Chapter 33 The Sword And The Diamond
Jimmy, looking over the score for 'The Sword and the Diamond', was nervous. “Mr. Mac, I've never even been to a picture show! How does it work?”
Mr. Mac replied “Well, the organ console starts off down in the pit.”
“You mean the organ player uses that little tunnel to get to the console?” asked Harry.
“Right!” Mr. Mac continued. “When the organist is ready to go he pushes this green switch on the console over here and the console lift starts up. The organist usually plays a big fanfare while the console rises. The house lights will dim out but bright spotlights will be on the console. The organist plays a song or two then the organist pushes this 'go' button here, which tells the guy up in the booth to open the curtain and show the sing-along slide. Do you know what the sing-along song is?”
“Uh, yes,” Jimmy answered. “It's 'Toot-Toot-Tootsie.” Mr. Mac asked him if he knew it and Jimmy nodded his head.
Mr. Mac continued. “Ah, here's the music for it in the score book, anyway. One of the things a good organist will do with a song like this is to dress it up with some toy counter effects. Something that goes along with the story in the song. For example, this song has a line about a choo-choo train. You could use the Train Whistle and bell, and make a locomotive effect by turning on all the eight foot stops on the accomp, except the Posthorn, and play a cluster of notes way down in the bass range. Like this.” he demonstrated.
A toot-toot and a clang-clang, followed by an authentic huff-huff-huff which was modulated into the introduction of the song, left the boys with wide grins.
“Gee Mr. Mac that's hotsy-totsy!” It sounds just like a real locomotive!” Harry was delighted.
Jimmy said, “That's a great idea!”
“Oh,” Mr. Mac interjected “One more thing about sing-alongs ... the bouncing ball is supposed to follow you. Don't allow it to lead you!”
“Thanks! I was wondering about that.” said Jimmy “OK, what's next?”
Mr. Mac turned the page “See, next comes the newsreel and here's the theme music for it. See the yellow button between the red and green one? It takes the console to a half way up position. Anytime the organist plays for a newsreel or a picture he puts the console in that position. Now, after the newsreel ends and the curtain closes, the organist puts the console in the full up position and plays one or two more songs, real showpieces to show your stuff. Then, when he's ready to start the feature movie score, the organist puts the console in the half up position, pushes the signal button again, then the curtain opens again and the movie starts.”
Mr. Mac grinned at Jimmy “Do you think you can do all that?”
Harry said “Sure he can!”
“It'll be fun trying!” said Jimmy “Now, how do you get the console back down in the pit? The red button? Oh. Now, which stops do I use for the choo-choo effect? Oh, that's right, all the accomp eight foot ones. OK, here I go!”
The house lights dim. Posthorns sing out as Jimmy, riding the console, rises into the brightness of the spotlight. A Sigmund Romberg march melody courses through the air to the accompaniment of a drum beat. The tune ends with a crashing Cymbal and a grand chord.
'Beautiful Dreamer' throbbing with the Tibia Clausa, wings its way through the acoustical heavens of the gilded proscenium. The curtains open to the sound of toot-toot and clang-clang then, huff-huff-huff, segueing into the introduction of the ricky-ticky 'Toot-toot-tootsie' tune, which bounces along like the ball over the words on the screen. Once again the console rises into the bright light as the curtains close.
The lilting notes of 'Charmaine' cascade over the rows of seats, rising to a crescendo on the last three grand chords. Once again the console retreats, and once again the velvet curtain opens.
The Sword and the Diamond
The title and credits flicker on the silver screen. The first scene opens on a stately ship moored to a dock. Happy sailors are preparing for a voyage. A sailor plays a concertina as another does the hornpipe dance. There is couple on the dock holding each other tightly. The pretty girl is crying. The handsome fellow, in a sailor's uniform, is leaving on the ship. They part reluctantly. He boards the ship. Her face tells all as she bids farewell to her beloved.
Our sailor stands on the deck of the ship looking back longingly for his fair one. The ship sails for days and days. One night there is a storm. The ship is tossed off course, striking a rock hidden by the churning waves. The ship begins to sink. The order is given to abandon ship. All seems to be lost. Darkness overtakes the scene.
The sun rises on a beach. Our sailor lies unconscious on the sand. Booted feet approach. He wakes to find himself surrounded by pirates. He refuses to join them in their dastardly deeds. He is taken prisoner.
