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Don French ( - )
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Don at Portland's Imperial Rink Wurlitzer
Don was a very popular Northwest theatre organist and strong supporter of PSTOS. Over the years he held many posts including Chairman. Don made his living playing at night clubs and for skaters in several Puget Sound area rinks. He was a featured perfomer at the 1966 ATOE Convention in Portland.
Don also had a three-manual Wurlitzer in his residence.

The following is an excerpted version of a letter Don write to the Editors of Theatre Organ in Fall 1965 (V7 No3, pp3):
First of all, regarding the question "How does a skating rink organ differ from a theatre organ?" and the answer given by Chairman Ed Borowiec and the "Minneapolis Bunch" does not hold true here in the Pacific Northwest. I have made my living at playing for roller skating since I was sixteen years old, and so for the past 23 years and five different skating rinks, I have played pipe organs and they all had Tibias-some had two. Ed said in the December '64 issue of Bombarde he softpedals the sweet stuff--no tibia. This I cannot understand. I do not want to sound dogmatic, but to me, there is no difference between a theatre organ and a skating organ. Every one that I have played has come directly out of a theatre and been reinstalled intact in the rink--sans shutters. So with this in mind, the only differences are (1) no shutters, and (2) one is in a theatre and the other is in a rink.
I have been employed the past 10 years at the Roller Gardens skating rink which is located between Seattle and Tacoma. The Wurli there came from the United Artist theatre in Portland, Ore. and was originally a 2/8. When Balcom and Vaughan reinstalled it, they added a third manual, two Morton strings, and a Post Horn, making it a pretty well rounded 3/11. It's on three chests (1) Vox, Tuba, and Tibia (2) Solo String, Celeste, and Post Horn, (3) Flute, VDO, Diapason, VDO Celeste, and Clarinet. It has the complete 'toy counter' and glock and xylo.
I play all kinds and types of music for skating and the public thoroughly enjoys it. At present the two most asked for numbers are Exodus and Baby Elephant Walk. Quite a contrast-huh? For Waltz Time there is everything from Kamenoi-Ostrow and Schubert's Serenade to The Gravy Waltz.
The acoustics of the place are terrific and really show off everything beautifully. The Posthorn has lots of "pizzaz," the Vox is "breathy" and Tibias really "sob." With all the forgoing information, my main contention is born out--that there is no real difference in the two organs. I play "theatre organ" all the time, the only difference being there, is that I must play "tempo" and forget the ballads.
Now regarding the second article which appeared in the spring issue of Bombarde, (VOX POPS pp 26) Andy Crow (bless his heart) is not the only regular working (payroll type) organist in our fair state of Washington. I'm at it five nights a week, and have been, as you can see, "pretty regular." I would like to add in closing, that I feel that I am pretty lucky guy to be able to have a job like this. How many of us are able to join vocation and avocation together? My "job" has also helped my "hobby" by allowing me to get a nice 3/10 Wurli for my basement, which I am in the process of installing at this time.
Well, now you have my side of the story, so hope all this has enlightened somebody. I know I feel better for getting it off my chest. My best wishes to you, and keep up the good work. I thoroughly enjoy the magazines - cover to cover.
Don French
Chairman: Puget Sound Chapter, ATOE

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