Miss Means. Piano Instruction.

If you look carefully, you will see the sign below the shuttered windows upstairs on the right. Miss Means was my grandmother Harriet Means Johnson. Photo courtesy of Michael Hoyt.

A close up of the sign.

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There is a woman in the upstairs windows on the left. She is not my grandmother. I expect the upstairs was divided  – or perhaps she is a parent waiting for a child to finish their piano lesson.

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This is the first photograph I have seen of Harriet’s studio in Machias, Maine. Before today, I did not know the location of her studio above the Machias Lumber Company on Main Street. The building is still there.

Harriet studied piano under the renowned Frederick Mariner who had a summer home on the Penobscot River. Mariner’s studio was in NYC but he accepted gifted students at the Bangor Piano School.

Harriet Putnam Means 1906: Graduation from Bangor Piano School
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Later Harriet moved to Bangor, opened a piano studio there, then eloped with Ezekiel “Zeke” Johnson in February of 1908 – without telling her parents.

Read the Harriet stories, gleaned from her 1908 letters, here.

 

 

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Dad and Aunt Evelyn. Circa 1943.

Stewart Field, Newburgh, NY. Dad‘s “little” sister Evelyn visited when he was stationed at West Point during World War II. There Evelyn met her husband, Stanley Marcinek and they raised their family of eight children in Lexington, KY. Aunt Evelyn and her family visited Lubec and Machias often when I was growing up and I got to spend time having fun with my cousins.

They are cute together. Love their smiles!

This is another photo of Dad and Aunt Evelyn. L to R. Evelyn, Aunt Lillian, Dad, my grandmother, Harriet Means Johnson, her son, Uncle Bob. Kneeling: Uncle Warren Johnson (married to Lillian) with their son, William (Bill) Johnson.

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How to Preserve Old Letters — Amy Johnson Crow

Great advice on how to organize and preserve old family letters. Now to work on doing this with my grandmother Harriet’s letters from 1908 and the Grace Means collection in 1923 and 1924.

One day I just might get to my parents’ letters and mine.

You’ve found or inherited old letters. Congratulations! You have a real family treasure. Now you need to learn how to preserve those old letters. I recently spoke with Denise Levenick, the Family Curator, for her tips on preservation. (First step: Don’t burn them.)

via How to Preserve Old Letters — Amy Johnson Crow

Related post: November 1923. Grace Means Letter to My Uncle Bob

Harriet’s Recommendation Letter. 1905

BANGOR PIANO SCHOOL
A SCHOOL OF PUBLIC PERFORMANCE
FREDERICK MARINER, Director
Morse-Oliver Building

Bangor, Maine Mch. 13, 1905

Miss Harriet P. Means
Machias, ME

My dear Miss Means,

It may be a help to you in your teaching work if I write you these few lines, in a way an unsolicited testimonial to your advancement under my instruction during the past few months.

I found you ever a most painstaking and careful student and your progress was marked, and very pleasing to me, you instructor.

I am sure that in the work you have gone over with me and in its application to pupils you are most competent to instruct others and after sufficient experience in this particular time of your musical development will not only be pleased with your own work but will find your class of pupils and their parents must [be] appreciative of your efforts and the good results obtained from your systematic instruction.

Wishing you all success. I am ever
Yours very truly

Frederick Mariner

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Mariner included a newspaper article with his unsolicited reference letter, as my grandmother Harriet formally begins her career as a pianist. It is rather tattered now, 106 years later.  She graduated from Bangor Piano School in 1905 and became an instructor under the renowned Frederick Mariner who had a summer home on the Penobscot River. Mariner’s studio was in NYC but he accepted gifted students at the Bangor Piano School.

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The Bangor Piano School was located in The Morse Oliver building at the corner of Exchange and State Streets. It was destroyed in the Great Fire of 1911.

“Unquestionably the worst disaster to strike the Queen City, the Great Fire of 1911 reshaped the city’s landscape, burning 55 acres, destroying 267 buildings, damaging 100 more and causing $3,188,081.90 in losses and damage. The conflagration left 75 families homeless, most of whom had lived from Harlow Street to Center Street to lower French Street. It destroyed more than 100 businesses during a nine-hour span.”

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The Music Scene in Bangor, Maine 1907. Published in The Musical Courier, Volume 54, Column two.

Music in Maine

January 21, 1917

“Bangor Music teachers resumed teaching January 7, the date of the reopening of public schools. Mrs. ET Wasgatt who might be styled the dean of vocal instructors in the city, spent several weeks in Boston, enjoying rest and inspiration thereby.

Harriet Means, instructor at the Mariner Studios, spent her vacation at her home in Machias.

The regular Thursday recitals were resumed at the Bangor Piano School January 10, with a program of nine numbers, three of which were vocal the entire class singing, with different pupils accompanying at the piano. This feature has been lately introduced to promote broader musical culture to fit pupils for playing accompaniments when called upon by Mrs. Tilton in the public schools. Graded material is used, so that pupils of all ages can have this training. After this part of the program was completed the director presented in condensed form the story of the leading events of the early life of Beethoven….”

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Original Letter from Frederick Mariner to Harriet Means

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