Our heroine is told that her sailor's ship has been found broken on the rocks surrounding a deserted tropical island. She refuses to believe that he is lost. She vows to find him. She books passage to the islands where the ship was lost. As fate would have it, pirates seize the ship and take all as prisoners.
The prisoners are tossed into the brig. The girl is taken to the pirate captain. She refuses to submit to him. He says that she shall die with the others. When she is again thrown into the brig she sees a poor sailor whom she recognizes.
The couple is joyously reunited. He vows that he will rescue them all. The prisoners make him their leader. They plot to take over the ship. When the time is right they overcome the pirate guard. A sword fight ensues. Our hero kills the pirate captain with his own sword.
In the melee the pirates are soundly defeated and our sailor, taking command of the ship, sails everyone back home safe and sound. On the trip home a treasure trove of diamonds and gold is discovered in the hold of the ship which the survivors agree to share. In the last scene the sailor and girl stand at the wedding altar, he with the pirate captain's sword strapped at his side, and she with a huge diamond on her finger! Our sailor is again proclaimed a hero, and everyone lives richly and happily ever after!
Mr. Randolph, hearing the organ music from his office, went to the projection booth to see how the equipment was working.
“Good afternoon, Jerry. Is everything working OK?”
The projectionist, busy switching from one reel to the next, nodded in the affirmative.
Mr. Randolph peered through one of the holes into the theatre and watched the picture for a while. He noticed something odd about the figure on the organ bench.
He asked Jerry, “When did Miss Page get here?”
He replied, “Who, sir?”
“Miss Page, the organist. When did she arrive?” he asked again.
“Oh, I don't think she's here sir. That's that young fellow Jimmy Day playing. He is one of the organ chaps. He's really good! Isn't he, sir?”
Mr. Randolph stood for a moment, arms crossed listening, smiled and said, “Yes, Jerry, he's a natural, that's for sure!”
Jimmy finished the last theme with a flourish just as the screen went dark. Harry rushed up to him, “Wow! You'd 'a thought you've been doing that all your life, Jimbo! You're really good at it!”
“Jimmy you did a superb job for someone who has never even been to a picture show before! Well done!” exclaimed Mr. Mac.
“Sure 'nough!” said Jerry, shouting from the balcony down to the group at the front of the theatre. “If the lady who's supposed to be the organist here can't play some time you could fill in for 'er, that's for sure!”
“Well, If I have anything to say about it -- and I do -- you certainly will!” A familiar voice came from the seats in the darkened rear of the theatre.
The boys and Mr. Mac turned at once.
“Miss Mel!” Jimmy and Harry said together.
Mr. Mac beamed as he strode up the aisle to where she stood. When he reached her she pretended to be the heroine in the movie. Acting out the closing scene, she threw her arms around his neck, tossed her head back and batting her eyes cried, “Kiss me, my beloved!”
To her surprise he enfolded her in his arms and did just that, soundly and passionately!
Then in a completely normal voice he asked, “When did you get here?”
Regaining her composure she said, “I caught the last fifteen minutes or so of the film . . . ”
Mr. Mac said “Obviously.”
She continued “I, I'm so glad to be home!”
“Why didn't you let me know when you would arrive?” asked Mr. Mac.
“I was so anxious to get home that I took the first train out of town, an all night express. There was no time to even send a telegram! I just knew you'd be here, so I took a taxi in from the station.” she replied.
“Well, welcome home, Miss Mel! Where's the famous organist fellow?” Harry asked.
She replied “He's coming in next Friday afternoon at one o'clock. I do hope you boys will go with us to pick him up?” They nodded in agreement.
“You can't imagine how I've missed Florida! Let's go to the beach!” exclaimed Miss Mel.
“It'll have to be Saturday afternoon.” said Mr. Mac. “We have to work in the morning. Is that OK?”
She nodded. “Boys, you are coming with us, aren't you?”
Harry saw Mr. Mac, who was standing behind Miss Mel, wince and give his head a little shake.
Harry, winking at Jimmy, laughed and said “Uh, n-no I don't think so. Jimmy and I have a lot to do tomorrow. Some other time, OK?
Miss Mel suddenly turned. “Jimmy! Where did you learn to do what I've been studying for the last three weeks?” she asked incredulously.
“Uh, I didn't really learn to. I just followed the action on the screen. Oh! Did I do it right?”
“Oh yes!” she said smiling and nodding her head “You certainly did!”