From the Ranch

From the Ranch

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Mr. Rube Waddell and Old Broken Down Things

 I love a bargain, especially the kind where I find something old and make it attractive and purposeful  again.  Right around Christmas I hit the mother load when I found a baby grand piano for fifty dollars on Ebay.  While Randy and Brian were home for the holidays we loaded up in the pick-up and made the trip to San Antonio to pick up the piano.  I could tell the gentleman I bought the piano from thought we would never get the piano moved.  I had taken some 2x12s and bought some industrial size swiveling wheels, screwed them to the bottom of the support I built, and after taking the legs and the pedals off, we loaded it up with the ramps we had brought, and used ratchet straps to secure it in the truck.  We were on our way home in less than an hour.  I've always wanted a baby grand piano... and no one even needed to go to the emergency room!

 I have enjoyed playing piano all my life.  When I was a little girl my dad found an old upright piano, bought it for fifty dollars, and brought it home to me.  The old piano had ugly yellow keys, some of the tops of the "white" keys were missing.  The "black" keys were worn on the edges, and the wood peeked through.  A couple of the keys made no sound when I hit them, and one key sat a little lower than all the rest, but I was overjoyed when the piano entered my life.  I immediately began trying to play something, but the sound wasn't quite right, even just a single note didn't sound right due to the old piano being terribly out of tune.

 Mr.Rube Waddell was called to come and tune the "new" piano.  That whole process fascinated me.  Mr Waddell was born in 1900 in Sweetwater, Texas, and he passed away in 1993,  He was an amazing musician and craftsman, and a genuine gentlemen and a scholar.  For many years he tuned and restored pianos. When he arrived he took out his velvet cloth, laid out his mysterious tools, and began to work.  He used a tuning fork and soon the old piano was making beautiful mellow sounds.  Mr. Waddell was always such a dapper gentleman, cheerful, and there was always a twinkle in his eye. 

 When Mr. Waddell, or Rube as my daddy called him, left, he told my dad he would be happy to refurbish the old piano for him if he would like, and several years later when I was still taking lessons, and sticking faithfully with it, my dad called, and Rube came and picked up my piano.  When he came back, the white keys had been replaced with shiny new plastic covers, and the black keys were a dark glossy black all over, and it played like a dream...

I bought a book, it's all about refurbishing pianos.  I have experienced in my life being an old broken down thing... but  I have been refurbished too...  I keep the following poem hanging by my front door, it is one of my favorites, because I know first hand of it's truth.  Watch my blog, I will post pictures of my progress as I attempt to restore my "new" fifty dollar baby grand.

The Touch of the Master's Hand
by Myra Welch

Twas battered and scarred, and the auctioneer
Thought it was scarcely worth his while
To waste much time on the old violin, but held it up with a smile.
"What am I bidden, good folks, " he cried,  "Who'll start the 
bidding for me?"  "A dollar, a dollar," then, two!  Only two?
"Two dollars, and who'll make it three?
Three dollars, once; three dollars, twice;  Going for three..."
But no,   From the room,  far back a grey-haired man 
came forward and picked up the bow;
Then, wiping the dust from the old violin, and tightening the loose strings,
He played a melody pure and sweet, as a caroling angel sings.
The music ceased, and the auctioneer, with a voice that was quiet and low,
Said: "What am I bid for the old violin?' and he held it up with the bow.
"A thousand  dollars, and who'll make it two?
Two thousand!  And who'll make it three?
Three thousand, once; three thousand, twice; and going and gone," said he.
The people cheered, but some of them cried,  "We do not quite understand
What changed its worth?"  Swift came the reply:
"The Touch of a Master's Hand."
  And many a man with life out of tune, and battered and scarred with sin,
Is auctioned cheap to the thoughtless crowd, much like the old violin.
A "mess of pottage," a glass of wine: a game - and he travels on.
He is "going" one, and "going" twice, He's going" and almost "gone."
But the Master comes and the foolish crowd
Never can quite understand
The worth of a soul and the change that's wrought
By the touch of the Master's Hand.