This is a blog about music, photography, history, and culture.
These are photographs from my collection that tell a story about lost time and forgotten music.

Mike Brubaker
{ Click on the image to expand the photo }

The Columbia Concert Band

28 July 2012

click the image to expand
What is outside the frame? What's beyond the image borders? That hidden time and place adds the historical dimension that the camera can't see and gives any photograph a second story. This band's photo is a perfect example of that extra measurement.

The large unmounted photo shows a 27 piece band of African-American musicians called the Columbia Concert Band with conductor Norman L. Black. A concert band often programed  more formal classical music than a marching band, and today it might be called a wind ensemble. Dressed in dark suits instead of the typical band parade uniforms, these gentlemen are ready to play some serious music on an indoor stage. 


The photographer, L.L. Foster, provided nice captions that explain the background story. On the bottom right is Federal Music Project, W.P.A. The Works Project Administration was a government relief program started in 1935 during the Great Depression as part of President Roosevelt's New Deal. It provided over 8 million people with jobs in public works construction, which built bridges, dams, roads, firehouses, libraries, schools, theaters and parks all across the United States. The W.P.A. helped thousands of communities and millions of families to survive the crushing problems of high unemployment and economic depression. It lasted up until Pearl Harbor and WW2 with a changeover to defense contracts, but was discontinued in 1943.


In the depression of the 1930s, musicians struggled for a livelihood too. Music halls and theaters had only just converted from live music shows to cinemas showing "talkies". Radio was still a new technology that was rapidly changing the public's taste for jazz and dance music. Even Prohibition had changed the way music was presented in hotels and clubs. One of the WPA's subsidiary programs was the Federal Music Project which employed hundreds of musicians and composers to produce concerts for the public. The FMP also promoted music instruction programs and some of the first studies of folk music traditions in America. Funding didn't last as long as the W.P.A. and ended in 1939. Among the many symphony orchestras and bands created by this agency was this one - the Columbia Concert Band of Chicago, Illinois. Their first gigs were summer park concerts on Chicago's Southside in 1936, and performances returned until 1940.


The band's photo has some interesting details. The fourth clarinet seated from the left holds a silver metal clarinet which was usually in the key of C, a whole step shorter than the other B flat clarinets. Developed for outdoor use with marching bands, it became popular with early jazz bands. They are no longer made but I have one which I converted to a more useful life as a table lamp.


The three players in the center are a flutist with a piccolo, an oboist with a larger English horn, and a bassoonist. An oboe, English horn, and bassoon are a special mark of quality as they were not common band instruments. Seated on the outside right, the first player holds a cornet while his colleagues all have trumpets. By the late 1920's, the trumpet was supplanting the cornet as the lead instrument in bands. On the second row is a quartet of mellophones, which are right handed, the opposite from horns. 




The band leader, Norman L. Black stands on the right, and this is where we go outside the frame. The Library of Congress keeps an online archive of posters made for the many WPA projects. Included is this poster from Chicago, for the Colored Concert Band, Norman L. Black conductor. I found a dozen Chicago newspaper notices for Norman L. Black and his band from 1936 until 1940. All refer to the Federal Music Project and sometimes call it the Columbia Concert band or the Colored Concert Band.

Despite these very good clues, I can't make a good confirmation of Norman in any census. But I have come tantalizingly close. In 1943, a Norman Louis Black registered for the draft in Chicago. Unemployed but his physical description is negro, 5'8", 155 lbs, complexion: light brown. Of note is his birthplace listed as 1893, Lincoln University, PA which was the location of the first black university in the US.

Using this information I found another Norman Black  in the 1910 census for the Pennsylvania State Industrial Reformatory in Huntingdon County. He was a little older, age 19, but he was also a negro and more importantly his occupation read: musician, band. But other than this citation, I found nothing else conclusive. 

A check of Norman's draft card gave an address and contact: Billie M. Black (no relationship marked) at 509 E. 48th St. Chicago. The 1940 census is not yet indexed for Chicago but you can still browse the new online images, and if you know the street address you can find the appropriate district records. Unfortunately Norman was not at this address in 1940, a dense working class neighborhood of porters, seamstresses, laborers, maids and steel workers, every one marked negro.

