18-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today:
Thursday, May 8, 1913: Rufus was busy shining up the piano, desk, etc. with varnish. It’s rather difficult to keep from getting in it, and then you have to handle your fingers so gingerly. I’ve been warned several times.
Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:
The piano was almost new. Grandma’s mother purchased it on March 29, 1913:
. . . Ma bought a piano. I’m so glad for now I can learn to play.
The meaning of the word varnish must have changed over the last hundred years. When I think of varnish, I think of a lacquer; but it sounds like Grandma was referring to furniture polish.
Grandma called her sister Ruth, Rufus when she was annoyed with her. I can almost see Grandma’s fingerprints on the shiny piano wood; and Ruth’s exasperated expression.