50 Years Ago: A Retrospective

Article excerpt

WITH THIS ISSUE, WE BEGIN A LOOK BACK AT our history through this column. For those of us who joined the OHS at its mid-life, it seemingly had always been in existence. Some of us might still have been sleeping in beds with drop-down sides when a group of intrepid like-minded enthusiasts met to spread the gospel of our wonderful organ heritage that was vanishing before their eyes like so many acres in urban renewal. From our modern vantage point, we may lose sight of the fact that the information gleaned from new research and that appeared in the pages of our journal was new and for most, completely unknown. The fledgling membership of the new OHS devoured this information with the veritable hunger of a smitten teenager acquiring a first knowledge of the king of instruments. In 2010, we are blessed with the cumulative knowledge of our unique organ culture handed down to us through years of tireless research conducted by our illustrious forbearers. Some of the earliest research in our 19th-century organ heritage remains the only research into these subjects to this day. For instance, articles written in the 1960s about the upstate New York builders William King and Garret House remain to this day the only widely disseminated information available about these builders. Through this retrospective look at where we began, we may hopefully gain a greater appreciation for the ground-breaking work of our first scholar-members, a sense of perspective on our humble beginnings when every bit of information was a tantalizing appetizer for a devoted and enthusiastic membership hungry for knowledge, and for some of us, forgotten information that will once again be a revelation.

In April i960, OHS membership hovered around 150. A printed and bound journal was an ambitious enterprise for so modest a group - indeed the earliest issues were a stapled collection of mimeographed pages. The first printed issue did not appear until Volume III, No. 1, October 1958. Our 50-year look back begins with Volume IV, No. 3, April i960.

The office holders at the time were still those who were first elected by the Society. The president was our beloved founder, Barbara Owen, vice president was Donald R. M. Patterson, secretary was Eugene McCracken, Thomas Eader was treasurer, and the councilors were Homer Blanchard, Joyce Mangier, Alan Laufman, Frederick Sponsler, and William Soule. Kenneth Simmons was the journal editor, and Albert Robinson was the publisher. No photos appeared in the journal; they were printed on a single sheet inserted in some early issues. There was no advertising.

The headline article in the April issue contained the convention travelogue announcing the Philadelphia convention, June 20-22, chaired by Eugene McCracken with committee members Thomas Miller, Frederick Sponsler, and Robert Whiting. …