What draft cards were adjacent to Norman's in 1943? The name just before his, though only because of alphabetic order, is Nathaniel Hawthorne Black, born 1895, Pulaski PA, employer: US Post Office. His address in Chicago, 517 Oakwood Ave. was only a few blocks away from Norman's address. Could they be brothers? Again no luck for finding either man in this other district's records, but I did discover that in Nathaniel's block there are dozens and dozens of musicians living in apartments or sharing rooms - all listed as negro. One musician is Arthur Crittendon, age 24, occupation: musician, WPA project. There is Les Hites and Jimmie Noone: band leader. Al Morgan, Floyd Turnham, Frank Pasley, Nat and Aaron Walker, and Tiny Parnham: musician, orchestra. Alexander and Alestha Robinson, husband and wife: arranger, music house and pianist, orchestra. And another woman, Toni Anthony: vocalist, orchestra.

I may not be able to find Norman L. Black until the index for the 1940 census is complete. But I think I found the musicians he knew and maybe even some who are in this photo of the Columbia Concert Band. (Want to bet that the name of the trombonist standing on the right was Tiny Parnham?)




((OK I lose my own bet. He is not  Tiny Parnham, who was a pianist, organist and arranger who worked for a time at Paramount Records, and who was a big guy too!  Instead I think it may be Fred Garland identified  in this image found at Redhotjazz.com. of Chicago bandleader, Doc Cook and his Dreamland orchestra. Garland is the trombone on the left. He also played trombone with P.G. Lowery's great circus band ))


(((And I've just noticed that the musician on the right, identified as Clifford King, has a bassoon along with his other woodwind instruments. I think he is the bassoonist in the Columbia Concert Band.)))


But the larger history here is the way our society and culture used to have a very distinct line drawn between race. In 1936-39 when this photograph was taken, even Chicago, Illinois had segregation, even if it was not as overtly oppressive as the Jim Crow laws of the southern states.

When professional white musicians of Chicago organized their first labor union in 1901 with Local 10 of the American Federation of Musicians, the black musicians followed in 1902 with Local 208. It was the first and largest protective union for negro musicians in the country, and would include some of the great names in American music. King Oliver, Louis Armstrong, Muddy Waters, Cab Calloway, and Nat King Cole were members. The two Chicago A.F.M. locals continued on these separated but parallel paths until finally merging in 1966.


One of the questions on the 1940 census was to list the city of residence for April 1st, 1935.  Many of the musicians I found in that Chicago neighborhood had called New York City and Los Angeles their home in that year. They probably came to Chicago because it was the "Second City" where the arts were flourishing for all races, though in different worlds. Norman L. Black and his musicians of the Columbia Concert Band played for the black orchestras in the segregated theaters and nightclubs; toured with the many black musical groups on the vaudeville circuits; and recorded with the bands of the early record industry.

Undoubtedly they were very talented musicians but in this era they were prevented from ever appearing on stage or directly competing with white musicians. As ugly as that history is, it gives this sepia photograph a different story than the similar but paler band photos in my collection. Segregation would remain part of the entertainment industry for many more years, as orchestras and bands in America did not begin to hire black musicians until the 1960s. Thankfully those abhorrent traditions that kept music divided by race have long disappeared, but this photograph serves as a small memento and indeed a memorial to the many black musicians who struggled to play music during that difficult era.



This is my contribution to Sepia Saturday,
where you might learn the difference between pitchers and bowlers. 


A High School Orchestra

20 July 2012



Music in the schools does not always mean a marching band. At one time, school orchestras were fairly common, and in many communities, schools were expected to give children an opportunity to learn a string instrument too. These large format photographs are a good example of  how training on a musical instrument was once a standard part of scholastic life. 

Nicely posed in their rehearsal room or maybe the school assembly room, this orchestra of 21 students  has a nice compliment of 10 string players as well as some woodwind and brass. Their ages range from around 13 to 17 and they must be fairly accomplished as there are some trophies arranged in the back.




