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MMD > Archives > August 2008 > 2008.08.07 > 01Prev  Next

Ruth Organ at Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk
By John Kavanagh

In response to the postings concerning the Santa Cruz Ruth Band Organ,
the park has a photograph of the Looff merry-go-round, taken soon after
the merry-go-round first opened in 1911.  The photo is included with
other historical photos upstairs in the old plunge building where the
pool tables are.

The photo shows the Ruth organ in the center of the merry-go-round,
with a façe that had pictures of flowers on it.  According to Donaven
Staab, who is in charge of everything audio at the Boardwalk, there was
a façe for the organ, but it long ago disappeared.  The organ was
purchased by Charles Looff from the dealer who sold Ruth organs in the
United States (very likely in New York City).  Mr. Looff wanted
European band organs on his carousels.  He did not like American band
organs for some reason.  Examples of this are the Looff carousels in
East Providence, Rhode Island and Spokane, Washington.

Daniel Horenberger's Brass Ring Entertainment did a restoration of the
Ruth in the early to mid-1990's, and it did play better; but soon
afterwards the organ was sounding poorly once again.  When I saw
Donaven Staab last year, he said the Ruth was on its last legs.  Horns
were out of tune or not playing, valves were sticking, and the
pneumatics to play the percussion instruments were not working.  I
mentioned Don Stinson to Donaven, and I was elated to learn that the
Boardwalk chose him to do the Ruth restoration.

The park also announced that it is going to restore the Looff merry-go-
round in time for its 100th birthday in 2011. The Santa Cruz Beach
Boardwalk is one park that is keeping tradition and history alive by
having live band organ music played at its merry-go-round, even though
behind glass to comply with the California decibel law.

John Kavanagh
Las Vegas, Nevada

(Message sent Wed 6 Aug 2008, 06:41:37 GMT, from time zone GMT-0400.)

Key Words in Subject:  Beach, Boardwalk, Cruz, Organ, Ruth, Santa

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