Monday, March 25, 2013

The return of the organ grinder....

In my last post, I mentioned the economic downturn that we are in now and how difficult it is to remain optimistic for young and old. The young have dim prospects in the job market and the old have seen their nest eggs shrink with the falling markets.

Time to get inventive, like the organ grinder I saw outside the St. Lawrence Market the other day. He was soliciting money for his time and tunes. The sign on his collection basket, said something about needing to add to his old-age security, because it really wasn't covering the basics.

From the picture you can see that this chap doesn't look like your average organ grinder, who, according to wikipedia, was often an itinerant nomad, moving from place to place or an immigrant, working as an entertainer, for lack of a better job.

The article in wikipedia went on to describe not only the organ grinder, his instrument choices and his assistants, often animals, but also the cruel treatment of organ grinders at the hands of the police and the general public.

There was a time when organ grinders were banned in many places, most notably New York City in 1936.  As a result of this ban, many of the organs were destroyed, including their barrels, which were often the only record of a popular song of the day.

The New York law was repealed in 1976 and the first rally of organ grinders was held in April - 2006 at Coney Island. I know that we have a lot of street performers now. In fact, Toronto hosts an international buskerfest, every year, in August. Usually, though, these people have real talent. However, enterprising individuals, with more moxie than skill, might still be able to earn a modest income by resurrecting an old occupation - the organ grinder.

This could in turn, restore an entire industry - people to make the organs, artists to create the music, businesses to purchase and rent out the organs, workers to turn the cranks, breeders to supply the animals and perfomers to act or dance to the music.

A new take on the daily grind, perhaps.

Have a wonderful day!!


  1. I love this positive outlook!! It's like a domino effect in a good way - one thing leads to another. We all need to find these things that invigorate our society and help us grow!

  2. This is wonderful and nostalgic. I hope there is a return of this. BTW, Charleston city has ordinances restricting street performances. I believe the idea is for tourists to not feel intimidated or to encourage beggers. Hopefully a balance could be met or a location designated for such things.

  3. Carol, I think this is a great idea. I hope it leads to more jobs for people. It's too bad that this man needs to do this instead of doing it for fun. But it sounds like a fun weekend for an extrovert.

  4. It is a domino effect, isn't it? I enjoy watching street performers... They create a festive atmosphere in a city. I'm not sure I'd want the monkey to return because if someone can't afford their own retirement, then it's likely they can't afford the care of an animal. Great post!

  5. A street performer completely changes the atmosphere of a street. Suddenly it all becomes more lively. I haven't seen organ grinders for ages. You are right, it is nice to see one!