Stinson Band Organ Company
Designers of Magnificent Band Organs since 1965
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Don Stinson's Band Organ Notes
Stinson Band Organ notes are authored by band organ architect and builder Mr. Donald Stinson. Stories includes experiences, past and present, encountered during design and repair of mechanical band organs, along with Don's unique experiences during his early days with the New York Central Railroad.

I have been asked to do a series of stories relating some of the experiencesencountered since entering the music business around 1963. Many things have happenedduring this time which might be of interest to the readers of The Carousel News &Trader.

Now I might as well start at the beginning as everyone seems to have one, and Iremember mine very well.

I returned from the United States Air Force in 1955. My old job with the New YorkCentral Railroad was not there as they were starting to replace the steam engines with thenewer diesel units and I had no training on them.

They offered me the chance to serve a four-year apprenticeship as a diesel electricianstarting at $1.66 per hour, and I accepted. Times were not good, and jobs were hard tofind, so I felt fortunate to even find employment in my hometown. Almost all of theStinson family were connected with the New York Central and I felt at home there.

Since this series will include more than just the organ segment, I might at some latertime relate some of the fun things that happened at the N.Y.C. RR, starting with the time oneof the employees did not like a particular member of a crew running a steam engine fromBellefontaine to Cleveland, and spread a large quantity of Limburger or some other brandof bad smelling cheese over the hot parts of the boiler. The crew had their heads out thewindow in cold weather much of the way in the beginning until it started to go away. Thatis the way it was in the old times before all of the government rules and regulationsruined many of the fun things which today would result in a lawsuit.

I had just finished doing some house wiring for my father-in-law and he was short onmoney when I completed the job. He had an old pump organ on his back porch which was inbad condition and full of raccoon droppings. I said I would take this, as it was new tome, and that is where I started in my life of music. I rebuilt the organ and installed itin our house where others admired it and asked me to rebuild one for them.

It was not long before I was doing pump organs in almost all of my spare time. Thencame the player piano phase, which we will cover in detail in a future column andI'll explain how it led by accident to the band organ business.

We are fast approaching our 100th organ with no two being the same, and it is strangeto recall how one old pump organ led to this occupation. I have heard that almosteverything you do in life has some bearing on your remaining time, and this has held truefor me in the organ business.

Another thing that makes this such a nice occupation is the type of people we'vedealt with over the years. I have found that people who like musical instruments have beenvery fine to deal with. I've really enjoyed the many new friends I have met over theyears. These friends and special people are as important to me as the profits in thebusiness.

Next month I'll share with you how the actual band organ business got started.

Next Band Organ Note No. 2, November 1998

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