This is in response to Don Teach's posting about nickelodeon collectors.
As far as a favorite nickelodeon is concerned, well, my exposure is
fairly limited living in the high desert of New Mexico. The first
nickelodeon I ever saw was at Shakey's Pizza when I was about 10 years
old. I'm assuming that it was a "A" roll player as it only had the
piano and no accompaniments. It was a terrible looking upright that
was painted with at least a couple of coats of white semi-gloss house
paint to match the decor of the restaurant.
I was just looking at the piano (I had never seen a piano in a restaurant,
much less at a pizza place) when one of the workers noticed me. He
smiled at me and pressed a button on the back of the piano and the
machine burst to life. Suddenly it wasn't just an average piano but
something magical. I was absolutely mesmerized -- I had never seen
anything like this. It was just about the coolest thing a 10-year-old
boy could want to see!
That was some 30 years ago. The Shakey's Pizza and the painted
nickelodeon are now long gone and, sadly, the building today is a
pharmacy. Although I've seen plenty of pictures of nickelodeons and
orchestrions, I guess my favorite would have to be that old painted "A"
roll player at Shakey's Pizza. I have a warm memory associated with
that machine that is still with me today.
My next most favorite would be the first and only nickelodeon I have
owned. It has a long a varied history that I won't go into detail with
here. But in a nutshell, it is a 1928 H.C. Bay Solo Concerto that was
converted to be an "A" roll player about 35 years ago. When I got the
piano it just barely played. Since there really wasn't that much of
the original player action left it made sense to redo the nickelodeon
conversion. Although with it being an HC Bay it certainly was not the
best piano to begin with, but it works quite well for my purposes.
I play the machine at least once or twice a week.
If there is anyone in the Albuquerque area with a nickelodeon they
would like to show off or are in the process of restoring, I'd really
love see your machine and compare notes. E-mail me off-list.
With fond memories of a pizza joint,
Albuquerque, New Mexico