Becketwood Cooperative
An Active, Independent 55+ Community of Owners in Minneapolis

Piano Bars

by John Teisberg, Becketwood Member

Some Friday afternoons during Cookie Cart time, one of our talented pianist Members will play some familiar songs on the piano and I think back to 55 or 60 years ago. In those days there were a couple of places I might be on a Saturday night. One place was downstairs at Valli Pizza in Dinkytown where calypso was king. The other place was the piano bar in the Normandy Village. Backing up a few years, I would have been in the back room at the Blue Goose Saloon in Gardner, Montana, just outside the North Entrance to Yellowstone Park. There the pianist was Mary Darling, better known as Bloody Mary. She claimed to know 400 songs but she rarely needed to know more than 50 or 60. But I digress.

Coming back to Minneapolis, a roommate of mine named Bill occasionally went to the Normandy piano bar. One night his eyes met a young lady’s whose date had just gone to get their coats from the coat check. Bill went to talk her and had gotten her phone number by the time her date came back. But no name. The following day, a Sunday, he tried the phone number. An older-sounding lady answered and Bill took a shot at a name and asked for Barbara. The lady says I’ve got a Barbara but she’s only 8 years old. Bill mumbled, “I must have misdialed.” And hung up.

What to do. Bill took the Minneapolis phone book and started looking for the phone number. After going through a few pages, he thought, “This is crazy.” But a few seconds later he wondered if he could actually find the number. So he kept on. This was in the days when the Minneapolis phone book was two inches thick. He got about halfway through the book and he found the number. On Monday, he went to that address about the time she would go to work. He picked her up and gave her a ride to work.

Today he would probably get charged for stalking. Anyway, they went on a couple of dates but nothing came of this experience. Sorry. Piano bars still exist but I haven’t been in one since those days. Bill did meet a young lady in a more conventional manner, they married and now live by a lake near Detroit Lakes.

Photo by Cristina Gottardi on Unsplash

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  • Barbara White November 23, 2017, 1:47 pm

    John, that is a lovely story, even though Bill never got married to the piano lady. You bring back memories of a cardiology colleague of my husband’s when we were in Iowa City and both were faculty members at the University of Iowa. My husband’s colleague was a devout Jewish gentleman from Milwaukee who put himself through medical school by playing jazz piano in a bar at night. Rumor was–and this guy was brilliant so it could be true–that he would prop his medical book where usually one would prop up the music, and he would study medicine with half his brain and play jazz with the other half.