Friday, March 6, 2015

Heirloom Piano: Post 6 for Women's History Month

Dear Great Grandmother Cora,
Today we are asked to write about a family heirloom we have inherited from a female family member. You were actually my step-great-grandmother. Though you passed before I was born, I remember your husband William Branchflower fondly. We called him Will Will. He was always willing to push us on the swings and read us stories. There seemed to be boundless patience with a pack of grandchildren.

Will kept your house much the way it had been when you were alive. So did Poppy (as we called your son Kenneth) after Will passed. As the oldest grandchild, I was sometimes allowed to walk up the street to your house, carefully turning the key in the lock, and tiptoeing into the silent house. I had to take deep breaths to keep from being afraid, but it was worth it to be able to spend the afternoon playing your piano.
1901 Busch and Gertz of Chicago Upright Piano
I know it took a lot for Poppy to trust me with touching the piano. He well remembered that it had been a special gift from your parents, William Pleasant and Lutharia Ann (Ruggles) Massey on the occasion of your marriage in 1904.
From left, William, Kenneth and Cora Branchflower
outside Newberg, Oregon circa 1944
Photograph from my personal collection.
When Poppy died in 1976 and the family was dividing up the contents of two houses, a barn, a three car garage and shop, and several out buildings, the most important thing that I requested was your piano. We arranged to have it shipped to our quarters at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California and I have treasured it ever since. It has made every move with us, including being shipped to Stuttgart, Germany and back to Coronado, California. My daughters, Amanda and Colby, learned to play on it. I'll admit there are a few dings and I know you would not be happy about that. Still, the piano remains a treasured heirloom in our home and it will pass to Amanda in time. I should play it more often.

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