PipeChat Digest #249 - Thursday, February 12, 1998
Re: Howard Tractor Seat in Chicago
  by Jon C. Habermaas <opus1100@ameritech.net>
Old Organs in Munhall and Homestead (long)
  by <ScottFop@aol.com>
Chi-Stadium CD, amends, retraction and more...
  by <TonyIn219@aol.com>

(back) Subject: Re: Howard Tractor Seat in Chicago From: "Jon C. Habermaas" <opus1100@ameritech.net> Date: Wed, 11 Feb 1998 16:46:19 -0600   Shirley wrote: > > At 10:56 02/11/98 -0600, you wrote: > > > I have never used a Howard seat, but I've heard > >from those that have that the seat is very uncomfortable and can, ahem, > >cause pain and discomfort to parts uniquely male if you're not careful. > > Heeheehee.... >   > There is a nickname the men had for this seat (chuckle) that I won't list > here. :) :) :) > My dad was the resident organist at our house and he had a nickname for the Howard Seat that we had on the Robert Morton. He called it the "Tschaikowsky Seat". He had another unusual organ seat which must have been made for electronic organs. It was similar to a desk chair with a back and was on a pipe frame which fit over the pedals. It was too tight a fit for the pipe organ pedal board, but fit the Hammond very nicely. They must not have been very popular as I never saw another one. Just before my dad graduated from high school the "Jazz Singer" was released and that ended his aspirations to be a theatre organist. He had been taking lessons from the organist at the Ambassador Theatre in St. Louis and got to play some shorts and travelogues. The organ was a hobby most of working life until the Hammonds become common in the late forties and early fifties. He played in several restaurants on the southside of Chicago. The Howard Seat was always a curiosity for guests, but we didn't use it much otherwise.   Jon C. Habermaas  
(back) Subject: Old Organs in Munhall and Homestead (long) From: ScottFop@aol.com Date: Wed, 11 Feb 1998 18:19:05 EST   Today I visited some churches I have been very curious about since I moved to the Pittsburgh area last April. Several years ago, the Bishop of Pittsburgh consolidated several parishes that did not have the members or finances to survive on their own. In this instance, six of the seven parishes in Munhall and Homestead were lumped together as the "new" parish of St. Maximillian Colby, the individual church buildings becoming "worship sites." My parish, St. Therese of Lisieux, is the only one that survived because of its enormous membership (over 3000 families) and the fact that its income, Parish School and location would probably keep it alive for many more generations.   St. Margaret's, Blessed Sacrament and St. Anne's, reportedly, never had pipe organs. St. Michael the Archangel, St. Anthony's and St. Mary Magdelene churches are three of the buildings that have intrigued me since my moving here. St. Michael's and St. Mary's are huge edifices that are visible for miles from the other side of the Monongahela River and coming across the Homestead-High Level Bridge.   A glorious sight awaited me upon entering St. Michael's, originally the Slovack (slovick?) parish. The church has ornate, multi color-multi texture brickwork outside that only forewhadows a minute portion of the beauty to be found within. From its multi color terrazzo and marble floor to its magnificent Baldachino over the altar the church is absolutely gorgeous and has, intact, all of its statuary, votive candles and pre Vatican II decor. The entire ceiling is a beautiful example of a solid wood-work ceiling and beams. St. Michael's had, in the 20's, 30's and 40's a magnificent and reknowned men's choir. The organ is in the second (highest) gallery in the rear, located on either side of the magnificent Rose window.   The instrument is a Kilgen ("the OFFICIAL instrument of the Roman Catholic Church") ha ha! I believe it is from the 1930's, since there is no date plate- and is totally original and intact. The Swell is on the left of the rose window and the Great and Pedal are on the right. The console was moved to the lower gallery many years ago, and the blower is in a room to the left of the Swell chamber. The two divisions are in twin cases that are very ornately carved woodwork which does allow pipework to be viewed. (The Great 8' flute and pedal flutes boast some of the most beautifully stained and varnished pipes I have ever seen anywhere!) The organ is totally original and in beautiful working condition. The specs are:   Great: 8 Diapason 8 Hohlflote 8 Dulciana 4 Octave 4 Flute 2-2/3 Nazard 2 Fifteenth III Mixture (original, "stringy" quality) Chimes 16 Great, Unison Off, 4 Great 16 Swell, 8 Swell, 4 Swell   Swell: 8 Geigen Diapason 8 Rohrflute 8 Salicional 4 Harmonic Flute V Cornet 8 Trumpet Tremulant 16 Swell, Unison Off, 4 Swell   Pedal: 16 Bourdon 16 Lieblich Gedeckt 8 Octave Bass 8 Bourdon 8 Gedeckt 4 Choral Bass 4 Flute 8 Great, 4 Great 8 Swell, 4 Swell   St. Anthony's (originally built in 1889 as "the Polish church") is an enchanting little parish church built and decorated in the European tradition. It has a 2 manual/pedal Moller "Artiste" of four ranks from the 1950s which is totally enclosed in a free standing case behind the console. Ranks include: Diapason, Flute, Salicional and Trompette (tremulant and chimes). Again, through the years the organ has been beautifully maintained.   