My First Piano

My first piano came with the house that my mother rented, with an option to buy, on Deerfield Road in the Wavecrest section of the Rockaways. The landlord, Mr. Silverstein, insisted that the piano was key to the deal (no pun intended there). It was a George Steck baby grand, which took up half of our tiny living room, but my mother thought it was divine intervention —  a sign that my brother Charles and I would become, if not budding Van Cliburns, then at least a cut above the neighbor’s children who did not enjoy such an obvious symbol of culture in their homes.  Benevolent Mr. Silverstein became a known figure, if not a hero in our lives. After all, it was out of the goodness of his heart that he bequeathed us this instrument so that we could learn to play the piano, get into good colleges and join the ranks of polite society. In truth, the man didn’t want the piano, or to spend the cost to move or store it.  Once we bought the house, piano and all, he disappeared into thin air or Miami Beach, never to be heard from again. As the past few weeks have unfolded, with unthinkable carnage in cities across our country, I thought about my piano as an instrument of civility, pride and discipline. What if we could replace all the guns in America, or at least those in Westchester, with pianos?  Think about the music we could make in the lives of families. It could be a beautiful thing.

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