QUESTION: What was Charles Dickens' last work?
A) A Tale of Two Cities
B) The Mystery of Edwin Drood
C) The Pickwick Papers
D) Romeo and Juliet
You may be wondering what possible connection Charles Dickens' classic book A Tale of Two Cities might have with the American Treasure Tour. Why, you may continue in that line of questioning, is there a somewhat large cabinet shaped like volumes of A Tale of Two Cities displayed in our Music Room, right next to the MBSI street organs we have on display. You raise some fair points, but there is a definite logic there. But your questions cannot be answered in one blog. Oh, no! We want to milk this as much as we can. It has everything to do with the street organs.
So, you may be asking, what makes the street organ so notable? For one, they were an early form of automatic music, invented long before electricity was harnessed. They incorporate barrels with pins set in them. When the barrel is hand cranked by the organ grinder, the pins operate levers that create different musical notes. The pneumatic system that functions because of the cranking of the organ is what gives the technology volume. And, the faster you crank, the faster the music will play. The street organ is relatively small and compact, affording its operator the ability to move around. If they decided to stick to one spot, they tended to develop enemies. Playing one song over and over for a full day, or even days on end, had the tendency to become annoying for those around them. They became a first job for many immigrants moving from Italy into the United States. Why Italians? Perhaps because most of the producers of these wonderful-until-they-were-overplayed machines were Italian, with names such as Gavioli, Frati, Gasparini, and Fassano. But more likely because they became popular at a time when men were migrating to the United States from Italy in massive numbers. They were everywhere, too. At one point, it's estimated, one out of every twenty Italian-American men in Manhattan made their living grinding street organs. If you're wondering why there aren't any there anymore, tune back in tomorrow.
ANSWER: B) The Mystery of Edwin Drood. It was adapted into a delightful theatrical production, where the audience gets to vote on who the murderer was, since Dickens did not solve it himself before dying mid-novel. And if you picked D) Romeo and Juliet, don't tell anyone. That was William Shakespeare. Kinda famous in his own right.