This is a Wurlitzer upright piano that has long called the Dakins Community Center in Zearing home. It has long fascinated me for a couple reasons. First, its age and condition suggest that it rolled around the battlefields of Verdun for several months in 1916 France. Second, it used to have three individually laminated signs across the top, each saying “Do Not Move Piano”. Whether or not one was actually permitted to play the piano remains unknown.
It had been a while since I last visited “Wurly” (well over a year), but a few weekends back, I noticed her laminated signs are now gone. Only the faint reside of cellophane tape remains. As you know, laminated signs exude authority equal only to that of a Presidential Executive Order. So, the fact that all three of the signs are now gone and the piano had been moved from the east wall to the south wall, suggests a shadowy element at work. Granted, it may have just been an overzealous cleaning crew, but seriously, who moves a piano – even to vacuum?
Silliness partially aside, I would like to lean more about the origins of the piano. Did a prominent Zearingite give it to the Dakins Center? Was it something that just showed up one day, like a Pottery Barn catalog? Maybe, the piano was part of whatever building was there previously, and they build the Dakins Center around it. Finally, why does the Dakins Center have a piano? In fact, why to they have two pianos? There’s also a Clavinova-looking thing up there, which oddly has more dust than our friend from the Western Front.
I don’t know enough about pianos to know if Wurly is considered to be a Cadillac or something more akin to the pianos people always want to give away on Craigslist “to a good home.” Whatever the case may be, I have a feeling I know why the piano wasn’t supposed to be moved: safety. There’s something like 7 tons of potential energy inside a piano. That thing is literally a bomb-on-wheels, waiting for the moment when it can implode on itself in a glorious symphony flats and minors.
Even so, I can’t help but feel somewhat sorry for her. Instruments are meant to be played, not collect dust. Even if it is just a weaponized box of wood and cast iron.