Oct 03, 2017

Hitting All The Right Notes: “Grand Old Lady” turns 100

Wellington Manor is home to many interesting life stories, with the history of one grand old lady in particular hitting all the right notes for entertainment.

A 100-year-old Wertheim piano owned by resident Betty Geise has travelled the state, spent years cruising the Brisbane River, and been at the centre of countless parties and celebrations since it joined her family in 1916.

The piano, which still takes pride of place in Betty’s living room, was bought by her mother, and was first kept at the family home in the hamlet of Jackson on the Roma railway line.

A move to live on the 50-foot pleasure launch The Mildura docked under the old Victoria Bridge in Brisbane’s CBD soon followed.

“Dad was an English marine engineer and worked on the paddle steamers there,” Betty said.

“He played piccolo, and mum, whose family owned hotels in Victoria, played piano and violin – I was taught music by her.”

Betty’s mother provided afternoon tea for pleasure-cruising passengers and fishermen, and the piano was the catalyst for many a sing-along.

Betty Geise playing piano at party

The family’s next home was upriver at Woleebee Creek, and then Manly, where the piano helped to lift spirits during the tough War years, before a move to Wynnum North and more celebratory times.

“We spent around 40 years at Wynnum North, where the rumpus room was very good for dancing, parties and sing-alongs,” Betty said.

“It was wonderful for Christmas, New Year, birthday parties and charity functions.”

Betty, now 87, has lived at Wellington Manor with her husband Eric for ten years, and still has a deep love of music.

“It’s a wonderful thing and can give so much pleasure to people: sick, old, unhappy or otherwise,” she said.

Much like Betty, the piano is still going strong and is always ready for a party. “We’ve had a few get-togethers here, and the piano still has a lovely tone,” she said. “I’ve tried playing for dances in my time but I’d much rather dance than play!”

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