Let’s finish up this week of sifting through the technology ash heap with a look at the now forgotten instrument/home furnishing known as the Organ. We’re not talking about some kick-ass Hammond B-3. We’re in a much more genteel musical world with the home organ–a Laurence Welk-esque land of musical whimsy. Apparently it wasn’t entirely uncommon for people to buy a two-tiered keyboard with pedals that provided a bass backing, stops that produced sounds of different instruments (without managing to sound even remotely like the instrument) and little buttons that brought forth various drum beats of differing rhythms depending on your preference (polka, samba, whatever). How popular were these things? Well, look at the above commercials. There must have been some kind of demand for them in order to have stores that specialized in them. Did people really play these things? Yes. I can attest to the fact that they did because we had one in our house when I was growing up and I rather enjoyed playing it, even going so far as to take organ lessons. Did organ lessons ever translate into a career for anyone? I mean as something than an organ teacher. Can you even find an organ teacher anymore? Or a store that specializes in organs? I have a feeling it would be easier to find a shop that specializes in repairing damaged ventriloquial dummies. Or perhaps a store specializing in different varieties of plastic bags. The burning question remains: where did they go, all those organs of yesteryear? A special graveyard for lost or abandoned organs? Or were the parts re-purposed for other dark, nefarious reasons? One thing is certain: somewhere in this country there is a guy–I can picture him!–who collects old home organs. He has dozens–no hundreds, maybe thousands–stashed in a warehouse. He may not even play organ. But he loves them, works on them, rebuilds them, fondles them. After all, if something exists there’s some obsessive collector somewhere who hoards it.


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