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MMD > Archives > January 1998 > 1998.01.05 > 02Prev  Next

Bellm's in Sarasota
By Rick Inzero

Norman Narmore wrote in Digest 971229:

> What is left in a small room, is perhaps 6 players and push ups,
> a couple of music boxes, a small band organ and a nickelodeon, a few
> disk boxes (Reginas and a Stella, which we were informed were much
> too valuable to play) and a bunch of phonographs.  All of the 4
> players demonstrated were just barely working, and all (except the
> organ, which was playing without percussion or bells), horribly out
> of tune.  The nickelodeon was playing with what sounded like feltless
> hammers.

> If you are like me, you probably are willing to go miles out of
> your way to see a few automatic musical instruments.

I drove 1,500 miles to Bellm's!

>[ You're not the only person to be quite disappointed!  Scott Currier
>[ discovered last August that owner Walt Bellm had sold the museum,

I reported similar great disappointment with Bellm's back in the MMD
from 12/4/96.  Norman's description above is what I saw back around
Thanksgiving, 1996, except that the climate-controlled room was fairly
large, through locked doors off the arcade room.  You had to wait around
an hour or so for the guide to unlock the doors so the next wonderful
(Hah!) tour could start.

We did get to hear a magnificently-painted band organ named "Pinkey",
with a big moth on it.  I have a postcard of it somewhere around here.
The staff was under strict instructions from Mr. Bellm "not to touch"
some musical items, like the mint-looking Wurlitzer harp.  Like Norman
mentioned, we got to hear a couple really out of tune pianos, a couple
small crank organs, whistlers, and a new double-disk music box.  A very
sweet-sounding monkey organ was the highlight.

Outside the locked room, I saw 3 nice jazz/band organs, but the coin
mechanisms didn't work (c'mon, they ALL broke today??), and a silent
Mills Violano.  I got some nice photos, but left quite disappointed

Rick Inzero
Rochester, NY

(Message sent Mon 5 Jan 1998, 16:27:37 GMT, from time zone GMT-0500.)

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