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MMD > Archives > June 2004 > 2004.06.02 > 02Prev  Next

Carousels & Organs in Broome County, New York
By Bob Conant

Dear Vincent,  As a resident of the community which includes Broome
County, I would like to respond to your comments.

>> Yesterday, Memorial Day, my wife and I were in the Binghampton,
>> New York, area ...

As a local, please recognize that it is Binghamton with no P.

>> ... and decided to ride all six carousels in Broome County.
>> The carousels are nice, but difficult to find -- even with their map,
>> which is not in perspective and in some places simply wrong.  But we
>> did find them by asking directions of the locals along the way.

I agree that they are hard to find. I have talked on several occasions
to the folks in the County Parks Department about revising their
brochures with better directions on finding the carousels but so far
to no avail.

>> Only one of the six carousels has an organ at present.  Two others are
>> supposed to have organs.  That one organ were heard had about 4 or 5
>> notes working.  The folk at the other 5 carousels played cassettes of
>> carousel music, but the volume was turned so low that the music could
>> only be heard when passing close to the loudspeakers.

That is an improvement, as they have played rock music in the past.  It
has taken a lot of effort to get them to play the band organ tapes that
have been provided.

The last I knew, there were only two original organs with the carousels:
the one at Ross Park and the one at Recreation Park.  A third organ was
in the Harvey and Marion Roehl Collection as it had been sold to them
many years ago by the parks department.

The other three met various fates including one that was "lost" during
storage in the WW2 period.  The Roehl organ (from the carousel in
Enjoie Park in Endicott, and currently located at Highland Park in
Endwell) was sold several years ago when the Roehl collection was sold.
If there is a third organ to be installed on a Broome County carousel,
it is not an original one to the carousels.

I would never encourage mechanical music enthusiasts to visit the
Broome County carousels to hear the organs.  While work has been done
over the years to keep the remaining two Wurlitzers operating, it is
a public operation and is not able to fund a true restoration on them.

The attraction is that there are six (6) hand carved, wooden carousels
original to the community.  They were donated by the Johnson family,
of Endicott Johnson Shoe Company fame, and were endowed sufficiently
that there would never be a charge to ride them.  To this day they are
_free_ to ride.  Four of the six carousels have been professionally
restored and the other two are in very good "park" paint.

Of the six, only one has been moved and that is the Enjoie Park machine
which was moved to Highland Park, but it remained within the Endicott
area.  Of the six, three are in Endicott (one of these is Endwell
which is the same zip code), the largest is in Johnson City, and the
remaining two are in Binghamton (no P!).  All are Hershell (Spillman)
carousels that range in dates from the teens to the early 1930s.

I can't tell you to come for the band organ music but do come to ride
the carousels.  Nowhere else on Earth exists six, -- count 'em, 6 --
wooden carousels still operating in their original community and that
are _free_ to ride.

Bob Conant
Endicott, New York

(Message sent Wed 2 Jun 2004, 22:49:42 GMT, from time zone GMT-0400.)

Key Words in Subject:  Broome, Carousels, County, New, Organs, York

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