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MMD > Archives > June 2013 > 2013.06.27 > 03Prev  Next

Restore North America's Carousel Organs
By Cecil Dover

I would love to think that somehow a public effort to keep our
few remaining band organs playing for all to hear would be possible.
I think that for some reason I was born with a band organ gene imbedded
in my DNA.  As a child growing up in the post-WW2 nineteen-forties and
-fifties, and with visits to traveling carnivals, my first priority was
to check out the merry-go-round.  It was definitely not "merry" if it
didn't have an organ, and even when they didn't play well it was still
wonderful music.

As a teenager I had the good fortune to become acquainted with
Herbert Vincent who did maintenance on the band organs that operated
at the Ross Davis carousels at Lincoln Park and Griffith Park in Los
Angeles, and at Berkeley's Tildon Park.  He is the person who told me
that the beautiful organ at Long Beach's Pike was a Ruth organ that
had been converted to play Wurlitzer music with dual roll frames, and
he explained that was the reason it didn't sound quite right.

As an adult, working on a project in New Jersey, I met the band organ
of my dreams with a Ruth 38 that was almost identical to the one in
Long Beach and it was in top playing condition still using, at that
time, the original book music.  What a magnificent sound!  As a child
seeing the organ at The Pike in Long Beach was almost a religious
experience and the facade always reminded me of an alter with the
angels and cupids playing the tympani, no wonder it had a religious

I feel very fortunate that I live close enough to Griffith Park that
I can drop in to see and hear the magnificent Wurlitzer repro by
Stinson Organs when I need to "get my fix".

Cecil Dover
Los Angeles

(Message sent Thu 27 Jun 2013, 19:49:27 GMT, from time zone GMT-0400.)

Key Words in Subject:  America's, Carousel, North, Organs, Restore

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