Triumphs & Trials of an Organ Builder
Who Charts the Course
As a youngster, I never planned to start my own company and "live happily ever after" as my own boss. However, there was obviously enough of a free-spirited nature born and bred into me to pull me in that direction.
My father had his own business. Not surprisingly, his plan for me was that I would get a standard education and then become part of his company. His plan failed. It was nobody's fault, really. I tried to honor his advice, but my heart wasn't in it. The "spirit" kept moving me in other directions.
In my early youth, of course, I lived with my parents and went to school like everyone else. This was in Jamaica, Long Island, New York, around 1930. My constant preoccupation with do-it-yourself projects confounded my efforts at school; my parents wanted me to spend more time on my school work. I can only imagine their distress as they contemplated their son's future. I know they were irritated with me at this point.
For the most part, my early "extracurricular" activity with gadgetry was met by family and friends with only mild interest at best. However, I think one of my projects at that time did, in fact, cause a bit of a stir. I built a television set. Television was, for most people, more in the realm of science fiction than reality. However, I knew about the experimental television transmissions being made at that time from radio station W2XBS in New York City. They had gone on the air with so-called "radiovision," using mechanical scanning equipment in 1928. I rigged up a receiving apparatus and managed to get a picture. It was crude by today's standards, but I believe I can safely boast that we were the first on our block to have a TV.
My parents, wanting the best for me, decided to send me away to Allentown Prep School. My father's factory was located in Allentown, Pennsylvania; conveniently, my sister lived there with her husband who worked for my father at the factory. I stayed at her home while I went through the Prep School and then on to Muhlenberg College. I believe my parents hoped thatsending me to Allentown would get me to settle down into a more traditional path and devote my time to schooling. Well, I settled down in Allentown all right, but the forces at play inside me constantly put me at odds with my parents' desire for me to get a standard education. I kept delving into radio (which eventually led me into the world of organs and the generation of musical tones). I was captivated by what was then an obscure field. I didn't know at the time that radio would soon blossom into the fabulous world of electronics, and that I would be playing a role in it.
As for my academic education, I kept it up for a few years but without great enthusiasm. Then one day in February, 1937, 1 was struck down with appendix-related peritonitis. In those days, as I believe it is even today, peritonitis is very serious indeed. I was at death's door, a subject I paid little attention to before that time. Fortunately, I was able to walk out of the hospital a month later back on the road to health but a lot "older". A few months later, I left college. I would forever more chart my own course.