Organ Rally at Descanso Gardens
Hi Group, I just wanted to thank Frank and Shirley Nix for again
organizing such a great rally. Because the crowds were large and
continuous I never got a chance to walk around and see all of the
instruments, so I may not mention everyone that was there.
I saw Mike Ames with his Decap Dutch street organ. Lloyd and Brooke
Osmundson were there with their Hofbauer harmonium. Bill Blair brought
his Wurlitzer 105 and Pell organ. I believe Jerry and Darren Pell were
there, possibly with a new organ. Bill Klinger had the organs that he
built. Frank and Shirley Nix brought their Limonaire organ. I believe
Ralph and Gloria Shack were planning on bringing their organ with an
animated monkey. Robin Biggins was there with his organ grinder's cap.
I wish I had gotten around to see everyone.
I brought my Wurlitzer 146A Military Band Organ, Tangley CA-43
calliope, and Perlee 22-key book organ. They were lined up in a row
among the camellia trees across from the lilac field. I spent two days
playing the Wurlitzer, then the Tangley, and then the Perlee, then
starting it all over again, on occasion letting an instrument continue
to play while rewinding and changing the roll on another.
Several children cranked a book through the Perlee. The younger ones
danced to the calliope and band organ. A former student of mine
introduced me to his family and had his picture taken with me and the
Sunday afternoon young Andrew Barrett -- who had visited the Memorial
Park, Sierra Madre, California, rally about five years ago -- stopped
by and asked if the calliope could be played by hand. I said it could
and asked if he would like to give it a try. He said yes, popped in
his earplugs and played up a storm. When he finished he had attracted
a crowd of about 30 people who gave him a round of applause. It is
great to see a young man with a continuing interest in the instruments.
As I was turning to go start the Wurlitzer an elderly gentleman in the
crowd asked if he might play the calliope also. He took the keyboard
and played the crowd another tune to another round of applause. He
left with a big smile.
I spoke to Ron Burchard of Glendora, California, who had brought a bag
full of rolls that he wondered if knew what instruments they were for.
One was a B.A.B. music roll, width 6-5/8 inches, marked "Artizan Style
roll no. 028". I knew that people on MMD had asked about the
availability of B.A.B. rolls so I suggested he list it on MMD which I
see he did. He had several other types that I suggested he look up on
the MMD roll identification page. He had some Wilcox White organ rolls
and some rolls that looked similar to Aeolian 58-note organ rolls but
had square hole drive and played from bottom to top.
Huell Howser's TV show filmed at the Descanso Gardens rally two years
was shown again on PBS TV several days before this rally. I think it
helped turn out the large crowd. The local paper, "The Breeze", ran
two articles touting the rally. If anyone has these articles I would
like to get copies of them.
I had a great time and the instruments and trucks, 1930 Model A pickup
and 1959 F-250 pickup, performed well.
Jack M. Conway, Los Angeles, California, USA