Last time you went to a wedding, what did you give as a gift? Some kitchen items from the couple’s registry? Towels, maybe? A gift card? Or maybe a Wurlitzer piano?
Okay, if you’re paying attention, the last one probably stopped you in your tracks. But apparently, at some point in American history, Wurlitzer pianos were indeed a reasonable wedding gift suggestion.
I was blessed with a very large stack of vintage (circa 1950) Etude music magazines by a former music teacher at the school where I taught. Every week, I page through a few of these. I find them a fascinating glimpse into what life in this country used to look like. Many times, honestly, I have wished I could live in a world where brides wanted pianos for wedding gifts and where students write in, asking the expert whether practicing piano an hour daily is sufficient to become proficient (answer from a 2017 piano teacher: YES).
If you had to connect a single word with “piano,” what would it be? According to this ad, you might be right to choose “romance,” “sentiment,” or “happiness for a lifetime” (okay, that last isn’t a single word. But just go along with me. Writing these posts each day takes enough time as it is). What words might we link with piano these days? How about “expensive,” “bulky,” or “difficult to move”? Sad, but true. These are some I might infer from hearing talk among adults today.
Perhaps the Wurlitzer was more lightweight than modern pianos, as I can’t imagine two men (and smiling ones at that) moving either of the two pianos I’ve owned, at least if they hoped to later tell the story.
I’m wondering too just how much a Wurlitzer piano cost in 1950. When I got married, 20-some years ago, a typical wedding gift set guests back to the tune of $20 or so. Is this ad aimed toward parents of the happy couple, eager to make a large financial investment in the white-picket-fenced life they’re hoping to begin? Or maybe the neighbors got together back in those days and pitched in to buy a vacuum cleaner — or a piano.
Regardless, I kind of like the ad. I like the idea of a bride happily opening a set of Tupperware, a bathmat, and a piano! I like the thought that a piano could lead to happiness for a lifetime. It’s charming to see piano movers with smiles on their faces, wearing spiffy caps and setting down a piano like it’s just another side table. 1950 was a different world. I’d be happy to experience its romance and sentiment anytime.