Stinson Band Organ Company
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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.

As I write this I am in Sarasota Florida getting things setup for the upcoming show at Gibsontown, Commonly called the Gibtown show. Forthose of you who have not been there it is a very fine show conductedby the International Independent Showmen’s Association. This year we arehaving a very large display containing the model 2000M Stinson organ built forthe Astro Amusement Company, one Stinson model 29 cart mounted organ and twosound systems. As I was traveling down the road thinking about the new customunit we are delivering for the Cumberland Valley Shows I recalled a veryinteresting incident with that company. At that time I was called by the lateJimmy Floyd to do some repairs on one of their organs and decided to take oneman and my truck camper instead of the usual motels. At the end of the firstwork day Bill and I decided to pick up some fried chicken and other things totake back to the camp ground. In those days there was a chicken place, whichserved regular chicken and some very hot chicken so we bought a bag of each andheaded for the camp­ground. On the way Bill decidedto eat a chicken leg on the way and just happened to open the one with the extrahot chicken and ate the first bite before the commotion started. He tried to saysomething, which I could not understand, spit out the chicken and was working asfast as possible trying to get a can of pop opened to cool him down. I thinkthey might have spilled the hot sauce in it or were just trying to get twoYankees out of their southern town. We ate the mild chicken and set the otherbag aside to throw away later and turned in for the night.

Bill made his bunk at the back of the camper next to thescreen door and settled in.

A short time later I was awakened by a loud yell and Bill wasjust laying there look­ing one of the largest blackdogs I have ever seen looking him right in the eye. We did not know where hecame from as we were the only one in the campground and were at the farthestpoint from the entrance. After get­ting over hisscare we both decided the big dog might be friendly but Bill wanted him gonebefore he went back to sleep I told Bill to feed him the hot chicken and see ifit killed him or just sent him for the water hole to cool off.

Bill opened the door and threw out the chicken, which the bigdog ate and left. Bill looked at me and said we or no one else would ever bebothered by that dog again but we were wrong. We were there several nights andthe big dog came back each night for more. Now I cannot speak dog language but Ithink those few loud barks might have been interpreted to say YOU GUYS GOT ANYMORE OF THAT GOOD STUFF FOR ME TONIGHT? We fed him every night until we left forhome.

And so it was in the old organ shop.

Back at the old New York Central RailroadI suppose every apprentice boy is entitled to at least one mistake charged up tostupidity and I had one never told until today. I had been there for about threeyears and they set me up to work as a full electrician with full journeyman’spay. We had a locomotive come in which would not move and I was given the job offinding out why. The locomotive was in a back stall of the roundhouse just a fewfeet from the large doors, which were closed. Upon en­teringthe cab I made what could have been the worst mistake of my life and set thecontrols in reverse and started looking for the trouble. After a few minutes Ifound a loose connection on a relay coil and when I touched it the locomotivejumped toward the doors. Quick thinking on my part saved the day when I grabbedthe relay and pulled it out with my fingers and held it there thinking how toget out of the mess I had made by my stupid mistake. If I released the relay wewould be going through the door and down into the turntable pit. I was lying onthe floor holding the relay and could not reach any other controls and hadnothing in my pocket to put between the contact points. At this time I startedto think of the dire consequences if I could not get out of the situation. Whena locomotive ended up in the pit the wreck crew would be called in and everyofficial of the whole division would be called in to help the situation whichusually was to rip everyone out starting from the top and working down to theoffender which in this case would be me. After lying there for about five minuteswith no one coming in the direction of my locomotive I looked up to the fuelpump switch and found I could just reach it with my foot if I stretched out asfar as I could. I turned off the fuel pump with my foot and waited until theengine quit and only then could I get up from the floor and breathe easilyagain. I put the locomotive in neutral, tightened the loose connection, and leftthe cab just as the boss walked up and asked how the job was progressing. Myanswer was “just fine boss, the repairs are finished” and walked off withoutletting him know how close we were to closing down the whole division if I hadput the locomotive through the doors and down in the turntable pit.

And so it was in the old roundhouse.

Next Band Organ Note No. 25, April 2001
Previous Band Organ Note No. 23, January/February 2001

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