In the Tracker 50 Years Ago

By Huntington, Scot L. | The Tracker, Winter 2013 | Go to article overview

In the Tracker 50 Years Ago


Huntington, Scot L., The Tracker


VOL. VI, NO. 4, JULY 1962

THE FEATURED ARTICLE WAS AN IN-DEPTH REVIEW OF THE seventh annual convention, described in the travelogue article headlining the previous issue. The convention was held July 9-1 1 in the historic resort town of Skaneateles located on the Finger Lake of the same name. This is particularly apropos today, as we will revisit several of the same instruments at the upcoming Syracuse/Finger Lakes convention in 2014, 52 years and a month to the day later. In 1962, the economy of the area was heavily reliant on family dairy farms. Sadly today, they're almost all gone, but the area is now the eastern gateway to the thriving Finger Lakes wine region - one of the most bountiful in the United States, with a climate, soil acidity, and growing season nearly identical to Germany and the Alsace wine-producing region of France. The convention attracted 55 attendees and, as with past conventions occurring in the society's infancy, everything seen and heard was a new and exciting discovery.

At the member's annual business meeting, it was reported the membership numbered 293 ($4 annual dues) and represented an increase of 50 members from the previous year. It was also noted, that the "Organs for Sale" department had become colloquially known as the "Organ Clearing House" under the direction of Alan Laufman, and there were 20 instruments currently available. Recording supervisor Robert Roche reported that convention recordings would henceforth cost $4.95 - the first having been produced the previous year and which sold an encouraging 50 copies. The society's first by-laws [sic] were approved by membership ballot and officially adopted at the meeting. It was announced that an informational brochure about the OHS to be used for membership development was in the works, as was an audio-visual slide presentation. Sample informational letters for members to use when making contact with owners of historic instruments would be published shortly. It was reported that progress was being made in the matter of chartering local OHS chapters. The proposal for a 1963 convention in Portland, Maine, was accepted, and Tracker editor Kenneth Simmons issued a plea for more articles about specific instruments.

This was still the day predating any type of busing, and members drove their own cars, or carpooled for the added benefit of social intercourse. This also predated any type of published convention handbook, so driving directions and organ stoplists copied on a spirit duplicator were handed out to all attendees. (Remember sniffing the carbon tetrachloride fumes off still-wet copies in grade school?) A number of the organs heard in 1962 are now gone - some relocated to new homes, some recycled into new instruments, and some thoughtlessly discarded. The large "unknown" organ at St. Mark's Episcopal Church in Candor (originally built for Trinity Episcopal, Elmira), was definitely identified during the convention by knowledgeable members as the largest extant organ by Utica builder John Gale Marklove, and some years later became the recipient of OHS Historic Citation No. 1. Some members missed several organ demonstrations because of a misdirection given in one morning's announcements, and on another occasion, one program started before the appointed hour with many participants still en route.

The convention included a panel discussion moderated by Barbara Owen, with panelists Homer Blanchard, Robert Hale, and Robert Reich discussing "Maintenance, Repairs, and Restoration of Tracker Action Organs." A review of the proceedings tells that on the subject of routine maintenance, much of the advice involved good old common sense and still holds true today. However, once the floor was opened for questions, opinions began to diverge, and the opinions expressed, which would make us blanch in horror today, mirrored the tenor of the times - and apparently sparked some controversy among members even then. Questions relating to the standard operating restoration procedures of the participants indicated each workshop had its own approach to the subject of "restoration. …

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