Chapter 20 Mysterious Questions
The view was beautiful. It seemed to Harry that you could see all the way to the ocean! They sought shade by the air conditioner tower and settled on some of the wooden boxes that had held parts for the massive air cooling machine that occupied most of the roof space.
Jimmy thought the Saint Johns River looked like a giant snake coiling its way through the green trees on its banks. Jimmy had lived near the Saint Johns River all his life and had been fishing many times with Harry in the small boat that belonged to Harry's grandfather, but from this new perspective ten stories up on the roof, he saw something for the first time. There was a wooded island that hugged the south bank of the river and right in the center of it was a very large house. Jimmy excitedly pointed this out to Harry who squinted, hands shielding eyes from the sun, trying to get a good look.
“Hmmm. I wonder. . .” Harry said in a preoccupied voice.
“Wonder what? What?” said Jimmy impatiently.
“I wonder,” Harry began to explain, “if that's the place Granpap told me about. He said there is supposed to be a crazy woman who lives in a spooky mansion on an island in the river. The place even has a name and quite a story. Mmm, let me think. Yes, I remember, Granpap said he heard that she was once a famous opera singer who made lots of money, built the mansion, and hired a bunch of Chinese servants to wait on her, and her sick husband, hand and foot. She became a reckless, no a rect'ress, no . . .”
“You mean a recluse?” offered Mr. Mac.
“Right! A recluse. You know, like a hermit, only she's a lady and rich. Granpap said she had an iron fence built around the whole place so's no one could get on or off the island, except for a drawbridge built where the island almost touches the bank. The name of the place? Mmm, Oh, yeah, the island is called Azalea Island and the house she called Azavilla. Here's the spooky part; they say that ever since her husband died she's kept his mummified body in a glass case in her parlor. Weird, huh?”
Jimmy shuddered, “Sounds like something a crazy rich person might do.”
“Wait a minute.” Mr. Mac rubbed his chin, thinking, “You said opera singer? You know, the famous soprano Zeguenia Hildebrune just dropped out of sight about two, three years ago. She was married to the famous organist and orchestra conductor Lars Lynnsehn who became desperately ill shortly after they married. When he got sick it was said that they were moving to Florida. Then they just simply dropped out of sight, and at the height of their careers, too. Nothing has been heard from the two since.”
“Hey, Mr. Mac! You're not saying that it might be them living in that house on the island, are you?” asked Jimmy.
Mr. Mac shook his head. “No. I . . . I don't think so. Sounds like a good mystery, but one we can't solve here for sure.” said Mr. Mac as he poured them all some iced tea from his big Thermos while the boys passed around the ham sandwiches and fruit their moms had packed for everyone.
Changing the subject Mr. Mac said, “So you have questions, questions, questions! OK. Jimmy, you're first!”
Jimmy thought for moment, then started; “Why're there so many stops with the same names, and what are the keyboards called, and what is a `traps' and . . .”
“Whoa, hoss! One thing at a time!” Laughed Mr. Mac. “Now, what was that first question?”
Harry said, “Why're there so many stops with the same names? There was about five stops that said `Tuba Horn' on them, and even more that had `Open Diapason' but the one we saw the most of was `Tibia Clausa.' They were everywhere!”
Mr. Mac said, “Good question! It's because this is a unified organ. It all started with a man by the name of Robert Hope-Jones. He was an Englishman who came to live here in America and he went to work for the Wurlitzer Company. I met him when I was just a little fellow in North Tonawanda. You could say he invented the Unit Orchestra.”
“Hey! Unit Orchestra! That's what was on those shiny signs on the front of the console!” interjected Harry. Jimmy nodded his head vigorously, his mouth full of ham sandwich.
“Right! Well, Mr. Hope-Jones developed the idea that most of the stops on an organ should be playable from each keyboard and the pedals. This is very different from church organs. In a church organ each keyboard has its own group of pipe ranks . . . ”
“Mr. Edwin explained that to us a long time ago,” said Jimmy, “the Swell keyboard has its own chamber full of pipe ranks, the Great has its own ranks and the Pedal it's own. He said they're called `divisions.”
“Good!” Mr. Mac continued. “A Theatre organ has divisions as well, but the divisions of pipe ranks are not by keyboards, but rather by how they are used.”
At this both boys looked at Mr. Mac and “Huh?”
“OK, let's think about this. Let's say we have a live orchestra. A trumpet is going to play the melody. The rest of the orchestra is playing along, too. When a person sings or an instrument plays the melody alone, or above the rest of the group, this is called a . . . ?” Mr. Mac prompted.
“Solo” both boys answered at once.
“Correct! Now, the rest of the orchestra is still playing all the other parts. The solo melody is important but the rest of the group is very important too. In fact, there may just one instrument playing the melody but there might be fifty-nine other instruments playing in the orchestra too. Take away all those players and you've lost the main part of the orchestra. So how is our orchestra divided up?”
“OK, there's a solo part,” said Jimmy.
“And a main part” finished Harry.
“The chambers in a Theatre Organ are divided just that way. On the right side of the theatre will be the Solo Division chamber and on the left side will be the Main Division chamber.”
Jimmy said, “I saw a label that said `Solo' above some of the stops.”
“The Solo is the top keyboard. The word `Solo' in that case means that the stops on that keyboard specialize in playing the solo sounds. Remember, most all the ranks in this organ are either in the Main or Solo divisions, but the stops are found on most every keyboard in the organ no matter which chamber the rank is in.”
“What about the other keyboards?” asked Harry.
“Well, there is the Great keyboard. It's in the middle just below the Solo. It's called `Great' because it has the greatest number of stops that play from it and therefore has the greatest or loudest sound. The bottom keyboard is called the `Accomp,' which is short for `accompaniment,' and it specializes in stops that play in the background to louder stops.”
Inspired, Jimmy exclaimed, “Oh! Now I get it! The top keyboard, the `Solo' specializes in solo-type stops, and I bet that the stops from the `Solo' chamber are mostly on it!”
“Right! -- but some of the louder ones from the Main chamber are there, too.” Mr. Mac was grinning.
“And if,” Jimmy ran on, “the Accomp, on the bottom, plays mostly background stops, I bet the stops there are mostly from the `Main' chamber, and the `Great' which is in the middle, probably has all most all the stops from the Solo and the Main chambers!”
“Right, Jimmy!” said Mr. Mac.
“Wow,” Harry said looking far away, “I bet there's nothin' you can't do with an organ like that!”
“Exactly!” cried Mr. Mac.
Harry then said, “OK now, what is a trap?”
Mr. Mac grinned and took a deep breath.