Photoplayers (part 2) - Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Hello and welcome back to our exploration of the joy of the photoplayer, here at the American Treasure Tour.  When the demand for photoplayers proved real, automatic music and organ companies practically climbed over one another to produce them.  There was  one organ company headquartered in California, though, that did not even want to be in the business. That was the California Organ Company out of Van Nuys.  By 1916, this company had already been through a number of different owners, and was then being run by a real estate company that wanted nothing less than to sell organs.  (As a side note, a number of workers for COC had helped to install the famous organ in Philadelphia's Wanamaker Building after it was on display at the 1904 St. Louis Louisiana Purchase Exposition.)  They were only too happy to sell out to the American Photo Player Company of Berkeley, California.

American Photo Player called their brand "Fotoplayers," and they were a primary competitor with Wurlitzer for the theater market back then.  They offered smaller, more mobile machines like the types on display at the Treasure Tour under the American Photo Player name, while producing larger theater organs under the Robert-Morton name.  It should be noted that Robert-Morton machines looked much more like the types of organs you found in churches than they do a photo player - they might have the "horseshoe" shape one would expect from a grand organ, and incorporate an impressive array of sounds.  

It should be noted that the president of the Robert-MortonCompany was named neither Robert nor Morton.  His name was Harold J. Werner, and he had three sons:  Harold J. (born in 1913), Robert M. (born in 1916), and Robert P. (born after Werner took control, in 1918).  Robert M. was a newborn baby when Werner took over the company, and so it became the Robert-Morton Company.  To our knowledge, there is no record of what Harold J. thought about being completely bypassed in the naming of the company.  
QUESTION:  Robert M. "Mort" Werner went into the television business as an adult, working for NBC, influencing the board on adopting programs to air.  Which was not one of the shows he supported?
A)  Star Trek
B)  Perry Mason
C)  Bonanza
D)  Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In

BRAVE BUS RIDER.  On this day in 1955, a simple act spurred a nation-wide protest against injustice based on race.  Rosa Parks, in Montgomery, Alabama, refused to give up her seat at the front of a public bus to a white man.  She knew it was against the law for her to deny him her seat, and she anticipated the possibility of a public outcry as inspired by her act.  It came, and the Civil Rights Movement was the result.  Prejudice based on color had long persisted in the United States - a tragic reality that some argue continues to this day - but this one moment triggered a protest that would change everything.  (You can visit the actual bus at The Ford, in Dearborn, MI)

ALONE AGAIN (NATURALLY) Born today in 1946, let us celebrate the Irish musician Raymond Edward O'Sullivan, who sang us through the 1970's as Gilbert O'Sullivan.  We know he is Irish, and as such not American, but he reached us all with his classic songs, most notably "Alone Again (Naturally)."  Enjoy it today - unless you're in a really good mood.  

ANSWER:  B)  Perry Mason.  It's pretty obvious, really.  If you know anything about "Mort" Werner.  Or the fact that Perry Mason was on CBS.