QUESTION: The Wurlitzer 165 displayed next to the Emperor here at the American Treasure Tour was once displayed at the Davis Carousel in Griffith Park, Los Angeles. What type of machine complements it now?
A) Another Wurlitzer 165
B) Stinson 165 Military Band Organ
C) Artizan B Band Organ
D) North Tonawanda Musical Instrument Works Model 14 Band Organ
So, a week's exploration of the land that would become Griffith Park in the heart of Los Angeles, California is finally coming to a close. You've been wondering all this time where it was going, and now you have an answer: it's bringing us to one of the few remaining merry-go-rounds found in its original setting in the city: the Davis Carousel! As with all things, the Davis Carousel does have a story. It was built in 1926 by the Spillman Engineering Company of North Tonawanda, New York. Spillman was the maiden name of the wife of Allan Herschel. Never heard of him? Herschel is considered the first American (an immigrant from Scotland, but we are, after all, all immigrants) to establish a business dedicated to the construction of merry-go-rounds. He partnered up with his wife's brothers to create the Herschel-Spillman Company. It lasted a few years but bad blood between the partners led to a split and, we're sure, tense family gatherings. So Spillman Engineering went independent. But we digress.
Members of the Spreckel Sugar Company commissioned the carousel so that it could be placed at their Mission Beach Amusement Center in San Diego, California. The Great Depression did the center in, and in 1935 they closed down, and the carousel went to the city's Balboa Park as part of the California Pacific International Exposition. After two years, Ross Davis purchased it and moved it to Griffith Park, where it has been ever since. Davis commissioned a band organ for his carousel and, in 1939, Wurlitzer sent him the very same Model 165 currently on display next to the Emperor in the American Treasure Tour's Toy Box. It is hardly a conventional 165, though. By '39, Wurlitzer had retired production of automatic music machines in their North Tonawanda factory, so they assembled the machine from what they had around, including a Model 157 facade. The machine is in near-perfect condition, showing off its original paint and having never required any restoration of which to speak. And the carousel continues to entertain kids, as it did for the daughters of Walt Disney, who went on record as saying the Davis Carousel in part inspired the creation of Disneyland. And, being in Los Angeles, there can be no surprise that it has also been on television, notably during a commercial in which a young James Dean was handing bottles of Pepsi to teenagers as they rode the horses.
ANSWER: B) Sintson 165 Military Band Organ. We're sure you caught our joke - there's no such thing as a North Tonawanda Musical Instrument Works Model 14 Band Organ! We always have a lot of fun here at the American Treasure Tour blog!