Rochester, NY – Our Back-Yard part 8 of 14

Hello again.  It is nice to see you back again to follow along with our journey around our hometown, Rochester, NY for part 8.

Corbett’s Glen Nature Park, Penfield, NY.

Today we would like to follow-up on our post of March 8th about “Corbett’s Glen Park”.  We mentioned at the end of the post that as we were leaving we happened to meet a man that was outside picking up tree limbs in his yard.

Maybe some of you can recall events or situations in life that happen and later know that something special just occurred.  Well, this was one of those times some might call a co-incidence but from our experience we would prefer to refer to as a God-incidence. Little did we know that a home viewable through the carved stone tunnel would reveal a man that can only be described as one history and storybooks talk about.  He was out by his little shed picking up limbs when we noticed what appeared to be miniature train tracks.  As our eyes connected I asked if it was a model train set.  Immediately he started walking toward us, hand extended with such a welcoming warmth that just exuded feelings of, let’s talk awhile.  And talk we did.

He introduced himself as Jeff Vincent and our conversation just flowed. He shared with us the history behind the miniature train tracks which had been hand crafted by his father out of channel iron many years past.  From here he unveiled the train engine and its cars, also crafted by his father in 1:8 scale, originally powered by gasoline but later modified by him to electric. He shared how much joy the train set generated when his grandchildren would come and ride for hours on end. The tracks circled his property in quite an elaborate formation. As he was sharing the stories he kept smiling with a joy that was contagious.

As we talked he showed us a rather large calliope on wheels which he was restoring.  For those not familiar, a calliope, sometimes called a calliaphone Is an instrument that runs off air, controlled by vacuum pumps and uses music rolls operated in similar manner to a piano roll in a player piano, mechanically operating the keys.

He must have gathered a sense of our fascination with these type instruments and this is when he asked if we would like to see the rest of his collection of instruments, to which without hesitation we responded with a resounding YES.  So, into the 19th-century home originally built by the man for whom Corbett’s Glen is named.  Were we ever in awe.

Jeff and his wife Debbie are incredible collectors of antique organs of every size and shape one could possible imagine.  Throughout the conversation, he often reflected with joy that their sons, Brandon and Derek, have learned appreciation for music by growing up in a home where music was such a key interest.

A pipe organ, which once graced the choir loft of a Geneva church in the 1920s, dominates the Vincent’s’ dining room/parlor along with 14 other barrel organs and a grand player piano resting elegantly in a corner of their living room. Another room is dominated by other types of organs including ones used years ago by organ grinders who sported the little capuchin monkey on a leash that scurried around to the music inviting handouts of food bits and change.  No monkey business here; this was a man who knew his organs. Some of the monkey organs in his parlor once roamed the streets of Europe and New York City strapped around the necks of young organ grinders who rented them from their owners for a few pence a day. For a little extra, the organ grinders could rent a monkey or some other curiosity to attract attention and a few more pennies for their hat.  The monkey organs were popular from 1830 to 1930.

At one point I asked what it was he did prior to retirement and he smiled noting (pun intended) “I was just a piano tuner”.  It was obvious to us this very humble man was much more than “…just a piano tuner”.  In our opinion, we were in the company of a well-versed genius.

“Each organ has its own personality and its own stories,” Jeff said.  He joyfully went over each instrument with thoroughness and humor, playing each one with the expertise only an accomplished musician could do, not just a “piano tuner”.  We learned he had graduated with an upper level degree in music toward his goal of being a music teacher.

Asked how he got interested in music he shared that when he was 5 years old his family was visiting Plymouth Rock in Massachusetts when he came upon an organ grinder and his monkey.  The music held him spellbound and knew this was a field he wanted to know more about.  He lovingly credited his parents with teaching him as a young boy to pursue things that held one’s interest and he did just that. It wasn’t until Mr. Vincent had graduated from college that he began his collection.

He cited stories of his travels and appearances at local festivals displaying different pieces of his collection and especially delighting crowds playing music by hand cranking an organ grinder strapped around his neck while a mechanical toy monkey sat atop blowing bubbles.  He mused at how one summer he hooked up one of the small hand crank organs using a belt and pulley to the grandkids “merry pump-around” so with each pump of the legs by the kids the energy created would cause the instrument to play.  He said it was a great learning experience for the kids because they found that by speeding up or slowing down they could create music and songs. Is this not cool?!

It was obvious Mr. Vincent enjoys what he does along with sharing his collection with those interested in beautiful pieces of history.

So, if you are ever about the Corbett’s Glen Park nature park and hear musical sounds of bells, drums, tambourines and piano keys in orchestrated renditions of classical works or spirited, patriotic tunes, chances are it’s coming from Jeff and Debbie’s home.

So there you have it, a story of a man that pursued his  interest and is leaving behind a legacy of lives impacted in incredible ways that one can only imagine.  We hope you come back to hear more stories of people that make a difference in the world. 

