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Old 12-09-2009, 01:47 PM   #1
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Airstream with Pipe Organ

I recently met a woman who had a fascinating Airstream story. It seems her aunt and uncle, Ralph and Nellie Fleming, had a pipe organ built into their
Airstream! They had it from the mid fifties to the mid sixties. They lived in
Washington, and traveled around, with Nellie entertaining people on the organ.

Has anyone ever heard of this trailer? Does it still exist?

Karen in Long Beach, WA
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Old 12-09-2009, 02:13 PM   #2
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Hmmm....now a picture of this... I would like to see!
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Old 12-09-2009, 02:55 PM   #3
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There was a photo in a Smithsonian article on Airstreams several years that showed a spinet organ, but not a pipe organ. I haven't been able to locate a copy of the Smithsonian article, though.
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Old 12-09-2009, 04:28 PM   #4
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pipe organ?

ya know, it runs in my memory that when I first re-located to the Portland, OR area, that Portland has a very large pipe organ constituency. Actually, I want to say that Portland is known as the P.O. capital of the U.S., but will not say it cuz I really don't know. But, my brain has no real reason to make this up, either. So, an AS from Oregon with a pipe organ in it may very well have been a reality, and may reside with some P.O. collector in the area. Hmmmm, I think I will do a minor internet search on this topic...seeya
bill
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Old 12-09-2009, 04:50 PM   #5
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a quick search=zero, almost

well, an I-net search revealed nothing, except my Portland Pipe Organ thought appears to be ill-founded. Nothing new there, right 2air? anyhow, a pipe organ on ANY trailer would by function be an airstream, wouldn't it? now that I think about it, the very early AS had pipe frames and may have qualified as pipe organs just as they were built-hee hee.
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Old 12-09-2009, 08:06 PM   #6
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The only article I've seen is the one Vaughan references above. It's in the December 1985 issue of the Smithsonian. Written by Doug Stewart and titled " To Airstreamers, a nomad's life is a good life". Among other things, it talks about then 76 year old Frank Sargent - the inventor of the Porta-Potti. There is a photo of him and his wife seated on the sofa - her name not mentioned - with an organ on the street side. captioned: "The Sargents' 34 foot Airstream was customized to accommodate and electric organ instead of a credenza."

That doesn't mean there wasn't another one out there at some point.
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Old 12-09-2009, 09:21 PM   #7
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Thumbs up Thanks for the Extra Info!

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Originally Posted by Ganglin View Post
The only article I've seen is the one Vaughan references above. It's in the December 1985 issue of the Smithsonian. Written by Doug Stewart and titled " To Airstreamers, a nomad's life is a good life". Among other things, it talks about then 76 year old Frank Sargent - the inventor of the Porta-Potti. There is a photo of him and his wife seated on the sofa - her name not mentioned - with an organ on the street side. captioned: "The Sargents' 34 foot Airstream was customized to accommodate and electric organ instead of a credenza."

That doesn't mean there wasn't another one out there at some point.
That's the article exactly! I remembered the Porta-Potti connection but didn't mention it. Great article. I had given that issue away when I got my first Airstream, the Trade Wind, a couple of years later. I have often wished for a reprint, pdf, or scans of the article.
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Old 12-09-2009, 09:30 PM   #8
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I can take in the office and scan it for you.... give me a day or two.
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Old 12-09-2009, 09:36 PM   #9
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Rivet Thanks Again

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I can take in the office and scan it for you.... give me a day or two.
Thanks,

I would appreciate it. I had even bounced the topic (complete with spinet organ reference) off Pee Wee, but due to proactive interference I was thinking that "Mr. Thetford" invented the Porti-Potty so I gave misinformation.
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Old 12-10-2009, 01:30 AM   #10
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ARticle

I'd love a copy of the article to share with the woman who told me about it. In 1959 she came to Washington from California with her family to go camping with said aunt and uncle. As a teenager, she thought it was torture!
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Old 12-10-2009, 02:22 AM   #11
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There's a whole community of Airstreamers in Land Yacht Harbor in Lacey, WA. If there's anyone around who might remember that, you would probably find them there. Better ask soon though, the old guard is passing at an alarming rate. You might just give them a call and see if the folks at the desk can do some asking around for you.
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Old 12-10-2009, 04:26 AM   #12
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There's a whole community of Airstreamers in Land Yacht Harbor in Lacey, WA. If there's anyone around who might remember that, you would probably find them there. Better ask soon though, the old guard is passing at an alarming rate. You might just give them a call and see if the folks at the desk can do some asking around for you.
While your at it - maybe you could ask them for me if they ever put out a cookbook. I just acquired one titled "Recipes for Land and Sea Cruising, your Travelin' cookbook." By: Washington Unit of the WBCCI. The recipes are all signed but there is no date of publication....
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Old 12-10-2009, 04:57 AM   #13
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I had forgotten all about the electric organ installed in the Airstreams. The first customer I can picture I cannot remember his name at the moment but we removed the credenza in his 71 31' and installed an electric organ. We had a picture of it up on the wall at the store and wound up installing a few more over the years including Frank Sergent's.

Frank first invented the plastic dump valve in 1963 before that dump valves were brass, you can just imagine how that would have worked. The next thing was the plastic toilet valve and toilet. The portapoti he invented later but he built them all over the world. Frank was also the driving force behind the series of China Caravans in the late 80's.

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Old 12-10-2009, 06:30 PM   #14
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Smithsonian December 1985 Article

Here is a copy of the article mentioned above. Enjoy....
Attached Files
File Type: pdf Smithsonian Airstream article 1985.pdf (4.59 MB, 124 views)
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