Bobby, who had already graduated from
High School in 1963 and would stop by after school in his Volkswagon
Ghia to pick up John who was still attending and they would rush down
the movies played. John would play
(or more often hold down notes) while Bobby was in the right pipe loft (there was only one at that time) tuning the pipes.
This went on for several years until John moved to Mobile, Alabama to attend the University of South Alabama. By that time other people became interested and Bobby, along with several others started the Gulf Coast Chapter of the ATOS with all being charter members. It was open console at the meetings. John would play 'at it' as others were too shy. The first real house organist was Tom Helms, who went on to obtain a degree in music and to a career teaching and becoming a professional entertainer. The organ was named 'Lola'.
Enter Dr. Rhea,
one of the most dedicated organ enthusiests around. He personally
on restoring the organ and took it to his home/garage where two
manuals were added and the console beautified to what you see today.
In addition, the left pipe chamber, which was previously empty, and a lift, were added. The organ was out of commission for a couple of years but well worth it. Dr. Rhea had meetings at his house using a smaller organ. After re-installation, Tom performed Phantom of the Opera and such notables as Bob Ralston thrilled audiences.
In 1981 the University of West Florida obtained the Saenger and converted it to performing arts. Later Ogden Management was hired to run it and because of various problems and situations, has left the organ mostly unavailable for several years.
A sad state of affairs causing the disentigration of the membership. As President of the GC-ATOS, Dorothy Standley has admirally carried on the society for many years. Unfortunately, Bobby (Bob) died in a auto accident in the early 1990's.