About Me

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Carousel Wurlitzer 153 Band Organ

Rock Springs Park’s carousel with band organ just visible in the background (Courtesy of Rich Brookes; Photo by Clarence O. Durbin)

Rock Springs Park’s Carousel Band Organ was sold at auction in 1974. It was purchased by Dr. James Smith of Connecticut. Dr. Smith, an East Liverpool High School alum, collected amusement park machines, especially games of chance, and displayed them in his suburban Connecticut barn. The band organ under the title “Truck-a-Tune” was often played at local fairs and parades. When his collection was sold at Sotheby’s in New York for millions, he permitted his children to take their favorite pieces and donated the Wurlitzer 153 Band Organ to the East Liverpool High School Alumni Association. It is now on display in the window of The Lou Holtz Upper Ohio Valley Hall of Fame Museum.

Wurlitzer 153 in the window of the Lou Holtz Hall of Fame (Courtesy of Christian Comm)

In 1970, my friend Dick Bowker made a recording of two of his favorite march rolls on the Wurlitzer Band Organ in Rock Springs Park. He and two friends tape-recorded the rolls eight times and a recording company in Cleveland cut three LPs of the best takes. According to Dick, who still has one of the records but has misplaced it in his home, “they did not sound very good because even though the park spent a lot of money to restore the organ in 1969, a leaky roof damaged it in winter.”

Now Dick has a collection of band organ CDs which we listened to while scanning photographs and postcards for Images of Ameica: Rock Springs Park. His favorite is the “Spiffy” march roll, seen in this photo along with some others.

March rolls including "Spiffy March" (Courtesy of Richard L. Bowker)

You can hear Rock Springs Park’s band organ play again at the Lou Holtz Museum for 25 cents. Until then, get a feel for a breezy summer tune by clicking on the YouTube video below which features Cafesjian's Carousel’s 153 with “164 pipes consisting of trumpet, trombone, flute, violin and cello voices, and a 13-note glockenspiel, called 'bells' in organ parlance.”

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