An Autobiography: Chapter 1, Toy Pianos

| 4/23/2012 11:49:38 AM

Toy piano.Thurston Moore head shotIt was Christmastime, 1947. I was strolling through Woolworth’s 5 and 10 Cent Store in my hometown of Covington, Kentucky, and having great interest in music (I was writing songs back then), I stopped to play with the toy pianos and xylophones, which were popular at the time. To my amazement, I realized that the only music included with the toy instruments were songs to three or four nursery rhymes. Even the more expensive little grand pianos offered nothing more!

Another toy piano.I immediately saw the need for a songbook, so I bought a copy of Schirmer’s Spiral Music Writing Book and compiled 66 Nursery Rhymes and Songs for Children. In pencil I annotated each song on a page, complete with the notes of the melody and words. (I still have that book.) From this I created a small songbook of 16 pages – a cover page and 15 songs.

Schirmer's Book   Schirmer Contents 

When I learned that the major toy company for this type of product was the Schoenhut Company in Philadelphia, I set my plan into motion. I decided to go to Philadelphia and sell the Schoenhut Company my idea. Even then I wondered, even if I was successful, how I would produce the books. Then I discovered that right across the Licking River from where I lived was the Otto Zimmerman and Son Company, a company that produced music printing for major music publishers throughout the country.

Zimmerman Ad 

I paid Jordan Zimmerman a visit, and after discussing my plans and showing him my mockup for the book, he said, “Get an order from Schoenhut, and we will produce a nice book with illustrations and give you one-third of the profits.” That partnership turned into a successful publishing business that also supplied many of the other toy manufactures with songbooks, and the first in a series of books that established my 25-year career in the country music field.

4/24/2012 10:33:59 PM

Thurston, all success stories start with inspiration and determination. Today technology seems to be the glitz and glamor ideas but I still think there are some simple ideas that make life better still out there. Welcome to the GRIT blogging world. Thank you for giving us a glimpse of your success story. Have a great day.