The largest and most visibly impressive edifice, St. mary Magdelene (originally "the Irish church"), holds within its walls a very sad musical story. The church was restored a few years ago to the tune of almost one million dollars, has some of the most beautiful stained glass in any Pittsburgh church and is an extremely long and reverberant nave. It has massive ceiling beams which connect with the side ambulatory and triforium level columns.   There is an old, defunct Baldwin up front and to the left of the altar and raced synthesizers and keyboards, amps and cables in the rear gallery, where the "real" instrument is housed. The organ, original builder unknown, is installed in two huge chambers which are in the two towers (which can be seen for miles outside). The massive three manual console (installed by Moller in 1947) is dusty, dirty and has been neglected as badly as anything I believe I have ever seen personally. Very sad. It has been so long since it was used that the drawknob facings with the printing has cracked and begun to peel on almost every single drawknob. It sits there almost as a great ghost ship. Its case, which is in much better condition than the keydesk and stop jambs, is beautifully and richly carved all around. A "peek" into one of the chambers manifested a very large instrument with very large and impressive scaling, dusty, dirty and neglected for many, many years. The specs of the organ are:   Great: 16 Gamba 8 First Open Diapason 8 Second Open Diapason 8 Melodia 8 Tibia 8 Gamba 8 Gemshorn 8 Dulciana 4 Principal 4 Traverse Flute 2 Super Octave 8 Tromba Tremulant Chimes 16 Great, Unison Off, 4 Great   Swell: 16 Bourdon 8 Open Diapason 8 Violin Diapason 8 Stopped Diapason 8 Concert Flute 8 Salicional 8 Voix Celeste 4 Principal 4 Harmonic Flute III Mixture 16 Contra Fagotto 8 Trumpet 8 Oboe 8 Cor Anglais 8 Vox Humana 4 Clarion Tremulant 16 Swell, Unison Off, 4 Swell   Choir: 8 Viole 8 Claribel 8 Muted Viole 8 Muted Viole Celeste 8 Unda Maris II rks 4 Rohrflute 2 Piccolo 8 English Horn 8 French Horn 8 Clarinet 8 Saxophone Tremulant Harp Celesta Chimes 16 Choir, Unison Off, 4 Choir   Pedal: 32 Acoustic Bass 16 Open Diapason (wood) 16 Bourdon I 16 Bourdon II 16 Gamba 16 Lieblich Gedeckt 8 Bass Flute 8 Bourdon 8 Cello 16 Contra Fagotto 8 Fagotto   -the usual, full compliment of couplers-   Needless to say, upon leaving St. Mary Magdelene, I felt a very strong sense of sadness and emptiness at what I had just seen. One interesting note is that all of these churches have their original Tabernacles up in the central, traditional location on their original high altars! (time to practice the ole' genuflect!) The tabernacle at St. Therese, unfortunately, was "fashionably" moved to a "side chapel" (the former Blessed Mother Chapel) in the 60's following Vatican II- yuch! But anyone wishing to see these churches and the organs can do so by contacting me if you are ever in the area.   Scott Foppiano  
(back) Subject: Chi-Stadium CD, amends, retraction and more... From: TonyIn219@aol.com Date: Wed, 11 Feb 1998 19:37:24 EST   first. Sorry about my reference to Mormon organ. Organ was LOUDER, not bigger.   Also, regarding WHERE the organ burned, I just knew it burned. I figured that Chicago has more arson than anyplace else, so it must have happened here. I learned my lesson: when you assume. . .   Also, the Chicago Stadium organ was like a room, you know. 8 feet high, 6 feet wide and more gold frosting than a bad hairdo or a Betty Crocker cake.   There is a recording called My Final Vision, which was the LAST recording ever made of the Chicago Stadium organ. It was the 1993 ATOS convention I believe. it's pretty good, except for when frank sings.   The CD jacket says it was recorded in Digital Surround Sound, but I think they are bluffing: the echo and reverb and acoustics of that old hangar were atrocious, and you can't help but hear anything BUT Surround Sound. It is a FABULOUS testament to powerful pipes though. To use the word POSTHORN is just not appropriate. Frank Pellico used to call it the Voice of God. I can remember trying to talk to my Dad IN THE LOBBY and not being able to hear a word he was saying.   CD Info:   Label says Intersound P.O. Box 1724, Roswell GA 30077   or Intersound One Select Avenue Scarborough Ontario M1V 5J3   Organ Historical Society probably lists it too. I'll check when I get home.   You guys know I drove an 18-wheeler for 1-million miles, and although I never sat at the console of that particular organ, I did get a vicarious pleasure in the truck when I would sit in front of all those gauges: shift those 13 speeds, mash the hammer (accelerator) and get those 425 horses roaring, use the air gadgets like air power windows, air door locks, air mirror adjusters, air starter, air wipers, BIG air horns (like pipes), air-ride suspension, central vacuum system, air-adjustable seat, air brakes and lots of colored lights and a big sleeper with 8-foot ceilings and two sunroofs to boot.   I could start off in Chicago, and by the time I was done "playing" THAT console, it'd be 3-1/2 days later, I'd be in LA and I'd be $5,000 richer.   And to think I just write copy now. Jeez, what was I thinking?   Well anyway, let's not mourn the lost pipes, but celebrate the organs that still exist and bring us so much joy.   John Carington Tonyin219@aol.com "The only guy in the world with twin Theatre organ console bedside tables."