Skip to content

Downsizing in an Upright Fashion

November 10, 2020

NOTE:  Due to unexpected and not easily accessible changes to WordPress at the same time as my move back to Wisconsin, my blog has been in in an unexpected hiatus.  The following piece was prepared for posting on October 8.  After this very belated blog posting on November 10 (Tuesday)–I hope to return to my regular weekly posting each Wednesday evening on WORDWALK.  Many thanks for continuing to read my blog, which I initiated on January 19, 2013.  I look forward to sharing more of my writings with you.

Downsizing in an Upright Fashion

By Alice Jane-Marie Massa

                After many of us spend decades upsizing–accumulating too many things–we spend our “silver years” trying to downsize.  Due to COVID 19, the usual places were not picking up items nor accepting donated items–the fruits of downsizing–during the couple of months prior to  my move in May.  Thus, my move from Milwaukee to Michigan included too many items that I should not have brought on my journey.  While the COVID 19 persists, one can now do some downsizing.  During the past couple of months, I have jumped onto the downsizing bandwagon.  At times, the downsizing ride has been refreshing, lighter; at other times, I feel nostalgic.  Still there is another feeling:  yes, I have been heartbroken.

                Anticipating the departure, arranging for the departure, and witnessing the departure of my beloved upright Gulbransen piano was heartbreaking.  Fortunately, I am pleased that our family piano landed at another family member’s home, about one hundred miles away.  My great-niece and great-nephew were excited and happy to receive the piano which I have played since 1958. 

The couple of nights before the piano departed my home, I played the slightly worn piano until after one o’clock in the morning.  The night before its professional move, I lovingly polished all of its wood; yesterday morning, I carefully cleaned all eighty-eight keys.  Once again, for one final time, I blessed this old piano with tears. 

                The work of the professional piano movers was quite smooth, swift, and unremarkable on a sunny, but windy autumn day.  While I was grateful that I did not become too emotional as the piano was leaving–without even a goodbye–I could barely utter a few words of thanks to the gentlemen who were handling my piano so carefully.  My Leader Dog Willow and I stood at the doorway and listened until the truck drove away. 

                The space left by the missing piano seemed not as large as I had expected.  How did the upright and bench fit there?  I guess its musical sound, warm heart, and melodious presence were larger than its physical self–as were the memories.

                As I sat upon the piano bench to play on the final night, my British Black Labrador began her usual routine of tail-tapping–very quickly to indicate her excited pleasure about something.  I would like to think that she was happy to hear the piano music again–despite a few off notes here and there.  Her reaction made me think of our family’s Toy Manchester/Chihuahua, Prince, who most frequently lay under the piano whenever I played the piano during the seventeen years that he was a part of our household.  Then, I recalled my Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Chelsea, whose reaction was different.  Whenever I played the piano, she took center stage in our living room, pointed her pretty little head upward, and softly howled.  I never determined if she were trying to sing along or if she were protesting my piano playing. 

                Our Gulbransen piano was made in 1957.  After another family did not keep the piano for quite a year, the piano ended up back on the floor of a piano store in Paris, Illinois–a small rural town and the county seat of Edgar County–about fifteen minutes from my hometown in Indiana.  I distinctly remember being in the store when, my parents selected the Gulbransen piano for my older sister and me.  In 1958, the piano cost $700.  What a wonderful addition the piano was to our home!  I have always greatly appreciated the extremely easy key action of my piano:  throughout the decades, I have never played another piano that required such a soft touch. 

                In 1904, Axel Gulbransen began the Gulbransen Piano Company in Chicago, Illinois.  By 1917, the company was the world’s largest manufacturer of player pianos.  Through its decades of operation, the company made various types of pianos and also organs.

                Sadly, I decided that the piano had moved enough with me and needed a more permanent home with children of only seven and five–one or both of which who have hopefully inherited the musical gift and talent of their daddy.  I do hope that their piano brings them as much joy as it did to me.  Now, I will look forward to hearing, via the phone or Facetime, little concerts from the very young pianists Lanie and Caden.

Wishing you all many melodious days of autumn,

Alice and Leader Dog Willow

October 8, 2020, Thursday

(Finally able to post on November 10, 2020


From → Uncategorized

  1. Welcome back, Alice and Willow! Your weekly blog posts were greatly missed by me and, undoubtedly, by your other loyal followers. Thank you for sharing the heartwarming journey of your precious piano. I only regret that I was not present to hear your early morning performances. Best wishes to you and Willow on your return to Milwaukee!
    Love, Mary

    • Mary–Thanks for all!  On Thanksgiving, my cornucopia will be overflowing with gratitude.

      Best always–Alice and Willow

  2. Susan M McKendry permalink

    Alice–Good to see your blog. So sorry you had to give up your piano, but loved the play on words with the upright fashion downsizing for your upright piano. Hope your great niece & nephew enjoy it.
    Welcome back to WI.

    • Good morning, Sue–and Happy Veterans’ Day to you and John–While both my great-niece and great-nephew have been carefully and respectfully playing the piano, my great-nephew seems to be showing signs that he may have inherited his daddy’s musical talent.  Happily, the piano is adorned with Thanksgiving decor.

      Take good care, and thanks for reading this back-to-blogging post–Alice and Willow

  3. Francetta Rayce permalink

    Hi Alice,
    So good to see the notification of your blog message in my email! I’m looking forward to the weekly return of your columns.

    What a generous and heartfelt gift you have shared with Lanie and Caden. They are fortunate to have an aunt who thought of them when it was time to share this precious treasure.

    The play on words is delightful in this piece and gave it a light hearted feel even with your heavy heart at letting it go. The sharing of how you played during the piano’s last days at your place let me imagine being there to hear and enjoy your concerts.

    Best wishes to you and Willow as you reestablish yourselves in Milwaukee.

    Take good care,

    • Hi, Fran–Many thanks for your comment and recent e-mail.  I do hope that I will be able to relatively easily post onto my blog next week!  I certainly have missed working on the blog during the past month.  Nevertheless, we are very busy here, but hope to have most settling-in done by Thanksgiving.

      More soon–Alice and Willow

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: