Tuesday, October 10, 2017

The Gregory Saga Part VI

I just saw that this blog has disappeared!!!  Gone.  No copy.  I'll have to rewrite it.  Until then, you can go on to Part VII.

The Gregory Mouthpiece Saga Part VIII - Epilogue

In Part VII, I said that I would try to wrap things up with my interpretation of what actually happened in the Gregory Mouthpiece Saga.  We came across a lot of information that appeared much more reliable than the story related in the original Gregory Mouthpiece Saga and most of which directly contradicted the story.  What was just as frustrating was that Paul and I often disagreed as to how to interpret the newly revealed facts.  Should we tweak the original Saga to fit the new facts or should we abandon that part of the Saga and go a different direction?  

And we even had to decide what constitutes a fact.  We came across mentions of Gregory, Gale, Rico, etc., in old trade publications.  When trying to create a time line for the introduction of a mouthpiece, if we found it mentioned in a 1952 publication, it was likely available then, but what could we extrapolate from that information?  For instance, what was the lead time for the publication?  Six months?  A year?  How accurate could we be on a release date based on an advertisement?

And for how long was a mouthpiece available?  If the piece was fabricated in 1954 (while M.C. Gregory was still alive and presumably in business), could that stock still be selling in 1960?  Or 1965?  And if it is still mentioned in a 1975 trade publication, does that really mean that it was still available then?  

While conducting our research, I had an experience that shook my confidence in relying on some publications.  I have also been researching the disappearance of Riffault et Fils, a major French mouthpiece manufacturer.  I contacted the last U.S. distributor for Riffault listed in a major trade publication.  The distributor was listed as being located in Texas, but the phone was disconnected.  When found another contact number and called them, I found that they had moved out of Texas years prior to the trade journal publication date.  When I asked about their representing the products of Riffault et Fils, they had to ask a long-term employee (over 20 years).  He had never heard of them.  They told me that they would contact the trade publication and correct the outdated information still being published after all these years.  The information just keeps getting published every year if no one bothers to correct it.

So much for my using trade publications to establish accurate time lines.  It made for some frustration when trying to establish production dates for mouthpieces like the "Master" by Gregory.  A publication might simply automatically reuse the same text year after year.  Finding text that indicates the availability of a "Master" by Gregory in a 1985 catalog might mean that the supplier provided that information to the publisher in 1965 (when the supplier still had new old stock from 1955).  

As an example in this case, we came across a 1958 trade publication that listed Gale Products, Inc. as established in 1946 and incorporated in 1947.  We now know that it was incorporated in 1948 and dissolved in 1949.  Why it was still listed incorrectly in a 1958 trade directory is anybody's guess.  I also came across a 1985 resource guide published by the U.S. Department of Health, Education & Welfare, Office of Education that listed:  
Charles Bay Clarinet Products, 101 Forest Home Dr., Ithaca, N.Y. 14850. 

Manufacturers of custom-made hard rubber mouthpieces for clarinet 
and raxophone families. 

Bay-Gale Woodwind Products, 4540 Hollywood Blvd. , Los Angeles. 90027. 

Manufacturers of custom-made hard rubber mouthpieces for clarinet 
and saxophone families. 
I think that it is safe to say that the first entry wasn't accurate in 1985, as Charles Bay had moved to California in 1969.  Off by 16 years.  Bay-Gale may have been a going concern in 1985, but the address of 4540 Hollywood Blvd?  That was Carl Satzinger's shop address for Gale Products, Inc., a California corporation that had been dissolved 36 years earlier.  

Another problem that I have with trade publications (having been in them myself) is that they are not what might be called "pier reviewed."  If I'm a home builder, for instance, I can get listed in a trade publication (usually by paying a membership fee) and state that the homes I build are all constructed of aged French lumber within a tolerance of .0001 of an inch.  That's what will be printed in the trade journal.  If a business claims that their mouthpieces are made completely in house using a super special hard rubber compound, that's what will be printed even though the pieces are generic blanks outsourced from a third-party using run-of-the-mill ebonite.    

Just as frustrating was trying to garner some evidence from the embossing on the mouthpieces.  That's what most people look at (that and the shape) and come up with all kinds of information about the history of the mouthpiece.  I found that it wasn't generally straight forward.  For instance, serial numbers can mean several things.  We know (as with some Brilhart pieces) the serial number can indicate the date of production, or the number in a production run (with the next batch up or down by 1,000, etc.), or maybe even intermittently numbered to fill particular contracts.  There is no requirement that serial numbers have to be sequential.

Here is an example of an embossing machine used to put serial numbers on mouthpieces.  It has a cradle to ensure that each piece is stamped in the same orientation.  It has a little lever on it to advance the number for each piece, much like the old "manual advance Bates stamp."  The lever in front is used to manually advance the number.  If you forget to advance, it keeps stamping the same number.  You can easily change the number for a different model or a production run.   

This isn't the machine used by M.C. Gregory.  Any idea whose machine this is?

I even looked at the various fonts used by Gregory and Gale and couldn't find any overlap in the type of fonts used (sans serif, different type sets, etc.).  Very tedious and not very conclusive.  

One area that was interesting was looking closely at serial numbers after Judy Beechler Roan told me that her father had produced the Reloplex.  I have no reason to doubt her and she will probably come up with more evidence, but I looked closely at the Reloplex and the hard rubber pieces produced by Remlé Musical Products, Inc.  Unlike Gale Products, Inc. and the later Tschudin mouthpieces, the Reloplex had serial numbers.  Unlike Gregory pieces, the serial numbers were on the barrel next to the table.  And unlike most pieces where the serial number is next to the table, Remlé and Ricoplex numbers all faced away from the table.
Beechler hard rubber.

Reloplex serial number.

Not exactly incontrovertible evidence.  And some early Dukoff fluted chambers were stamped in a similar orientation, although with a different font.  I need to see more examples of both early Beechlers and Reloplex.  Until then, you are free to fantasize that the Reloplex was made by Bob Dukoff, which I believe is more likely than it having been produced by Cesar Tschudin.

When looking for evidence, I tend to prefer, if I can, talking with somebody who has direct knowledge.  Even better are public documents.  There might still be more of both out there.  We are still in contact with Judy Beechler Roan.  The Satzinger family's recollections are kind of tapped out.  For instance, Gale never saw her grandfather play a musical instrument and vaguely remembers that he might have had a workshop in his basement.  She visited him a few times, but they were not very close.  In fact, she only learned in 2016 that her grandfather had committed suicide (she learned from a saxophone player who was familiar with the original 
Gregory Mouthpiece Saga article).  

Gale knew that her father Carl once had a shop that made mouthpieces, and she visited the shop as a child, but she was surprised that Gale was in business until 1969.  She didn't think that her father and her grandfather worked together at Gale.  She told me that she had never heard of the "company attorney" Cesar Tschudin.  There are several Satzinger cousins who think they might have some pictures of M.C. Gregory and maybe Carl Satzinger's shop, but I'm not sure how helpful they would be.  Of course, as we have learned, any little bit of evidence might lead to a different path.

It is possible, even likely, that there are more public records available.  Unfortunately, it gets more costly and time consuming to continue the research (I'm fairly certain that we have spent a lot more time and money on the Saga than Ralph Morgan did because the internet allows for essentially endless fact checking and online ordering of public records). 

The Social Security Administration would have M.C. Gregory's employment records back to 1936 showing whether he was a Rico employee during the entire period (preliminary evidence is that Gregory was a Rico employee).  Social Security records might also confirm that he never worked for Gale Products, Inc. or with Tschudin's business or maybe that his employment at Rico ended several years prior to his death.  A FIOA (Freedom of Information Act) claim would have to be made and, if successful, research and copy fees paid.  A title search on the Gregory residence might show whether he was in foreclosure, or even whether unknown heirs appeared after his death.  I know, it gets a bit morbid and intrusive.

If you have read the prior parts, you will have seen that I was unable to keep my theories to myself in several places.  One of those places was the claim of the rare Gregory-Gale-Dukoff metal mouthpiece.  Pure conjecture and most likely complete nonsense.

Now it's time for my own conjecture and, hopefully, not nonsense.  I've already stated that I did not think it likely that there was a difference between Gregory and Rico, with the "Gregory by Rico" simply being a Rico product badged with the Gregory name.  There could have been a later rift between Rico and Gregory.  Rico may have thrown in with Carl Satzinger to produce some additional mouthpieces for them and Gregory didn't go along with that decision.  Gregory, knowing his ex-son-in-law better than the Rico principals, turned out to be correct.  

The new company, Gale Products, Inc. burned brightly and then flamed out shortly after incorporation.  Thousands of blanks were either manufactured and/or purchased from third parties, but the business imploded and some assets were sold to Cesar Tschudin, who continued to use both the names Gem and Gale for his mouthpiece business, as well as finish the blanks that he had purchased from Gale Products, Inc.

M.C. Gregory soldiered on.  He came up with a "new" line of mouthpieces that were essentially a rebadging of his prior pieces.  One difference is that they no longer had anything to do with Rico embossed on them.  The other difference was the name.  They were now the "Master" by Gregory.  This line of mouthpieces first appeared in the late 1940's, according to printed advertisements, and may have been sold throughout the 1950's and maybe even later.  As we have seen by the assets sold by Gale Products, Inc., it is possible to produce thousands of mouthpieces that might be sold over the following years.  So it is hard to say when the Masters were last produced.  I have no evidence that the Master was ever produced by Gale (either Gale).  

There are several reasons, besides a lack of evidence, why I don't think Rico or Gale was involved.  One reason is simply the imprint on the Master. 

That signature is not just a generic font.  It's Malcolm Gregory's actual signature.  Here is his WWII draft registration again, with the unique Gregory "g" and "y."

By the time these came out circa 1950, Gale Products, Inc., started by Gregory's ex-son-in-law, was gone and some of its assets had been sold to Cesar Tschudin.  It doesn't appear that GPI could have had anything to do with the "Master."  The detailed listing of assets that Tschudin compiled in 1949 didn't include a "Master" stamp, or a "Master" mold, so it's unlikely that the blanks that he purchased were "Master" mouthpieces.  And I don't think that Tschudin or Rico would expropriate Malcolm's signature and order a custom stamp in order to produce the "Master" independent of Gregory.

Neither Rico or Gregory trademarked the Gregory Diamond, although we have seen that Rico was familiar with trademark law.  If there was a dispute between Rico and Gregory, it would be possible to fight over that trademark.  But a signature is a different type of trademark.  Even if his unique signature was not registered under a statute, it would be covered by a common law trademark and be the exclusive property of Malcolm Culver Gregory.  For that reason, I'm going with the simple idea that the "Gregory" by Rico was a Rico product and the "Master" by Gregory was a Gregory product.  That may not fit the unsupported saxophone lore, but it makes the most sense to me.

And even if we can find evidence that the "Master" by Gregory was actually in production after Malcolm Gregory's death, maybe by way of Rico having an interest in the molds, I'd probably vote for Elmer Beechler as the actual producer.  It makes more sense to me than imagining that Cesar Tschudin was the producer.  If Tschudin was unable to convince Elmer Beechler to work with him, why should I think that he could convince Rico to work with him?  And if Rico was working with Tschudin the entire time, wouldn't Elmer have known?

Finally, there is the odd statement in the original Saga that "In 1969 the making of the mouthpieces was done in part by the J.J. Babbitt Co."  Some have thought that means that J.J. Babbitt ended up with some Gregory molds (if we believe that Tschudin ever had them).  I'm going to go with a different interpretation.  I haven't seen any evidence that Tschudin ever had the ability to make mouthpiece blanks.  Nor have I seen any evidence that Charles Bay, upon buying out Tschudin, ever produced a Gregory or Gale mouthpiece.  

Let's look at the evolution of the Gale Companion produced by Tschudin.  Here is an early one, which looks like the mouthpieces produced earlier by Gale Products, Inc.

 A later model of the Companion is claimed to sound similar to a Meyer, but with some kind of a Paul Desmond vibe.  Here is what it looks like.

Gosh, it even looks like a Meyer.  I wonder who produced Meyer blanks and purchased the Meyer company and now makes the Meyer mouthpiece?  Here's a hint.  J.J. Babbitt. The statement that "the making of mouthpieces was done in part by J.J. Babbitt" I'm going to interpret as Tschudin had been buying his blanks from Babbitt.  Same as with other finishing houses like Bob Dukoff, Woodwind, etc.  

Knowing what we now know and comparing those two pictures does give us a bit of further evidence.  Per his inventory, Tschudin didn't have a Gale stamp in 1949, shortly after purchasing some assets of Gale Products, Inc.  We know that Gale mouthpieces stamped with a round logo indicate Carl Satzinger's involvement.  And we know that Tschudin was purchasing mouthpieces from Babbitt.  I think that the block letter GALE on the J.J. Babbitt "Companion" is an indication of a Tschudin product.  Both of the above pieces would be Tschudin products.

It gives us a partial time line.  Round Gale is Satzinger, Maier, and deMichele operating GPI.  Block Gale is Tschudin and CTG.  That still leaves out the script Gale embossing like this.

I'm going to guess that this was an early Gale Products, Inc. piece prior to Carl Satzinger developing the round Gale logo.  It has the three dots that another piece with round Gale logo had (shown in a prior blog).  And it has the Gregory shape and shank band that later Tschudin Gale pieces didn't have.  If I were to make a guess, I'd say that Carl Satzinger started Gale Products by making slight changes to Gregory pieces.  He then split off, came up with unique blanks, incorporated with the help of the Rico principals, and things fell apart.  

There remains plenty of unanswered questions.  I guess the takeaway from all this is that there is a lot that we don't know.  Filling in the unknown areas with musical make believe doesn't really help us.  It is entertaining, just like a fairy tale.  And one can become an authority by just repeating the fairy tale.  So, why does your Gale Companion have that Paul Desmond groove?  1) Because it is really an M.C. Gregory piece or 2) Because it is a Babbitt blank finished by Cesar Tschudin, who purchased some assets from Gale Products, Inc., which was a company started by Carl Satzinger, the ex-son-in-law of Malcolm Gregory, who made a mouthpiece for Rico that was used by Paul Desmond.  Number 2 doesn't have the same fairy tale quality.

Maybe we should be honest with ourselves and admit that there is a lot we don't know.  Use our ears, not our eyes, in deciding what sounds good.  Easier said than done. 

The End (of the blog, but probably not the Saga).

Saturday, September 9, 2017

The Gregory Mouthpiece Saga Part VII

When we last left the Saga Part VI, we were discussing whether M.C. Gregory was ever involved in Gale Products, Inc. (GPI) and the rumor that Cesar Tschudin's Gale (CTG) was in possession of the M.C. Gregory molds and sold them to Charles Bay in 1969.  

We have direct evidence that shows the improbability of Gregory being involved in Gale (either Gale).  Why wasn't Gregory listed as a officer or director in the Articles of Incorporation for Gale Products, Inc.?  Why was he never added as an officer, director, or shareholder?  We now know that Gale was sold to Cesar Tschudin within one year of GPI being incorporated.  Why sell the assets of Gale Products, Inc. after one year if M.C. Gregory was actually running the operation, i.e., if Gale was simply a continuation of his existing business?  

And look what was sold to Tschudin.  Thousands of mouthpiece blanks.  Why didn't Gregory just help out his ex-son-in-law if Gregory was in any way involved in Gale?  Gregory had proven himself to be a successful producer of mouthpieces (he lived in a very nice house and, according to Gale Satzinger, was a neighbor of the actress and Hollywood sex symbol Jane Russell).  He could have simply taken all of those unfinished pieces in house in his own business.  And if Gregory was directly involved in GPI, why the apparent infusion of $17,600 in capital shown in the Articles of Incorporation?  And the kicker for me, if Malcolm Gregory was directly involved with either Gale and Cesar Tschudin, why would Tschudin need to recruit an experienced partner like Elmer Beechler in 1949?  

In light of the documentary evidence, alleging that Gregory was involved in Gale doesn't make sense without a very elaborate explanation.  And it appears that Cesar Tschudin may have provided some of the required story.  Gregory starts Gale Products, Inc., gets glaucoma, commits suicide in 1950, leaves the business to his daughter Gale, she dies in a house fire, and company attorney (Tschudin) runs the "Gregory" business for 20 years.  In the end, JJ Babbitt makes the blanks (and ends up with the Gregory molds?)  There's your story.  We would need to ignore a lot of factual evidence that we have uncovered in order for this story to still work, but you can see that this tortured narrative is really the only way to make a tenuous connection between Gregory and either Gale.  

I can't say that Tschudin came up with the whole story by himself. He was probably aided by the passage of time, the interpretation of Charles Bay, the retelling by Ralph Morgan, and possibly the narrative provided to him by a "company attorney." After all, there actually was a company attorney involved.  Remember Nathan Snyder, the attorney who signed the Articles of Incorporation as a member of the Gale Products, Inc. Board of Directors?  He would likely have also been involved in the sale of the Gale Products, Inc. assets to Tschudin.  He wouldn't have to reveal the identity of his clients (the Rico principals Roy Maier and Frank deMichele) and they simply disappeared from the picture.  Maybe Snyder even knew that Malcolm Gregory's daughter (Maxine) had died in a house fire the year before (it was national news).  And somewhere along the line M.C. Gregory's death got moved backwards from 1955 to 1950 in order to make the story work.  And Carl Satzinger became just some engineer and not Gregory's daughter's ex-husband and a founding principal in Gale Products, Inc.  Things got really, really jumbled up in order to claim that M.C. Gregory was involved in Cesar Tschudin's Gale.

Speaking of jumbled up, lets go back and look at another alleged Gregory/Gale mouthpieces.  On several websites, the Rico Reloplex is alleged to be a Gregory/Gale mouthpiece.  As we have seen, both the Gregory and the Reloplex were Rico products.  

Fortunately, there is no mysterious Mr. Reloplex about which we can make up a saga.  The Reloplex is just a Rico mouthpiece.

There isn't any evidence to indicate that the Rico Reloplex was made by either Gregory, or GPI, or CTG.  This advertisement is circa 1955, so Gale Products, Inc. was out of business and Gregory was dead.  The Reloplex is reported to have been available from 1955 into the 1970's.  But for the Reloplex to be made by CTG, that would mean that Rico Products went to Cesar Tschudin, the jeweler who had purchased some of the assets of their defunct Gale Products, Inc., and contracted with him to produce their new flagship mouthpiece.  I had my doubts.  Then, in our emails with Judy Beechler Roan, Judy mentioned that her father had once contracted to produce a mouthpiece for Rico.  The Rico Reloplex.  

It is time to take a closer look at Elmer Beechler.  Like Maier and deMichele, he was a musician from Chicago and showed up in various directories listed as a "dance hall musician."  Married and with a small child, his wife died suddenly and he moved to New York.  There he worked with Arnold Brilhart in a mouthpiece facing and synthetic reed business.  He remarried (Sadie Roan, mother of Judy Beechler Roan) and then moved to Los Angeles to start his own business.  We learned in Part VI that he partnered with Cesar Tschudin for a very short time, but left to start his own business.  A few years later, when looking for somebody to produce a new model of mouthpiece for them, Rico approached Elmer Beechler.  

By 1953, Elmer Beechler's mouthpiece business was up and running.  He later incorporated as Remlé Musical Products, Inc. (notice the acute "e" pronounced like the French word for father "pére".  Sounding French is still good business).  No similar advertisements have been found for Gale Products, Inc. or Cesar Tschudin's subsequent Gale business.

Lumping the Reloplex into the Gregory family of mouthpieces might be plausible if we had evidence of Gregory working with Gale Products, Inc., or with Cesar Tschudin, or Tschudin working with Rico.  I haven't found that evidence, and based on what I have found so far, I don't think either is a likely scenario.  

Correspondence with Judy Beechler Roan is ongoing, and she is coming up with some more rather remarkable documents and evidence.  Some of it has to do with the Gregory molds.  The 1949 Tschudin inventory, shown at the end of Part V, lists one die (presumably a mold) and nothing is listed that has anything to do with Gregory.  We have seen that it was also unlikely that Gregory had anything to do with Gale Products, Inc. and its collapse, so it isn't likely that GPI had any Gregory molds to sell to Tschudin.

The Gregory Mouthpiece Saga implies that Charles Bay ended up with the mold(s) that were in Tschudin's possession.  But what exactly did Tschudin have?  Based on the documents and time line, it is unlikely that he had Gregory molds.  Even if the Gregory molds were controlled by Rico, it is unlikely that they would approach the jeweler who purchased part of their failed business (Gale Products, Inc.) to later make additional Gregory mouthpieces, including the new "Master" by Gregory (during Gregory's lifetime) or, still later, the new Rico Reloplex.   

And if Tschudin sold the Gregory molds to Bay, that would mean that Bay could reproduce the mouthpieces used by Paul Desmond, Gerry Mulligan, Art Pepper, and others.  That was sort of hinted at in the Saga, but then there was this odd statement.  "In 1969 the making of mouthpieces was done in part by the J.J. Babbitt Co."  Does that mean that J.J. Babbitt ended up with the Gregory molds?  

There must currently be 10 different knockoffs of the vintage Otto Link Slant Signature hard rubber mouthpiece, so the demand is out there for famous vintage "tribute" pieces.  If you were in the business of making mouthpieces (like Charles Bay) and you were a big fan of Gregory mouthpieces (like Charles Bay) would you use the Gregory molds?  What would you do if you had the mold necessary to begin production of the very mouthpiece used by Paul Desmond?  How about the mold for the mouthpiece used by Gerry Mulligan?  Just think if you had any Gregory mold.  If only, if only, if only.  Yeah, it doesn't look like that part of the Gregory Mouthpiece Saga is accurate, either.  

What would those old M.C. Gregory molds look like if we were to find them?  They would look like these.  Hey, look!! There's the alto 18 chamber plug we could use to make a new Paul Desmond mouthpiece!

Those are recent pictures of the mold pieces used for making the various M.C. Gregory chambers.  They are stored in old cardboard tubes that are stamped with the "M.C. Gregory Los Angeles" diamond logo.  That's what we would expect Charles Bay to have purchased if Cesar Tschudin had run M.C. Gregory's mouthpiece business for 20 years.  But these didn't come from Charles Bay.  They came from boxes that Elmer Beechler had in storage.  After our contact with Judy Beechler Roan, she decided to go back through some boxes that her father had in storage. 

