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Wednesday, June 28, 2017

The "Let The Band Play On! - Part I" Story

Beautiful Shupp's Grove in Reinholds, PA
It was an ordinary day.  Walking the perimeter of Shupp's Grove in Reinholds, Pennsyl- vania, listening to the music coming from the many carousel organs that line the grounds.  The multi-acre, wooded area is a beautiful outdoor antiques and collectibles market which is known as "The Picker's market where REAL DEALS still happen.  Yesterday I wrote about the hand-cranked organs while today I will give you a glimpse at the very large carousel organs that once provided music for many of the carousel rides throughout the United States.  
Sign along the road to Shupp's
The organs at Shupp's Grove today belong to members of the Carousel Organ Association of America.  The elaborately carved and embellished instruments on display today imitate an entire marching band from horns to drums to cymbals.  I was amazed at the beauty of the organs as well as the electronics that are part of today's carousel organs. When I first entered the main gate at Shupp's I encountered my first carousel organ which belonged to a gentleman by the name of John Ravert.  As I was admiring his bright red trailer with his carousel organ visible inside it, he stepped next to me and began a conversation.  
John can be seen in his carousel organ
John is from Watsontown, Pennsylvania and this is his first visit to Lancaster County.  The Dewitte organ that he is exhibiting is one of two that were built in London, England in 1989 by John Paige and Judith Howard. It is based on a ninety key Carl Frei scale and has three hundred and thirty-seven pipes as well as eight bass pipes that have just recently been added.  The melody division contains twenty-three notes with two ranks of bourdon pipes, two ranks of violin pipes, two ranks of celeste pipes and one rank of piccolo pipes and tremulant.  Now, as you might have assumed, I copied this information from a paper John gave to me and it really means nothing to me, yet he did point out all the different pipes to me on the instrument.  He also told me that the word "DeWitte" means "The White One."  Easy to see due to the color of his street, or carousel, organ.  John has spent many hours with restoration and renovation of the DeWitte, and it shows.  Just a beautiful instrument that sounds as if I was riding the carousel on the boardwalk in Ocean City.  After half an hour, I thanked John for his time and headed to my nest carousel organ.  
Mr. and Mrs. Burl F. Updyke stand in front of their carousel organ
This one belonged to Mr. Burl F. Updyke.  I found Burl sitting about ten yards in front of it watching all the people admire his handiwork.  I say that, since Burl built this magnificent piece of musical machinery 19 years ago.  It is what is known as a Wurlitzer 105 and it is obvious that he takes great pride in his handiwork.  He was kind enough to show me his notebook filled with page after page of documentation as to the construction of the carousel organ.  He has shown the carousel organ up and down the east coast.  The sound of this instrument was amazing with a magnitude of instruments being played to the carousel melodies that he has picked.  Burl and his wife show the carousel organ in fairs, festivals, parades and events such as today.  Burl and his wife were kind enough to pose for me next to his organ.  You know, you meet the greatest people at events such as this and I have stopped at two instruments and have already been blessed with "welcomes" and conversation from both show participants. I checked my watch and found I needed to look more and talk less if I was to return home for my evening meal.  So, the next couple of carousel organs that I viewed will be shown to you by photographs instead of part of my story.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.  PS - Follow my story tomorrow to get a look at the many crank organs that were also part of the display.

The DeWitte carousel organ.  
A good look at the workings of a carousel organ.  Interesting to watch it while it is playing.
This is a Stinson Carousel Organ. 
As you can see, the above organ is owned by Ed and Bernice Evarts from New York.
A closer view of a miniature carousel that is part of the larger organ.
The carousel organ made and owned by Burl F. Updyke and his wife.
The band director can be seen in this photograph. 
A page from Burl's scrapbook showing the carving of the head of the band director.
The internal workings of the band director.
This circuit board which runs the band director is dated 2010.
Another photo shows the many electro magnets that control the musical part of the carousel organ.
This is a Johnson Style 157 Band Organ that sports 54 keys.  It too is a Wurlitzer style 150.
On the side door of the trailer that holds the carousel organ is a display of the many places the owner has traveled with his carousel organ.
This shows the music score that is used in the organ.
"The Dutch Canadian" is the name of this carousel organ.
The artistry and ornamentation of this carousel organ was perhaps the best in the display today.
Another Wurlitzer Military Band Organ, Style No. 164.  The organ was built in 1928 by the Rudolph Wurlitzer Co. of North Tonawanda, NY.  Only three of this model were ever built and this is the last one known to exist.
The horns are seen under the name of the organ, "The General". 
Uncle Sam can be seen in this photograph.  He serves as the band master for the carousel organ.

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