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I started work at the shop in 1978 at age 27. Although I didn't know it at the time, I was still a boy. It seems to me that Charlie knew I had growing up to do, and I'm grateful for the subtlety of his encouragement. I was in awe of his intellect, logic and problem solving abilities from my first interview, only later did I begin to glimpse his personal and spiritual strength.
A year or so after I started in Gloucester, I invited him out for lunch. I wanted his undivided attention for long enough to ask him what his plans were for me and how he saw my possibilities for advancement at the shop. To my surprise he said he didn't have any, that my career was my business and that while he'd help me as he could, I'd have to make the plans and do the work, I wouldn't be led by the hand. He knew that I hoped to dodge taking responsibility for my life, and he wasn't going to let me get away with it.
He did help. In the eighties, North German organs were very much the thing, and having had to rely on slides of historic instruments during the design of the Wellesley organ, I determined to go to Europe to study the genuine article. In 1983 I took a seven - month leave of absence from the shop to work in North Germany restoring organs. Charlie and Virginia Lee fully supported this wanderschaft, and CBF prevailed upon his friend Fritz Schild to give me a job at Führer Orgelbau in Wilhelmshaven. He sent me this letter as I was preparing to come home. Twenty years later its advice is still the basis of my work.
August 4, 1983
The first thing you should know is that VL and I really enjoyed your letters, both to us and to the shop. In my mind they have created a rather clear impression of what your life in Wilhelmshaven has been like—probably clearer for me than for anyone else here, since I know a few of the people and the feeling of that countryside, so different to anything we know here. I can imagine you during your gregorian ups and downs, and above all in the midst of your characteristic open - faced desire to have a look - see at what is just around the next corner. Don't ever lose that characteristic, Greg—it's life itself.
It is fun to see what a terminal case of Schnitgeritis these people have now, isn't it. What would Louis of Versailles have thought? Or Carlo Cinque? Or Baldifresco, or Hans Leo Hassler?
Perhaps it's best if I say a few words about what I think are some important things for you to be thinking about now that you're nearer departure. Among these are the general impression of the work on the old organs generally, especially the things the old guys were and were not careful about. Also sketches of the way they made their actions and couplers, etc. What kind of linkages did they prefer? If you can get this stuff down in your diary, it would help not only me — it would help the fuss - pots in the shop realize that God doesn't throw up when he sees work that's quickly and effectively done. About scales, I'm not so interested, though the construction of a really good reed stop is good to have. And how did they build the cases and support the chests in them? There are so many things that you overlook in an old organ when you chase down the standard stuff like scales and keyboard measurements.
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