We now know that Elmer was retained by Rico to produce the Reloplex.  It appears that Rico may have had other molds in their possession, some of which ended up with Elmer Beechler.  Hmmm, we should look more closely at old Beechler hard rubber mouthpieces!  It is more likely that those old Beechler pieces are Gregory clones than it is that Gale ever produced any Gregory pieces.  Wait, I'm just kidding!  You can see how easy it is to start new saxophone lore. 

I'm going to end Part VII here.  I think that I said at the start that there would be three more parts, and now I have already written four.  And I'm going to write a fifth.  Along the way, I've included some of my best guesses as to what happened just because it is difficult to not make conclusions when presenting new facts (or maybe the only facts).  In Part VIII, I'll give my theory of what probably happened and how one might further find out what actually happened.  

Thursday, September 7, 2017

The Gregory Mouthpiece Saga Part V

When we left Part IV of the Gregory Mouthpiece Saga, we were looking at Gale Products, Inc., incorporated in 1948, and supposedly a continuation of M.C. Gregory's mouthpiece business.  It was implied that Gale Products, Inc. continued production of Gregory mouthpieces until it was sold to Charles Bay in 1969.  Further, the original Saga, when published in the Saxophone Journal, stated that the newly formed Bay-Gale Products began producing mouthpieces "one of them being the Gregory sax mouthpieces."  I can't wait to find evidence a Bay-Gale-Gregory mouthpiece.  I'm not holding my breath.  

First, let's go back to the start of Gale.  The 1948 Articles of Incorporation list the founding shareholders and complete Board of Directors for Gale Products, Inc.  They are Carl Satzinger, Roy J. Maier of Rico Products, Ltd., Frank V. deMichele of Rico Products, Ltd., plus a well known L.A. attorney, Nathan H. Snyder, and his secretary.  (It's not unusual for an attorney, and even his secretary, to sign incorporation papers at the inception of a corporation if there are insufficient people to comprise a full five-member Board of Directors.)  The business venture was named Gale, after Carl Satzinger's daughter.  You can click on these documents for a better view.

There are two immediate things in the Articles of Incorporation that don't support the story related in the original Gregory Mouthpiece Saga.  First, M.C. Gregory is nowhere to be seen in the newly formed Gale Products, Incorporated, which was claimed to be "his" company.  Second, Maier and deMichele, as the primary partners in Rico Products are listed as Directors of Gale Products, Inc. and the Articles seem to indicate that there was a $17,600 infusion of capital to start the new company.  Why would all of this be necessary if Gale Products, Inc. was merely a continuation of M.C. Gregory's existing mouthpiece business?  

There is really no evidence at all that Gale Products, Inc. was any type of continuation of M.C. Gregory's prior venture (which was never independently incorporated) or that Malcolm Gregory was ever involved in any way with Gale Products, Inc.  Based on what we now know, to support a claim that Gregory was ever involved with Gale, we are going to need some extraordinary evidence.

At about this time, the catalogs that had featured the M.C. Gregory Model A and Model B "Rico Products Ltd. Distributors" stopped advertising those mouthpieces.  It is not clear whether those pieces continued in production and, if so, who produced them.  The newly incorporated Gale Products, Inc. began making completely different models (a torpedo shaped piece, and later, the Gale Companion, apparently the same model re-badged, although the Gale Companion also changed over the years.)  There were also some oddball pieces like the Gale Triple Rail.     

Early Gale pieces were imprinted "Hollywood" in script and did not have serial numbers.  M.C. Gregory pieces all had serial numbers and "Hollywood" was always in block letters.  Later Gregory models, like the Master, were imprinted "Hollywood" instead of the earlier "Los Angeles," but still only in block text.  Looking only at the models and stampings on the mouthpieces, it is difficult to assert that Gale Products mouthpieces are in any way related to Gregory pieces, as was alleged in The Gregory Mouthpiece Saga.

This is a quote from the website Saxophone.org Mouthpiece Museum "From what we have seen Gale Hollywood mouthpieces were kind of all over the place as far as stamping goes.  It seems they never stuck to one thing."  Further, Gale mouthpieces never used the embossing stamps used on known Gregory pieces.  Gregory pieces seem neat and tidy compared to Gale pieces.  If M.C. was directly involved, how did things get so loosey goosey?

Satzinger family members were familiar with Carl Satzinger having developed a logo for Gale Products, Inc.  Carl was proud of the round circle formed by the letters GALE.  Here is the custom logo on a Gale Products, Inc. metal tenor piece.

Here is Satzinger's GALE logo on a hard rubber piece.

Gale Products, Inc. didn't seem to have had nearly the success that Rico had with the M.C. Gregory pieces.  Gregory by Rico mouthpieces, when advertised in the 1930's and 40's, sold at a slight premium even over the Otto Link hard rubber Tone Edge mouthpieces of the era.  Then, Gregory "Rico" pieces were dropped from the Selmer catalogs, but Gale Products mouthpieces were not picked up.  In fact, it appears that paid advertising for Gale mouthpieces is non-existent, although other Rico Products accessories continued to be offered in the later Selmer catalogs and advertised elsewhere.  And none of the Gale mouthpieces ever stated "Rico Products, Ltd. Distributors" even though we now know that the officers and directors of Rico Products, Ltd. were directly involved with Gale Products, Inc. as members of its Board of Directors (and certainly shareholders and investors.)

So how long was Gale Products, Inc. in business?  Some think that it was sold to Charles Bay in 1969.  Not true.  Gale Products, Inc. was incorporated on April 5, 1948, as shown in Part IV of the Saga.  In order to remain a corporation in good standing, it would make yearly corporate filings and pay excise tax by April 15th of each succeeding year.  That never happened.  Here is the record of the Franchise Tax payments made by Gale Products, Inc., also obtained from the California Secretary of State.  

