WARR ACRES — So, it's come to this final note, somber — something in the E flat major 7th chord, which resolves, but with a lingering question and mixed emotions.
Such will be the last day for Albert Evans Piano Co. and a life and store of love for pianos and music that spanned decades. It will be Saturday, when the store at 4100 N MacArthur Blvd. and the remaining instruments go on the auction block.
Louis Dakil will auction the two buildings starting at 10 a.m. online and at his warehouse, 200 NW 114 — followed by the instruments and equipment: concert grands, baby grands, consoles, studios, uprights, digitals and players, with thousands of player piano rolls.
“It's pretty sad,” said son Steve Evans, a piano tuner and technician who will remain in business even with his father's store gone. “My mom and dad had such a dream of having a store like this.
“They started out real small, and they figured out they could restore an old upright piano and make $300 doing it. So my father went from there to learning how to restore them and refinish them. He started out working out of his home. Next thing you know, he had a shop, a bigger shop, a bigger shop, and then he had a store on Main Street in Stillwater, Oklahoma.”
That was in the early 1950s. He and his wife, Millie, moved family, shop and store to Oklahoma City in 1963. It was at several sites before landing for good at 4100 N MacArthur in 1978. Mildred Lorene Evans died at 70 in 2002. Albert Evans died at 81 a year ago Tuesday.
“This was their dream. Now the dream is kind of coming to an end because we're selling the store,” Steve Evans said. “But this is what Mom and Dad wanted to happen. They wanted everything sold off and turn everything into cash money and divide it up amongst his kids. That was his plan, and that's what we're doing.”
Evans' sons, Steve and Phillip, who lives at Lake Conroe, Texas, and daughter, Elaine Evans Walters, who lives on St. Martin in the Caribbean, might have found themselves overseeing a violin liquidation if their grandfather back in Kingfisher had had his way. Steve's wife, Gloria, would have been selling stringed instruments rather than pianos and organs, working in the store the past 40-odd years.
“Dad grew up on a farm,” Steve Evans recalled. “His dad was a country fiddler and he wanted Dad to be a violinist, so he had my dad taking violin lessons. But his mom wanted him to learn to play the piano. His dad bought him an old piano that wouldn't stay in tune, just so he wouldn't play the piano and he would play the violin.
“But Dad learned how to tune up the old piano by watching the old tuner who would come and tune the piano, and he got ahold of some tools from his uncle. He would tune the piano up as good as he could and practice every day.”
Albert Evans Jr.'s legacy will outlast his store. Both Steve and Phillip continue as piano technicians — proud that their father was a founding member of the National Piano Technicians Guild and that he was renowned for his skill and artistry. Elaine Evans Walters is a concert pianist and holder of a doctorate in musical arts from Rice University.
Phillip walked up to a restored 1911 black Baldwin grand piano, one of numerous beautiful instruments to be auctioned Saturday, and talked about his father.
“This is what our father did, his love, his passion. He would take a piano like this, made in 1911 and gotten totally dilapidated, and he took that instrument and turned it into something that you would think is new, and plays as well as new and sounds as good as new,” he said. “He was one of the finest technicians in the country.
“That's what Dad did. And he did it well. And we think he did it better than just about anybody you can imagine. He absolutely loved pianos. He loved what they did for people. He loved how they helped them express themselves, how it helped them grow, helped them enjoy their life.”