Site hosted by Build your free website today!
Back to Home Page

The Cholla Victrola!

Here's an unusual Victrola made from Cholla Cactus!

This example belongs to John Maeder who provided the photographs.

This Victrola was custom-encased in a cholla (pronounced 'choya') cactus wood veneer cabinet in the late-1920's or early 1930's, most likely by Herb Wood.  Research has revealed that Wood operated a roadside business on Highway 89A between Tucson and Florence, Arizona from the 1920's until the late 1950's where he made and sold cholla cactus furniture and souvenirs, including large scale pieces such as grandfather clocks and roll top desks.  This Victrola is made exactly in the style and technique of Mr. Wood, and reportedly was purchased by a previous owner from the estate of a famous silent movie cowboy in Sierra Madre, California in the early 1940's -- although unfortunately the cowboy's name was forgotten by family members of the purchaser.  Tom Mix maintained a cabin in Sierra Madre canyon and also a ranch along 89A close to Wood's studio, until Mix's death in a bizarre single-car accident along 89A (involving a suitcase in the backseat of his Cord convertible) in 1940.  

Although the evidence is entirely circumstantial, it is probable that this unusual (and likely one-of-a-kind) Victrola was commissioned or purchased from Wood by Mix, and at some was taken to his Sierra Madre cabin.  Underneath the skillful veneer work is an oak Victrola XI.  Of course, cactus spine needles and sharpeners are stored under the lid as well, and a Gennett sound effects recording of coyotes howling is alternated on the turntable with a copy of 'The Desert Song'. 

-------John Maeder