It is blank.  That means that the corporate status of Gale Products, Inc. was revoked and it was administratively dissolved in 1949 for failure to make the mandatory filings.  Gale Products didn't last a year.  A legal courier service in Sacramento was hired and found that there are no further filings of any kind at the Office of the Secretary of State.  M.C. Gregory was never added to the Gale Board of Directors.  By April of 1949 the corporation was dissolved.  Satzinger, deMichele, and Maier were "out."  There is no evidence that M.C. Gregory was ever "in" and there is plenty of indirect evidence that he was never involved with Gale Products.  

Going back to the Articles of Incorporation for a moment, Carl Satzinger lists his address as 1096 Stueben Street, Pasadena, in April of 1948.  In the 1949 LA City Directory, Carl is back living at his mother's home with no occupation listed.  Satzinger family members said that this was not uncommon.  It looks like something went wrong.

There is also some evidence that when Gale Products, Inc. was dissolved some of the corporation's assets were sold to a local jeweler named Cesar Tschudin.  Remember Cesar Tschudin, the "company attorney" who allegedly ran Gregory's mouthpiece company for years until he sold it to Charles Bay?  Okay, first we know that there was no Gregory company, so there was no Gregory company attorney.  And the California Bar Association has no record of Cesar Tschudin (no surprise).  And there is no evidence that Cesar Tschudin ran the family business after Gale died (which she did not).  Or that Tschudin ever met M.C. Gregory.  Or that Tschudin played a musical instrument.  But we do now know that Cesar Tschudin was a really good skier.  I'll bet Charles Bay and Ralph Morgan did not know that.

Cesar Tschudin emigrated to the United States from Switzerland with the help of a skiing club in Estes Park, Colorado, where he taught lessons in the 1920's before moving to Los Angeles.  Early L.A. city directories and census reports list him as a salesman of redwood novelty items (1930) and jewelry (1940).  Here he is in a 1937 petition for the naturalization of his Swedish wife.

 At the time, he was a jewelry salesman living here in Apartment number 6.

In late 1948 or early 1949, Cesar Tschudin purchased the remaining inventory and equipment of Gale Products, Inc. and went into the mouthpiece business.  How do I know that he purchased the business?  Here is an inventory that Tschudin prepared in April of 1949 when he was seeking a partner for his new mouthpiece business.

That's enough for Part V of the Gregory Mouthpiece Saga.  In Part VI, I will continue with some of the additional documentary evidence and my theory as to how all of the history got jumbled up.

Monday, September 4, 2017

The Gregory Mouthpiece Saga, Part IV

In 1992, a three-part article appeared in the Saxophone Journal written by Ralph Morgan.  Among his many talents and accomplishments, Mr. Morgan was a woodwind historian.  The article, The Gregory Mouthpiece Saga, gave an accounting of the history of M.C. Gregory, a Los Angeles mouthpiece maker.  M.C. Gregory had been dead for almost 40 years by that time, so the article was based on secondary sources, i.e., what people remembered about what other people had said.  This blog, Part IV , Part V, and Part VI of The Gregory Mouthpiece Saga, if you will, is based on more direct evidence.  

This information was gathered in a collaborative effort, almost a full year, with Paul Panella (bluto on Sax On The Web).   We went back and forth, round and round, and back and forth some more on trying to decipher what we were learning and trying to align that with the prior stated history of M.C. Gregory.  It was frustrating to find evidence that just couldn't be reconciled with prior allegations.  For me personally, I basically decided to ignore most of the prior assertions and just go with what evidence we could uncover.  We found "dots" of evidence, but connecting the dots requires some (ongoing) guess work.  And if we had a picture in our minds of what the dots would create, that could effect how we tried to connect them.  All in all, a frustrating and fascinating endeavor. 

Why so many new parts to the Saga?  Because there is so much to correct.  Where the new parts of the Saga are based on conjecture, I'll try to make that apparent so that you can draw your own conclusions.  I will also include my own analysis and conclusions.  

A partial cast of characters:
Malcolm Culver Gregory
Carl Max Satzinger
Arnold Koenig Satzinger
Gale Satzinger
Roy John Maier
Frank Vincent deMichelle
Cesar Tschudin
Elmer Harold Beechler
Judy Beechler Roan
Nathan Harris Snyder

To begin at the beginning, Malcolm Culver Gregory was born in Beloit, Wisconsin on April 26, 1891.  On his 1917 World War I registration card, he lists himself as a postal clerk in Redfield, South Dakota, with a wife and one daughter.  He went into the service on August 10, 1918 and was honorably discharged on February 4, 1919, having attained the rank of "Musician 3rd class" in a Texas regiment.  

The picture is not of M.C. Gregory, just what he might have looked like had he played the saxophone as a doughboy.  Well, maybe not the cape.  Unfortunately, there is no evidence that he played a woodwind and I have yet to locate his service records, although they may exist. 

The war ended November 11, 1918, so M.C. was only in the service several months and never left the country.  (His contemporary, Mr. Otto Link, had a similar, even shorter, military experience, but that will have to wait for the Link Mouthpiece Saga).  Shortly after being discharged, Gregory moved his family to California, where his parents had previously moved.  His father Wallis was a private investigator is southern California.

We next find Malcolm living with his wife Hazel and daughter at his mother-in-law's house in Glendale, California in 1920.  The 1920 census shows that there was also a guest at the house; Malcolm's 60 year-old mother, Mary (Culver) Gregory, who lists her occupation as a piano teacher.  That could be the source of Malcolm's musical training.  Malcolm lists his occupation as a clerk at a shoe store.  Ten years later in the 1930 census, Malcolm lists his occupation as a salesman at a music publishing house.   He had remarried (Gladys) and his then 13 year-old daughter was living with his first wife Hazel (who had also remarried).

