Chapter 19 Father to Son
K. Johnson MacLeod, Sr.
19549 Symington Blvd.
North Tonawanda, New York
Keith MacLeod, Jr.
1754 Herschel Ave.
This is an 'unofficial' letter concerning the Wurlitzer Unit Orchestra which is to be installed in the Floridian Theatre of Jacksonville, Florida. Son, I am delighted to tell you that I have been given the go-ahead to recommend you to Mr. Randolph of the Eastern Picture Exhibition Company as a factory certified installer of Wurlitzer Unit Orchestras. A document to that end is in the post to the E.P.E.C.; cc to you, and Mr. Randolph, even as I write these words.
It had nothing to do with the fact that I am your proud father! The only role I played in your being recommended was to verify that you were indeed one and the same young man as the little boy and teenager who spent so many hours in this facility soaking up as much as you were able about the craft of organ building.
Our business is booming to say the least. Our organ installation teams are stretched to the limit and there is no let up in the foreseeable future. This may be much good fortune for you, personally, as there is absolutely not one firm between Atlanta and Miami who will install a Unit Orchestra under any kind of persuasion!
The ramifications of this situation benefits not only you, but our company and the Floridian Theatre as well. I have been placed in direct charge of the specification of this particular instrument. It will not be a stock model as most of our sales are. Due to the strategic location of Jacksonville this instrument will be a show piece and we are giving the E.P.E.C. more organ than they contracted for as a result. This, and the fact that we promised factory installation and are notable to accomplish same. The free national publicity the premier of `The Sword and the Diamond' will afford us was not overlooked in the decision, either.
Mr. Randolph has approached me on the subject of sending a Jacksonville organist to the Wurlitzer Organist's School. He will be relying upon you to assist him in the hiring and training of an organist for the Floridian Theatre. You will be receiving official correspondence on this matter in future. Be on the alert for anyone who may be interested in this position. This person (who may be a male or female, incidentally) will be responsible for hiring and training possibly as many as three other organists, and the position will be well paid. I had heard (quite accurately) through the vine that the EPEC plans to hire a `name' organist for the premier. More details on this follows. Please treat this information as confidential.
Now, about the organ itself. Instead of the original two manual, eight rank, three percussion, two chamber instrument the Floridian Theatre was to receive, this will now be a three manual, nineteen rank, and seven percussion installation, with three chambers.
Not only this, but the stop list will be somewhat different from what we have done in the past. This theatre is to be constructed as a legitimate stage theatre as well as a picture house and, after much discussion, it was felt that an expanded specification might be in order. The E.P.E.C. have agreed to the slightly higher cost, as it is still quite a substantial saving over that which we could offer them in a standard contract, under more normal circumstances.
Here is a tentative chamber plan -- I think you will find it very interesting.
Main chamber: (left of picture sheet)
Solo chamber: (right of picture sheet)
Tuba Horn 8'
Open Diapason 8'
(Diaphonic Diapason 16'-32' ext.)
Voix Celeste 8'
Concert Flute/Bourdon 16'
Flute Celeste 8'
Main Tibia Clausa 8'
Main Vox Humana 8'
Chinese Block 2
Bird song 2
Post Horn 16'
Solo Tibia Clausa 16'
Solo Vox Humana 16'
Viol d'Orchestra 16'
Viol Celeste 8'
Oboe Horn 8'
Orchestral Oboe 8'
Krumet Horn 8'
Sub Wood Harp
Chinese Block 1
Bird song 1
Tibia Clausa Tremulants
Vox Humana Tremulants
Tuba Horn and Clarinet Tremulants
Orch. Oboe, and Krumet Tremulants
Trumpet and Oboe H. Tremlulants
(Unenclosed in proscenium over center stage)
Diaphone 32' (Open Diapason extension) Piano, Chimes, Vibraharp. Bass Drum, Crash Cymbal, Snare Drum, Wood Block, Tambourine, High Hat.
(on the junkboard)
All of the usuals plus these specifically "requested" effects:
Thunder Sheet, Oriental Gong, 3 chamber Bird Song, 3 chamber Tom-Tom, a Chinese Temple Block array, Zills, Surf Machine, Wind Machine, and Lightening Effect.
Though no one will officially say so, this specification with the special tremulants, extended traps, and toycounter effects have been requested (actually demanded) by none other than Mr. Fritz Schattenborg, himself. He is now the music man for Phototrope Studios in Hollywood. You will remember him as one of the former instructors for our Organist's School here in New York. He has written the organ score for `The Sword And The Diamond'. He was quite specific in stressing the “need” for the Oriental Gong, as well as the three-chambered Bird Song, Chinese Block, Bell Tree, and Tom-Tom array, along with the Surf, Wind, and the Lightening Effects.
He told me that this picture was to be an exotic action swashbuckler with much romance and a good bit of comedy thrown in. He thinly hinted to me that he would be the one selected to play his score at the premier of this picture. (All this he related to me in a two hour coast-to-coast telephone conversation which must have cost the studio a mint!) He is, as you will remember, a most unpleasant and arrogant fellow, albeit one who knows his business.
There are more production features that you will read about in the installation manual which will reach you by mail in a few days. I am hopeful that I will be coming to Jacksonville at some point to consult with you and Mr. Randolph.
However, with our business as it is these days it may not be possible for me to be there personally. You and I may have to consult long-distance so that you can attend to the details, if this is acceptable to Mr. Randolph. We surely would love to come for a visit, however. Your mother and I are planning to attend the premier. Telephone me if you have any thoughts or questions about the installation.
Your Devoted Father and Colleague,