Wednesday, 15 February 2017

It's Come Home!

My 'girl' got delivered home late Tuesday
night.....can't sleep now.



This following story, whilst true, is not really about simple living or frugality per se ..... however I think you will see many dotted lines to both these concepts as the story unfolds.

For many years I was a busy church organist. I started playing for Sunday school at the age of eight. Over the years I played for countless weddings (always gratis), usually always played for at least one service a week and helped out other congregations when their organist was away or sick. I also had a deep love of old reed organs (pump organs). I loved that no electricity was needed and that the sound was produced purely by wind being pumped over cleverly voiced brass reeds. I loved the intricate craftsmanship of these old reed organs too.  With technique practice, these old organs can sound amazing.


The Harp Aeoline is a beautiful ethereal stop which melts
the hearts of every listener.


Back in the late 1990's I was on the search for a big reed organ to buy - not the small specification parlour reed organs that are a dime-a-dozen, but the ones with many ranks that were designed to be played in churches and for an audience. These rare large reed organs had a wonderful variety of tonal voicing and in the hands of a passionate organist could muster up any emotion required in a congregation.  So, it ended up that a lovely South African couple that I knew had a small collection of reed organs and offered me a rare 1910 Artist's model Estey reed organ for a very generous price of $1000.00.  I took out a bank loan and bought the thing (!).  It was simply tonally stunning. Friends often used to joke that it was me versus the preacher.....did the congregation come to hear the sermon or the organ?!


For a few years I used this beautiful organ for weddings, lent it to churches who needed a replacement organ whilst theirs was being repaired or replaced....and of course it spent plenty of time being played for countless hours in our home too. I loved it - truly.  At the same time I bought other old reed organs, stripped them down, learned all about them, repaired them, on-sold them and without knowing it developed a deeply satisfying and creative hobby that went hand-in-hand with my love of music.


Cobwebs trailing thickly out of the swell shutters


At a very low point in our life I decided that I should sell the beautiful Estey Artist's model reed organ to pay for bills that were piling up.  I rashly sold it on eBay for $800.00.  I remember having a rather wobbly bottom lip as it got hauled onto the freight truck and taken away to its new owner up in tropical QLD (Queensland). I remember looking at the back of the freight truck as it disappeared down the road and feeling my heart quietly breaking - I knew I had sold an irretrievably unique instrument all because I had not managed my money situation well. I was angry with myself and sorrowful too.

Time passed, in fact years passed...many, many years.  In the ensuing years, musical tastes inevitably changed within churches and my passion for beautiful classical organ music and hymnody quickly had no useful or meaningful purpose or outlet and thus I became redundant. I eventually just stopped playing at all, even at home. My world quietly shrunk and became a greyer place somehow.  Also, over the course of years my faith changed (as it does) and eventually slowly rolled to a quiet stop...music-less, passionless, purposeless, outdated and lifeless. Never mind - there was a fabulous career to feed, a houseful of teenage daughters to continue 'dadding', goals to be achieved, purchases to be made...blah, blah, blah, busy, busy, busy.





Yet another decade passed by.

Then about a month ago, I was idly scrolling through eBay nostalgically looking at all the old antique reed organs for sale (all in various states of decay!) and there it was......was it truly it?  I enlarged the image holding my breath looking for the unique markings I knew and remembered.....yes, it really was my old Estey Artist's reed organ for sale on eBay again after so many years. It had clearly been treated poorly - broken pieces, splits in the wood, ruined polish, cobwebs, dings and scrapes - in truly parlous condition.  I bid and won the Ebay auction for $100.

She got delivered by freightliner this Tuesday evening at 11:11pm. The tears flowed a little...just sayin'.  My once beautiful organ is in a terrible state from years of neglect and abuse. She reluctantly managed to whisper a few tired, excruciatingly sad breathy notes for me before the mouse-chewed bellows collapsed completely and she fell silent......but she is home now, never, never to be sold again.