We should now go back and look at The Gregory Mouthpiece Saga as printed in the Saxophone Journal.  The article picks up where the above history stops and states that M.C. Gregory was "a fine woodwind man in the Hollywood studios"  who developed a line of mouthpieces in the 1930's and named his company (Gale Products) after his daughter, Gale.  M.C. later "contracted glaucoma" and committed suicide.  Charles Bay told Ralph Morgan that "Gale, in fact, was M.C.  Gregory's daughter, to whom he was very devoted, and who took a great interest in the firm." Gale ran the business until she "lost her life in a house fire."  The company was then run for 20 years by the "company attorney, Cesar Tschudin," who many years later sold the company to Charles Bay.  The Gregory Mouthpiece Saga also mentions Carl Satzinger as an engineer who developed the molds and equipment used by M.C. Gregory.  There is also a claim that a super-secret special rubber compound was provided by a local rubber manufacturer.  We've heard that one before.  And there is quite a bit of text about how Charles Bay really admired M.C. Gregory mouthpieces and jumped at the opportunity to own Gregory's old company.

We might as well stop at this point because the facts don't support any of this story.  In prior blogs, I have advocated that we should use Carl Sagin's rule of critical thinking - "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence."  I generally find that evidence, let alone extraordinary evidence, tends to be lacking in claims about musical instruments and accessories.  I'm going to give you my theory as to why that is. 

Musicians like things that sound good.  That's what making music is all about.  If an instrument or an accessory sounds good, musicians will buy it.  This also holds true as to assertions about musical instruments and accessories.  If an assertion about a musical accessory sounds good, musicians will buy it.  If the story sounds fantastic, they'll buy it.  If it sounds incredible, even unbelievable, they will still buy it.  I will try to resist this tendency of "musical make-believe" in telling a different version of The Gregory Mouthpiece Saga

M.C. Gregory did not have a daughter named Gale.  He did not have a company named Gale.  In fact, he never had a company.  He did not have a company attorney named Cesar Tschudin.  It is unlikely that he ever met Cesar Tschudin.  There is no evidence that Carl Satzinger developed the molds and equipment used by M.C. Gregory.  We have no evidence that Gregory played a woodwind or was a fine musician (nowhere is he listed as a musician of any type, unlike other characters in this Saga).  I could go on, but maybe we should just go back to what we actually know about Malcolm Culver Gregory and the mouthpiece business.  

Most of the information comes from public records.  Some of the information comes from my conversations with Gale.  Remember Gale?  M.C. Gregory's daughter who died in a house fire?  Since both Paul and I have recently talked with her, and Paul has met her, that part of The Gregory Mouthpiece Saga is easy to correct.  (Gale doesn't remember Malcolm ever playing a musical instrument.  Not that he didn't.  It's just strange that she never saw or heard of him playing anything.  Back to our story.)

M.C. Gregory's daughter was named Maxine.  She was married at the age of 17 to Carl Satzinger, age 25.  She was married in Arizona, apparently under an alias, and the marriage certificate was signed by her birth mother, Hazel, as Maxine was a minor at the time.  Using census records, city directories, phone books, draft registrations, marriage licenses, etc., we know that M.C. Gregory started his mouthpiece business in about 1935-36.   M.C. Gregory listed himself as employed in the musical manufacturing business beginning in 1936.  M.C. Gregory mouthpieces first appear in the Selmer U.S.A. catalog in 1937.

In 1938, his business address was listed as 1008 Hill Street in Los Angeles.  Here's a picture of it.  If you click on the picture, you can see that it's available for rent!

In 1939, Gregory was located at 5907 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles.  That store front is also still standing and was available for rent, but when I recently went back to Google Earth, the sign had been taken down.  

Neither location is what anybody would call a "factory."  They are of sufficient size to run a one or two man mouthpiece fabrication operation.  You may have read something about the M.C. Gregory "Company."  There was never a company.  M.C. Gregory never incorporated a business.  I think I know why that is.  M.C. Gregory did not begin as a stand alone business.  Let me explain.

No matter where his early business was located, the first M.C. Gregory Model A and Model B mouthpieces were all stamped "Rico" or "Rico Products, Ltd. Distributors."  In the original Gregory Mouthpiece Saga, it sounded as though Rico Products distributed "some" M.C. Gregory mouthpieces.  The Saga states "The Rico line of mouthpieces was a carbon copy of the Gregory, but with the Rico logo also imprinted above the Gregory name."  Unfortunately, there is no evidence of any early Gregory pieces that were not stamped "Rico" or "Rico Products, Ltd. Distributors" and distributed exclusively by Rico.  That lead us to suspect that M.C. Gregory was very closely affiliated with Rico and maybe even part of Rico Products, Ltd. from the start.  This is not just conjecture.

His association with Rico Products appears to have been very close.  Malcolm's 1941 WWII draft registration card shows him as a self-employed "reed instrument mouthpiece maker," but he states that his then business address was 407 E. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles.  That was the corporate address of Rico Products, Ltd. at the time.  

In the 1942 Los Angeles City Directory, Malcolm Gregory lists himself as a Manager at Rico Products.  Not as the owner of a woodwind mouthpiece business, but a manager at Rico, i.e., an employee of Rico.  All woodwind players know Rico Products because of Rico reeds.  They might even be familiar with the Rico Products, Ltd. major partners at the time, Roy J. Maier and Frank V. deMichele.  More on them in in Part V.

