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.

The old Russell's Point amusement park was only five miles from my home and it wasthere I first encountered some of the odd things people do to make a band organ play whenthere is no one around to guide them. This park had a 153 Wurlitzer and a Gavioli whichhad been converted at the factory to play 165 music. One day they ruined the last 150music roll and needed the organ for a three day weekend.

Without asking anyone, the maintenance man decided to take the problem in his own handsand make everyone happy. He went over to the 165 machine and gathered up about five rolls,and cut them off with a band saw to the exact width of the 150 roll (some of these weregreen rolls). It was at that time that I received a call from the park management toexplain why the rolls wouldn't work.

For the benefit of those readers who aren't familiar with band organs, just takethe word of the organ people—it won't work!

On another occasion, I had to drive 300 miles to turn one screw one turn on a Wurlitzermachine because the owner did not understanding the operation of the organ. It is for thisreason we always teach a maintenance course on every new Stinson organ we deliver.

One time we had an organ on an open trailer and a gentleman came up and looked theorgan over and said, "Ain't that thing on the trailer called a gazebo?"

This year we had a man watch the organ play for a complete organ roll and when itstarted to rewind, he called me over and asked if the big roll of toilet paper was whatprogrammed the organ to play the music.

I'm sure many of you organ owners have heard questions worse than these, and Iwould like to hear some of them. If we get some good ones, I will include them in a futurechapter, so let's hear from you!

Workin' on the Railroad...

We had an old machinist working at the New York Central who was nicknamed"Baldy."

In the days of steam locomotives there were very few jobs which were clean and Baldyusually worked the dirty jobs. In our locker room we had the standard large round washbasins which allow about six men to wash up at the same time. At the end of the day, Baldywould cover his hands with soap and duck his head completely under the flowing water.After he got his head wet he would shut his eyes and scrub his bald head for severalminutes to remove all the dirt, grease and grime.

Now, as I understand it, he had been giving his assigned apprentice boy a hard time andthe boy decided it was time for revenge. That night when Baldy started washing, hisapprentice boy stood over him and sprinkled powdered graphite on his head. The harder hescrubbed, the more graphite he spread around. We were all watching the operation and weretrying to decide if we should all hide when he opened his eyes and looked at his hands,which were completely black.

At this time, he went over to the shop mirror and all he could see was the whites ofhis eyes which were glowing pretty bright. The rest from the neck up was pitch black.

Baldy was a large man and when he was angry, no one bothered him, we all pretended wedid not see what was going on, in fact we all kept our distance which was the most prudentthing to do. When we all left that night Baldy was still scrubbing and no one ever daredask how long it took to get it off.

Baldy was a very fine gentleman and when he retired he moved back to his home town inTennessee. After my father retired he was on his way to Florida and visited Baldy. At thattime Baldy had lost one leg and was in poor condition.

We miss the old men who worked very hard days to maintain the steam locomotives andhelped makes this country what it is today.

And so it was in the old round house.

Next Band Organ Note No. 5, March 1999
Previous Band Organ Note No. 3, December 1998

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