I have just learned of the death of Ray Siou, the great "roll mogul"
of Oakland, Calif. Ray lived alone in a warehouse-like building at
1612 East 14th Street, with his cats, music machines, and a mountain
of music rolls of all kinds, which he contracted with Play-Rite Music
Rolls, Inc., of Turlock, Calif., to produce for him to retail in lots
of a dozen rolls or so at what now seem like ridiculously low prices.
Ray was a curmudgeon. Here is a quotation from one of his lists of
Wurlitzer 165 rolls:
"To the next generation of Organ Mogul: This last list took me five
years to sell out of and this one may take longer, but no matter;
nobody is going to make any more 165 rolls and sell them as cheap
as I have over the years. ... One of the main reasons for making this
list instead of buying second mortgages at 15% is to take care of the
customers who are buying Don Stinson's new '165' organs instead of
having a new baby that might end up on Death Row. Also the smartest
people in the world are the ones living on borrowed money and die
owing a million dollars instead of leaving one. ... To the cheap old
geezers, a word of advice: Spend your money on some new rolls; it's
later than you think."
Ray used to attend post office auctions where he could pick up items
that had become lost in the mail and, when you received a shipment of
rolls from him, you almost always found some surprise "gifts" packed
into the empty spaces in the box. My wife and I once visited Ray at his
home, and found him to be a very cordial host and not the curmudgeon
that he came across as in writing or over the phone.
The roll-collecting world is poorer now for the passing of Raymond Siou.
P.S.: I hope other MMDers will write a little about their experiences
with Ray. I could say volumes more, but not now.