You cannot believe how many social gatherings Tim and I attend (right in our own backyard) where people have no idea what we do. We spend the entire evening answering questions, explaining how we make a living in the entertainment business. I'm the introvert, so Tim takes the lead. "Lorie plays the piano. She has about 40 CDs and has published 40 books of music. She has a pretty famous Christmas show and we tour the United States, but we're mostly known right here in the midwest."
After people get it that I play the piano, it is pretty much the same run-down. They look back to Tim. Buckle up . . . here we go. "And what do you do?" It's always funny listening to Tim downplay his role in our lives. He tells the intrigued person how he handles everything from "light bulbs to legal." Tim is modest. (People who know us well know he does EVERYTHING in our business.) "So you manage Lorie?" Tim has his candid response. "She's unmanageable." They laugh. The next follow-up question is always the same. "Oh, so do you go on tour with Lorie?" And this is where I butt in and say, "no, I go on tour with him. He's in charge." Back to Tim. "Do you play an instrument?" He doesn't. Now Tim and I look at each other with the same non-verbal message . . . time to move on. I don't want to sound like I'm full of myself or "too good" to deal with all of this, but we have been at this for a very long time and this is a typical exchange in almost every public setting. As we walk away, Tim always mutters under his breath, "people need to get out more. They must live under a rock."
Because we are in the public eye, this puts all of my family in the public eye. The most common comment said to my parents is, "you must be so proud of your daughter." My dad has always had a good sense of humor and his response is always the same. "She's the best investment I ever made."
When I first started piano lessons with Mrs. Day, they cost $24 a month ($6 a lesson). When I went to Mrs. Jack, the price increased to $28 a month. Then, at age 10 I moved to Alleta Gray, the best in town, and my parents forked out $32 a month, or $8 a lesson. It was certainly an investment for my parents and I remember them tearing out that check in the checkbook every month and handing it to me. To this day, I so appreciate it. I think about that a lot. I did the math and figure my parents probably spent a total of about $3800 for my lessons.
When I was 15 years old, my dad went into his own business. Times went from lean . . . to really lean. I remember funny things. We'd mix Carnation instant powder with real milk to make it go further. My mom would buy a bag of pinto beans for $1 and we'd feed seven peple an entire dinner of just beans and cornbread. (It was one of my favorite meals and to this day, I love having a pot of beans on the stove.) Sunday afternoons after church we'd dine on one baked chicken, corn we had frozen from my aunt's farm that previous summer, and English muffins from the day old discount bread store.
My dad was a paralegal and in these days my mom worked at home for him as his secretary. In the evenings, at the top of the stairs she would sit at an old oak desk and type all of his dictation and legal reports. (Clack, clack, clack, clack. Return.) I remember these years well as they went without for a very long time. My mom sewed for all of us, but not herself. My dad had two sports coats and a few pair of slacks to mix and match. When his two pairs of shoes (black and brown) got a hole in them, he had them resoled. He'd do this twice before splurging and buying a new pair.
While all of this was going on, I was a sophomore and gave my first public piano recital. It was held at my high school theater. I had studied with Alleta Gray for five years and she really pushed me. That year I tackled and performed seven huge pieces. The two that were most memorable and challenging were Chopin's Revolutionary Etude and Dohnanyi's Rhapsody in C major. I really didn't like these compositions, but forced myself to learn them. And Alleta didn't give me options. To this day, I still have these two pieces somewhat in my hands.
After that big year, Alleta sensed our family needed the extra $32 a month, so she made a big announcement at the end of one of my lessons when I brought her my monthly check. "This is the last time you have to pay me. I'm putting you on scholarship." I think she just wanted to make sure that finances wouldn't get in the way and I'd have to quit. She shared my dream and hoped I'd get to go to college. So, my final two years of studying with her were free.
My dad retired at the early age of 55. Ten years later, Tim and I employed him. When we toured, he and his wife Anne would come to Minneapolis from Florida and stay for two months. They packed orders, watched our kids, and some years even hopped on the bus and helped us sell CDs in the lobby at the shows. At the end of the run, we'd have a festive and elaborate Christmas and they'd go back home the next day. It was so much fun.
My dad went on his last tour two years ago at the age of 80. He is now officially retired.
Lorie Line Music, Inc. employed him for 15 years.
So, yes, now that I think about it, my dad's joke might be totally true. I just might have been "the best investment he ever made."
PHOTOGRAPHY: Lorie with Alleta Gray at her sophomore recital. Also, Lorie's concert program, Valentine's Day, February 14, 1974.
The red dress was made by Lorie's mom.
Click below to read past blogs!
MY CHILDHOOD HOME
THE DAY THE MUSIC DIED
PRESENTING MISS LORIE PORTER IN RECITAL
HELLO ALLETA GRAY
THE ELKS CLUB
AND THE WINNER IS . . .
HOW I MET TIM
MY FIRST PIANO TEACHER
THE TOP 10 CHEAP BEAUTY PRODUCTS I CAN'T LIVE WITHOUT
THE TOP 5 MOST INFLUENTIAL WOMEN IN MY LIFE
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