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Scott Hollifield: The ballad of the traveling piano
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Scott Hollifield: The ballad of the traveling piano

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Scott Hollifield

Breaking news: A piano is heavy.

Piano aficionados, roadies and furniture movers are keenly aware of this fact, but I only remember it when I relocate a vintage Currier from one place where it was rarely played to another place where it was rarely played to a third place where it will most likely be rarely played.

The kid, with a new house and a new job a hundred miles from her raising, wanted a memento from her childhood. I suggested several of her speeding tickets, framed, but she wanted her momma’s piano, since it was the heaviest, most useless item in the house.

The piano was manufactured smack-dab in the kid’s hometown before it began to travel around the state not being played.

Here is an entry from the website bluebookofpianos.com:

“Currier Piano Company’s heritage of handcrafted excellence began in 1823 with the Boston founding of Currier & Company. U.S. Presidents John Adams and John Quincy Adams were early owners of Currier Pianos. Since the heart of fine piano manufacture is not found in highly mechanized operations, Currier Piano built its present plant in Western North Carolina. This lush mountain country provided Currier with two vital assets — craftsmen and artisans capable of patient, expertly handcrafted work and a ready supply of premium mountain hardwoods and fruitwoods.”

This particular piano originally traveled from the lush mountain country to the flatlands of central North Carolina without the assistance of any of the Adams boys, craftsmen or artisans. There a young keyboard prodigy learned “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” and the opening notes to the theme from “Hill Street Blues.”

And that was it.

Thirty years later, our kid, daughter of the aforementioned keyboard prodigy, came along and banged on that piano every time she visited her grandparents’ house. Enduring that endless barrage of discordant noise, someone — certainly not me — said, “We need this piano at our house.”

That was my first tangle with the behemoth. Gathering enough family members with strong backs, we managed to get it on a U-Haul truck and maneuver it back to lush mountain country.

With sweating, grunting and cursing the day John Quincy Adams was born, we wrangled the piano into a room in the house where I swore it would stay until the end of time or I learned to play “Great Balls of Fire,” pushed it into the front yard and set it ablaze with lighter fluid while maniacally pounding the keys like a hopped-up Jerry Lee for the amusement of the neighborhood.

A dozen years went by, and that is not what happened.

“Dad, can we move the piano to my house?”

“No. The neighbors have been looking forward to ‘Great Balls of Fire.’”

“Please?”

“Sigh.”

I checked with a moving company, but, as I said, furniture movers, like piano aficionados and roadies, are keenly aware of the weight of a piano and apparently charge by the pound. It was out of our price range.

Once again, despite my end-of-time vow, I gathered enough family members with strong backs, now older and more fragile than the last move, and loaded this monster of “premium mountain hardwoods and fruitwoods” on a U-Haul truck for more traveling.

Here is another entry from bluebookofpianos.com:

“… Currier has broadened its manufacturing capabilities to include deluxe style consoles, professional studios as well as a line of quality grand pianos. Along with its regular spinet and console production, these new additions enable Currier to meet all piano needs.”

Yes, Currier met all piano needs except moving a piano without experiencing excruciating physical injuries and developing a deep, deep hatred for U.S. Presidents John Adams and John Quincy Adams.

“This is yours now,” I told the kid, my hands on my knees, gasping for breath. “Enjoy the premium mountain hardwoods and fruitwoods and if you ever plan on moving, I suggest you buy some lighter fluid and learn to play ‘Great Balls of Fire.’”

Scott Hollifield is editor and general manager of The McDowell News in Marion and a humor columnist. Email him at rhollifield@mcdowellnews.com.

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