Finding abandoned storefront, like discovering a fossil

Finding abandoned storefront, like discovering a fossil
Cody, Nebraska – The abandoned storefront stands shoulder-to-shoulder with the others on Main Street – now useless and gone by the wayside.

There are no messages posted here. Not outside. Not inside. Shadows no longer darken the doorway, where dust and dirt seal cracks and corners.

The only activity is my own refection peering in the window.

The whole storefront has a sort of bold blank stare, except for the sign that reaches overhead. It reads, "Piano Repair." Its sway back and forth in the breeze is accompanied by the methodical screech of the rusty bracket it hangs from. The bracket, like a tired arm, stretches long and hard, holding up, holding on.

Piano Repair. Piano Repair. The sign does not register. Piano Repair. Piano Repair. Like finding a fossil, brushing away sand and dirt, squinting and straining in the light, I wonder what life was here that made Piano Repair so prominent.

Who danced in parlors because of Piano Repair? Whose hands tapped up and down ivories in homes and churches across town, celebrating birthdays, weddings and anniversaries?

What bad news was glossed over with a lovely melody? What dark days were brightened with a piano tune? Whose life was praised or mourned? What was life like in Cody because of Piano Repair?

People still live in Cody, but it's quiet � very quiet. There's the sound of the wind. Once in awhile, the distant rattle of heavy trucks down Highway 20, cars now and then. But that's about all.

A resident of Southeast South Dakota for more than 30 years, Paula Damon is a popular columnist, keynote speaker, and freelance writer. Her column writing has won first-place national and state awards in The Federation of Press Women competitions. For more information, e-mail

� 2007 Paula Damon

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