Here’s a little video of our time with Jeff Vincent – “just a piano tuner”,

More tidbits about Rochester NY that may cause a chuckle,

  • The penalty for jumping off a building is death.
  • While riding in an elevator, one must talk to no one, and fold his hands while looking toward the door.
  • A person may not walk around on Sundays with an ice cream cone in his/her pocket.
  • It is against town ordinances to camp out on your own land more than 72 hours a month. If you want to camp out for 2 weeks you need a permit, which can only be obtained once a year.

If you missed one of the previous parts just hover your cursor over one of these series on “Rochester, NY – Our Back-Yard part 1“, “Rochester, NY – Our Back-Yard part 2” , “Rochester, NY – Our Back-Yard part 3”, “Rochester, NY – Our Back-Yard part 4”, “Rochester, NY – Our Back-Yard part 5”, “Rochester, NY – Our Back Yard part 6” or “Rochester, NY – Our Back Yard part 7” and you’ll be up to speed.  Please remember if you get lost just click on the “USA Through Our Eyes” heading and you will be brought back to the home page.

Enjoy and we’ll see you back in a couple days.


~ USA Through Our Eyes ~ Stories Told Through Words, Photographs, Videos and Sound

91 thoughts on “Rochester, NY – Our Back-Yard part 8 of 14

  1. Its a tedious waiting process isn’t it. We know they are grown ups with knowledge of what they are doing but our hearts kick in and emotions run rampant into the what if mode and then the call or text comes in noting they are all fine and then we wonder why we worried so much. Isn’t it great knowing we are human and care. We wouldn’t’ have it any other way would we. To love means risk of hurt but to not love yields far greater loss.


  2. Yes we are looking forward to that series and talking with folks about their ordeals. We can’t imagine the heroics that went on behind the scenes that will never get heard. We have been blessed to have gotten confirmation that our families are okay, a little/lot wore out from the stress and lack of sleep, but are okay. So many without power. We’ll be praying for your loved ones and their safety.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I must say that I am relieved to hear that you weren’t in your van with hurricane rain and winds raging around you.

    How wonderful of you both to plan on traveling down to offer assistance. THAT will be an interesting series: “Our visit to Florida immediately post Irma.”

    I still have not heard from my loved ones in Florida, but I’m holding calmly that they will get in touch when they can. Irma was devastating, of course, but not nearly as horrific as it seemed at one time that it was going to be. SO grateful for that.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you Madelyn. This is so nice of you. Our trip to Florida was postponed. We were about to depart Friday early morning when we got notice that travel into FL was stopped. Our families there are safe and we’re getting updates continually. As soon as the travel ban lifts we’ll be on our way there to offer what we can.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Well, it is true. The word is not the dangerous place the media would have us all believe. And, for anyone who has taken the time to travel across the nation, will readily see this is in fact true.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. It is so nice knowing you are following along with us. Isn’t it amazing the laws that are on the books, lol. We are experiencing such diversity as we travel and yes it is what makes America so interesting and unique.


  7. All across America can be found fascinating individuals such as this. This is what makes America unique in its cultural richness. The part about those antiquated laws was particularly amusing!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Thank you Ipuna for your encouraging words. Sorry we missed you in September so please next time let us know and we’ll sit for a bit and share stories over a cup of coffee and then we’ll take you to some of the spots.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Thanks Madelyn. Glad you finished your long day with us and that the story and visuals relaxed you. Mr. Vincent invited us back again and we’re gonna take him up on it. He had so many historical artifacts and a personal story to go with each one! He had a personal letters involving Helen Keller and its funny because we had just been talking about her, lol. You are so right about people just walking by and not extending that little wave and hello thus missing out on such an experience. So nice you picked up on “just a piano tuner”. He was such a humble man with a wealth of wisdom. Joy exuded from him.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. It is great isn’t it! When you can capture that moment in time on film and it says an entire story. You do fabulous at this! We like the sage advice because it has so much truth. When you like what you do it seems to transcend outward. Thank you for your encouraging words they mean a lot to us.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Meeting new and interesting people is one of the things I love about venturing out with my cameras. It’s enriching to learn about other people’s life stories. I never get tired of listening, especially when you can see the passion pouring out from the individual who is taking the time to share part of them with a complete stranger. You also touched on some sage advice which I always make a point to tell my children. It can be summed up in one sentence, “Choose a job you love and you will never work a day in your life!”

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Had to end this snowy “day” with you guys – and what a snow-free treat I found here. Great idea to post the photos and the video after the story, so my mind’s eye could envision the scenes through your words. I loved seeing one of the cars of the little train, however, since my dyscalculiate brain didn’t translate 1:8 into a visual for me.

