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.

Over the years I’ve come to the conclusion that organ people and the help theyemploy might not be the same as "normal" individuals. Some of the things thatmade me think this way were some things going on here in the factory and elsewhere.

I remember the time Jerry Betts, a dear friend and carousel and band organ aficionado(now deceased), called and said he would be at my place early the next morning. Heinstructed me not to fix breakfast as he was bringing the coffee and rolls. When hearrived with his Thermos bottle and a stack of green 125 music rolls he wanted me to playon the Carpenter Bros. organ, I knew I’d been had.

I also remember the time Jerry called and said he was coming over to pick me up as heknew where a good organ was playing. It was a very hot summer day, and after getting inthe car, we drove 150 miles round trip just to hear a 105 Wurlitzer band organ play threerolls of music.

Then there’s the time Ken Smith was here and we had some nice thick steaks on thegrill and were looking forward to a nice dinner. While the steaks were cooking we sat downon some yard chairs and became engaged in some heavy organ discussions, only to look backlater and see the steaks burning up and the flames about one foot high. Well, we had tochalk this one up to band organs, with the help of a knife to scrape off the burned parts,we ate the remains. Everyone said they were good, but I think we were all lying to oneanother just to be friendly. If I remember correctly, we might have had a 153 organplaying in the shop at the time.

Another incident was when a good friend would come into the shop and pull out his tapemeasure, hooking it on the edge of the bench and pulling it out. He would always put hisfinger on the 70 inch mark and tell me that it represented an average life span. Then hewould put his finger on the spot which marked his age and remark about how much he hadleft, and how much he had used up. I am far enough along in years that I do not want tosee this tape measure again!

I also remember the time when I returned to the shop and found my large moose head,which was mounted high on the wall, very well decorated. The men put a dust mask on itsnose, electrical and masking tape on the antler points, a motorcycle helmet on the head,and numerous other things we won’t mention here. To top this off, they hid the ladderso that I couldn’t climb up and clean it up.

These are just a few of the funny things that happen here at Stinson Organ. Ican’t wait to see what my next visitors have in mind.

Reflecting on "the good old days" at the New York Central, I was working asan apprentice when I was called into the main office to see the boss. This was one officeno one wanted to be called into. A few days before I had replaced the grease cake on twobearings on a steam locomotive. When we checked the locomotives the rule was to have alarge enough grease cake to make it to the other end of the line.

The records showed where the locomotive had made more than one trip, and some workeroutside our shop just signed the sheet and didn’t check the grease. This resulted in aburned out axle, and someone had to get the blame to keep everyone happy. I just happenedto be the youngest man on the payroll, and the general had not yet had a chance to call meto his office and teach me how good he was at chewing people out.

When I first entered the room and stood in front of his desk, I heard his booming voicesaying, "Five hundred dollars! Five hundred dollars! Five hundred dollars is what youcost me with that bad grease job! Five hundred dollars!" Later on the union proved meright, but I never received any sort of apology from him, and it stayed on my record untilthe union forced the issue, and only then because my uncle was the union rep.

My friend Jim also had to go in on his own one day, and took me along with him. He toldthe general he wanted to take some time off to go fishing, which was promptly turned down.At that time Jim told him he might just have to pull the pin, the railroad term forquitting, if he could not have the time off. The general just looked up from his desk andsaid, "Pull it then." Jim just stood there for a few seconds and replied,"I never did like the fish in that lake, and I don’t think I need to catch themall this spring."

The old man was a tough old bird, and he usually got his way. Many years later I washaving my gas tank filled and the station owner, who used to work for the NYC, asked me ifI recognized the man in the car behind me. It was the general, and my first thought was,"Five hundred dollars!" I didn’t go back and speak to him but in lateryears after much thought, I regret not doing what I should have done. And so it was in theold round house.

Next Band Organ Note No. 8, June 1999
Previous Band Organ Note No. 6, April 1999

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