Chapter 18 Organization
Once again, school was now a thing of the past and summer was at hand. But this summer promised to be a summer of much excitement. Harry and Jimmy had a real job! So much had happened since that Saturday night two months before. Jimmy and Harry had, indeed, managed to become a catalyst that had drawn both of them into the middle of major plans for the new Floridian Theatre.
Through Jimmy and Harry, Mr. Randolph came to know Mr. Keith MacLeod. This was a fortuitous meeting for both gentlemen as Mr. Randolph gained an organ installer and Mr. MacLeod was now, as a result of the generous contract, a new businessman.
Mr. Day had set him up in business as a full fledged organ builder/installer/maintainer. Mr. Randolph had telegraphed the Wurlitzer company in North Tonawanda that he had possibly found someone who was qualified to install the organ. The Wurlitzer people wanted to know the name of the firm Mr. Randolph had in mind. When Mr. Keith MacLeod's name appeared as the one he had in mind, Mr. Randolph had received an urgent telegram that read:
Through Mr. MacLeod Mr. Randolph had also managed to find a qualified organist to attend the Theatre Organist Training school. This was in the person of none other than the young, talented, and pretty Miss Melody Page. She was to attend the Wurlitzer school and, upon returning, assist Mr. MacLeod in the tonal finishing of the new organ.
Installation had begun on the organ even as work continued on the ornate appointments of the interior of the theatre. For sometime Mr. Mac had the surprisingly capable after school help of Jimmy and Harry. Harry showed an aptitude for assembling mechanical things and electrical wiring, while Jimmy seemed to have intuitive knowledge of how things should go together and what it should sound and look like when complete.
Both boys could follow complicated instructions well and they were good at carrying, hammering and sawing. Also, they were lithe enough to get into the tight spaces so common in organ chambers. Mr. Mac explained to their fathers and to Mr. Randolph that the boys were quite simply the best help he could obtain, and with the approval of all concerned, he officially hired them.
Mr. Day had placed his stamp of approval on the arrangement partly because he had been impressed with Keith MacLeod, and partly because he thought that it was good that Jimmy was doing something for the summer that paid fair money. Mr. Day was hoping that Jimmy would be exposed to the business dealings of the Theatre and gain an appreciation of the world of finance.
For Jimmy the arrangement was good because it had everything to do with the organ, and that was really all he was interested in. He endured the sessions with his father in which they discussed debits, credits and risk factors and a lot of other things he feigned an interest in.
Now that school was out the boys made a daily beeline for the Park Street trolley line which would ultimately take them to within three blocks of the new theatre. By now the boys were an accepted part of the general hubbub of the construction. The workmen had grown fond of the boys, marveling at the ability and knowledge of the two teenagers.
One of the most exciting parts of helping Mr. Mac was going to the rail yard to help the railroad men load crates of organ parts onto Mr. Mac's new truck. When they first started helping Mr. Mac the boys were surprised to learn that the pieces of the organ arrived in Jacksonville as the contents of three box cars. The first giant crate that the railroad men unloaded was the blower that would supply wind to the pipes and pneumatics. It was exciting to watch the hoist lift the heavy machine to the roof of the theatre, too.
Pneumatics. This was a new word to the boys. Jimmy, who always wanted to know about such things, wondered if it had anything to do with pneumonia. It turned out that air was needed to make the note keys and stops in the console operate. Mr. Mac said this organ had electro-pneumatic action. Electricity and air worked together to open and close the little valves that let the wind blow into each pipe. Jimmy wrote down everything Mr. Mac told them and Harry made drawings of every part and a diagram of how each part fit together. They kept their notebooks with them all the time; they didn't want to forget anything!
On the second trip Mr. Mac had the railroad men load the console on the truck. Harry and Jimmy were astounded at how really big the crate was. They were excited to find out that the console was going to be installed on an elevator stage in the orchestra pit. The organist would push a button to make the whole thing go up and down.
There was even a narrow, low tunnel under the stage with a door at both ends. It led to the pit the console would sink into when it was in the down position. The door at the console end was supposed to automatically lock when the console was going up or down to make sure no one got trapped underneath it by mistake. Jimmy tried to imagine all that, the stage, console, and so on, coming down on top of you if you were underneath! It gave him the creeps and he said so. Harry just said, “Ouch!”
The boys would never forget the day that Mr. Mac unpacked the console. Familiar as the consoles of church organs were to Harry and Jimmy the console of this Wurlitzer Theatre Organ was as strange. In the first place there were no draw knobs on this organ! Instead, the stops were shaped like one end of the flat wooden paddle with the rounded ends that the doctor used to press on your tongue when he examined your throat. Mr. Mac had called them stop tabs. There were buttons on the narrow wooden cheeks of the keyboards that had little signs that said things like: `cymbal crash' or `gong' even `zills' whatever that was!
The most different thing about the console, to Jimmy and Harry, was the way the stops were arranged. Most all the stops, two rows of them, were mounted in a sweeping half circle. A horseshoe console Mr. Mac Had called it. Moreover, the stops were all red, yellow, white or black.
Mr. Mac said it was a color code: the red stops controlled the brass and woodwind instrument sounds, the yellow ones were the string celestes, and the white ones were the percussions and the organ-only sounds such as Diapason and Tibia. He said the black stops were couplers.
Jimmy thought a moment. Couplers. Those were the controls that made the sounds from one part of the organ play from a different keyboard.
The boys sat on the bench not touching anything, just reading. Wow! What an organ this was going to be! Jimmy pointed to the shiny brass plate on one side of the console front that read: `Wurlitzer Unit Orchestra.' Harry said that there was one just like it on the other side.
The more they read the stops the more they realized that they were reading the same names over and over. There was so many stops, two rows of the them, and they were not even sure which stops went with which keyboard. It was a three keyboard console and all the stops seemed to go with one of four little oval shaped signs. These had the words pedal, accomp, great, and solo on them. They were getting more and more confused so they went to ask Mr. Mac.
They found him on the very top floor of the theatre building working on the wind line leading from the blower room down into the theatre. When the boys told him that they had some questions about the console he suggested they all take their lunch break up on the roof and there they could talk about it.