Antique: old; ancient; old-fashioned; obsolete; archaic; a piece of furniture made in a former period.
I looked at the beautiful piece one more time, amazed again at how the Weiman Lemon Oil had worked its magic over every inch. The keys were yellowed, cracked and worn, as you would expect from something that began its service over 130 years ago. But the gorgeous dark wood with its curves and scrolls and majestic peak was in excellent shape, its age belied only by the faded pink velvet peeking out from the inlays and sitting stately atop the stool.
Made by Woodbridge Bros. of Chicago in the late 1880’s, the antique pump organ was prized in its heyday. Introduced to America in the 1840’s, the pump organ was used primarily in small churches that couldn’t afford the larger more expensive pipe organs. Sound is generated as the organist, playing the keyboard and adjusting stops, continually pumps the two large pedals at the base to flow air past a vibrating piece of thin metal inside. I can only imagine how many precious old hymns flowed from this one. After years of service in a church it was owned by the same family for 100 years until given to me almost 30 years ago.
Over the years I played it at Christmas, loving the unique sweet sound of O Holy Night and Away in a Manger. Not being used to so much leg work I rarely played more than a couple of songs in a row. As grandchildren came along the young ones were fascinated with this old piece. The rectangular stool is so small it seats only one adult but can fit two small children; I got tickled at them trying to make sound come out when their feet couldn’t even reach the pedals. But mainly it was a beautiful piece that graced my music room.
Then came my retirement, and my new love the baby grand piano. I decided to sell the antiques – the King Upright Grand piano I had since my college days and the pump organ. The King sold quickly, but to my surprise the organ did not. Turns out there were dozens of them all over social media, though few in as good condition as mine. There were many nibbles but no buyers.
The grand arrived and I had to find a temporary place in the house for the organ. Much to my husband’s dismay I found a niche for it in the living room, but when Christmas came around it had to be moved to make way for the tree. So for the past two years the organ’s ‘temporary’ home has been in a corner of our dining room. The beautiful piece, still fully functional, was reduced to something dusted and polished, viewed in passing and appreciated but unused. It wasn’t an item of interest for our children, certainly didn’t match anyone’s décor. I knew that this part of the inheritance would be more appreciated for money generated now rather than becoming a burden later. I totally understand. I was once a struggling young parent myself.
Finally, after months of posting on Craigslist, Facebook, Offerup, Letgo, Nextdoor, and word of mouth the new owner found me. He was searching for the perfect antique, had seen the pictures and it was love at first sight. PayPal transferred the money, he secured a truck and moving help, and moving day was coming up fast. The organ no longer belonged to me. It was a strange feeling after all these decades. But it was time. Time for someone else to have the joy and beauty of a well-crafted instrument in their possession.
I couldn’t watch them load it up and drive it away. But I did enjoy the picture I received of it in its new home. I hope someone will play O Holy Night on it this Christmas.
Kim Robinson is an author living in Austin, TX. She and her husband have six children and fourteen grandchildren and enjoy spending time with family. Passionate about parenting, she writes and speaks about a variety of issues facing parents and professionals dealing with teenagers in crisis. She enjoys speaking at retreats and to various organizations.
Kim's debut novel, Chased by Grace - A Story of Survival, is available now.