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Woodland

Farewell to the Chimneys Violin Shop

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3 minutes ago, Woodland said:

Nate was gone at that point, and Perry Price came by for a visit after his tenure there. I remember him being an interesting character.

Indeed he was/is.  Maybe at a convention some year we can get alums together to reminisce.....there are a lot of memories.  

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MN is an amazing place. The collective memories of a site like this and its contributors are so historically important.

There is nothing notable to add to this discussion except that it was important enough for me to visit Chimneys several times in the past thirty years.

Looking at the pictures, from the added link, of the rooms bright and empty was a bit jarring. I did not expect to feel anything clicking on the link, but it was so different from the images and memories of my last visit. To see the rooms so empty, when i had seen it full of objects and details was very strange. The last visit was much darker in mood, in seeing the mostly well-stocked but untouched retail store, meeting a much slower Maestro Campbell, visibly hardworking students in a dark workshop and a very complicated vibe. It was also a visit during the winter driving across winding lightly icy roads.  

Perhaps the thought of going to a bowed instrument making school was attractive. I have tried to visit the ones that are talked about, but Chimneys was rather isolated. The romantic notion of visiting the school and capturing its spirit appeared important at the time. The 1987, 1992 ( nearby Carlisle, PA, ) 1995, 2001 ( Carlisle, PA ) VSA conventions were held out in central PA, and that Maestro Campbell was a VSA gold medalist, so why not make it a destination? From Pittsburg, it was far, but a visit to Frank Lloyd Wright's Falling Water house and several Civil War war sights including Gettysburg was calculated to be worthy of a 2 day excursion.

Maestro Campbell was kind, but not gentle in his explanations. He was opinionated in a way that he might guide the topics, as i asked vague ( if not dull ) questions about strads. But it was striking that a commitment to workmanship was central to our discussions though it appeared that his thoughts were ambiguous about the topics of the time, from the journals, which could just have been politeness. Being young, naive and easily distracted, I was hoping for some brilliant insight, which if it had been explained during my visits, i completely missed. He was supposedly an independent thinker and an engineer, so the first visit was a bit of a disappointment as i left with nothing to rattle my skull. Though i tried to express how grateful i was for his time on that visit, he did not take up an invitation to dinner.

On subsequent visits, when i was in or around Harrisburg, my questions were more direct to Maestro Campbell, but i think he sensed my lack of commitment. He showed me interesting pieces and pointed out observations of instruments he had likely owned for decades. He was very polite to do these things for a visiting guest. But i was grateful in that he took my visits. The conversations might have been more interesting had i brought examples of work or confronted him on specific issues.

The last trip out there, a friend had loaned me Alice Sebold's Lovely Bones to read during the flight and that sense of metaphysical darkness veiled the trip. Reading it made me gloomy. Seeing Three Mile Island in the dark also made me sad. I was out to hear a resident String Quartet at a relatively nearby by school and drove in the dark for hours after, across beautiful but lonely terrain. On occasion, i would see the lit bulb or an electronic candle or two in the window's of passing homes. I pretended to fish until sunrise after arriving at my friends house outside Carlisle ( there were no visible fish in the streams but the snow was quiet and undisturbed and pleasant. ) On arriving that morning, Maestro Steffy introduced me to the students and chatted awhile. Downstairs, Mrs. Campbell was pleasant and we spoke, again, for awhile. I played several instruments until after lunch when Maestro Campbell appeared. We spoke for barely 10 minutes and he appeared tired and disinterested so i excused myself. Played for a bit more, purchased books, about a dozen rosins and left in a haze from lack of sleep. I had an urge to walk around the building a few more times before leaving. 

I have always wondered if the more rural setting was better for learning a craft. Is one more focused? or connected to their work. When speaking with musicians, who studied in the north, it is a common belief that studying in a cold, more isolated locale forces one to spend more time with their studies. 

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28 minutes ago, Lawrence Furse said:

I was puzzled by who Jocko might be, but an internet search brought up a still active facebook page, and there he is!

shopforemanjocko.png

Yes, that is him, Jocko was great.

 Ed had a 1970’s era intercom between the workshop and the office.  When Mary wanted Ed, we would hear in the workshop this beep and Mary’s voice saying “Ed.....Ed...” and Ed would reply “Maaary,  Maaaaaary”....it was a common occurrence....that is unless Ed was out of the shop.  On those occasions Mary would becon: BEEP... “Ed...Ed...” and Jocko would respond in Ed’s voice  “Maaary, Maaaaaary”.....  It was pretty hilarious as Mary would keep asking for Ed and every time Jocko responded with the same retort no matter what she said.....she would get more and more pissed off the longer she kept trying.....the apprentices were naturally rolling.....

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Another funny thing is that when Mary would call up to the shop and ask for Ed, Jocko would sometimes reply "Ed's not here." 

He never said that when Ed was in the room.

A smart bird indeed.

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I stayed there for a night or two and do definitely recall a bit of strange unpleasantness from the owners, but not the house itself.  I don't think I was ever very temped to go back and work with Ed.
Fortunately I was offered an opportunity to work with David Burgess shortly after.  That was the perfect opportunity at just the right time for me.

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8 hours ago, Mark Norfleet said:

I stayed there for a night or two and do definitely recall a bit of strange unpleasantness from the owners, but not the house itself.  I don't think I was ever very temped to go back and work with Ed.
Fortunately I was offered an opportunity to work with David Burgess shortly after.  That was the perfect opportunity at just the right time for me.

What year was that visit, and were there any apprentices there you recall?

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1 hour ago, Jerry Pasewicz said:

What year was that visit, and were there any apprentices there you recall?

It was in the fall of 1976.  I was on the way to the competition in Philadelphia with Eric Chapman and a van full of instruments that had been shipped to Eric's house for the competition.  We stopped at the shop in Boiling Springs for Ed to look over all the instruments and put together the ones that had been shipped with the bridge down etc.  I still cringe a bit at him doing post adjustments on instruments that had been shipped set up.  I thought he should have left them alone.  We arrived in the evening and I have a vague memory of a few folks being in the shop besides Ed, but have no idea who they might have been.  I do not recall at this point if we left the next morning for Philly or stayed until the one after.   I was Eric's prime go-fer during the competition and convention.
I was also at the first competition the year before in Ypsilanti, which if I remember correctly was only for violas (Eric's instrument).  David Weibe won the first prize I believe and William Primrose played a token few notes on his winning instrument.

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I forgot about Eric being in the mix.  This is a lot earlier than I had assumed....long before my time.  It is interesting all of the crisscrossing of paths so many of Us do in this business....

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2 minutes ago, Jerry Pasewicz said:

I forgot about Eric being in the mix.  This is a lot earlier than I had assumed....long before my time.  It is interesting all of the crisscrossing of paths so many of Us do in this business....

I don't know for sure, but I think it was Eric who was one of the prime forces behind the formation of the VSA and the competitions.  Albert Mell was also very active in the early days and for many years.  Phill Kass probably knows more than I about those years.
Curiously, I do remember Mary talking about plans to put in an elevator when we were there.  I also remember Eric being delighted with having a van that had cruise control and crossing his right leg over his left while driving down the expressway.  I was more than a bit concerned...

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I believe you are correct, Eric was one of the founders of the VSA.  I am sure Phil knows all the particulars, he has an incredible memory.  Interesting to think about how everyone’s life evolved from those days.....

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