Thursday, September 2, 2010


What are the odds of standing on a street corner and meeting a guy who bought a firehouse? I was on a bike and he was in one of those 4 wheeled runabouts;  his name is Dick Wilcox. He and his wife Linda bought the Union City Fire Department Station #1.
Dick doesn't call himself a philanthropist. "I retired at 59...," he told me, "but I can't see myself ever really retiring. I always find something to do."  He intends to turn station # 1  into a small community center for the townspeople to enjoy. In that center will be a huge pipe organ that he bought in Florida and is having installed. I call him a philanthropist. He's named the organ Frankenstein since it is cobbled together from several organs.
I looked in at this mess of pipes and tooters and pedals and drums laying all over the place. At this stage its a bit tough to envision what it will eventually look like.  Dick pointed out the holes cut into the high back wall for the sound to flow. He and Dave Blodgett are putting it together piece by piece. Dick invented and  developed Uniflex, the software that hooks to a computer and seamlessly runs pipe organs.

Here are the horns.
These are percussion parts, drums and symbols, etc.

All those pedals that wire to a pipe, or drum that let air in or out as a player touches the organ keys.

This is the xylophone with soft little mallets that strike the metal bars.The insides of these major organs are ingenious.

Dick pointed out the gigantic blower that actually
activates the various pieces to produce the melodic sounds of a lusty bass pipe, or trill of a soprano pipe. The firehouse is destined to shake with sound and joy for the people of Union City, Indiana. (Population 3,400.)  Marvelous.

He also bought this calliope to put in parades and advertise coming events at Firehouse Pipes. It has an oogah horn, a siren and a train whistle. Should be a big hit. Must be fun to be retired and just play with your toys.
For two websites, one where progress on Firehouse Pipes will be posted, has just begun. And the other on uniflex systems that are used in pipe organs all over the world.

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