Wednesday, December 17, 2014
I stumbled upon a shop called The Immortal Piano during my daily walk last week.
I was intrigued. Rows and rows of old fashioned upright pianos - some showing beautiful lines and workmanship; others opened, guts spilling out, tools arrayed awaiting action. It was a half hour before opening time, but the lights were on and the plastic sign in the window said "Open, please come in." So I did.
The owner of the shop came forward as I approached, camera in hand. Her name is Martha Taylor and she calls herself the Queen of Dead Pianos. She graciously responded to my questions, explaining how she'd rescued 500 vintage upright pianos bound for the dump. That was 22 years ago in Oakland, California. She knew nothing about pianos, but just couldn't let them die. And so began an accidental career rebuilding and reselling vintage uprights. She later moved to Portland and opened a shop on SE Belmont. She now employs two young women with small hands and a lot of patience for the restoration labor of love.
I felt a special affinity with the vintage pianos because one had a special place in our home in Boulder. Inherited from Charlie's Aunt Mary, it was appreciated but seldom played - until my niece Kylie started taking piano lessons several years ago and needed a piano. Now Aunt Mary's piano gets a lot of love in its new home.