One of many repairs to do.


She will be lovingly dismantled, every piece carefully labeled and catalogued as I go, bellows will be recovered, every brass screw polished, every crack glued, every lever repaired, every reed tuned, each felt renewed, every ivory buffed, the case work will be repaired and re French-polished .... she will live again. It will take a couple of years of diligent repetitive restorative work on my behalf....and then she will again sing out clear her songs of love and faith again.

Who knows, I might even find a better and more meaningful version of my lost faith again in the process of resurrecting this beautiful instrument back to life again.

Take care folks...and stay nice.


Mr HM


39 comments:

  1. That is just a wonderfully beautiful story Phil. How happy to have the old friend return home. What a joy it will be to hear it sing with full voice again.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Darragh. The more I reflect on these circumstances, the more of a poignant allegory it all seems....maybe.

      Delete
  2. How wonderful, it was just waiting for you to find it. Enjoy the restoration!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks heaps Dc :-) I feel my creativity awaking.

      Delete
  3. What a heart warming story. Good luck with the renovations. Enjoy.

    ReplyDelete
  4. If you are a member of the Reed Organ Society, please consider sharing your story with either the Quarterly or the Free Reed (Nancy Varner).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Happy for you to pass the link along Nancy to whoever. Hmmm, I must join up to the ROS and register this organ too.

      Delete
  5. Wow I can't decide who is the luckiest you or the organ, I hope you love affair with it last for the rest of your life and you enjoy each and every moment, either restoring or playing ( I feel this is one project which will be completed to the best standard). Please keep us posted.

    ReplyDelete
  6. It seems you have a big project there, Mr. HM. What a lucky organ to be reunited with someone who loves it and will be able to restore it. Meg:)

    ReplyDelete
  7. What a sad and beautiful story!
    Sounds like a bit of divine intervention to me ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You might be right there Cheryl....maybe there is more to it than meets the eye. Time will tell.

      Delete
  8. What an amazing story. I wonder if the people you sold it to knew it was going 'home'. That old organ has perhaps taught you some valuable life lessons? Really glad you got it back

    ReplyDelete
  9. This is one of the best reed organ stories I have read. Thanks for sharing it--and keep us up to date on the restoration process.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Bob - I will keep you all posted.

      Delete
  10. This is truly such a beautiful story so much so I've just had to go and get a tissue:( I'm so thrilled to hear you are reunited again♥

    ReplyDelete
  11. What a joyful story Mr HM! Made my heart sing. Have a lovely day

    ReplyDelete
  12. I had a friend who owned and played a piano when I was a teenager. I would stay over her house, and she would attempt to teach me. All those fingers going in different directions, was lost on my dyslexic brain. Although, I did manage to lean touch typing in my youth. Hmm.

    But I really think anyone who can learn to play such a device as a piano or organ, is special. Now taking care of the instrument, is on a whole different level. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. ....it is all relative Chris. I look at what you are achieving at your place and am astounded at your capabilities and think to myself "I could never do that". We all have different gifts....ha ha, just as well!

      Delete
  13. Wow. This post really touched me.
    Not a coincidence that just when you were looking for her, there she was to be found! Providence.
    I am very happy for you and am excited to follow along as you get to know her again, and restore her to life.
    x

    ReplyDelete
  14. Naww, how lovely is this? Enjoy your labour of love!

    ReplyDelete
  15. Thank you for sharing such a beautiful and nostalgic story. I wish you luck in your quest to bring your lovely old girl back to life once more.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Im so happy for you Phil, This is just lovely to read.

    Sometimes, with faith, it is a little like being in a dessert. We can lose our way as the sands shift from under our feet.

    I will be praying that the grounds firm under your feet and your faith restored as you contemplate the repair of your beautiful old organ.

    Perhaps it is time to move to the country, all the churches I visit still have their organs. Some of them huge wall ones. ;)

    "Sing to God, sing praises to his name; lift up a song to him who rides through the deserts; his name is the Lord; exult before him!"

