There are piano keys painted on the end of the driveway, a testament to the influence the piano has had on the life of Rosamond van der Linde.
In the living room is her piano and keyboard and the drum kit of her partner, Maurice Lamy. The house, in the Village of Rio Ponderosa, is alive with music and the sound of computer keys as the duo write books together, side by side, at the same tiny desk.
Growing up in New Hampshire, Rosamond always wanted her own piano.
“Beginning when I was seven years old, I begged for a piano,” she recalls. “No luck there.”
Finally, attending Bennington College, she got her own piano and husband, Rein van der Linde, a math professor from Holland who also was a musician. A student marrying a teacher was not unusual.
“The college was known for that kind of thing in those days,” she laughs.
Together, Rosamond and Rein founded a world-famous piano school in 1969 in North Bennington, Vt., that is now known as Sonatina (www.sonatina.com). They raised five children and made a lot of music in the 42-room historic home.
Rosamond fondly recalls students playing Pachelbel’s “Canon.”
“We opened all the windows and listened from outdoors,” she said. “The music started on the third floor and continued from room to room, down the stairs and onto the ground floor. You could follow it. It was amazing.”
Sonatina offers year-round programs for adults and children and boasts a piano in every room. In 1991, their eldest daughter, Polly, took over directorship of the school.
The crazy days of raising her family and creating the Sonatina school are featured in Rosamond’s first book, “A Piano in Every Room,” published in 2010.
After more than 30 years of marriage, Rein developed leukemia and the couple sought a new home with a better climate. They settled on St. Eustatius, a special municipality of the Netherlands, a volcanic Caribbean island in the Leeward chain. Rosamond immediately began teaching piano again – for which she was arrested and threatened with deportation. That episode, and others, are chronicled in her latest book, “The Land of No Laws,” which was published earlier this year. Both of her books are available on Amazon.
“Mo” Lamy grew up in New Hampshire and was, he admits, usually in trouble. In his early teens, Mo and two friends ran away and hitchhiked to Boston, visited a strip club, tried to sleep on park benches and got rousted by the police.
“We went to a cafeteria for breakfast and there was a flood of people behind us,” he said. “At the end of the line it was time to pay. All of our money was at the bottom of a humongous duffle bag full of our clothes. It took a while to get it out. We were not very popular with the people behind us.”
Then the three decided to join the Army.
“It was 1952 and the Korean War was on,” he recalls. “We were all underage, so we forged our parent’s signatures.”
They ended up in the infantry as privates, marching with rifles and backpacks. “It was horrible,” he laughs.
But Mo had another talent as a drummer. And his friend, Bill, played the clarinet. They invited themselves to sit in with a group playing at the officer’s club. That lasted until the MPs dragged them out and charged them with being AWOL.
Mo switched to the artillery and was made a forward observer, reading maps and radioing coordinates back to the big guns in the rear.
“I was 17, my unit was about to be shipped to Korea and I learned that the first people to be killed in action were usually the forward observers,” he said. “So, I auditioned for the Army band and was accepted.”
Gen. Eisenhower, inspecting the unit a few weeks later, walked up to Mo and asked, “How do you like playing in a band, soldier?”
“I enjoy it very much,” Mo responded truthfully.
Then Mo met Jane at a friend’s wedding and they were married 51 years until her death. His restless life became more settled, the couple had three children and took up residence in Manchester, N.H. He became an engineer with the Public Service Company of New Hampshire.
“Most of my job over the years was working with commercial customers and showing them how to reduce their energy consumption” he said.
Then, for both Rosamond and Mo, Match.com would change their lives. Rosamond’s second husband had died, and Mo was restless again. Their first Match.com-inspired meeting was not auspicious.
“She looked like a school teacher, and I didn’t want to go back to high school,” Mo thought.
Over a few weeks, his mind changed.
“She was actually a pretty interesting lady, somebody with brains,” he concluded.
They soon began living part of the year in St. Eustatius. Mo played Beatles music on the piano and the giant iguanas would climb over the garden wall and sway back and forth.
“They liked the music and were dancing,” he said.
Either that or they liked the cut-up fruit he left for them.
By this time, Mo also had published a book, “All My Women,” a tongue-in-cheek memoir of his younger days as an itinerant drummer and the women he met on the road. It is available on Amazon.
Their island life was cut short when Mo contracted chikungunya, a mosquito-borne virus that is not uncommon in the Caribbean.
“We ended up at the Waterfront Inn at Lake Sumter as part of my recuperation,” Mo recounts. “We liked it here, came back later, saw this house and moved in.”
Now, they write together, side by side, on two laptops at a tiny desk – much like two pianists playing a duet. Rosamond still teaches piano and is involved with the Sonatina school. She is considering doing distance piano teaching using iPads and video cameras. Her greatest pleasure is teaching children.
“But there aren’t many children around here,” she says sadly.
John W Prince is a writer and Villages resident. Learn more at www.GoMyStory.com.