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Posted by Francis X. on June 26, 2001 at 12:50:10:

Fellow bassists:

As you know,I am trying to find a doublebass which will fit into my classic British sportscar(Morgan 3-wheeler). I have received a number of E-mails from happy Wankerites,as they call themselves(Juancaristas in Spanish)who informed me that the Wanker Mfg.Co has long been defunct,but that company founder,Walter Wanker still lives in Ylsiplanti,Michigan. I did call him,and he got me in touch with Gisella Schwantz,widow of chief Wanker engineer Helmut Schwantz,inventor of the Wanker Inflatable Doublebass. Helmut was born in Germany,graduated from Heidelburg University and for many years worked at Deutsch Gummipuppenfabriken,leading manufacturer of inflatable rubber items.
An avid amateur doublebassist,Herr Doktor Schwantz created the first inflatable bass in Dusseldorf,around 1950 but the rather stodgy and conservative musical establishment on the Continent turned a deaf ear to his solution to the unweidly wooden doublebass.

Walter Wanker sponsored Schwantz's entry to the United States,and appointed him chief of R&D. Wanker was a major supplier of flotation devices to the US Navy. Mr.Wanker encouraged the development of the inflatable DB,and when the defense cut-backs of the 1970's seriously affected Wanker's financial health. The inflatable DB was then seen as the key to the company's survival. Sadly,it was too late;the once proud Wanker Co. deflated and went under rapidly,and only a few hundred inflatable DBs were shipped-making then extremely valuable collector's items. Another one of Schwantz's inventions for the civilian market did succeed,however-the widely used "WANK-HER" life size inflatable doll,upon which healthcare providers practice CPR technique(clear airway,breathe,compress-you know the drill). Many people owe their very lives to Helmut Schwantz and his WANK-HER

Francis X.

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