What Could be Built from an Old Pump Organ?

While working on Leora’s Dexter Stories, I became acquainted with Mary Wilt, a neighbor of the Wilsons. Mrs. Wilt knew that Leora Wilson could play the piano and that the Wilson girls, Doris and Darlene, were in the Dexter band. In 1933, she said they may as well have her pump organ since she didn’t play it anymore.

In those days, the Wilson family was so strapped for life’s necessities, there was hardly money for extras. They even needed to burn furniture so they could heat their rented house, but the organ survived.

It survived until the spring of 1937, when Dale Wilson needed a project for manual training. He transformed part of the organ into a handsome radio table. His twin sister, Darlene, is wearing a dress she’d made in home economics class.

No one knows what eventually happened to Dale’s masterpiece. Surely his mother kept it through the decades. But we still have a photo and the poignant story of how one family in poverty made do, and were also ministered to by a wonderful neighbor who spoke with a German accent.



  1. The Wilson clan was certainly innovative as they struggled through the depression. Seeing the dress Darlene made and the radio stand Dale made shows their spunk!

    • Doris and Darlene also received hand-me-down clothing. Doris (my mother) always redid enough to hers that girls at school couldn’t point out who the dress used to belong to!

    • Yes! I’d like to know what happened to Leora’s wedding dress. She was a graduate of Mrs. Connrardy’s Sewing School and made her own gown. I have a feeling it was used for other things during those Depression years.

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