Robbie, Kathay and Giovanni and I had a great time together, and the
last thing Giovanni said was for me to be sure to write and thank you
for helping to make his visit a success.
I left work early on Friday so that Kathay and I could pick Giovanni up
at the bus terminal in downtown Rochester in the late afternoon. Since
he wasn't able to contact a hotel beforehand, we signed him into a
local motel and then came to our house for a steak dinner.
Unfortunately it was a week early for some fresh corn on the cob but we
stuffed ourselves anyway! We spent the entire evening at home getting
acquainted, playing with the music boxes and organs and visiting the
workshop (where no one was injured or lost).
Saturday morning we picked up an employee from a local organ builder
and drove 30 miles south through the Bristol hills to their factory.
We had a nice tour and lots of conversation. Boy, have they got a lot
of old pipes -- new ones, too -- and some beautiful woodworking.
They (about 8 people) build just a couple of organs a year and do a
large part of their business in service, whereas Giovanni has 18 people
who mostly design and build organs and do restorations. He left us
some beautiful pictures of his family's work over the last 175 years.
Then back to Rochester to drop off our host and get lunch at the local
great burger place (The Original Don's - right on Lake Ontario). On
to Seabreeze Park to see Matthew Caulfield and the merry-go-round and
organ. What a pleasant host, and I can't figure out where I've known
him from before. Giovanni and I both poked our heads inside the back
of the organ for a couple of minutes.
Left there after a brief walk around the park and went home to pick up
a long extension cord so I could demonstrate the calliope that I built
15 years ago. It's stored in a local barn. Actually, it is a
reconstruction of a Tangley that I rearranged and installed into a
custom designed circus wagon (trailer) for parades and advertising.
(No, we didn't use the extension cord in parades. Too much trouble to
plug it in every couple blocks.)
Giovanni was especially interested in the calliope because he is
trying to build one himself. Then, with our ear canals cleaned out,
we went back to the house for pizza -- every Saturday night at the
Smith household. After dinner we were off to Jeff's to see the barrel
organs and pianos, and a piano-driven pipe organ Jeff and his family
built in the living room.
If you LOOK at Jeff's machines, you'd never know he'd laid a hand on
them. But when you listen to them, you know that Jeff is one of a
very few people who can restore the music to the way it sounded when
the machine was new -- or, as I suspect, better. I think Giovanni
liked this visit best of all because Jeff is so skilled and dedicated
with the music.
Got to bed late, and then up early Sunday AM for the trip to Buffalo.
We stopped at the Clarence flea market and walked around for a couple
hours without finding anything -- as usual.
Then I thought I'd call a friend south of Buffalo to see if we could
drop in for a visit to his collection. He was having an open house for
the AMICA convention so we slipped in the side door for a visit. No
extra trouble I hope -- except for all the dip I ate. A real variety
of instruments from music boxes to a large Decap dance organ - and a
really nice Orchestrelle.
Then a stop for a quick bite to eat and we dropped Giovanni off at his
friend's place in Buffalo. Monday morning Giovanni went to Erie to the
organ supply place and maybe to Fischer's, and then to visit a friend
in Tonawanda on Tuesday. Wednesday morning he went to Toronto to fly
back to Italy.
Maybe we will hear his version when he gets back to his computer, but
in the meantime, we had a great time with a really fine new friend.
Thanks again for encouraging us.
[ Thanks, Craig; I'm sure happy that you and all the folks showed
[ him good instruments and good music and a good visit in America!
[ -- Robbie