We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
The first keyboard I ever approached was an 1800s Mason & Hamlin single manual reed organ, technically a harmonium. The wind is generated by vacuum-generating bellows (hence "suction reed organ") pumped by the feet of the organist. From a technical standpoint, these are like upright accordions with an organ-like sound.
My Grandpa salvaged it when the local Congregational church bought a new organ. He kept it in his living room, and the elderly, old maid church organist would stop by, unannounced. to play the old thing until she died.
Today, old reed organs are thrown in the garbage, but I think it's a shame. They are of an era when these were all small congregations could afford. Some folks had them in their homes, too: "Parlor organs." You can find them cheap on eBay, but often people will be grateful if you will just take them away.
Did I mention that mice like to live in them? My parents finally threw the old thing in a dumpster because I failed to take it away myself in a reasonable period of time. My fault.
This fellow explains how to use the foot bellows to affect the playing of a reed organ:
The first tune I learned to play on it was the hymn Work For The Night Is Coming. It is not just a song of toil and death, but a song of toil in God's fields and pastures, and I still love it. Here's the only half-decent version I could find on YouTube (on piano, not reed organ - lyrics here):
Gosh, I believe my grandma met my granddad when he was playing a reed organ in the back of a wagon. He also played harmonica and fiddle. That was in the Oklahoma territory back when. They were married in 1907.
I never saw one until two years ago when I attended a family funeral held old fashioned style in the home of the widow. It was in the "sitting room" of the old Victorian house - couldn't resist just playing a short little tune on it.
Since then, I've seen two others - one fully restored in the home of the First Congregational Pastor in Woodstock and one that was in rough shape at an antique dealer in Putnam. I almost bought the rough one to restore just for grins, but unfortunately my lovely bride decided that it wouldn't be a good thing.
Some of the smaller parlor organs had fake pipes, painted and arranged to look like the larger pipe organs. Our local funeral home had one. I've now got the "pipes"; they've been in storage for years. My husband can't figure out how they were arranged. Does anyone have any idea or if they have any value?
I think there used to be a traveling model of a reed organ which a crazy little music school [Duschkin Music School] in Winnetka used to have its students make. The organ box was literally that, about two and a half feet long, accommodating three octaves. The organs didn't have legs or supports, to make it easier for the itinerant preachers and their overworked wives to store it and/or set it up. I didn't build one, but I helped other children do so.
The school also taught its students to make other instruments, like recorders, which probably sounded no worse than the medieval models. My parents were determined that my brother and i should be kept out of trouble caused by idleness, so they signed us both up for a term at Duschkin.
We did well there, but we still had time for mischief, I'm afraid. Later on, I shifted my energies to the Skokie marsh, where a schoolmate and I searched for fossils. And found them.
I talk to folks that have lived as you have and I think back on my own early life - it was very different back then. The only way I can describe it is that there was a certain "energy" to the times. There was a curiosity about not only the world, but about "stuff". My first success as a budding engineer was taking apart a Evinrude two cycle outboard to repair the magneto and discovering that instead of having to turn the engine 180º, you could move the spark advance to a point where the engine would start running backwards. :>)
It may very well be that there are similar opportunities for kids in these times, but to me it would appear that they are long gone.
Tom ... I remember that time as one of much greater freedom for children than we allow them now. We were considered as inexperienced but perfectly competent when we were quite young. When my parents and I lived in Winnetka, my brother and I were considered as responsible enough to go places alone, and get there and back safely. On Saturdays, I took the Interurban into the Loop, along with a little friend named Marian McDonald. We would go either to the Field Museum, the Chicago Art Museum or the Museum of Science and industry and spend a few hours absorbing anything we wished to, from the Monets at the Art Museum, to the wonderfully arranged exhibits in the Field Museum, to the Coal mine Exhibit in the Museum of Science and Industry.
I think that the reason we felt safe, and were safe, is that the grown-ups, like the conductors on the elevated train and the docents in the museums felt a responsibility for young children and they looked after us, unobtrusively but efficiently. They respected the fact that, yes, we were inexperienced but we were pretty smart and we behaved ourselves. Nowadays, parents feel much more protective of their kids, and mothers exhaust themselves every day carting them around in the car to one place or another. My mother couldn't drive, so carting me around was not a possibility. But I never felt neglected, or frightened, and boy, did we learn a lot on our own, soaking up all kinds of facts and artworks.
I think parents today intervene constantly in the private lives of their kids, and in effect it infantilizes them, instead of helping them to become independent in thought and behavior. I'm sure, now, that my Mom and Dad talked to Marion's Mom and Dad and found that they, and she, were smart, responsible folks whom they could trust. But as far as being the heavy-handed parent, they just didn't do that.