Bonnie Tekstra's note to today's MMD plus Jon Fortunato's request for
information on the Boulder Amusement Park Wurlitzer 165 brought the
following thoughts to mind.
Back in the days that Bonnie Tekstra is remembering, Jon Fortunato
would have had little chance of ever getting the information he seeks.
The few people like Terry Hathaway and Dave Bowers in the U.S. and Eric
Cockayne in the UK, who were doing research and finding instruments,
had no easy way of sharing their finds and their knowledge except by
publishing a book or advertising their wares in print. Even the most
famous early collections, like those described in Art Reblitz's "The
Golden Age of Automatic Musical Instruments," were largely local
Anybody with an interest in mechanical music in the 1940's and
later decades could feel alone and working in the dark, unaware that
there were others with the same interest and the same feeling of
working alone. The mechanical music business must have been largely
a self-taught one, especially since the few old-timers in the trade
were not very willing to share their knowledge with newcomers.
Today, computers and the Internet makes communicating so fast,
easy, and cheap that it is almost unbelievable. For every hobby or
interest imaginable there is an Internet group allowing for the
interchange of information. For us it is the Mechanical Music Digest.
Got a question? Some MMD'er will have the answer, and fast!
I am grateful to Dave Bowers for rescuing so much information from
Farny Wurlitzer that otherwise would have been lost and to the other
early pioneers who made their living -- usually a handsome one --
from finding, buying, and selling instruments. I am also grateful
today for the MMD and other avenues of easy communication that keep
our interest alive and healthy.
Happy New Year!
Irondequoit, New York