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Grandma Prince's Pump Organ

 Perhaps I should say “almost” Grandma’s pump organ.  As I understand the story, it belonged to her parents, Charles Henry Lynch Irby and Mary (Ray) Irby and upon Grandma’s wedding to Ross M. Prince, she and Ross were offered their choice of the organ or a cow as a gift.  I’m pretty sure Grandma would have liked to have had the organ, but they both felt that a cow was more important to their livelihood.

We were in West Virginia in the summer of 1966, as Grandma and Mother had flown up to visit Barbara and me in Park Forest and we drove them to Huntington to visit.  I always enjoyed seeing “Aunt Minnie”, as we called her, although she is not really related very closely, something like my “half grandaunt”. You’d have to study the Family Tree Maker, which I have and I still don’t understand the relationship but I know that Gma Mary (Irby) Prince and Minnie were dearest of friends, having grown up together on Lynn Creek, near Lavalette, WV.  Anyway, Minnie’s house was just a wonderful old West Virginia log house, one of the oldest in Wayne County and and we were saddened to learn that it burned not long after Minnie died.  

We got to playing her old pump organ and Grandma began telling me the story of her mother’s organ. Aunt Minnie and Grandma started comparing memories and by golly, they remembered who eventually got the organ.  Now Grandma and Ross Prince were married in 1910, not that the organ was finally gotten rid of at that time, but certainly it would have been back in the 30's or so.  The people who got the organ were dead but somebody remembered who one of their children was and after a few phone calls, we located the organ!  It was in an abandoned house in an upstairs room, in pretty good shape actually, considering it was full of critter nests and bird crap all over it.

 I don’t know what we’d have been willing to pay for it, but the lady asked if $50 would be too much.  I tried to not act too excited and after a few seconds of feigned serious thought, the organ became ours.

 After a quick trip into Huntington to rent a U-haul trailer and a hitch for our new 1966 Olds (hands down the ugliest car we ever owned) we loaded the organ without major mishap, if you ignore knocking off one of the front porch supports, causing the roof to nearly collapse.

 Don’t get me wrong, Barbara was just as excited about the organ as I was, but remember, we had just moved into our new home, most interior walls were still unpainted and there was tons of work to be done, but after we got back home, for the next week or so the organ took center-stage.

Mice had eaten most of the bellows but for this, my first restoration, it turned out quite well and here it is, 38 years later and it plays as good as new.

January 7, 2004


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