    "Sing to God, sing praises to his name; lift up a song to him who rides through the deserts; his name is the Lord; exult before him!"

    (Psalm 68:4)
    Sing to God, sing praises to His name; Lift up a song for Him who rides through the deserts, Whose name is the LORD, and exult before Him.

    xx

    ReplyDelete
  17. Your story sent a shiver down my spine, surely it was meant to be. Hope you have many enjoyable hours bringing it back to its former glory and then playing again.
    Sue

    ReplyDelete
  18. What a lovely heartwarming story! It must have been meant to be for sure! Thanks for sharing. I'm so happy you have been reunited with your organ. And I look forward to following your progress with the restoration process. :)
    My husband used to repair pianos for a living --- inside & out. I know how long the work can take but it will be so worth it for you in the end. And then, may I suggest that maybe you can do a video here for your blog followers, of you playing it again. :)
    ~Sue (who loves music) :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sue - I am pondering doing a separate blog fro the restoration and also posting videos on youtube once the organ is playable....although, running 2 blogs and a youtube channel might be a little ambitious

      Delete
    2. I just now found your response to my comment.
      What brought me here was your new post about your new blog! So exciting!
      But first concerning you running 2 blogs --- you can do it!!!:) You-tube channel? Yes!Yippy!:)
      Heading over to the new blog now!
      ~Sue

      Delete
  19. A wonderful post - what a wonderful outcome, though sad. I truly hope that your faith will make a stronger comeback!

    ReplyDelete
  20. Beautifully written. Glad to read that you two are reunited. She will be restored and playing beautifully again in no time.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Hi Mr HM, your Reed Organ arrived Tuesday, my piano arrived Wednesday. I sold my old piano regrettably about five years ago. There was just no room for it in our new house. Time passed but every time I heard the sounds from a piano I knew that it was a mistake to sell it. I should have found a spot for it either in my house or the Garage. I too have quite a bit of restoring to do. Enjoy your restoration. Such a lovely story! Lisa J.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh Lisa - how wonderful. Relish an instrument being back in the home again....it is so good for the soul.

      Delete
  22. I was halfway through commenting on this lovely post last night when the internet cut out but I just wanted to say that I think you are entering a new season in your life, Phil. What are the chances of you being reunited with your old friend which I have the feeling is going to have a healing effect on you. I am so pleased for you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Nanna Chel - I think you are right....I feel a new season dawning too.

      Delete
  23. Phil, I'd love to watch a youtube video of you playing the restored organ. You take care of her now. Us old girls need tender care.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Coincidentally, it was only last night that I decided to create a youtube channel devoted to exactly that Rhonda....I have so much music that suits this instrument and the world needs to hear it. It will be a little time in coming as the organ needs to be restored yet and that will take some time....but yes, this will certainly happen. I'll keep you posted.

      Delete
  24. awww i hope you blog your restorations of the old girl, would love to see her restored bit by bit to her former glory, please
    am a lover of pianos & old organs too, the sounds are just emotional!
    reading your story i thought, "how can he sell her?" but i know what it like to drown under the weight of bills & rent, looks like you were meant to be together
    good luck with the restoration
    thanx for sharing

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Selina - a few people have asked me now to blog about the restoration, and now you...... so I might. It will be a separate blog to this one and it will be fairly sporadic....as the work gets done. I'll keep you posted.

      Delete
  25. Wow Phil, unbelievable but absolutely brilliant. Looking forward to following this new phase. It is meant to be. Traise

    ReplyDelete
  26. Lovely story Phil, you sure have a way with words:-) Doesn't it break your heart to see something that has been so well made and loved, cast aside and left to rot. I am like that with my embroidered linens, some of which are 100 years old. I can't help thinking of the hours of work that went into stitching them, only to end up in an opshop or eBay, and I am so hapoy to be able to rescue them from oblivion☺

    ReplyDelete

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...