How it all got started

     It all seemed so simple at the time.  I worked for the Chesapeake & Potomac Telephone Co. of Virginia, and had an interest in theater organs.  I  purchased an theater organ that was located in Nyack, NY.   I took my 7 year old son with me, and  after a very long ride arrived in Nyack.  We called the owner, and he said just to go ahead and start taking the organ apart, the house is unlocked!  The road leading down to his home was very narrow and steep!  After backing the truck down this path as far as possible, I set the parking brake and we got out.  A few seconds later, there was a squealing noise, and the truck slowly continued down the path as the parking brake failed to hold. This is when the real excitement started!  It went down the hillside and into his garden.  The rear of the truck knocked a piece of garden statuary down the hillside toward the Hudson River. The truck stopped before going any further.  It took a call to the local wrecker service to get the truck back up to the end of the path and parked. When the owner came home and found the ruts leading down across his garden and toward the river, he was really upset.  "He had the house up for sale, and did not think that the ruts leading toward the river would help at all!            Back to Main Page

     Together, we took the organ apart, got it down the outside stone steps from the second floor, and over to the truck, one piece at a time.  Many hours later we headed home to Virginia. Over the next year I rebuilt the organ and set it up in my new garage.  I even built an organ chamber with shutters.  I still remember that I would go into the garage, fire up the blower, and hit all of the bass pedals that two feet could press.  After holding them for 15 seconds or so, I would go outside and look around.  Most of my neighbors would also be outside looking around, wondering what the heck was making that noise!            Back to Main Page

      Well, after a few years had passed, I wanted to sell the organ. I found a buyer, and the deal was cash, along with two player pianos that did not work. Also he threw in several hundred  piano rolls.  I found the pianos fascinating, because at the age of six or so, I remember going along on a horse drawn cart delivering groceries from the family store. There was one customer who owned a player piano. I never failed to ask her to play the piano. There was no question as to my desire for a player.  I jumped right into the first piano. It was a Gulbransen with the glued-up stack.  It did not take me long to realize that this piano would never work again!  The other piano,  a Standard double valve made out a lot better.  It played!     Back to Main Page

      A few weeks later, as I was driving to work, I passed an Antique Mall near my home.  This was a building that I had passed twice a day for a number of years, and never noticed it at all.  For the first time, I saw a player piano in the front of the store.  I stopped in to look, and ended up renting a stall in the mall to rebuild players, and to sell some of the piano rolls that had accumulated. The name of the business was "Yesterday's Music".  It was only three months before I was forced to move to a larger space in the building. Seems like this would mean that the dollars were rolling in, but alas, that was not the case.  I was just bringing in more non working players!  I also became a dealer for Q.R.S. That's when the rolls sold for $1.60, and cost the dealer eighty cents. Gee, things have really changed.            Back to Main Page

     A few years later I left the telephone company,  and musical restorations became my full time job.  No longer did I have to be at work at 8:00 am and stay to 5:00 P.M. Now I could work 12 to 14 hour days, seven days a week.  We were making ends meet, but there were some real bad times. Oh well, this too passed, and things improved. Yesterday's Music, which started in 1975,  continues to this day.  I've been lucky to have training in radio engineering, and during the tough times, I always had something to provide an income.  We have not become rich in the Player Piano business.  There are times when I think (and other times that I know) that I must have been crazy to leave a 40 hour a week job, and I guess that my in-laws also felt that way!  Most of the fellows that I worked with have retired, and lots of them have passed on, but I'm still plugging away.  I get a great feeling after restoring a foot pumper that you can play with one foot, or listening to a reproducer play "The Blue Danube Waltz", or hearing a Band Organ play after many long hours of work.  Back to Main Page

      Well, that's how it all got started.  And by the way, my wife is still with me after 41 years of marriage!  We will be clearing out some of the items that we have collected over the years, and never had the time to restore, so if you go to the Items for Sale page, you can find some of the items that are for sale at this time.  Other items will be added to the list as we make room and are able to get to them.            Back to Main Page

This page last updated on January 15, 2004


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