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.

In the early days I have had the good fortune to meet two very fine people who havebecome lifelong friends. The first was Jerry Betts from Columbus, Ohio; the other KenSmith from Gahanna, Ohio.

Jerry first came to my shop in 1966 and brought Ken over a short time later. At thattime I was repairing organs for a few parks and road shows and had not yet startedbuilding organs.

Ken, Jerry and I used to go Zoo Park which was next door to the Columbus Zoo and listento the Ruth organ owned by Mr. Gooding. I think this helped inspire both Ken and I tobuild our own band organ.

This had led to Ken building two of the finest organs l have seen, and I have built anorgan company. While I was repairing organs I would call Ken when any good organ came inthe shop and he would come over and together we would record all the good information wecould find in it. This turned out to be of great help to both of us and resulted ingetting us started in the right direction.

I soon found out that Ken was a fine craftsman and an expert draftsman, which has beena great help to me over the years. While I went on my way repairing organs, Ken started aresearch program and gathered a large amount of information from many places, and was kindenough to pass his information on to me. This information and drawings along with myexperience in repairs helped me to form the Stinson Organ Company.

My friend Jerry Betts is gone now, but his kindness and the help he gave me in theearly days will never be forgotten.

In future stories I will mention some of the good times we three have experienced overthe years. Friends like these only come along once in a lifetime.

Back at the New York Central Railroad things never seemed to change much from day today.

One thing which never changed was the entertainment generated by my friend Jim and hewas as it again as usual. As I mentioned in an earlier issue, Jim had a small grocerystore which he ran during the day and worked at the NYC during second shift, which ranfrom three to eleven.

In the summer months we usually sat outside the locker room next to the sidewalk andate our lunch. We were paid for eight hours work in those days and the company gave usonly 20 minutes to wash and eat. The company also reserved the right to work us duringthis time, and let us eat at their convenience if they had a rush job.

On one hot summer day we had just sat down to eat when the foreman came up and told oneman to get the jumper cables and go start a locomotive with dead batteries as it wasneeded to replace one which has having electrical trouble. The man told the boss it washis lunch time and he would do it later after he finished eating at which time the foremantold him to punch out and he was fired as far as he was concerned.

After a fight between the company and the union, the man gained his job back but lostone week of employment. That was the last time I remember anyone refusing a job from thisparticular boss, which I might add was one of the better ones we had to work for.

Jim and several others were sitting along the walk eating when Jim called over a younggirl out of a group of kids playing in the area and asked her if she knew the mean oldgoat who owned the grocery store at the end of the road. Not recognizing him in his dirtywork clothes as the store owner, she told him she knew him.

Jim told her to tell the mean old goat at the store that he was coming down to beat himup when he found the time to do it. The next day, she went in the store and didn’trecognize Jim in his clean clothes as the same man she was relaying the message for. Thestore’s owner told her to tell the man at the roundhouse that he would come up thereand take care of him also when he had the time. These messages went on for several weeks,and as far as I know, the little girl never knew she was talking to the same person inboth locations.

Things like this provided daily entertainment and made the job more enjoyable. And soit was at the old roundhouse.

Next Band Organ Note No. 7, May 1999
Previous Band Organ Note No. 5, March 1999

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