Saturday, October 11, 2014

Greer Piano

The Greer Piano on display in the Apache County Historical Society Museum
on indefinite loan by the family of Lillian Oasis Greer Parks.  (By Suzanne Wisc)

"A PIANO THAT TALKED"

"Can a piano talk?  This big, black grand piano talked.  It said, 'Buy me,' to Ellen C. Greer, in Albuquerque, New Mexico when she was choosing pianos in 1883 and she bought it for $500.  Then is was crated and shipped, by train, to Holbrook, Arizona.  Here it was loaded on a freight wagon and with four horses pulling it was taken about fifty miles to a ranch between Holbrook and St. Johns, where there was to be a big wedding.

For months previous that sewing machines had been humming, sewing the lovely statin and silk, the nuns veiling, lace, ribbon and embroidery into mystic wedding dresses for three dreamy brides, Lizzie Drew, Hannah Kempe, and Dessie Greer who were to be married to Frances Armstrong, Dick Greer, and Frank Drew respectively on October 3, 1883.

Of course there must be music and a piano and a wedding march!  So she had to buy the piano, all their supplies came from Albuquerque.  The wedding march was played by a music teacher, Mrs. Margaret Baird, Ellen's sister and Aunt of two of the wedding party.  It was Mendelssohn's Wedding March and there were bridesmaids and best men and lots of food that had been in preparation for days.

The man to perform the ceremonies was Mr. John T. LeSueur, who came about 25 miles, from St. Johns, of course by team and buggy.  That or horseback being the means of travel there in those days.  Friends came from far and near, there was food enough for all, but it was impossible to provide beds for all even by using another house, Aunt Maggie Baird's, across the flat, where the wedding supper was to be held.  So the guests had to dance all night, an orchestra had been provided and the hours sped by, in the early morning hours carriages, wagons, and horsemen were lining the roads, returning home.

And was the piano silent?  No, there was fun, laughter, music and song constantly, Harris with his accordion, Lacy with banjo, and later on Ann with guitar and Maggie a mandolin and the girls learning to play the piano and become proficient piano-players as we befitting young ladies in those days.

It became best for the mother to move to Concho, about ten miles away.  Here the piano was the nucleus for the young and old to gather around for many years for joy and pleasure.  Music can put joy in one's step and sunshine in his heart and give relief and comfort when in tears.  It may take one into another world and make a person fell soft and good, it may put life in the feet and make people dance, step and move in rhythm with other feet even keeping time unconsciously together.  Martial music puts heart and courage in the weary soldier, strength in his step when he is too heart-sick and weary to go on, yes music talks!

There came a time when the children were all married and gone the mother and the piano moved again, this time to St. Johns, about twenty miles this time.  But she did not need it much now.  Her daughter, Margaret, in Provo, a piano teacher, gave lessons.  It was decided to send it to her.  Now it was sixty long miles from the railroad, moving vans were not known there then, the cost to ship it was high, it was decided to sell it and send the money instead.  One hundred dollars was the price asked.  Jarvis' purchased it first, then a Mr. Mineer, and next is was in a barn or storehouse with its parts scattered about.  It did not want to talk then only to say, 'Take me out of here, let me make people happy.'

It stayed there a number of years, then Lillian Greer Parks found it.  Her brother John had it hauled to her home at Sunny Slope, near Phoenix, Arizona.  Here she had Mr. Redwell put it into shape again with new strings, new keys and so on.  She had thought to sell it as an antique, but when she had it in her house she grew to love it and could not part with it.  She turned her own piano in on the repair bill.  She thought so much of it that she feared to go away and leave it in an unoccupied house. 

Lillian passed away.  She had told her sister Flossie,  'If I go, Grandma's piano is yours.'

What is in store for this family piano, to continue being a prized family heirloom or to be sold to an antique shop or what?"

(Story donated with piano - not sure of author).

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