"Historic Highlights" for Gilford Steamer’s 9 Sept. 2004 issue--page:lof 2

A Musical Evening with Thomas Edison

Monday evening, September 13th, Thompson-Ames Historical Society will turn back the hands of time more than 100 years to provide "A Musicial Evening with Thomas Edison".

The presenter of the 7:30 program will be Roger Daniels, President of the Rumney (NH) Historical Society, who will use two of his genuine Edison cylindrical phonographs to share vintage music that sounds just as clear today as it did when the cylinders were recorded.

This program is especially appropriate to Gilford since one of the items in the Arthur A. Tilton collection of furnishings at the Benjamin Rowe House is an early Edison Model A Standard cylindrical phonograph called the Square Top, named after the wooden cover of the machine. That item will be on display during the evening’s program at the Union Meetinghouse at 24 Belknap Mountain Road, in~Gilford Village.

When asked how he became interested in Edison cylindrical phonographs and records, Roger Daniels replied, "It all started when I was 16 years old. Friends gave me an Edison Model C Standard cylindrical phonograph that they had found in the South Wentworth Schoolhouse which they were making over into a summer home. It seems appropriate that the phonograph was found in the schoolhouse since the early use of the Edison phonograph was for educational purposes. The talking cylinders still survive. Then by the late 1880s or early 1890s, the phonograph became looked upon as a device that could be used for entertainment in the home. Whether for speaking or music, the clear sound -- which is far superior to that afforded by flat phonograph records -- intrigued me, and in time my interest grew and grew until I now have an extensive collection of Edison phonographs and cylinders and even repair damaged machines."

Roger went on to say, "Thomas Alva Edison, generally recognized as the greatest inventor in history, believed that ‘genius is about 2% inspiration and 98% perspiration’. He was a hard worker and he worked his associates hard. I am so fascinated by Edison that I have copies of ‘An American Original’, ‘Young Tom Edison’, and ‘Edison, the Man’."

Speaking of the phonographs and records themselves, Roger is quick to point out, "Edison used cast iron and forged iron as well as bronze gears in the manufacture of his phonographs so they have been able to survive. On the other hand, only some of the records have survived. The earliest cylindrical records, the two-minute ones made of wax, were packaged in sturdy cardboard boxes lined with felt, which proved to be breeding places for mold spores which destroyed the fragile wax records. But, when patent rights elapsed, Edison turned to ‘indestructible’ material that has allowed those cylindrical records to endure and be enjoyed to this day.

Roger is quick to add, "Although Columbia made phonographs that were popular in many homes, the quality of the sound was inferior to that of Edison’s phonograph. Furthermore, the Edison phonograph was more popular for dance-floor use since each 4-minute Edison record provided almost twice as much music as did the 2k-minute disc records. -- By the way, did you know that Edison’s invention is the basis of today’s compact discs?"

Cylindrical records which Roger will play on Monday evening include "Meet Me in St. Louis, Louis" (a 100-year old wax record honoring the 1904’s World Fair); "Take Me Out to the ~al1 Game"; early country; early blue grass; fox trots; a John Philip Sousa ‘s march "The Stars and Stripes Forever"; Edison’s mother’s favorite, "I’ll Take You Home Again, Kathleen"; a 1919 recording of Edison’s voice "Let Us Not Forget" (a tribute to all World War I veterans); and "The Star Spangled Banner" (a stand-up finale).

The public is invited to attend free of charge the 7:00 p.m. business meeting and the 7:30 p.m. program as well as the reception which will follow -- all in Gilford Village’s Union Meetinghouse.

For further information, please telephone T-AHS at 527-9009.