In 1979 I was looking for an open back banjo. They weren't easy to find in those days. I'd been playing a resonator model and I just knew I'd be happier with the sound of an open back. I would periodically check the pawn shops. Once when I was in a pawn shop another customer heard me ask about a banjo and he said "check at Lincoln Piano and Instrument, they have one."
I made a beeline for Lincoln Piano & Instrument and there it was; the banjo I had dreamed about. A turn of the century Dobson. $175 and needed work. Way more money than I had.
I looked around the piano shop and there were dozens of pianos in various states of disrepair. Player pianos, grands, old square grands, uprights of every make and model.
It was wintertime and we don't do much concrete work in the cold. I asked the owner, Orlin Schwab, if he needed help working on the pianos, looked like he was swamped, and he said he did. It was a life changing moment. I worked for him full time for the next 7 years, part time for another couple until he died. He became like a father to me. Taught me how to use tools, (yeah I had to start there!) how to repair stringed instruments and most importantly how to rebuild, refinish and tune pianos. Piano tuners/rebuilders from all over the area came to the shop for supplies and advice from Orlin and I got a priceless education. I still take care of a few pianos around town.
About 20 years ago I was in London Stringed Instruments and Dale London, knowing I had worked at Lincoln Piano & Instrument, showed me a piano sitting along his wall. It was a concert grand, a nine footer. He said a friend of his had left it five years previous and he wanted it out of his shop, said I ought to buy it and fix it up. So I did buy it and have stored it ever since.
Since it is wintertime now and I need a project my son Bill and I moved it out of storage and set it up in the shop. It is in all around good shape but it needs to be refinished and frame off rebuilt. I have work for the next month! This is going to be fun.