Mother says (February 2008) her Mother had a piano at home on the farm. She does not know if the Souths had a piano but she does know her Mother had access to a piano in town for her long sessions of practice. Aunt Lula had told Mother years ago that having a piano was not something everyone had during those times.
Aunt Louise wrote in the 3 sisters "Round Robin Letter" (about 1983): "Daddy got acquainted with Mother [Lottie] who was staying with her Grandmother South who lived across the street from the Brenz's. Mother was finishing her musical career which she was studying piano ... She had to practice 6 and finally 8 hours a day before she finished. Grandmother Brenz would send Daddy after eggs --- to her neighbor. She wanted our Daddy, (her son) to meet that Miss Lottie Hart, who was to be our Mother in a few years."
Mother wrote to Melanie (fall 2000): "Regarding education, Mother (Lottie Hart Brenz) who was born in 1884 came to Kirksville from Greentop to study classical piano and language at the Richard Wagner Conservatory of Music and Languages. She graduated in 1909. As we were growing up, we often met someone who had heard Mother perform. At her graduation the invitation mentions she would play Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata, Adagio Movement for piano. She also played William Finks Romance Op 200 No. 2 for the left hand only and Keler Bela's Lustspiel Overture, a piano duet with class mate Edith Kaster. Her accident [about 1923] kept her from public performances later."
(1) Thinking about Grandmother traveling by buggy and by train in 1909, I can imagine how how dusty, smoky, loud, and bumpy that must have been. I can almost hear the train go "Chug-Chug-Chug", and that whistle blow. As she would travel by buggy, the countryside would have been filled with people living on and working small farms with their diversity of crops and livestock; that's very different from today when our lives are so focused on town. I can almost see her Dad and she wave as their buggy goes by.
(2) One of Jay Bulen's students Ashley commented on the special clothes one would need for attending the Conservatory of Music during those times.(3) I also can imagine that Grandmother must have had considerable family support for such a venture (both from her parents and grandparents).
(4) I wonder about the social sphere surrounding a choice to go to music school for a woman in the early 1900s. Continuing education was surely not a privilege available to all at that time.
(5) I keep wondering about that train ride. What was the fare? How long did it take? What did the train look like?
Depot Photos: (Above) Sublette Depot 1900s and (below) Greentop 1907. (Thanks to Deleta and Hollis Dale for helping me find these!) Source: Missouri Train Depots (3/2/08).