The Droll Yankees Story…
In 1960, Peter Kilham and his boyhood friend Alan Bemis started Droll Yankees for the purpose of making talking records of old New England. Both men had grown up in the elite society of Boston, in families of prestige and fortune. But both men enjoyed “swapping yarns” and the humor of “Down East” Maine. They wanted their business name to include the word “Yankees.” As Peter told the story, he was living in Providence at the time, and went to the Brown University library. There he started flipping through the card catalog, looking for something he could pair with “Yankees.” When he came to Balzac’s “Droll Stories,” he stopped.
Peter and Alan’s recorded stories enjoyed only limited success. But Peter had always been an amateur naturalist (along with artist, inventor and entrepreneur). So, with the equipment they had acquired for their talking stories, he started making nature recordings, with the goal of creating a “picture in sound.” His first nature recording, “Birds on a May Morning,” was used for many years by WGBH Boston as the 7 a.m. opener for the “Morning Pro Musica” program.
As an artist and inventor, Peter worked on many interesting projects. One of the jobs he had done was for a professor at Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), which resulted in some scraps of leftover plastic tubing. One Sunday when watching the birds, he thought of using this tubing to create a new type of bird feeder. A few minutes in his workshop produced a prototype made out of plastic and cardboard, but it was enough to fill with seed and hang in a nearby tree. It was soon filled with birds, and Peter knew he had the makings of a successful product. That prototype was the forerunner of the Droll Yankees A-6F, produced in 1969 as the first tubular bird feeder on the market. It is still one of our best sellers.
Peter cared about using quality materials, in innovative designs that birds loved and people found easy to use. At Droll Yankees, we continually strive to maintain those high standards of design and functionality, and we are proud to be recognized as makers of “The World's Best Bird Feeders.”