Chesterton Tribune

History lives on piano with a past

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A piano, marked with local history, is in need of a home.

Elaine Crumpacker is moving to smaller quarters and is looking for someone interested in local lore to become the caretaker of the piano that has the signatures of many of the town’s former leaders carved into the cream-colored panels.

Names are carved everywhere, on the sides, apron and even near the foot pedals. On one side, Curtis Anderson carved a caricature of “The Sad Sack” and named it George Lowry, owner of the former Porter Hardware store.

“When I pass by the house, I feel a flash of embarrassment,” said John Canright, whose very large signature is carved into the apron of the upright piano. John, was 12 years old when he wrote his name on January 1, 1948. Canright, a former journalist and photographer for the Chesterton Tribune, currently is a counselor of psychology.

“I was a friend of Curt and he said people were signing the piano and asked me if I would too. Being of junior-high age, I carved my name big - letters about three or four inches tall.”

Many of the signatures are dated Jan. 1, 1948, Jan. 1949 and 1950. Curtis’ parents, Phil and Dorothy Anderson built the house on Calumet Rd. and were very social, Crumpacker said.

The piano is located in the basement along with a Ping-Pong table and pool table. The poker table is currently being renovated, but has its own special corner, complete with hanging overhead lamp. Most of the signatures are those of friends of Phil and Dorothy.

“Movers and Shakers” names include Dick and Beulah Smith of the former Smith Motors, Howard Johnson, former President of Wilbar and local historian, Camille and Milan Morgan, of the former Morgan Hardware, H.J. Radtke founder of Pioneer Lumber and numerous others.

Elaine Crumpacker’s in-laws purchased the house from the Andersons, founders of Wilbar. She and her husband Bart moved into the home some 20 years ago and inherited the piano. She, herself is prominent in the community with her involvement in the Chesterton Woman’s Club.


Posted 6/12/2003