Professor of Physiology at Ohio State University
During ‘our” graduate school days at U of I, we had lived very frugally on the GI bill monthly check of $160 per month plus tuition from about 12 piano students that Elva taught every week to supplement our income. Keith also worked on weekends at ‘odd jobs’ such as lawn moving etc. In spite of our meager income, we were able to save $10 a month for emergencies. As graduation approached we decided to use the savings to buy a used Shasta camper, and one summer the 5 of us even traveled to the Niagara Falls area (Keith, Elva, Scott, Teraysa and Todd) for a vacation.
Keith completed his requirements for graduate studies at the University of Illinois in 1965 and began looking for a job. He seriously considered 3 choices: 1) The Redland College for Girls in California, 3) working in a Post Doctoral position in Utah and 3) Professor of Physiology in the Medical School at Ohio State University. Even though his advisor said that OSU was not a serious offer, he decided to apply anyway; and, he was offered the job as assistant professor of Physiology which was to begin during Fall quarter 1965. All this was taking place about the same time as graduation ceremonies, so he missed his graduation celebration; but we were thrilled with the OSU offer. We asked my sister, Ruth to take care of the 3 children and, pulling our camper, we headed out to Columbus to go house hunting. We hired a realtor from Columbus who showed us many houses. The one that we liked the best was located at 6207 Ambleside Drive in North Columbus. It was a brand new 4-level house that had been used as a ‘showplace’ for the new Amblesde Drive Housing Development. It had 4 bedrooms and 2 full baths with basement. The 4th level included 3 bedrooms and a bathroom. The 3rd level was the street level front entrance with a large kitchen, small dining area and large living room. The 2nd level was slightly below ground and included a bedroom and large tiled floor area which would be perfect for piano teaching ... and it was connected to the finished basement area which included a playroom for the kids and a separate laundry area. We used the GI bill to acquire a loan on the house and returned to Champaign-Urbana to get ready for the move. On the ‘big day’ we loaded up the car, and with the 3 children, Kathy Baxter (one of my high school piano students who often babysat for us and who offered to go with us to help us move). Our passengers also included a cage with our pet hamster, We headed out for our new home and our new life in Columbus Ohio, but the weather was very hot and the hamster got overheated and suffered a stroke! Kathy took it out of the cage and carried it in her shoe the rest of the way to Columbus!
It wasn’t long before school began and Scott started first grade at the nearby Devonshire Elementary School. One day his teacher suggested that we have his vision tested, and sure enough he was fitted for glasses. On the way home with his lenses, he was looking out the window and saying “Look! The trees have leaves Mom! And see the bricks on those apartment buildings? I didn’t know they were made of bricks!” His optometrist’s comment was only, “Did you know that he couldn’t see?”!
Soon after school began we applied through Franklin County Children’s services for a license to become Foster Parents, and it wasn’t long before Jenny arrived. She was about 18 months old, small for her age, shy and cute as a button! And, soon after that, Elva began teaching piano lessons again for just a few students. She started teaching again because Scott was ready to begin lessons and she didn’t want him to be the only piano student. But, of course, she loved teaching and the piano studio grew and grew. It wasn’t long before two things happened of significance: 1) Keith brought home a white laboratory rat to show to the kids. Mom said, “ok, but we can’t keep him more than 1 day.” (However, the rat named “Cuddles” stayed on at our house and became a favorite pet.) 2) Keith came home with the news that in his new job he would have a whole month off for vacation at the end of the summer. The idea of using our camper for a whole month of travel was very tempting; so Elva designed a plan for teaching which included an entire week of workshop classes centered around a central musical theme during which students would come to class in groups EVERY DAY during that week. The workshop would end on Friday with a performance for parents, and then, our family and the students would have the entire month of August off. The new enterprise was named the the "PianoSkill Workshops” and these classes were an ongoing venture for the entire 30 years that she taught piano in a private studio setting in Columbus, Ohio.
Your descriptive writing makes me feel like I am a part of the adventure as you began your careers and family life in Columbus! Seems like every decision had a sound basis. And how exciting knowing how those piano workshops for students began and then later became perhaps a basis for your book on teaching!