The Quest for a Prescott Piano

Some time last year while doing some Googling for tidbits on my family history, I became aware of The Prescott Piano Company.  I thought that was neat and made a mental note that it would be neat to own one some day.

Last week, while at bowling and bored between frames, I Googled “Prescott Piano For Sale” and was pleasantly surprised to see one advertised on a web site called  For the purposes of moving a piano, the location was relatively “local”: Ithaca, NY!  There were only two pictures posted, but it looked to be in good shape.

A Prescott Piano!

The posting was only a day old.  I used the web site’s messaging feature to send a message to the owner, inquiring about the price.  She got back to me the next morning: It was FREE as long as I came and got it.  I asked her how long she would hold it and she said one week.

Amanda and I were going to be in Buffalo/Niagara Falls for the weekend, and so we decided to reserve a U-Haul truck in Ithaca and stop on the way home to see the piano, confirm we wanted it, rent the truck, load it up, and head home with our prize.

After confirming on their web site that they are open on Sunday, I called the Ithaca location for U-Haul and reserved a 15′ truck–the smallest they had with a built-in ramp.  Saturday morning I received a call.  The gentleman with whom I had made the reservation had, for some reason, put me down for a 20′ truck; and they only had the one 20′ truck due back that day (Saturday) and it had not been returned.  They were not going to have one for me on Sunday.  I told the fellow that all I needed was a 15′ truck, but they didn’t have one of those either.  So he looked in the U-Haul system, couldn’t find anything, and transferred me to U-Haul Location Services.  I was on hold for about 10 minutes when finally a nice lady picked up.  But she was in Connecticut (they apparently pick up when New York’s queue gets too full).  She told me there was a 15′ due back in Cortland on Sunday morning (perfect, since we didn’t need it until late afternoon), but that the U-Haul location in Cortland was an “On Call” location.  I didn’t know exactly what that meant, but surmised that on a Sunday, it meant they were closed unless you had a specific appointment.  She even offered to call the renter to see if they wouldn’t mind returning the truck to Ithaca instead of Cortland!  (That didn’t happen.)  I hung up believing I had a reservation for 3:00pm in Cortland and that someone would be there to meet us and get us into a truck.

We left Niagara Falls and took a leisurely drive across western New York state on a gorgeous day.  We got to Ithaca at about 2:00 and tried to call the owner of the piano.  No answer, left message.  The piano was on the front porch (as we could see in the picture)–10 steps above the sidewalk!  Oh no.  Did I mention it’s a PIANO?  Pianos are heavy!!  I wasn’t sure how we were going to get it off the porch, ramp or no ramp.  It was just the two of us, after all.  Still, there was a lot of pedestrian traffic due to a festival that was going on.  I thought perhaps we could rely on the generosity of strangers (or offer to pay them) and we’d get this done.

Having looked over the piano, we decided we did, in fact, want it.  So we took off for Cortland to get the truck.  (Did I mention that about half way to Ithaca our car’s exhaust system somehow disconnected from the exhaust manifold?  Yeah…it was a LOUD drive home!) There was no one there.  I called the direct number I had been given for the location and got voice mail (closed Sundays).  I called U-Haul and finally spoke to someone in New York state who was very confused as to how I was directed to an On-Call location on a Sunday, particularly in Cortland which she knew for a fact was never open on Sunday!  I took this as a sign and thanked the lady for her help and told her to cancel the reservation.  Amanda and I had discussed it–we will be in Rochester next weekend and will try this whole thing again.  I will confirm a full week in advance with U-Haul that they have a truck available.  I will attempt to arrange to hire some strong backs to help us get the piano off the porch.  And Amanda won’t have to drive a car that sounds like it might blow apart at any moment.  Best of all, the owner of the piano is very nice and has agreed to hold onto it just a little longer!


PS: If you know of anyone in Ithaca with nothing better to do next Sunday afternoon, we could use some help loading a piano!