Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Play it, Sam...

Growing up the only time I watched cartoons was Saturday morning. Shocked? It was normal. We had 13 channels and when my father got home from work he chose what to watch, usually news. Sometimes, though, we got lucky. Sometimes he'd watch old movies. At first I'd grumble inside, knowing that grumbling outside wouldn't change anything, but I learned to appreciate and love old movies. Little things in life stir up the coolest quotes from old movies. Do yourself a favor and watch some, you won't regret it. 

Without old movie knowledge you'd totally miss my Casablanca reference! If that's you, go watch it. Don't walk to the couch, run! No one can resist the dark coolness of movie icon Humphrey Bogart. I'll bet he'd love this new-to-our-town piano gracing the front of NAPA for the community to enjoy! He might even ask Sam to play it again...

How did Westfield get so lucky? Well, over the summer I took my kids to a movie in Wellsboro. We walked by a man dressed as normal as we were. He looked average. Nothing about him indicated any hidden talents. Minutes after passing him I stopped in my tracks. I heard music. I heard someone playing a piano and it was the average guy! But he wasn't average at all! My children and I listened to him play. It was lovely. Wellsboro has at least 3 pianos spread out along their Main Street and it's an awesome idea! Then I wondered why more towns don't do this. Nice shops and tourism certainly help to make towns nicer, but you can do nice things for the people that already live in towns to make it special. Like a piano. For everyone to play. Anytime they want. Unless it's raining. If it's raining it'll be covered up, but any other time should be fine. I thought yeah, we could do this. YEAH! WE CAN DO THIS! 

How do we do this? Hmm...I contacted the mayor, Dick Vargeson. It's like having your very own Wizard of Oz! I shared my idea and he tracked down a piano! Really, it was just that fast! The Yeager family kindly donated one, and I asked their daughter and my former student, Rebekah, to help paint it. Then I asked her friend, another former student, Lauren Foulkrod, to help too. We were like a piano painting posse!

See?! But before we could dive in, it needed a base coat. Jason at NAPA kindly donated a bucket of NAPA blue paint, and my husband helped me paint it! 

Then the real work could begin. We decided to meet after school a few nights for a week, but it all hinged on weather. A few rainy days and possible showers really threw a wrench in our plans. That's ok! Slowly but surely we plugged along!

The folks at NAPA were awesome, checking on us each evening before they closed at 6 to see if we needed anything. They've taken great care of this piano, and it's so appreciated! 

As we painted folks stopped to ask about what we were doing. I chatted with students about it at school. Cars would beep, folks would shout out encouraging words from cars while stopped at the light in town, kids at school would excitedly tell me they saw me painting and give their stamp of approval on the progress. Even before we were finished it was stirring up community pride and spirit. 

The girls and I had SO MUCH FUN painting together! We laughed, joked, talked about school, shared our mission with folks that asked, and I learned that Lauren had the coolest shoes in the world. How perfect is it that we wear the same size?! She KNOWS I love sugar skulls and that I LOVE teaching Day of the Dead before introducing Frida Kahlo....I also LOVE converse sneakers!!! If we truly were in Oz I'd go Wicked Witch of the West over those shoes!

Others helped as well. Sarah Knight, 2nd grade teacher at WAES, stopped by to say a big hello and to check out the piano up close. She added her own touch by artfully painting "Play Me" on the front, along with a few other special little details. 

I put a clear coat on the piano that evening, and took the bench with me to clear coat over my lunch. I told my students that I was dropping the bench off after school and that it would be the signal that it was open to the public for playing. When I dropped it off I stepped inside to thank the folks at NAPA for their kindness and support. When I walked out there was a student playing it already! It was the BEST!!! Warm fuzzies and good feelings...Since then, several have tickled the ivories. Westfield hosted its very first "First Friday" event. Though small, it was successful and I hope to see it grow. 

Folks sold things they made, others played music and taught guitar, my family enjoyed the chalk drawing on the sidewalk, and others played piano!

More pianos will be added soon, so be watching and listening! If you have pictures playing our piano, share them with our mayor, Dick Vargeson, on facebook! 

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