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MMD > Archives > January 2013 > 2013.01.05 > 01Prev  Next

Enjoying Mechanical Music
By Rob Goodale

[ Matthew Caulfield, who takes care of the band organ at Seabreeze
 [ Park, Rochester, New York, wrote in 130103 MMDigest:

> I always say that the best way to enjoy a mechanical music instrument,
> especially a band organ, is to not own it.

I am curious as to why "not owning" a music machine is the preferred
way of enjoying mechanical music.  I have wanted to "own" music
machines since the day I was introduced to them.  The first machine
I remember seeing was when I was about six years old, a Wurlitzer 105
at Knotts Berry Farm in California, back when the carousel was located
at the now long-gone lagoon.

Since I became technically involved with them 25 years ago I've always
wanted a small collection of my own.  This is a challenge since the
cost of so many machines has become artificially inflated over the
years, often out of reach of a middle class small-time collector.
Nevertheless I have continued to pursue the goal of having a small
collection and I am at last making some progress.

The "especially a band organ" part is particularly puzzling to me.
Obtaining a completely unrestored band organ and then returning it
to near factory condition was a huge undertaking for me, but the
satisfaction of completing the job and preserving an irreplaceable
piece of history is tremendously rewarding.  Then taking it to the
public and watching people's reactions -- seeing them lose all
composure as they suddenly begin dancing in the street, taking family
portraits, and walking away happier then when they arrived -- makes
ownership all the better.

Given my lack of resources I will never have a large collection.  With
personal responsibilities and other obligations there will just never
be enough time or money to accumulate and restore everything that I've
always wanted.  Granted, with demand dwindling and fewer collectors
buying, selling off a collection would likely put me fiscally upside
down or, at the very least, in a lousy investment.  That being the
case I will likely attempt to keep them in the family, educating our
children on the historic significance of what will one day be theirs,
and teach them how to properly care for them.

It's a big world out there and I have a lot of other things I'd like
to try before I'm too old to care, so my ambition for collecting could
potentially stray.  Nevertheless I don't think that I will ever regret
owning music machines.  Many people collect coins, stamps, art, sports
memorabilia, whatever; all that stuff does is sit there.  After you
get tired of looking at it and your friends quit asking, then what?

But music machines are a completely different thing: a flip of a
switch, a drop of a coin, a few turns of a crank, and suddenly they
come to life -- "functional art", as one colleague put it.  Let's see
a Double Eagle gold coin, or a Van Gogh painting, or a glove signed by
Babe Ruth do that!

Rob Goodale
Las Vegas, Nevada

(Message sent Sat 5 Jan 2013, 08:46:45 GMT, from time zone GMT-0800.)

Key Words in Subject:  Enjoying, Mechanical, Music

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