Since 1969, to play the piano, I would either have to know someone which had one that would let me play or I would try to find one 'in tune' and located in some open building like a hall or church. I have played in restaurants, hotels, coffee houses and anyplace I could find one. I would play as long as I could or until I was asked to stop.
When I first came to Rochester, NY I was very fortunate. I love to walk and everything I needed was within a few blocks of where I lived. I could walk to work and walk across the street to the world's best Donut Shoppe with great coffee. Across from there was a large Roman Catholic Church (more about that later). On my way home there was a great restaurant, a fantastic bakery, a sub shop, grocery store, a dentist, and I would soon meet new friends at my favorite coffee house. Everything I needed was all within the neighborhood and within walking distance. I even wrote an entire collection of poetry called 'The Lost Pleasure of Little Things,' from all the faces, places, graces, and spaces of my 'hood.'
I am not a Roman Catholic, but one time after work, I went to this church; the doors were open, so I went in. Inside was a piano. Whenever possible after work, I would go to this church and play. It was always empty. Once I saw a custodian, but I did not seem to be bothering him so I kept playing and he went about his business.
As I said, the church was always empty and I did not seem to be bothering anyone or so I thought. Once I was at the store and I was approached by a priest. He asked me if I was the one that played in 'his' church. At first I thought I was in trouble, but I told him it was me. Then he said, "I just wanted to tell you how beautiful it is and how much I have enjoyed your playing." I was blessed and felt pretty confident that I had found a semi-permanent home to play. A short time after meeting the priest, I was interrupted from playing at 'his' church by a very irate woman, the church administrator I presume. She told me I was disturbing the office, that I had no right to play their piano and that I must leave and not return. As beauty is in the eye of the beholder, music or noise is in the ear of the be-hearer.
Shortly after this, I met some new friends at their coffee house. They had an old upright piano and allowed me to play. I tried to be aware of my surroundings and of others and would play softly. One time I was 'doing my thing' and almost fell off the chair from shock. I just happened to turn slightly to my side and saw a man that had pulled up a chair and was so close to me that I could almost hear his heart beat or his breathing. He was like Beethoven perhaps, he just wanted to get close enough to me and the piano so he could feel every vibration. I instantly stopped playing. His eyes lit up, "No, don't stop, that was the most beautiful thing I have ever heard!" Then there were other times I heard, "Dahni could you tone it down," or "Could you knock it off!"
That old upright piano held a lot of memories for me. It was played by many well-known and professional jazz pianists. One pianist actually could tune pianos and he tuned it every single time he ever played it. It was so sad to see my friends close their coffee house, but they thought of me. We were able to buy it for maybe 150 bucks and it sat in our living room and I beat it for several years. I am not sure of its age, but it had real ebony and ivory keys, still in good condition. It was the only piano I have ever owned. It needed some work, a couple of keys were stuck, the pedals no longer worked and it was starting to go out of tune. My uncle had found and re-finished an old swivel piano stool for me. It is seen in the picture below.
The old upright found a new home, but I will miss my old friend which held so many fond memories. The southwest theme living room was done, then we tore out the carpet to find beautiful hardwood floors beneath.
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