Friday, December 11, 2009

Reminiscences of an Active Life #23 -- December 11, 2009

Doctor Peter Henri Van Der Weyde was born in Nymegen, Holland in 1813. He went on to live a remarkable life of achievement in the sciences and the arts. He died in America in 1895.

While serving as editor of Manufacturer and Builder Magazine, he wrote many articles, including the ones which gave this blog its name. In 1893 and 1894, he published a 23-part (!) memoir in the same periodical. Here is the twenty-third part. He continues to talk about his experiences with the calliope.

The steam-powered calliope was the high-tech musical instrument of its day.

The image comes from the first installment, in the February, 1893 issue.

This was the last installment I was able to find, but I don't believe it was the end of his memoir. If anyone knows where I can find more issues of Manufacturer and Builder Magazine, I'd be happy to hear.

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

Part Four

Part Five

Part Six

Part Seven

Part Eight

Part Nine

Part Ten

Part Eleven

Part Twelve

Part Thirteen

Part Fourteen

Part Fifteen

Part Sixteen

Part Seventeen

Part Eighteen

Part Nineteen

Part Twenty

Part Twenty-One

Part Twenty-Two

Reminiscences of an Active Life.


From Manufacturer and Builder, Volume 26, Issue 12, December 1894

(Continued from page 556.)

9. Career as a Musician.-- After the calliope was placed in position on the upper deck, and the key-board on the deck under it, with the wire connections between each key and the corresponding whistle was completed, tried, and found satisfactory, the public was informed of the great attraction of traveling with music on board the boat, and which could be heard and entertain the public for miles around. A programme of the music was published at the landings, the first of which was at Yonkers. We saw at a distance the expectant crowd on the landings and surrounding localities, congregated to hear our patriotic hymns. But, alas! in place of this, the public was treated with the most discordant sounds, produced as soon as the engine was inverted so as to stop the boat to make the landing.

Those really infernal sounds were produced by the steam blowing together all the forty steam whistles of a three-octave key-board, with all the sharps and fiats. The result was that a great number of people on the piers, who were ready to come on board, changed their minds, to the great distress of the captain and all who were interested.

It soon appeared to me that the strain upon the timbers of the boat caused the upper deck to be raised one inch, or more, as soon as the engine backed out. As the key-board was on the main deck, this upheaval of the upper deck was equivalent to a depression of all the keys. I told the captain that this could be easily corrected as soon as we were in Albany, by detaching the key-board from the main deck and suspending it from the upper deck by means of three solid iron rods, when it would move with the upper deck. After our arrival at Albany, I went at once to a blacksmith and made him take the measure for the three iron rods referred to. The ends were flattened, perforated by screw holes, and the next morning the boat departed at the usual hour. I noticed then how the key-board went up and down with the upper deck, and even moved toward me at every backing out at landings, caused by the temporary bending of the lightly-built upper deck.

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