The late Gordon Lipe had a fine National calliope, mounted on an antique
pickup truck, which he played at various functions when he still lived
in Skaneateles, New York, in the late 1960s. The first time he played
it at a public event, he let it play continuously. Before long, people
asked him when he was going to shut it off.
From then on, whenever he appeared at an outdoor function, he chatted
with all the other nearby exhibitors to learn when any of them had any
demonstration or performance scheduled. Being careful not to play it
when something else was going on, he'd play one tune and shut it off.
This would draw peoples' attention and someone would ask when he'd play
it again. He told them, "In a half hour," provided it wouldn't conflict
with other exhibitors. Each time he played just one tune, people wanted
to hear it again.
Gordon's approach reminds me of a tune that I first heard performed by
Charley Bovey's talented Virginia City Players in a musical revue after
one of their melodramas in the 1970s:
Always leave 'em laughing when you say goodbye;
Never linger long about, or you will wear your welcome out...
(George M. Cohan, 1903/1907)
After Gordon moved to Teton Village, Wyoming, he sold the calliope
to the Painted Post Calliope Co. in New York. The new owner used
it for advertising, including for a local McDonald's franchise, and
commissioned me to arrange three different McDonald's jingles for it
in 1979 and 1980.
If memory serves, the truck was an early Diamond T. It had a red and
white canopy over the calliope and a built-in generator for powering
the calliope motor. The generator had an electric starter, which
I believe could be activated from a button on the dashboard. Gordon
also designed a custom enclosed trailer for hauling it.
Has anyone seen it recently?
Colorado Springs, Colorado