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Thursday, June 29, 2017

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

Barbara the organ grinder.  The crank organ
is an Original Raffin Uberlingen
It was an ordinary day.  The lady organ grinder had just stopped her song when the gentleman next to her shouted angrily at her, "You can't stop in the middle of a song like that!"  Barbara looked at him and said, "But, I told this nice gentleman that he could finish the song for me!"  I hated to be in the middle of the argument, but I happened to be that nice gentleman that Barbara was talking about.  Seems I was watching a half dozen or so organ grinders turning their crank organs when one of them looked at me and asked if I would like to try it.  Why not!  Not sure of the name of the melody that she was playing, but it looked like fun so I answered, "Why yes, thank you."  
LDub giving it a try.
And that's when the shouting began.  Barbara told me that some organ grinders think it unheard of to not finish the song you have begun on your hand-operated crank organ.  But she thought I might like to try it ... and she was right.  After all the shouting, I thought it good to stay and crank the organ until the song was finished.  Today I'm at Shupp's Grove which is in the little town of Reinholds to the northeast of Lancaster, Pennsylvania.  This weekend, music boxes, crank organs, carousel organs and calliopes from mainly the east coast of the US have descended on the outdoor antiques and collectibles market to provide entertainment for its customers as well as help to draw a larger crowd to the week-end shopping venue.  
Sign indicating where Shupp's Grove is located.
Had to be at least half a dozen or more large carousel organs spread throughout shady Shupp's Grove which is known as "The Picker's market where REAL DEALS still happen." The majority of the crank organs had been gathered in a central space where at 2:00 PM today one of the grinders talked about crank organs.  
Marc cranks his crank organ.  This
too is a Orgelbau J. Raffin Uberlingen.
A bit of a history was told and then songs were played on a few of the crank organs for the enjoyment of those who gathered to hear them.  I waited until the presentation was finished to walk closer to the crank organs to get a better view of how they actually worked.  Most seemed to have multiple-tune cylinders with a comb-like piece that worked much like a player piano.  The notes for the songs are on a heavy-duty paper strip which has small holes that tell the instrument what note is to be played.  I found if I turned the handle at different speeds the song would naturally be played faster or slower.  I could change the tempo with the speed of my hand.  Pretty neat!  After the song came to an end, I thanked Barbara and began a tour of the larger carousel organs that were spaced around the edges of the grove so as not to have the music of the one overlap the music of another.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.  PS - I'm sorry to say that I have no video to show you, but I have added a YouTube video that is very similar to the type of crank organ I had the opportunity to play today.
This young man has just placed a paper song roll in his crank organ.


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