loisvdrleest.jpg Lois Vander Leest of rural Reasnor loves pianos and has a collection of about 130 “piano” items that she displays in area libraries when asked. The term “piano” is used loosely for her collection because there are also accordions and organs in it. She loves bargains from flea markets, garage sales, and auctions so she has several other small collections too. Lois is shown at right with her piano collection now on display at the Newton Library.

Not all her pianos can be displayed – at her home she has an old upright piano and a keyboard too.

She has wooden, metal, and ceramic pianos and organs. Some are planters and some are plates or even pencil sharpeners, music boxes, cigarette holders, ashtrays, salt and pepper shakers, banks, door chimes, or tree ornaments. And then there are clothing items with pianos or notes on them, such as watches, belts, jewelry, scarves, and socks. For the backgrounds of her displays, Lois has sewn some quilts with distinctive black and white piano keys on them. And to add a little interest, wherever there is an empty space in her displays she puts in some old sheet music. She has three accordions and an old Schoenhut piano complete with stool too.

Some day (or maybe year, she laughingly says), she’d like to display her piano collection in her home instead of in boxes going from place to place. But until then, she and Irvin, her husband of 48 years, will keep going to flea markets to get rid of some of their “stuff” and try to sell more than they bring back home! --By Margaret Vander Weerdt, January 2010