My Grandpa LaBrant bought a used piano-organ in 1943. My Mom, Dorothy Kannianen, found an entry in Grandpa's record books that said he bought it from a Mrs. Chas. Landaker for $20.00.
I loved to play it, and did quite often. Grandma liked to sing and had a nice voice. From age seven to nine, she had stayed in an orphanage after her mother died. While there, she learned some hymns which became special to her. She often requested "Ivory Palaces" and "When the Roll is Called up Yonder."
The Beckwith sounded like an organ, a very nice full-sounding organ. It looked exactly like a piano except for the "stops." The pedals on the bottom were used to pump the bellows, not to hold notes or adjust volume like on a piano. Sears, Roebuck, and Co. sold them, but I don't know the year of Grandma's organ, or where it originally was bought from. The Sears catalog sold everything from pots and pans to houses, so it could have been a catalog item.
No one in the family had space or needed it, so it deteriorated along with the house. Below is a picture of our daughter Jana (an excellent pianist) looking at it.
I remember pulling out the metal stops, but I don't recall if they made much difference to the sound.
Below: Here's a picture I found of a different but similar one. The restorers say if they haven't been kept in a heated building, it's very expensive to remake them, and usually not worth it.
I'm happy I have some very good memories of singing with Grandma and her piano-organ.
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May 28, 2019
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