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MMD > Archives > July 1999 > 1999.07.08 > 04Prev  Next

Ruth Organ at Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk
By Robin Haas, forwarded

[ Matthew Caulfield asked about the Ruth organ in 990703 MMD.  This
 [ reply comes from Robin Haas, who worked there in 1967.  -- Robbie

 -- forwarded message, please reply to sender and MMD --

Matthew, if the following is of any interest to your MMD editor, please
feel free to forward it.

From what I can tell about recent visits to the organ, it _is_ working.
That is, the organ is being played, although I do not know what is
giving it the "signal."  I think their own web site mentions two
refurbishments since the 1970's; maybe taking it off the roll-player
was part of that refurb.

When I ran the carousel in the summer of 1967, when I was 19, I had
nothing to do with the carousel rings or the organ; it was someone
else's job.  Likely it took kid gloves to operate the organ, something
a mere operator of the carousel would not have been trained to do.

I _loved_ the carousel and its Ruth Band Organ, even though it was my
6-days-a-week, sometimes 14-hours-a-day job for about two and one-half
months.  My feeling was that the ride was half the moving rotating
horse platform and lights and half the band organ's wonderful spell,
and the louder it was, the more ambiance the ride had.

I had a bit of a war going on between me and the female cashier who was
near retirement age.  I guess in her booth where she sold tickets
(including for the merry-go-round which was in the immediate area of
the ride) she was bothered by the organ's sound.  It interfered with
her ability to hear how many tickets people wanted.  I think it was in
part a matter of her being slightly hard of hearing.

I ran the ride, I believe, just after the building had been replaced
by a modern building.  After that conversion, there were two rather
ordinary looking louvered glass windows (such as one might have in a
kitchen to the outside) on either side of the organ window area.  To
increase the sound, one obviously opened the louvers more, to mute it
they were closed.

My only connection to dealing with the organ was altering the position
of the louvers.  Every now and then I would open the windows a bit
more, never too obviously at once, until gradually the organ was
wonderfully full blast.  I would eventually get a complaint that the
organ once again was too loud from the cashier, sometimes from my
supervisor, and the cycle would begin all over again of shutting the
sound down.

Well, that matter has been taken care of, as the louvered area was
plastered over, and the sound now escapes only from small decorative
openings diagonal openings visible in the wall near the bottom, rather
low.  The high frequency sounds have to shake the wall and window to
get through, a very muting experience for them.  As I have been telling
you, Matthew, I am putting out a tape I made in 1965 when the organ was
still in the old structure, and the sound could escape freely and when
it was still run by rolls.

Yes, the sound is now very muted.  I wonder if, in part, the organ is
sealed off more for environmental reasons.  It has always had its own
heated room.  It may be a matter of being just hundreds of feet from
the ocean, and that salty air can be very corrosive to metal parts.
And therefore closing it off could be for that reason.  Just a thought.

By the way, currently in the carousel area is an instant photo machine
booth and a giant gumball machine, both of which are not calculated for
maximum dignity of an otherwise nice ride, and, I might add, a California
historical monument.

Robin Haas

(Message sent Sun 4 Jul 1999, 18:25:40 GMT, from time zone GMT-0700.)

Key Words in Subject:  Beach, Boardwalk, Cruz, Organ, Ruth, Santa

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