The second photo shows only 7 musicians: cornet, violin, double bass, trombone, sousaphone, horn, and oboe. The two players on the right are the reason I had to acquire this set. The young girl with her double horn and two-tone shoes seems very assured. Beside her, the oboist holds a refined woodwind instrument rarely found in a photo of any period. This instrument has a small double reed that takes more skill to prepare than the single reeds of a clarinet or saxophone. Oboists are often surrounded by more piles of wood shavings than are found in a wood shop whittling class. 


The back has a useful annotation:

Mr. Sears
Hampton -


Players in 1929 N.E. Fest. Orch.
Players in 1929 N.E. Fest. Orch.

Player on this end Eng. Horn

Player on this end Eng. Horn


So this gives a good date of 1929 for the photo and an explanation of who these musicians are (though inexplicably repeated  though inexplicably repeated.)

As I went to high school and college in Virginia, my first thought was that this school orchestra was from Hampton on the James River. But Hampton (or Hammten in southern speak) is in southeast Virginia and the geography would never be used to describe a North East Festival. So is there another Hampton?

As a matter of fact there are 18 in the US and 4 more in Canada. There is a Hampton  in Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Oregon, and more. Each a potential hometown for these young boys and girls.


But there is a clue.

The flag on the right is clearly an important civic symbol, but it drapes so that the logo is read from the back. Photoshop fixes that with a reverse of the flag detail so we can see a circular seal with a date and portions of some words:

UM REIPUB ....IENSIS 1784.

Unfortunately that doesn't match any state flag of the 18 potential Hamptons. 1784 is also an odd date, as it is not part of any American State symbol.

The large wall plague seems to depict 17th century men making an amphibious landing. That suggests an earlier colonial heritage, which rules out Minnesota, Nebraska, and other Midwest states. What about the faint image in the center circle? It's a ship of some kind. Is there a similar maritime symbol for one of the other states?









The flag for New Hampshire seems a very close fit, but the year 1776 is different and the words around the state seal do not match the flag in the photo. (It seems this flag is considered one of the 10 worst flag designs in the USA)








It turns out that the New Hampshire State seal was changed in 1931. Finding a decent image of the earlier seal proved to be a challenge but the detail makes everything clear.

The old circular motto is:

Sigillum Republica Neo Hantoniensis 1784


The year 1784 celebrates the adoption of the first New Hampshire constitution. The Latin words translate as: Seal of the State of New Hampshire, which is not as inspiring as the State's other motto: "Live Free or Die"   (Which was only adopted in 1945. The full quote is from General John Stark who declined an anniversary reunion invitation in 1809 because of ill health with the phrase: "Live free or die: Death is not the worst of evils.") 


The ship depicts New Hampshire's shipbuilding industry in Portsmouth, NH. But over the decades several variances had changed the original seal by adding figures of people and barrels of rum! This was too much for some sober citizens of the Granite State so a new seal was designed in 1931. 






The seven musicians of the Hampton, New Hampshire High School Orchestra rearranged themselves for one more photograph. You get a better view of the oboe, the horn player's shoes, and the socks too.


In 1930 the population of Hampton, NH was only 1500 citizens. Mr. Sears was Arthur C. Sears, listed in the census as married, age 33, occupation - Principal, Public School.  I'm sure he was very proud of his music students and their prize winning orchestra..






This is my contribution to Sepia Saturday.
Click the link for more fairies and young people. 






Lost and Found

13 July 2012


Radiators and mantlepieces. That's my answer. Whenever you've misplaced a photo, where should you look?   Radiators and mantlepieces. And maybe refrigerators too.  Look above, inside, underneath, and behind. Where the dust mites and spiders hide. That is where lost photos go.

This weekend, the photograph theme for Sepia Saturday is a young girl, no doubt a domestic servant, pushing a baby in a wicker pram along a parkway in Vienna sometime in the pre-WW1 era.  It happens that I have photos that are a perfect fit, but in a departure from my usual topic, these are not musical. 





Instead my theme is photographs lost and found. You see, I live in an antique house. circa 1913-14, that has been the residence of several families over the last 100 years. Its generous size with 4 levels offers many secret places where small things may disappear. When we first moved here, a failure to check all the doors led us  to discover an entire extra bathroom we had never seen before. But any vintage house requires constant maintenance and this one has been a never ending labor to re-finish and restore. At times that effort has made me an archeologist collecting the shards of a ancient people. Who lived here? What did they do? What were they thinking when they did this?

