Traps, Toys, and Tremulants
Chapter 21 Traps, Toys, and Tremulants
Jimmy had visions of something reaching out of the console and grabbing him if he touched one of the `Traps.' Mr. Mac assured him that this would not happen. Harry was delighted to learn that `Traps' meant drums and cymbals.
Jimmy was persistent, however, and still wanted to know, “If `Traps' is drums and cymbals n' stuff, why're they called `Traps?'”
Mr. Mac knew the answer, of course: “Theatre managers since Vaudeville began have been using that name for anything that resembles a set of drums. In many Vaudeville acts the orchestra drummer was called upon to make all kinds of sound effects for whatever action was playing on the stage. They didn't want to have to pay for more than one musician to do each different drum part and each different sound effect, so the fellows who wanted to get the job had to be ingenious.
“They rigged up all the noise makers and drums on a framework so that they could be played by just one person. Sometimes these became very complicated rigs and the Theatre managers called them `contraptions.' `Traps' is short for `contraption.' Nowadays, on these organs, `traps' just refers to the Bass Drum, Snare Drums, Cymbals and such.”
“But what about all those other things we saw like siren and bird whistle and fire gong and all that stuff?” Harry asked.
“Oh, you mean the toys.” replied Mr. Mac.
Together the boys said, “The toys?”
“That's what they're called. In fact, the surface up in the chambers where all those `toys' are mounted is called The Toy Counter.” Mr. Mac explained.
“You mean, like at Woolworth's?” Harry said.
“Sort of.” Mr. Mac chuckled. “When you are playing for a motion picture you often have to provide a sound effect for whatever action is playing on the screen.” Said Mr. Mac.
He thought of something else, “By the way; the Wurlitzer people sent us an extra Gong by mistake. I sent a telegram about it. They said it would cost too much to send it back, so they gave it to me to do with as I please. How about that!”
“Wow!” both boys said at once. Jimmy exclaimed “What're you gonna do with it, Mr. Mac?”
“I don't know. If you have any ideas let me know. Did you boys find the two swing out drawers on each side of the console just below the bottom keyboard?” asked Mr. Mac. The boys shook their heads no.
“Well, on those swing out panels are all kinds of buttons and switches. Most of the Toy Counter effects are played from there. You'll get to see and hear them when we actually install all those things.”
Jimmy said, “Talking about installing, when do we get to see and hear the pipes?”
“Mmm,” Mr. Mac paused to think as he peeled a tangerine, “the blower is ready to go, and we put the last of the wind line into the console pit this morning. The shutters have been mounted and are ready for wind. The pipe chests, percussions and all the relays are in place. We'll be ready to hear pipes in a day or so -- maybe by tomorrow evening there may one or two ranks, if we make good time today.”
Harry said, “Zowie! There'll probably a million pipes or more. The console is so big and it has so many stops! I bet there'll be more pipes in this organ than any other in Jacksonville!” Jimmy nodded vigorously in agreement.
Mr. Mac thought this was funny. “Boys, when you hear this organ you're going to think it is a big, big organ, but really, almost any church organ in the city will probably have more ranks of pipes!”
The boys looked at each other, then at Mr. Mac and together said “Huh?”