The Parable of the Old Piano -- By: Catherine Clark Kroeger

Journal: Priscilla Papers
Volume: PP 04:1 (Winter 1990)
Article: The Parable of the Old Piano
Author: Catherine Clark Kroeger

The Parable of the Old Piano

Catherine Clark Kroeger

President of Christians for Biblical Equality

As far back as I can remember, our summers have been spent on Cape Cod in the two hundred year old house which my great-great-grandfather built. The loft above the barn was a wonderful place to explore after one had made the precarious ascent up a rickety ladder. One day in a dark corner, my sister and I discovered lying on the floor a strange box with a piano keyboard. “A spinet!” she cried, “Just like Mozart’s!” By squatting down on a moldering board, we were able to play on the old keys and to elicit a strange tinkly sound. If our performance lacked any of the skill of the young Mozart, we were impervious. It was a wonderful game.

In time we grew too large to squeeze onto the board behind the keyboard, though we still talked affectionately of the old spinet. My sister’s piano teacher even told her that the instrument could be restored, but my parents did not show much interest. I once asked my mother why it was in the loft, and she replied, “It just didn’t work out in the house.”

Then came World War II and deaths and marriages and births and many other vicissitudes of life. We seldom remembered the old piano any more. When the barn roof developed a large gaping hole directly above it, I tossed on a tarpaulin to protect the poor old thing from torrents of rain. Whenever I thought of trying to restore it, I shuddered at the cost and quickly thought of something else. It would be a great inconvenience to have to make room for such a monster in the house.

At last my husband retired, and we moved our possessions to the old house on Cape Cod. It soon became apparent that we were woefully short of storage space. The barn roof was repaired, and I was firmly told that I must clear everything out of the barn loft. My husband even offered his assistance in carting the monstrosity to the dump. But I could not dispose of an old friend so perfunctorily. Decency demanded some token effort on my part.

After some searching, I found a man who restores old pianos; and I even managed to coax him up the wobbly ladder and into the dark loft. He had brought along an electric torch, and I pointed out to him the dim form of the old piano. He moved beside the wall and said, “First I’ll just see if the name of the maker might be on it.” As he shone the flash-light above the keyboard, he gave a startled exclamation. “This is a John Broadwood piano!” Well, had he been expecting our poor old pet to be a Steinway? He began to explain that the piano had been made in London and that John Broadwood pianos stood in the museums of Europe and at the Smithsonian Institute. Broadwood had made a present of a grand piano to Beethoven in 1818, and it still stood in his house. Since ...

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