Mid-April I put the insurance on hiatus and put it in the garage. Got around by bus. I’ve always been fond of real Christmas trees, so that first Christmas I found a nursery that would deliver one to the house. I think it was an extra five dollars or so for delivery, but I figured I was saving enough on the car insurance to cover the splurge.

    I have also had three refrigerators and two dishwashers delivered, but I had more fun with the tree.

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      1. For my first apartment in San Francisco, I once brought home a new ironing board on a bus – had to transfer too… same era as above photo.

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  12. Ah, I long for the day when I can have a piano delivered to my house – so glad your mom moved with hers BiR. I think I played a similar piano during my piano lessons, a little blonde console piano much like the one in the picture. I grew up with a parlor grand (mid-size between a standard grand and a baby grand. That piano moved several times with my dad – from his family’s first house to another house, at least one duplex and into the house my mom is still in, but every move within about a 3 mile radius. There has been much discussion of where the piano will go when Mom moves out of the house – it’s too big for a modern apartment (of the variety you would get in “senior” apartments), and my house almost too small for it, too…unless we decide to forgo the dining room table (a possibility). I think the current idea is that it will move to my brother’s much larger house in Prior Lake – it’s a lovely old piano.

    As for what has actually been delivered to my house – a favorite was an unexpected late housewarming/wedding gift from a college friend. I came home one day to a huge box (the size of a large kids’ toy box, only a lot heavier). A huge teal colored box filled with Makita power tools. The friend knew I was a fan of Makita, had a buddy who worked for them in sales and had access to discontinued/open box/demo models…so he found a good deal and I was pleasantly surprised with some great tools (2 cordless drills are oh so handy, though having 3 circular saws is an embarrassment of riches – but have had occasion to use all three at once). Besides, how many girls can say they got a reciprocating saw for for their wedding/housewarming? 🙂

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    1. …”unless we decide to forgo the dining room table “… Maybe there’s a way to use the parlor grand as the dining room table (like we do with half our ping pong table). 🙂

      Congrats on the power tools, Anna!

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    2. What better sort of saw to get for your wedding than a reciprocating saw! What a lovely name. What, exactly, does a reciprocating saw do?

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      1. It is a weapon of mass destruction. 🙂 “Reciprocating saw” is the generic name for a SawsAll – it has an open straight blade like a jig saw but is much more powerful. I have used mine for everything from cutting 1″ square steel tubing to taking down walls. Husband used it to cut roots on a tree we were digging out, that did in my batteries – so I made Husband buy me new batteries after that little adventure (not my first choice for a gardening tool…but in the interest of marriage reciprocation, I let him use it) .

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      2. i first used it to cut a hole in the roof of a fun old car to make it summer friendly 3 foot by 3 foot. awsome tool.milwaukee is the only one to compare. i see that depot now has chinese stuff for 79 bucks . wonder how that works.

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      3. tim, against my better judgment I bought a cheap recip. saw. All the power you want but the blade won’t stay in place. Frustrating as all get out. It’ll stay in place until you start to cut something, then it pops out.
        That said, I don’t need one very often, which is why I went cheap, but when you need it, nothing beats them. But a good one.

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      4. Being a small-handed creature, I prefer Makita to Milwaukee simply for the design and engineering that results in how it feels in my hand – I find Milwaukee is just too large to keep hold of well. DeWalt is good (one of the three circular saws I have is DeWalt, as well as one of the drills), but prefer my Makitas.

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      5. We’re in tech rehearsals here but it’s a small show so I have time to browse and read and comment. Besides, there’s always tomorrow.
        On my ‘To Do’ list here at the college is making a piano cover for one of the grand pianos in a practice room (I’ll have to find a better seamstress than myself for that one) and adding about 14″ to an existing cover. And that one I could do myself if I was motivated enough to do it. Or maybe I can find a student that still needs their shop hours…
        We don’t allow eating or drinks on our painos. But at home, with the right cover, You go for it Anna! .

