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Made in WNY: Kazoos!



Eden, NY (WBEN) - It's been called the only all-American instrument, And it's made right here in Western New York, in Eden, at the Kazoo factory and museum.

For about a century, metal Kazoos have come out of this one tiny factory in a small Western New York town.

"Legend has it, that the factory was owned by Mr. (Harry) Richardson around 1915. It was a sheet metal plant where he made stoves and fishing tackle boxes," said Kathy Rice of the Kazoo Factory and Museum. "Around 1916, Mr. (Emil) Sorg and (Michael) McIntyre came in. We believe, legend again, that it was a wooden Kazoo (that Sorg and McIntyre brought to Eden). Richardson redesigned his presses, and we've been making Kazoos continually ever since."

Brian Mazurowski's reports from Eden:         Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3

Those presses that were redesigned are the same presses that make every metal Kazoo that comes out of Eden today. "Normally there's 18 steps to make a Kazoo using out presses that are approximately 105 years old," Rice said.

Only maintenance and a few safety updates make the factory and machinery different from what was used in the early 1900's.

 
Click through the factory photos below or click HERE for a larger version

 
While the machinery has stayed the same, the factory's owners and employees have changed a few times over the years.

"In 2005, Robert and David Berghash gave the factory to Suburban Adult Services. They are the group now making Kazoos. There's about 15 to 20 workers who come in each day, five days a week, making our Kazoos."

Suburban Adult Services works to provide individuals with developmental and intellectual disabilities different career opportunities. People in their program have been manufacturing the Kazoos for about a decade, with one exception... the Kazoos visitors can make themselves.

Hear an extended interview with Kathy Rice

Whether your kazoo is bought in one piece, or assembled by your own hand at the museum, it should be long-lasting fun. Rice says the museum has received donations of Kazoos that are nearing 100 years old from people who find them in their attics, and most of them still work.

Once you've bought or made your Kazoo, playing it is quite simple, if you can remember two simple rules. As it says on the package "Hum in large end... Don't Blow!"

If you can follow those instructions, you'll be off Kazooing just like many others around the world. And that's not hyperbole, this tiny little factory in the town of Eden gets visitors from all over the globe.

"We have people visit from all over. It's very important that the children in this area realize how important this Kazoo is to their small community. It certainly brings in people to stop at all the little greenhouses along the way to purchase corn and flowers. Our little restaurants here in town are wonderful to stop at. It really is important for the community."

 

Filed Under :  
Locations : EdenNew YorkWestern New York
People : David BerghashKathy RiceRobert Berghash
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