Based on the historical evidence, it is difficult to see any distinction between M.C. Gregory and Rico Products.  There may have been some business justification for making M.C. Gregory mouthpieces appear distinct from Rico Products, with Rico only being a "distributor," but in reality the businesses seem to have been one and the same.  Maybe a mouthpiece embossed with the name M.C. Gregory "sounds better" to a musician than the same mouthpiece embossed with just the name Rico Products?

Here is the first public advertisement we could find for Gregory mouthpieces, or maybe I should say Rico mouthpieces.  In the 1937 and 1938 Selmer catalog, the Rico trademarked treble clef and staff lines logo is embossed above the Gregory diamond logo.  Click on it to read the text about Rico Mouthpieces.

The text claims that Rico found somebody to develop a mouthpiece for them.   It was designed by M.C. Gregory with the help of musicians and technicians.  The Rico mouthpieces were available for several instruments and in many different lays and chamber configurations.  But it is a Rico mouthpiece featuring Rico's new trademarked logo on it (at page 2).  Thank you, M.C. Gregory, for developing a line of mouthpieces for Rico. Because some later mouthpieces had the M.C. Gregory stamp above the Rico distributors stamp, it was claimed that they were M.C. Gregory mouthpieces and some people lost track of the "Gregory by Rico" history.  

There is no evidence at this point that the tail ever wagged the dog.  By that I mean that the evidence is that Rico Products, Ltd had M.C. Gregory (its employee) produce some of its mouthpieces and not that M.C. Gregory had Rico distribute some if his mouthpieces.  Let's look at some more of the earliest advertising.  In 1938, the mouthpieces were advertised as Rico mouthpieces designed by M.C. Gregory (sorry about the low resolution).

The Gregory Mouthpiece Saga says that the logo in the middle bottom of the page was Rico's registered trademark in France.  Nope, but it was intended to look like Rico had some connection with France.  The Saga also states that the Rico Company was "then based in France."  Also not true.  It was run by two guys from Chicago.  Like other woodwind ventures at the time, implying a French connection "sounds better."

In 1943, it was still a Gregory "Rico" mouthpiece.  In a 1943 picture advertisement, the diamond had moved above "Rico Products, Ltd Distributor."  

Jimmy Simpson mouthpieces came out at about the same time and have been lumped in with Gregory pieces, although it isn't clear if the Simpson piece was another Rico offering.

There were also published tables for the tip openings and lays for mouthpieces of that era.  Here is a chart that has the facing numbers for Selmer, Goldbeck, Link, etc.  It also has facing numbers for the Rico tenor mouthpiece.  Notice that the Rico tip and chamber designations are what are now called "Gregory" tip and chamber numbers.  Somehow over the years, the Rico mouthpiece became the M.C. Gregory mouthpiece.

Here is an advertisement for the Rico Reloplex and the Rico Gregory.  Actually, the ad says Reloplex by Rico and Gregory by Rico.  

Somehow this all got interpreted as Rico was only distributing Gregory mouthpieces and every Rico mouthpiece, including the Reloplex, was hand made by M.C. Gregory.  Don't ask me how.  I'll get to more evidence in Part V that this is not correct.

First, let's move on to another player.  In 1936, Carl Max Satzinger, who had married Malcolm's daughter Maxine in 1934, was working at a battery business in Monrovia, California.  Thus, he was working full time at a different location in a different industry when Gregory first began production of his mouthpieces, so it is unlikely that Carl developed the first molds and equipment used by Gregory.  Carl later came to work for Gregory.  In a later Los Angeles City Directory, Carl Satzinger listed himself as a "clerk" working for M.C. Gregory.  So there is some evidence of M.C. Gregory and Carl Satzinger working together in the mouthpiece business for a short time.  It is likely that Gregory taught Satzinger how to finish mouthpieces, as Satzinger had no woodwind or musical experience.  

Oddly, by the 1940 census, Carl lists himself as a "manufacturer of musical instrument parts" with his "own business."  Also strange is that in the 1940 Los Angeles City Directory Carl's younger brother, Arnold Satzinger, is listed as a machinist for musical instruments.  Arnold's 1942 WWII induction papers also list him as a machinist of musical instruments.  In speaking with his surviving children, none of them were familiar with this part of Arnold's work history.  It appears that Arnold may have helped his brother Carl start a mouthpiece business.

Satzinger family members were familiar with the idea that Carl figured out a way to get around the rubber shortage during the war (Arnold went off to become a Navy pilot).  Carl developed a way to make mouthpieces out of resin (as did other mouthpiece makers).  What isn't as clear is what happened after the war.  We can tell from newspaper articles that Carl and Maxine divorced in about 1947 (no divorce decree found yet).  Maxine died on Valentine's Day, 1949, apparently from smoking in bed in her LA bungalow apartment.  But the strangest thing that happened during this time is that Gale Products, Inc. was incorporated on April 5, 1948.  You can click on this to enlarge.

The Articles of Incorporation that we obtained from the California Secretary of State claim that Gale Products, Inc. had been in business since 1946.  That may or may not be accurate.  As with trademark and patent claims, incorporation claims are sometimes generously backdated.  It isn't clear just how much of a going concern Gale was in 1946.

Gale mouthpieces are often included as being M.C. Gregory mouthpieces.  The only "evidence" for this proposition seems to be the story as told in the original Gregory Mouthpiece Saga.  But there is a simple way of finding out if the assertion is accurate.  We can examine the Articles of Incorporation to see if M.C. Gregory continued his company by naming it after his daughter, Gale.  Okay, we now know that he didn't have a company and that he could not name a new company after his daughter Gale because he didn't have a daughter Gale.  But forget about those inaccuracies.  Is there any plausible evidence that M.C. Gregory was ever involved in Gale Products, Inc?  

That is probably enough for Part IV of the Saga.  I'll pick up in Part V with what happened at the time Gale Products, Inc. went into business.