A new home for the beloved accordion museum, at the depot
NORTH CANAAN — The newest arrival at Union Station depot in North Canaan isn’t a train. It’s 374 accordions and a jukebox.
Paul Ramunni has been running the New England Accordion Connection and Museum Company out of his home in North Canaan for several years.
He explained on Saturday, July 17 — at the height of North Canaan’s Railroad Days events — that the house where he stored his accordions recently sold.
“We had to get the collection out.”
Which coincided with the availability of a nice big space in the newly restored station.
“We’re so lucky we connected,” said Ramunni. “We just moved in last week.”
The return to the building is particularly meaningful for Ramunni, who owned the depot in 2001 when an arson fire partially destroyed it. Ramunni was an accountant before retiring.
The space has every sort of accordion imaginable. Some are for sale; Ramunni also offers repairs and lessons.
He was asked how he finds parts.
He doesn’t. “We have to manufacture the pieces we need.”
There’s an instrument that belonged to Caesar Dicato, who used to play for gangster Al Capone.
Ramunni said Capone was in the habit of summoning Dicato at any time. Dicato always went.
When his family objected, Dicato had a simple reply.
“Would you like to me to tell him ‘no’?”
There’s an instrument designed by Faithe Deffner, with a flattened keyboard and the capacity to add distortion.
Ramunni said this was an attempt to recast the accordion — to make it as cool as the electric guitar.
The attempt was unsuccessful.
And there is an instrument donated by the Polish American club of Sarasota, Fla., purporting to be Lawrence Welk’s first accordion.
“I can’t prove it,” said Ramunni. “It’s amazing how many people remember Lawrence Welk.”
He showed a reporter a photograph of John Lennon, ca. 1967, playing an accordion.
A woman with two children came in. Ramunni fired up the Wurlitzer jukebox (which plays CDs, not 45s).
“Just Because,” by Frank Yankovich boomed out. The kids stared at the jukebox.
Ramunni said young people are interested in the accordion because, in part, it’s so different.
“It’s not just pushing a button. You can make music.”