One artifact is  this first photo of two babes in a push carriage. Twins I think, but brothers or sisters I really can't say. They were found behind and underneath a radiator when I refinished an old floor.



The back of the photo shows it is a cut-down postcard, and someone has added a note.

Picture made while your
mother was wheeling you on
Bonnycastle Ave. near
Chichester Ave,
the year you moved
to L - from Lexington.
I think it was in 1912 or 1913.

No names. No other clues.







Nearby in the cobwebs was a marble, a couple of domino pieces, some paper clips, a pen cap, and a second small photo. This one has no note, but I believe is is the same baby carriage with the same twins, only a few months younger, so perhaps 1911. 



They are on a porch, but it is not the porch on my house. In fact the streets named are not in my city.  So where is this  L -  town?

If you use Google maps, there is a fun but useful feature that lets Google make suggestions. When you type in Bonnycastle Ave., Lexington, KY does not come up, but Louisville, Kentucky does. And it also has a Chichester Ave. that intersects Bonnycastle.  So I may not know who these tots are, but I know where they are, and if you'd care to stroll the same streets as these two babes, you can see the Louisville neighborhood here in Google Streetview.



View Larger Map


As any photo sleuth might do, I have cruised these virtual streets looking for matching porch balusters, but alas, could not find any like these. There are similar columns, but of course this second earlier snapshot could be in Lexington instead of Louisville.

In any case, these few clues don't fit with the history of the first family that lived in my house. They came from Germany and their children were born after 1912. Several years ago, when I was remodeling our kitchen, I uncovered a monogrammed silver butter knife that had slipped behind a cabinet. Those engraved initials, and my curiosity, led me to build a genealogy of the house. Using the city library's collection of old city directories and news clippings, I could identify the several families that have lived here, put a name to their children, learn their businesses, determine their school and their religion. That small mark on the door frame of the main entrance to the house? A mezuzah, a prayer token attached to a Jewish home. That scrap piece of old packing crate bearing the stenciled name of a WW2 army officer? A future son-in-law, identified from names in an obituary. When little antiquities like this turn up, I save them, and they get included in the household shrine.

So these two may have come from another later family. A photo album left on the radiator, probably in the winter when the heat would loosen the glue affixing them on the page. Lost and now found.




The basement of my house covers the entire foundation. There are 4 rooms: a generous coal cellar with a small pile of unused coal remaining; a furnace room now running on  gas; a large laundry room with three cast iron sinks, and a small room once used as the lodging for a domestic servant.

The room was very roughly finished, and in the winter took warmth from only the exposed uninsulated radiator piping. But for some reason there was a simple mantlepiece attached to one wall even though there was no fireplace. During my renovation to convert the room into a workshop, I pulled it away from the wall and this small photo fell out from behind.

Who is she? I don't know. She may have been the housekeeper - the maid, or just a friend of someone who once lived in this room. But this is North Carolina, where Southern traditions and culture kept people in separate black and white worlds for many decades. This tiny photo-booth snap is a powerful reminder that there were other stories attached to this house that were not recorded in a city directory. Did she know the twins? Could she have pushed them on a stroll around Bonnycastle and Chichester?

I think the power of historical ephemera like these three photos comes from the frozen moment. What do we see? Stories and documents may describe and connect us in other ways to a history, especially to a specific place like my house, but they are always an interpretation. A photograph can often say so much more in an instant. And with these images, I can take some satisfaction in restoring what was once lost to something now found.


UPDATE:       Thanks to Brett's enthusiasm (see his comments below ˅) I decided to do a hunt from the other side for twins, i.e. rechecking the family names that I know are attached to this house.  Alas, I could not find any connection to Louisville or to Kentucky. Part of the problem is that their birth year of 1911-12 falls just after the 1910 census and by the next one in 1920 the haystack gets even higher for finding needles. 

But I did discover that I had overlooked a line in the 1930 Census and the first family who lived here had not one, but two domestic servants, a man and a woman, both black. Scott Hester and Nora Grayson. Nora was listed in the 1938 Asheville City Directory at this address, along with her husband Theodore Grayson, butler. And then I found both again in the new 1940 census, ages 35 and 31, occupations: cook and houseman.   So I may not have identities for the twins, but I can at last provide real characters for my own edition of Upstairs/Downstairs. The old enameled baking table on which Nora undoubtedly made many biscuits was still in the basement when we moved here. It is now back in daily use as the central countertop to the kitchen that I rebuilt a few years ago. 

