By Jordan Gerard
Editor, The Caledonia Argus
If there’s a pump organ in need of a tune or a song, you can bet 12-year-old Carson Krueger can play it and fix it.
Krueger recently raised $400 for the Houston County Historical Society in order to repair its historical pump organs, volunteer Deb Wray told the Argus. He was even able to do some of the repairs himself, and recently played the pump organ located at the Church of the Holy Comforter, Episcopal Church in Brownsville during Brownsville Days. The church is part of the historical society’s buildings and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
“The sounds they make are very interesting,” Krueger said, explaining what he likes most about playing a pump organ.
It’s also a bit more challenging than your average piano, as pumping the organ has to be maintained at a pace so that the organ doesn’t die in the middle of a song. The faster you pump, the louder the volume, Krueger explained.
There were more than a few people in the audience enjoying the songs, one of which was his grandma, who said he was playing all her favorites.
He also knows quite a bit about the history of the organ itself. It’s a North American suction reed organ, where the air is pumped out.
The brand name is Story and Clark, and the historical society found it in Chicago. It's possible it could be the original from the church, but there is no documentation to back it up. Its origins were traced into Iowa, according to Historical Society volunteer Shirley Johnson. The organ would have been placed at the back of the church so the organist could see the minister.
It needed a bit of fixing before it could be played. Taking notes from a 1978 book on how to restore organs and lessons from online videos, Krueger repaired it to working order, though there’s a few additional repairs to make. He’s also repaired the piano at school.
For Krueger, it’s as easy as “looking inside and figuring out how everything works.”
As for learning how to play the organ, Krueger first learned how to play piano from his grandma, Kathy Krueger, when he was five and a half years old. He picked it up from there and hasn’t stopped yet. Kathy Krueger was an organist for St. John’s Lutheran Church in Caledonia. Carson has also played the pipe organ located there, but not during a church service.
He played his first pump organ located in the church on the fairgrounds.
He raised the money from lawn mowing (on an old fashioned “Reel” mower, non-gas powered) and helping out on his dad and uncle’s farm near Brownsville.
This article has been updated from its print version.