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MMD > Archives > December 1997 > 1997.12.13 > 06Prev  Next

Coney Island Bruder Plays B.A.B. Rolls
By Matthew Caulfield

John Rutoskey remembers the "165-like" band organ at Coney Island.  It
is still there, playing music for the one lone surviving carousel out
of the many that were associated with Coney Island over the decades.
The carousel is in a converted store-front, neighboring other enter-
prises like tattoo parlors, a Coney Island museum, etc., on Surf Avenue
near 10th Street.

The B&B Carousel, named after one-time owners Bishop and Breinstein, is
a Mangels-Carmel mixture of uncertain date, now owned by a man who used
to operate it for the owners, Max Saltzstein.  The band organ is a
Bruder, converted to play 66-keyless B.A.B. rolls.

People sometimes confuse "B&B Carousel" with "B.A.B. rolls."  The
B.A.B. Organ Company (which never made whole organs to my knowledge,
but specialized in converting organs playing European book music or
obsolete American roll systems to their own Artizan-like pressure
system, also doing general organ repair and maintenance) was named
after Italian owners Ervista Bona (not "Borna" as recorded in Dave
Bowers' writing), Andrew Antoniazzi, and Dominic Brugnolotti.

The effects of the B.A.B. Organ Company were purchased by the late
Senator Bovey.  Some of the B.A.B. roll masters ended up in Bovey's
Virginia City, Nevada, tourist attraction; that part is still in the
possession of the Bovey family.  The B.A.B. perforators and a large
part of the masters went to Oswald Wurdeman, of Minneapolis, who con-
tinued to produce rolls until his death.  Ozzie's work was continued
for several years by his son, Tom.  The Wurdeman perforators and
masters are now owned by Ed Openshaw, of Rumney, Vermont.

B.A.B. rolls were made in several sizes, enabling the company to fit
an appropriate roll to almost any size organ; the most common were 46,
66, and 87-keyless rolls.  B.A.B.'s long-time music arranger -- though,
I believe, not its earliest -- was J. Lawrence Cook, of Q.R.S. fame,
accounting for the characteristic sound of B.A.B. rolls.

The B.A.B. name, and a few papers of the defunct company, were bought
from Dominic Brugnolotti's widow by Gavin McDonough to do business as
the B.A.B. Organ Company.

Mr. Rutoskey is correct that the roll frame on the Coney Island Bruder
is on the side of the organ.  I'm ashamed to say I have never seen it
up close, having been more interested in the old rolls Mike Saltzstein
owns than in looking at "just another band organ."  Max is not the most
social of people, having taken on some of the toughness of his
neighborhood.  But he still runs rings on the carousel, at least at
busy times, and plugs away at earning a living in the traditional Coney
Island way.

Matthew Caulfield

(Message sent Sat 13 Dec 1997, 19:28:40 GMT, from time zone GMT-0800.)

Key Words in Subject:  B.A.B, Bruder, Coney, Island, Plays, Rolls

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