June 2002

Cedar Point, Ohio Amusement Park

It has been my privilege to meet some outstanding people in my years in the organ business, some which has been mentioned in the past. Today I will reflect on one who left a great impression on me.

Many years back, I received a call from the maintenance department of the Cedar Point amusement park asking if I would be willing to service their organ on the carousel. The late Harry Bray, who in my opinion was one of the finest maintenance supervisors anywhere made the call. Even today, when I visit any park or carnival, I will look at the equipment very closely before I will get on a ride. With Mr. Bray in charge of maintenance, I never gave a second thought to the safety before getting on their rides, as I knew the maintenance program was top notch all the way and still is today.

In answer to his call, which went like this "we want our organ fixed right and will pay for a good job but we don't want to be taken for a ride". This was his way of letting me know he wanted quality work. They sent the organ in and we rebuilt it and were off to a great relationship that lasted for many years. Harry introduced me to some of the key people in the park, and I was able to see how a well-run park operated for the first time. I soon learned the park was operated by people of great integrity, which made it a fun job for us here at Stinson Band Organ Company.

After the second year they sent the organ in for regular maintenance at the end of the operating season with an open purchase order, as they knew we would only charge for repairs deemed necessary and no more. I remember one particular year they sent the organs in, and shortly after Mr. Bray called and told me the top management had removed funds for organ maintenance that year and was beyond his control. He instructed me to just blow the dust out and send them back and apologized for the inconvenience. We gave the organs the regular yearly service, just charged a minimum fee for blowing out the dust, and they went back in top operating form for the season. Later on in the season, I told Harry what we had done and he told me to keep it in mind when we made out our bill for the following year.

We did this, and the next year we were paid for both years. Only people who have trust in each other, a trait that rarely exists in many business places today, do these things. This is all History, and the mentioned parties are now gone so it is safe to tell this story without involving anyone or causing undue problems. Harry ran a fairly strict operation in the maintenance department, and I remember one instance of this being true.

I and the late Jerry Betts, who liked to go with me on some of the all night service trips, were in the center of one of the carousels doing some repairs and there was a man sleeping there while we were working. A night supervisor came in to see how we were doing and observed the sleeping worker and left without saying much. It was our policy to do any repairs and tuning during the operating season at night so as not to disturb operations in the park during park opening hours. About time for the day shift to arrive the supervisor came in and told the man that Mr. Bray wanted to see him at his office. Later on I asked the supervisor what happened, and he told me that the man no longer worked for the park. This is what was involved in keeping maintenance at the top of the hill, and one of the things that has made this a safe park for the millions of attendees over the years. Mr. Bray told me that as long as he was in charge of maintenance, the organs would always remain on the carousels. Harry is gone now, and I have not been to the park for several years, but the memories of this park will always remain as happy ones for me.

And, so it was in the old band organ shop.

Next: Band Organ Note No. 38, July/August 2002
Previous: Band Organ Note No. 36, May 2002

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