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    3. i was thinking a dining room table of a oiano would be about perfect t our house where we use the dining room table 3 times a year whether we need to or not. i think there is a stool between chair height and bar height that would work otherwise my kitchen barstools have the hydrolic lift like an office chair. seems like a shame to pass on the chance to have a piano delivered and especially one so meaningful.

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      1. I guess the only issue is we tend to use our dining room table as a desk, arts and crafts table, flat storage and several other things as well as occasionally actually eating there. Daughter is old enough I can trust her not to get food all over it, but training Husband to not drip milk from his cereal might be a different story (and, yes, Steve, if there is a Chief in our tribe, I’m it…though I prefer Benevolent Dictator 😉 )

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      2. You seem to be saying husbands are easy to dominate but hard to train. The poor sweet things tend to be so messy! And really, does it get better than “Benevolent Dictator?” We’re been conditioned to praise democracy, but inside we really yearn for the BD.

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      3. Well as BD, it is easier to convince the masses that my pathological inability to put clothes away properly (as well as papers and other things) is a charming quirk instead of an annoyance…it’s all in the propaganda. 🙂

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      4. close the top on the piano and cover it with a parge piece of glass or wood. the sound will still be fine but the milk and tomato sauce wont screw up the strings. you can open the top if you need to but ill bet you dont need to too often

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  13. Nice story, BiR. Your mom sounds like a person who makes a point of having a good time wherever she is, and who knows what is really important in life. We have lots of deliveries since we can’t get much of what we want locally. Many years ago we bought a cherry wood dresser and armoire from a furniture store in Bismarck. We should have bought the bed at the same time but we had a serviceable bed frame and needed the dresser and armoire more, telling ourselves we would get the bed for the set when we could afford it. It was an arts and crafts mission style bed. Well, wouldn’t you know it but the furniture store went out of business, as did the company that made our bedroom set. I found a company online that made cherry furniture just the style we wanted, and could stain the bed exactly the color we needed. It came from North Carolina, and it was a wonderful day when this huge truck pulled up and delivered that bed. We brought back lots of provisions from Fargo this weekend, including 50 lbs of Swany White flour, Turkish olive oil, lots of organic dry beans and specialty grains, cans of San Marzano tomatoes, and a French Press coffee pot. We often sing The Wells Fargo Wagon as we return from Fargo with the van loaded with things we can’t get here or even in Bismarck.

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    1. Sounds like quite the shopping trip, Renee. The word “provisions” makes it sound like you live in some remote outpost, and I suppose you do. We Twin Cities’ dwellers take so much for granted, I know I do.

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      1. Well, maybe its more accurate to say we are pretty particular about what we eat. Cooking is our main hobby besides gardening and music. I am sure that the majority of folks here don’t feel deprived, but we would get so bored with our diet and maybe less healthy if we only ate what was available in town. I think that the word Fuss-pots, (see baboon glossary) describes us best when it comes to food, furniture, and cooking equipment. For example, of course we can get feta cheese in the stores here, but when you are in Fargo and you find a Syrian restaurant/market that sells Bulgarian sheeps milk feta, what is there to do but buy a large container of it? I refuse to pay good money for cheap furniture, and that it really all that you can get here. I would rather go without until I can save up for what I really want.

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      1. It is organic, is really finely ground and has the texture of silk, and makes a great tasting bread. Alas, there is no more to be had since the mill burned down. The natural food store in Fargo that I purchased it at found another source for a comparable organic white flour from a small mill in Harvey, ND. Once I use up the last of the Swany white I will get some and compare.

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      2. interesting. if he has that kind of following i would think he would have it made to his specification and keep selling it, even if hes not making it

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  14. Another part of this story is that in 1985, when HUsband and Child and I had moved to S. Mpls, I went to a neighborhood garage sale, and there was “our” Baldwin Acrosonic, for (as tim mentioned above) $400. This was in an alley just down the block from us. We bought it, of course, and wheeled it home!

