Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia on September 3, 1972 · Page 63
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Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia · Page 63

Charleston, West Virginia
Issue Date:
Sunday, September 3, 1972
Page 63
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Page 63 article text (OCR)

I Ul effective early form of outdoor advertising. STATE MAGAZINE, Sept. 3, 1972 Queen compiled a list of steam calliope river tunes. The list includes "Waiting for the Robert E. Lee," "On a Sunday Afternoon," and "Has Anybody Here Seen Kelly." to be played on'arrival. "There'll Be a Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight " and "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" were played for celebrations. Departure tunes were, "Meet Me Tonight in Dreamland." "My Wild Irish Rose" and "Annie Laurie." Of course, show boats were not the only- vessels to carry calliopes. An article in the American Organist magazine of December, 1955, tells about one crafty skipper's use of the calliope. When a steamboat race developed, the skipper would order the instrument played just as his rival drew abeam and was about to pass him. Although the steam for the music robbed the engines of some of their speed, it was a shrewd investment. Passengers on the other steamer's decks would crowd the rail toward their rival's music with the result that the ship would bury her paddle wheel on that side, and hoist the other wheel clear of the water. Immediately, the hapless vessel would be left behind, executing an unmanageable circle, to the intense delight of those aboard the vessel sporting the calliope. The American Steam Music Co. continued to manufacture calliopes until the Civil War. During the next quarter century few instruments were built, but a few individual orders were filled. One company to revive the business around 1890 was the Thomas J. Nichol Co., which made the Delta Queen calliope, one of only three made by that company still in existence, according to Vic looker, the Delta Queen "professor." Steam calliopes have almost disappeared. Even the Delta Queen one was installed within the last five years. It came from the "Water Queen ""a showboat which sank in the Kanawha River in 1937. The calliope was salvaged by a former calliopist "Crazy Ray" Choiser. He had it remounted and played it for carnivals and parades. After his death, it remained in a barn until circus veteran Ellsworth W. Sommers added it to his collection. Sommers parted with it an the condition it would be played again. It was restored by Q u i n b y and Shepard Laboratories of New Jersey. Quinby revamped the calliope to make it more bearable for the calliopist. He devised a foot pedal to control the steam flow and added a pressure steam gauge. After he changed the whistle arrangement to a straight line, he installed solenoid valves to replace mechanical ones. More extinct than the riverboat calliopes are the circus calliopes. The story goes you can tell a circus buff by the way he pronounces "Kally-ope." Usually the pinaccle of every circus and carried on beautiful hand-carved wagons pulled by husky matched horses, the calliope's impression is indelible in the minds of white haired men who first saw and heard it as wide-eyed little boys. Circus World Museum of Barbaboo. Wise, owns one of the last steam calliopes used in parades. Henry Ford Museum also has one. Campus Martius Museum has the one that once enhanced Capt. Billy Brant's showboat. The largest circus calliope was a 36- whistle one and it is now owned by the Ringling Brothers Circus Museum in Sarasota. Probably the most-written about circus calliope was the Forepaugh-Castle instrument. It saw service in at least 11 shows. First used on the river packet Robert Burns in 1879, it was purchased by Adam Forepaugh in 1885. One hazard to owning a calliope was the fascination the bright whistles have for thieves. They stole the original whistles from the Forepaugh-Castle Calliope and the El Hassa Temple Shrine of Ashland, Ky.. will have to replace one shiny whistle for the same reason. This happened more than once to circus calliopes. Fire was also a hazard to them. P. T. Barum assured the calliope's success when he bought one and spent $10,000 to properly showcase it on a handsome wagon. He also gave Europeans their first exposure to the calliope when he toured the continent for five years starting in 1867. Calliopes sold for anywhere from $1,000 to $12,000. Bennie Dawson of the Ashland Shrine said their calliope cost less than $200 in 1937 and would sell for several thousand dollars today. Collectors News of Grundy Center. Iowa, reports the last showing of a calliope in Washington was when a Kentucky-based circus was invited to.have its historic instrument participate in the inauguration parade of President Truman and "Veep" Alben Barkley. Eight white horses pulled the calliope through the streets to the accompaniment of tunes like "Missouri Waltz" and "My Did Kentucky Home." Intended for outdoor use. steam calliopes were too powerful for induor playing and their steam "fall-out" was a d e f i n i t e hazard to the player who sometimes was splashed with boiling water, engulfed in clouds of steam, and showered with soot. These handicaps led to the invention of new and better calliopes which were operated with compressed air. Most calliopes found today are of this type. Air is supplied via a pump or blower. Compressed air calliopes were made by three companies during 1920 to 1935 Q. David Bowers states in his 1971 Encyclopedia of A u t o m a t i c Musical Machines. Tangley Co. of Muscatine, Iowa, was the leading manufacturer of air calliopes. More Tangley instruments survive than all other makes by all other firms combined. Over the years the most popular model was the CA~43 which was advertised as "ready-to-go-ready-to-play" painted and mounted on a car body for only $1895. The company made loud-voiced calliopes for the circus and soft-voiced ones for theaters. As an advertising gimmick, Tangley would construct housing of the calliope for businessmen. This housing would resemble the product for sale. For instance, a large layer cake for a bakery, a box of candy for a candy company, and package of gum for a gum manufacturer. The well-known C. W. Parker, the man who "built a business on the nickels of the world's children, distributed calliopes for Tangley. Parker is best known, however, for his manufacture of merry-go-rounds or carousels. New-tone Co. which later became the National Calliope Co., also produced calliopes. National instruments were extremely well built and had a very pure tone. Bowers says they are highly prized collectors items today. It remained for Artizan Factories of North Tonawanda, New York, to patent a EwT *e-.»- ejnhcpe in 1927. They called it the Air- '_£:,:e and advertised it as having 17 points o.' superiority-one of which was easier iuning. The calliope is tuned by adjusting the stop ;n the top of the whistle. The air cano s advertisement also pointed out its superiority in case of rain. Its valves were fc;:;;t above the pipe mouth lever where ra:n could not affect them. Only 62 of these wi-rf b u i l t . Their vacuum system replaced :nt ircublesome and sensitive suction system previuusly used, particular;!',- in instruments operated by rolls. Another Artizan invention was the calli- phone. Played by hand or by roll it spanned three and one half octaves and had 43 pipes: The C a l l i - p h o n e was recommended for rinks, rides, shows and street advertising. With it the ad read "A man could expect to earn $5.000 annually.'' The calli-pohone was connected directly to an engine blower unit and mounted on a truck.!;. tiiis musical works company fell on bad times and was sold to the Rand Co 'now Remminglon Rand) a company which had formerly printed labels for their roll music boxes. Wurlitzer's answer to the calliopes being sold by Tangley and National was a much improved instrument which was called the Caliola. But the Caliola was too late. Nickeldoeon and radios were becoming the chief form of amusement music. Few calliopes remain today. Forrest Burdette of Huntington, an extremely knowledgeable man about automatic musical instruments, knows of just four in West Virginia. There may be more; back in barns, or in the collections of unknown musical instrument lovers. Burdette himself owns a Tangley. "Many have been thrown away," Burdette said. "Many others were lost in the 1937 flood." Bennie Dawson of Ashland, Ky.. and the El Hassa Shrine has what must be the most unusual remaining calliope. It fits on a car exhaust and has a keyboard which attaches to the car door. It was used once to advertise new cars. Calliopes are almost gone, but their magic lingers. When the Delta Queen's calliope player steps up to the keyboard and lets loose with, "There'll be a Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight." the 20th century man feels the same thrill and the same quickening of pulse felt by the West Virginia bottom land farmer as the lively calliope notes danced across his newly plowed field one hundred years ago. ^^^^r-^. BRITANN1CA ip ' THE YOUNS CHILDREN s ^ f c ^ ' t H f T I J U N I O R |£! ENCYCLOPEDIA/M^' - - - - - - * - ? M ,rP · rfcJXV/^ 1 ! A*%A rt\t m e-I tfAAMfftS.ANf) W/NNER5 VfTO -\ PW.J | ENCYCLOPAEDIA E ^0^*5 O f^ s ,.uwiw-s.' ( COMPLETE COVERA6E WITH B r^^^SH ?XI*K^° SIMPLIFIED V O C A B U L A R Y 10 E A S y - T O - R £ A D TyPE. ' |O * ccuof IS ' tv/TA" /W*J}*f£f . c I oroj".^XPJ-x.v/? !° QVED 2.SOO PAStS OF ORIINAl. PlC- J»OJECT5.«NB \sy---~o-- : ^ N ?«". iaggedyAnn r ·~-. \ 1 ··-* z\\ ^.UD.^ TINKERBELL Ti^Tc,., ] BUBBLE AND BEAUTIFUL ' SPRAY 5FT M 7SSir UL BUBBLE AND ! ^^r^r ( v K ^ « TM ^ r SPRAY SET i B E D k N O B S ANS i\\ t\\P,fil^9Y ! -'W W"v? G/fits BROOMSTICKS »«- krMV;.lJli-lOOl , , =5----_ FBoPfiiEE ACTION BED r* 11 ;*^ \ i/jTC f / ' / B ^Bh. ! ^rf---^^--i-»-*w · ^ i«s i! EACH WEEK ,'"' || CORGI t/^L-ln -^H^^ ^^jf knickerbocker ASTRO" i^ i^wet^ ^oru^ , W E t K » t """ jc -'" r«/7^xAa^/i B/GPR/ZE! JUGGLE THE LETTERS U 7~O SfiflL OUR NAMES AND COLOR TH/S* g A COMTEST EMTR y. ^M* PRINT CUR NAMES - HERE. - CHARLESTON, W.VA.

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