    I wonder how many other folks visited nearby but never slowed down to wander far enough to have the experience of getting to know the magic of Jeff Vincent. Wouldn’t you love to know more of his story during his “just a piano tuner” days? I would.

    Thanks so much for sharing this experience so beautifully. And now, to bed.
    (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMORE dot com)
    ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder
    “It takes a village to transform a world!”

    Liked by 1 person

  13. We love visiting places like this. It provides glimpses into the past that are too quickly being forgotten. Some of his instruments left us in awe of the detail in craftsmanship. It seems with music like movies everything is now synthetic computerized 0’s and 1’s.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Yes, the MIM was really interesting. I visited there in Phoenix in late January, when I went to see some family. They took me there and we really enjoyed it. It’s a huge museum – 2 floors and probably two dozen exhibit rooms – and they have grouped instruments by continent and then by country, and in addition to the instruments on display they provide video (you listen through headphones) of each country’s musicians playing on those instruments. Very lively.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Thank you Theresa. We were in our glory listening to Mr. Vincent’s story and seeing instruments we’ve only read about. We will share the MIM with him as he just loves everything about instruments. We will have to add that place to our list also. Isn’t it something to see the evolution of instruments? The craftsmanship was amazing.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. Don’t you just love those God-incidences! Mr. Vincent sounds like such a fascinating person. Between the model trains, vintage home, and antique organs cared for with a lifetime of love, I can see why you had such an enjoyable afternoon.

    Thanks for once again Tom and Audrey for welcoming us into your fabulous corner of the world.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. Tom & Audrey, lovely storytelling post! Your description of Mr. Vincent’s calliope restoration reminded me of a recent visit to the MIM – Musical Instrument Museum – in Phoenix, Arizona. They had a whole room dedicated to machine-playable instruments such as player pianos and “orchestrariums,” as well as the organ grinder. It’s fascinating!

    Liked by 2 people

  18. You have a great style of storytelling. I just love everything! I could see how words turned into phrases and how phrases turned into a paragraph and how paragraph turned into a story! It just flow!

    Liked by 2 people

  19. LOL. Its like in my early years playing guitar… people would ask can you play “far, far away”, I thought it was the song but they meant it literally, lol. My dad played violin. It has a beautiful surreal sound.

    Liked by 2 people

  20. Wow, 47 years ago. I know its personal but it had to be a powerful calling to heed the call. Amazing though how the desire to return still remains. What amazes me about NYC is how it is ever changing and its busyness.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. It was typical suburbia and a great place to grow up [Nassau & Suffolk Counties], it was unforeseen circumstances that got me down here to FL 47 years ago. Frankly I’d go back in a heartbeat if it was just me.

    Liked by 2 people

  22. How very special to meet Jeff. It’s moments like these and meeting these type of inspiring people that makes travel, whether it’s a new country or even just stepping outside of our own backyard, so incredibly memorable. Lovely post.

    Liked by 2 people

  23. Its interesting isn’t it how sometimes we never quite have the time to explore like we would like to. NYC/Long Island is 6 -7 hours away but some of us never make it there. I use to spend about 3 days each month or so in the NYC area including Long Island. I like the region with all it has to show. I don’t know if I could live there though.

    Liked by 2 people

  24. It is really nice that you got a chance to meet Jeff Vincent, the Piano tuner. It must have been awesome to know about the antiques. I read about the train with all curiosity.

    Like all times, awesome pictures and thanks for the video. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  25. It’s amazing how God puts all HIs children right where He wants them to be. What a wonderful afternoon, that I bet meant as much to Mr. Vincent, and his wife as it did you. Thank you for sharing it with us. God Bless you

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Well there is still time for those talents to play out (pun intended). In the mean time we are proud of your husband and you for serving this great Country so musicians, artist, and all of us have the freedom to be and contribute our talents for the betterment of all. Your husbands Dad sounds like a great man!


  27. Thank you Toni for sharing your thoughts and feelings. He, Vincent, added so much to what would otherwise have been a static moment. Musicians have such a gift for seeing the world through song and notes. Jazz has such a powerful message and hopefully you and your husband have been able to sit and here his stories of playing in the NY bands. These nuggets like Jeff’s and your father in laws are invaluable stories of what has made this Country so great. Maybe someday you’ll share some of his stories of what he experienced. Did your husband inherit some of his dads musical talents?


  28. I love the outcome of this adventure. You found gold in the former of a great history lesson. Jeff seems like a really awsome character with a world of knowledge to share.

    My husbands father was a Musician by profession as a young man and he use to tell him stories of playing in Jazz Bands in New York. We still have his piano which was made around the 1920’s.

    It’s great that your adventure turned into such a great learning experience.

    Liked by 1 person

  29. Thank you. Yes, he was a very special man and to have taken the time to know us was a treat. What we kept walking away with is how he was so happy and full of life. Something we want to emulate in our walk.

    Liked by 1 person

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