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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.

Last month I installed the 153 organ at the Columbus Zoo. The carousel and organ have been at the old Zoo Park for aslong as I can remember until the Columbus zoo acquired it this year. I had the privilege of working with my friends at theCarousel Works in Mansfield, Ohio on this project. I brought the organ to our shop on the same day theydismantled the carousel. The facade went to their location, as they wanted it tomatch the same style painting as they were doing on the carousel.

There is a lot of organ history behind this organ and I willtake time to relate part of it. When the Gooding Amusement was running the park this 153 wasthe top organ in their collection and was kept in very fine form by the lateErwin Heller who I have mentioned in earlier issues. At some time in the past he had observed someone climbing onthe organ and painted a sign on the side which read


When we refinished the case we sanded the sign away and apart of organ history is gone forever. The carousel and organ are now in the hands of the ColumbusZoo and after working with the maintenance staff there I can assure you readersthis piece of history will be very well taken care of from this time on. I consider this as another fine carousel saved fromextinction

I was told that at one time Mr. Gooding was short one organdue to a breakdown and told Mr. Heller he was going to use the Zoo Park organuntil 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 hedid 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 noroom to even open the rear door all the way for service. Now this was ok when the organ was taken care of, but inlater years it was impossible to service.

I asked Mr. Vein Metz who was in charge of the restorationproject if we could find a way to make this organ serviceable and he had a talkwith the Carousel Works about it.  The Carousel Works came up with the organ mounted on aplatform that was hinged on one end and could be moved out for service with onehand. 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 theproject and to everyone involved in having this carousel and organ in abeautiful location in a new building. It will be there for the enjoyment of all people for years tocome.


In the old days at the New York Central Railroad a newemployee was very lucky to be able to get through the first week on the jobwithout being assigned a nickname. It seemed that any one could hang one on you and it became your new name for the remainder ofyour years on the job.

When my father hired out, someone noticed his red hair andpink complexion and dubbed him PINKY STINSON. Later most of the fellows justcalled him PINK and he carried that name all the years there until I started in1951. I do not remember who made the statement that I looked like my father andnamed me LITTLE PINK. After that it was BIG PINK and LITTLE PINK. I alwaysaccepted 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 almostanywhere 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 wassometimes referred to as AGITATOR. I just donít remember where the name MOHAWKcame from but I have some stories about this one which I will tell in futureissues with his permission only.

Our Irishman was just referred to as IRISH. Then there were some nicknames we cannot mention torespectable readers of your caliber. I had a friend by the last name of Rumery andone of the apprentice boys called him RUM DUM for short and it was heard manytimes after that. We had one nicknamed JAKE and another worker named THE HORSE.

There were two fellows who worked together most of the timeand many people referred to them as TALKIN and SQUALKIN. One very fine man bythe 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 oldnicknames so I willend here with the ones I can recall.

And so it was in the old roundhouse.

Next Band Organ Note No. 19, September 2000
Previous Band Organ Note No. 17, June 2000

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