Susan Spess Shay

Still playing make believe.

Tombstone Wednesday :)


Snippet of Fantasie-Impromptu

Image via Wikipedia

Hey! Walking here! (What movie is that?)

Did that sound like the Big City? LOL.

I’m not good at sounding as if I’m from a place where people don’t chat when they stand in line together. Where they don’t make eye contact. Where people don’t care about the lives of those around them.

I’m a true small town world guy.

Back to walking. I’ve started walking again since the temperatures have dropped below a hundred. (To be honest, I waited until it dropped below ninty.)

Yesterday my newest DIL, the musical one, and I walked in the cemetery together. I enjoy spending time with her so much! It’s amazing how good my boys were at choosing their women. 🙂

As we walked, I told her stories and pointed out where people I knew were buried. I showed her the twins headstone their daddy made, which I wish I could bring home and care for. (I need to call the city office and see if they know who those babies are and what year they were born and buried.)

We walked on and I took her to my piano teacher’s headstone. Patti Adams Shriner was her name. She’s buried next to her father (I believe) but I didn’t see a husband’s headstone. Maybe she was divorced. I didn’t think to ask when I was a kid. (I was just a little intimidated by her.)

Mrs. Shriner had suffered a broken hip sometime before I started taking lessons from her, so each time I went into her house, it smelled like Deep Heat or Ben Gay. Remember those rub-on pain relievers?

She had two pianos. A studio piano (I think she used it when she and someone else played dueling pianos) and big, black, shiny grand piano, which we took our lessons on. Imagine a tiny 2nd grader (she liked her students to be able to read before they started taking lessons.) one hand on the magnificent keyboard, plunking out, 1-2-3-rest. 1-2-3-rest. 2-1-2-3. 1-rest-1-rest.

♪♫ Here we go. Up a row. To a birthday party. ♪♫

♫♪ Dolly, dear. Sandman’s near. You will soon be sleeping. ♫♪

And all the while, this beautiful woman had tons of musical talent coursing through her. She’d play for us sometimes. When she did, it was magical. My favorite song she played was Fantasie Impromptu by Chopin.

That was a girlie version. The one below sounds more like the way Mrs. Shriner played.

If you listed to both, you’ll hear the difference. I liked Mrs. Shriner’s version best. I took lessons from Mrs. Shriner for six years. When I changed to another teacher, she told me I “played like I was killing snakes.” 🙂 Then explained I had a man’s touch, rather than the sweet delicate touch a woman (or girl) normally has.

I don’t play anymore–at least for anyone but myself. It takes time and practice to play well enough for others to hear, and I don’t take the time to practice. Right now, I’m trying to learn to be a good writer.

But I enjoy the little bit of knowledge I received from Mrs. Shriner. And I love good classical piano.

That’s the music to Fantasie Impromptu at the bottom of her headstone. Beautiful, isn’t it?

Author: Susan Shay

For as long as I can remember, I've loved two things--reading and people--and that led me to become a writer. Many of my stories are set in Small Town Worlds. I'm a wife, mother, sibling and an aunt. I have a deep faith in God, and an exciting life in Christ. Maybe I shouldn't be (after all, he's God!) but I'm constantly amazed at the things He's up to. :)

8 thoughts on “Tombstone Wednesday :)

  1. Susan Do you remember Mrs. Shriner playing “Claire de Lune”? She was so talented. I wish I would’ve worked harder and practiced more when I was young. Now I can barely find middle “C”. Thanks for stirring my memories. You and your family were the best. Wally and The Beaver have NOTHING over us! Love, Marsha

    • I do remember that, Marsha. She was something, wasn’t she?
      Did she ever tell you about her studio that she “lost” during the depression? She showed me a picture of it once. There were windows that got lower and lower. She thought it looked like musical notes coming down the scale.
      I wish I knew more about her life. (I might have to twist Cecilie’s arm and find out.)
      Thanks for coming by!

  2. She was my great aunt. I wish so much that I had asked her more questions about her life–she went to study piano in Paris in 1912…she was married to a tempermental musician, and divorced in the 1920s. I think she was always ashamed that she was a divorced woman–there was such a stigma back then. That is her father (my great-grandfather) that she’s buried next to. I think his wife is buried in Texas, but times being what they were, there probably wasn’t money to send his body back to Texas to be buried there. Did you know that she built what is now the Spotlight Theatre on Riverside Drive in Tulsa? Unfortunately, she built in in 1929, right before the Depression, and eventually lost it, owing only $4,000 on it…it was known as the Riverside Studio back in the day. Thanks for remembering her–she never had any children, but it’s nice to know her legacy lives on in the hands of hundreds of Cleveland children!

    • Hi Cecilie!
      Welcome to my Small Town World!
      Mrs. Shriner was a special woman. Cleveland was lucky to have her!
      I knew she studied with a man who’d studied with Hayden (I think)
      I knew she’d built a studio in Tulsa and remember seeing the picture. I didn’t know it was still there, though. I’ll have to find it.
      I remember she started giving you piano lessons before you started school and that your mother had wanted you to wait a year or two before starting.
      Do you still play?

  3. Susan, just wanted to tell you how much I enjoy reading your posts. You are a great writer!! 🙂

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