Columbus Zoo, Nicknames
Last month I installed the 153 organ at the Columbus Zoo. The carousel and organ have been at the old Zoo Park for as long as I can remember until the Columbus zoo acquired it this year. I had the privilege of working with my friends at the Carousel Works in Mansfield, Ohio on this project. I brought the organ to our shop on the same day they dismantled the carousel. The facade went to their location, as they wanted it to match the same style painting as they were doing on the carousel.
There is a lot of organ history behind this organ and I will take time to relate part of it. When the Gooding Amusement was running the park this 153 was the top organ in their collection and was kept in very fine form by the late Erwin Heller who I have mentioned in earlier issues. At some time in the past he had observed someone climbing on the organ and painted a sign on the side which read
DONíT USE THIS ORGAN AS A STEPLADDER.
When we refinished the case we sanded the sign away and a part of organ history is gone forever. The carousel and organ are now in the hands of the Columbus Zoo and after working with the maintenance staff there I can assure you readers this piece of history will be very well taken care of from this time on. I consider this as another fine carousel saved from extinction
I was told that at one time Mr. Gooding was short one organ due to a breakdown and told Mr. Heller he was going to use the Zoo Park organ until he finished the repairs on the broken organ. I was also told that Mr. Heller was furious about the move and finished the repairs in short order as he did not want their best organ on the road.
When the organ was in its place it was mounted on a platform in the center of the carousel with no room to even open the rear door all the way for service. Now this was ok when the organ was taken care of, but in later years it was impossible to service.
I asked Mr. Vein Metz who was in charge of the restoration project if we could find a way to make this organ serviceable and he had a talk with the Carousel Works about it. The Carousel Works came up with the organ mounted on a platform that was hinged on one end and could be moved out for service with one hand. My thanks to them for this improvement.
We can now service the organ the easy way.
My thanks to the Columbus Zoo and to the many donors to the project and to everyone involved in having this carousel and organ in a beautiful location in a new building. It will be there for the enjoyment of all people for years to come.
In the old days at the New York Central Railroad a new employee was very lucky to be able to get through the first week on the job without being assigned a nickname. It seemed that any one could hang one on you and it became your new name for the remainder of your years on the job.
When my father hired out, someone noticed his red hair and pink complexion and dubbed him PINKY STINSON. Later most of the fellows just called him PINK and he carried that name all the years there until I started in 1951. I do not remember who made the statement that I looked like my father and named me LITTLE PINK. After that it was BIG PINK and LITTLE PINK. I always accepted the name with honor, as my father was a well-respected man in the shop.
Now every shop has a few names that can be found almost anywhere and I will recall a few of them. We had RED, SLIM, SHORTY, FAT, WHITEY, BALDY and many more.
One Foreman was called HIGHPOCKETS and my friend Jim was sometimes referred to as AGITATOR. I just don't remember where the name MOHAWK came from but I have some stories about this one which I will tell in future issues with his permission only.
Our Irishman was just referred to as IRISH. Then there were some nicknames we cannot mention to respectable readers of your caliber. I had a friend by the last name of Rumery and one of the apprentice boys called him RUM DUM for short and it was heard many times after that. We had one nicknamed JAKE and another worker named THE HORSE.
There were two fellows who worked together most of the time and many people referred to them as TALKIN and SQUALKIN. One very fine man by the name of Ralph Dill was called PICKLE DILL and one before my time was called DYNAMITE. There are not many of the old boys left to ask about the old nicknames so I will end here with the ones I can recall.
And so it was in the old roundhouse.