Steve Bartlett was an employee from 1974 – 1978 working extensively with tuning and maintenance. He is Rector of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, Coldwater MI. The church possesses a restored Johnson tracker complete with an original blowing system.
Within a short time after my arrival in the “old shop” in Gloucester (1974), plans were underway for relocating to a larger facility. The charm of the old rope factory’s wooden construction and easy-on-the-feet wood floors was replaced with the “new” shop’s light and open space—and blueberries (low – and high – bush)! As we cleaned things out in preparation for the move, Charlie noted that the bread pans he’d retrieved from a bakery gone out of business nearby some years back and used for storing screws and other various mechanical parts in the stock room, were now available for any of us to take. Mine are still in use — for bread baking!
Charlie stopped by my bench one late afternoon to see how I was coming on the mechanical stop action. He noted that the fit was a bit “free” and suggested that, even though we were (as usual!) pressing to complete the instrument, it would be well for me to re – do the borings and caliper the action a bit more snugly. It may have cost us in time and profit, but the organists at the instrument can now appreciate Charlie’s insistence on quality as they sense just the right resistance on the stop knobs they draw. I personally came to appreciate Charlie’s gift of teaching and patience with those of us who were privileged over the years to learn from him.
On occasion, organ builders from other shops would drop by the shop. Some had apprenticed under Charlie in earlier days and would stop by to say hello. Many would leave the drafting room, though, with notes and ideas from Charlie’s research and designs. I was surprised that he would let the “secrets” of his historical as well as innovative work disappear out the door with others. This seemed to have been one of Charlie’s ways of continuing to educate others in the field, however. The “profit” in organbuilding for Charlie was knowing that he was encouraging others to build instruments of quality.