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Dorothy’s Place: Attic Treasures

By Dorothy Denne

The attic of my aunt’s farm house contained a wealth of treasures for children’s imaginations. My cousins and I could form a terrific music group. One of us could play the guitar. It only had three strings, none of which represented any true key. We kept them fairly loose so we wouldn’t break any more.

Our main instrument was the pump organ that sat against the back wall, beside the window. In summer it squawked in the heat and in winter screeched from the cold. It all sounded marvelous to us kids. The harder we pumped, the louder the concert. The youngest kids with the shortest legs had to pump the fastest. There were little knobs above the keyboard. We would pull and push them as we pressed the keys. The sound would magically change. It was hard to concentrate on pumping, pulling, pressing and still sing.

We would play and sing in accompaniment to an old Victrola that stood tall in the corner just the other side of the window. There was no electricity, of course. It had a handle on the side that we cranked to move the turntable. We would crank the handle as far as we could then one of the tallest kids would carefully set the needle on the record. The words and music would be very fast at first, then slow to normal speed for a while, then get e-v-e-n s-l-o-w-e-r until we cranked it up again. We tried to crank, pump, strum and sing at least in sync, if not in key.

We made beautiful music with that old Victrola, the three-stringed guitar, the moth eaten organ and a variety of young voices. My aunt told me later that the adults downstairs found our music quite symphonious. They knew they only had to worry when it stopped.

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