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  15. What a lovely post, BiR, and those photos add so much. Thanks.

    On a fine, early spring day in 1966, the delivery truck pulled up in front of the house on Talbot Court in Cheynne, Wyoming where my ex and I lived in a small basement apartment. The truck driver unceremonious proceeded to pull the large and very heavy, 100 year old hope chest to the edge of the truck bed, gave it a final shove and it plummeted to the ground. Only the very sturdy brace my next door neighbor in Denmark had made for it prevented it from breaking to smithereens.

    The trunk contained my life’s accumulation of dishes, flatware, clothes, knick knacks, books, LPs, and rocks; stuff I had collected over the previous 22 years of my life. As I looked on in horror at how my old trunk was treated, I was sure that everything in it was broken; surprisingly nothing was.

    More recently, in the spring of 2002, another large container delivered, to the alley behind our house by a truck and truck driver much better equipped to deliver such a large box, husband’s share of his inheritance from his childhood home. Several very large, and old pieces of furniture, Oriental carpets, dishes, antique copper ware, and other treasures, in short order transformed our small house into a crowded mishmash of his family home and the life we had created together. I can remember feeling overwhelmed that OUR house had suddenly become HIS house, I felt as if My presence couldn’t be felt at all.

    I have since adjusted and feel at home with all this stuff, although I have to admit, there are times when I feel it would be freeing to get rid of some of it.

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    1. I remember my mom commenting after my dad died about how many things in the house were from his family and had been in the house when she moved in – probably as much “his” stuff as “their” stuff (the piano being “his” stuff along with most of the furniture in the living room, with the exception of the music cabinet, which came from my maternal grandparent’s house and another cabinet that houses CDs, oh and the oriental rug…that was a “theirs” purchase). Not sure what will happen to it all when she decides the house is too big to manage.

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      1. Oh, I’d say 7 or 8 good sized ones, BiR: a couple from Denmark, one from Switzerland, two from Uzbekistan, and three or four from Greenland. I still have them and have added 5 or 6 chunks of petrified wood from Wyoming. Rocks rock!

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    2. I can just FEEL the aaaaaccckkk feeling you must have felt as that trunk fell to the ground. Amazing that nothing was broken.
      That feeling of YOURS, mine and ours is a difficult one. Apparently, he’s gone but you ended up with the stuff.. It sounds as though you’ve made peace but, as you say, it would be freeing to declutter for multiple reasons.
      My wasband was an accumulator and it was fabulous to make my home purely mine again.

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      1. Just to clarify, Lisa, the stuff we got in 2002 is from my current husband’s childhood home. I divorced the wasband (like that :-)!) in 1974.

        What I had the hardest time with are some pretty large old oil paintings with very ornate “gold” frames; they make me feel like I live in a museum. I have a collection of more contemporary paintings, no doubt of lesser monetary value than the husband’s heirlooms, but they were painted by college friends. We have now compromised and have a rather eclectic art collection that better reflect what we like as opposed to what it’s worth.

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    3. Your experience is an interesting contrast to mine, PJ. When I became married, my wife dominated all decorating decisions, making it clear that her tastes were superior to mine. She filled the walls with art from her childhood including a large portrait of her parents that I found intimidating. I couldn’t escape the feeling that I was living in her life space.

      As you know, when she left I found relief from that by chucking her stuff (it went to a storage locker) so I could fill the home with things that meant something to me.

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  16. Such a charming post, Barb – thank you! My “piano story” is a bit bizarre, but true. About 20 years ago, while struggling with depression, I’d been on Prozac for an extended time. At one point, I decided that I didn’t really need the drug anymore and stopped cold turkey. What happened next was a drug withdrawal-induced mania. For a few days, I truly believed that I could do anything; like creating a training program for 3M and walking in to present it even though this wasn’t part of my background experience.

