Category Archives: Hammond M103 organ

UPDATE: Welcoming a new member of the family…

(Please scroll to the bottom to read the update – it’s worth it! 🙂

On Friday morning after Springfield Al and I split to head our separate directions, I headed off in a familiar – but not often visited – neighborhood street as part of my route home. As I followed the bend in the road, in the corner of my left eye I caught what appeared to be a garage sale.

Now, I’m not much for garage sales, but when we’re out and about on the tandem, Joanne often says (from the stoker position, sotto voce), “garage sale”. Not, “garage sale, let’s go check it out” or “garage sale, keep going” but “garage sale”. And I’m supposed to know exactly what that means.

Turns out after many years of hearing “garage sale” and not going to see what they’ve got for sale, I do know what “garage sale” means. It means, “You, the one with steering control of the vehicle we’re using, had better point the vehicle and us toward the garage sale. When we get there, you may remain with the vehicle if you want, but I’m going in. And I’m going to need your wallet.

Huh. Who knew?

So when I’m out on my own these days, typically on my bike, when I see a garage sale I hear the voice that must be obeyed and head toward it. Yesterday that turned out to be a good thing. When I rode up on my bike, it was clear the owners of the early 60’s home were the older couple who was busy tidying up after lookey-lous.

With my bike rolling next to me, I cruised through the tables of stuff (man, do I really need more stuff? Nah. But I’m well-trained so I kept on going in… and I had my wallet, just in case. And that’s when I saw it at the back of the garage.

Apparently solid maple construction. Apparently tube vs solid state. And just as apparent, it had been in the family for 40+ years. Nice bench seat with hand-embroidered stitching.

And did I mention it had “FREE” on it? Well, it did.

So I asked the owners if it worked well. “Sure, why don’t you turn it on and play it?”

“I can turn it on but I don’t know how to play.”

“Hey, you’re in luck because all 6 of our kids learned to play on it and their instruction books are in the bench seat. Here they are.”

And so they were: Instruction books for all types of organ music. And the original registration paperwork. And the original customer survey (sample question: Is your family income less than $2,000? Is your family income $20,000+? 2k was the bottom bracket, 20k was the top bracket. My how times have changed.)

We chatted for a bit while I tried to think of someone we might know who would want this original, mint condition Hammond M103 organ. Ellen? Maybe, but she already has a piano she doesn’t play. Ummm. Ummm. Dang. I couldn’t think of anyone else.

So naturally I said I’d take it. We like strays, especially when they’re well-behaved.

Joanne and I went over this morning and loaded it in the truck. Tomorrow we’ll bring it in the sunroom and let it settle down a bit. Then we’ll dink around on it (it has the “pointer” method of instruction books with it… right up my alley, I think.) and begin in earnest to find a home for it.

Well, who knew?!

Who knew that within 3 minutes of bringing it in the house, Joanne and Al would be playing a chopsticks duet? And that 3 minutes later (if that!) Al would be playing the darn thing as if it hadn’t been 45 years since he’d last sat at a keyboard (@ San Jose State Music class, the same class attended by the Smothers Brothers). No kidding, in the first couple of minutes Al and Joanne were plinking away @ chopsticks and when Joanne left the bench, Al broke into “Maria” from West Side Story and a host of other songs. (I recorded a few minutes of Al playing with the flip video that I’ll try to get posted over the next few days.)

Uh-mazing! It was wonderful – absolutely wonderful – to have Al in our house playing (what I’ve come to call) Fresh Music… live music. It could very well be that with this new discovery (Al the pianist / organist), the Hammond may well have found its new permanent home.

If you’re in the neighborhood, stop by to see and play it if you like… it’s great and sounds wonderful in the hands of someone who knows how to make it sing 🙂