    At that time, we needed a better used car, so I withdrew our entire savings of $7500 and took off to purchased a car. On the way, I passed Schmidt Music. I drove around the block and stopped at this store. I’d wanted an ivory-colored baby grand piano since age five, so I walked in and bought one. In this manic state, I fully believed that I’d soon be making plenty of money to justify it.

    I still have this lovely piano but rarely play it. I’m pretty sure this story is the best depiction ever of what Roseann Barr used to call “A grand Prozac moment”!

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    1. At least you didn’t feel like buying farm machinery. I knew a manic guy who bought four new tractors so he could race them across the neighbor’s field. It was lucky that the tractors never got delivered.

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    2. Oh my! But you’ve not regretted it, thankfully! I know someone who cashed in all their assets during a similar “moment” and bought a stone farmhouse in Italy which had no water source, erratic electrical power, no phone line (and no hope of one), snakes in the cistern, and the most beautiful view I’ve ever seen. Sadly, it didn’t end well.

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  17. Completely inappropriate, except for the word piano and Babooners; I stumbled on this quote:
    “The piano has been drinking, not me.” Tom Waits

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  18. Barbara, your story and photos are wonderful and I agree with you that making your own music, playing or singing, is good for the soul! Our best delivery ever was a piano, too 🙂 I inherited my grandma’s 1910 Epworth Parlor Grand Piano and when we moved back to the States in 1969 it was sent by train from California to my parents’ home in Northfield. My grandma was a dynamo–a church organist for 45 years, and she ran a boarding house for college students till she died in 1965. Grandpa was a Methodist minister, an insurance salesman and sold encyclopedias door to door–simultaneously. Covered his bets in the here and the hereafter. Epworth gave $100 discount on their pianos and organs to ministers in those days and since Grandpa was kinda tight, I’m sure he was sold on the bargain aspect, but it is a beautiful piano with a mahogany finish and vine carvings on the front and weighs in at 1000 pounds or more. But I digress. Grandma gave me my first piano lesson on that piano in 1954 when I was 6 and it will be 112 years old this year. Barbara, Grandma’s favorite composer also was Chopin and she especially loved the nocturnes. She had me picking out the melody lines by ear from the beginning. I’m still partial to Chopin even tho my playing skills aren’t up to it any more.

    The move/delivery that really sticks in my mind is when my husband and I brought that same piano in 1971 to our old rental by the Sears tower on Chicago Ave. We were students, no money, so we moved it by ourselves from Northfield to Minneapolis in an open pickup truck, backed up to the porch and shoved it into the living room. How, I’ll never know because we were just two skinny kids.

    It’s moved with us 6 times since and the daughters both learned to play on it. More recently, the bench doubles as a coffee table. My hope is to take some lessons and play a little more before arthritis takes over completely. I love my piano for all these sentimental reasons but don’t know how much longer we can hold onto a 1000 lb memento. It might be nearly time to pass it on to my niece who plays beautifully and would appreciate the sentiment.

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    1. 7ish week nights weekends are open for duscussion . more like 3 ish
      it is by the date rather than the day of the week 3/3 (sat 3ish) then 4/4 (wed at 7 ish) then 5/5 (sat 3 ish) etc funny either wed or sat/sunday every one this year.

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  19. Most memorable delivery to my home… the day I delivered my son home from the Marine Corp after a 2 day trip visiting Hoover Dam, the Grand Canyon, and Mount Rushmore. We had a steak and lobster dinner at home. I am ever thankful that he made it though his service with the Marines safely and not too mentally messed up!

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    1. A lovely memory J-niM. Of course that reminds me that bringing my boys home from the hospital were the two greatest deliveries. And that driving the first one home was like carrying a MIng vase..

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      1. So so true, Lisa and Jim. My granddaughter Quinn was born 1 year ago tomorrow, Feb 8th, and I was there as she made her appearance. Now that was a great delivery 🙂

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    1. Yes, I ultimately found a good home for mine too, Holly, and now have my mom’s electronic that she used to take on their “Snowbird” trips. Does your husband work just in Northfield?

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