And for additional trivia, while examining the draft card registrations and passport applications of the father and son who lived here from 1915 to 1952, I learned that Dad was only 5' 5" but his son was 6' 4½"! (the draft board was very exact)  By strange coincidence that is only ½" taller than my son.






These two fellows could hardly be mistaken for twins, but I feel this recent sepia photo makes a nice coda to my story this weekend. The fuzzy one on the left is myself standing with Alan Burnett, who Sepia Saturday regulars will recognize as our esteemed theme master and a wonderful writer and photographer on his own blog, News From Nowhere . On a trip to Britain last month, my wife and I were able to meet Alan at his home and I can wholeheartedly confirm his notion that friendship between bloggers works even better in the real time and space continuum. It's almost as if we had adjoining desks in the same newsroom or played next to each other in the same band. I look forward to future visits.





Follow the link for more babes on  Sepia Saturday


The Bandwagon

06 July 2012


Follow the Bandwagon! A phrase that once conjured up excitement, wonder, and anticipation when the circus came to town. And what magnificent wagons they were! These marvels of circus art were covered with ornate carvings, painted and gilded in ways to attract the public's attention. Called a Tableau, each wagon was different and the bandwagon was often the best and the first in any circus parade.

This bandwagon is from the Sells-Floto Circus.  It has a handwritten caption in ink - Leaving lot for parade Long beach Cal. It shows a band of about 12 musicians, mostly brass and drums, perched high atop a wagon decorated with an elephant and its mahout.



This second bandwagon is drawn by a splendid team of 8 matching dappled grey horses, complete with plumes and fancy tack. The band is a bit obscured but you can see the bass drum and a tuba behind another floridly carved wagon tableau. This photo is marked Cole Bros. Circus 1936. Since every circus traveled by rail, the horses had practical use pulling the show people and equipment from the train depot to the tent grounds.




This photo shows two wagons, an elaborate bandwagon at the back, emblazoned with a running lion and pulled by white horses; and in the front a much much smaller wagon pulled by 8 miniature ponies, with plumes too. It is marked Parade Wagons "Great Wallace Circus" 1904.  Perhaps that wagon had a midget clown band.

The Great Wallace circus ran from 1884 until 1907 when it bought a rival company run by Carl Hagenbeck and became  the Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus. Here is the route that this circus played in 1904, as provided by that wonderful internet compendium of all things circus - The Circus Historical Society .  Imagine how this would look on Google Maps if Streetview only had a time machine feature.

            Great Wallace Shows, 1904


April
30 - Peru, Indiana
May

1 - Sunday
2 - Muncie, Indiana
3 - Richmond, Indiana
4 - Marion, Indiana
5 - Anderson, Indiana
6 - Logansport, Indiana
7 - Danville, Illinois
8 - Sunday
9 - Springfield, Illinois
10 - Hannibal, Missouri
11 - Moberly, Missouri
12 - Richmond, Missouri
13 - St. Joseph, Missouri
14 - Leavenworth, Kansas
15 - Sunday
16 - Topeka, Kansas
17 - Emporia, Kansas
18 - Wichita, Kansas
19 - Winfield, Kansas
20 - Independence, Kansas
21 - Chanute, Kansas
22 - Sunday
23 - Pittsburg, Kansas
24 - Aurora, Missouri
25 - Springfield, Missouri
26 - Joplin, Missouri
27 - Webb City, Missouri
28 - Carthage, Missouri
29 - Sunday
30 - Atchinson, Kansas
June

1 - Lincoln, Nebraska
2 - Omaha, Nebraska
3 - Council Bluffs, Iowa
4 - Jefferson, Iowa
5 - Sunday
6 - Des Moines, Iowa
7 - Oskaloosa, Iowa
8 - Marshalltown, Iowa
9 - Cedar Rapids, Iowa
10 - Waterloo, Iowa
11 - Dubuque, Iowa
12 - Sunday
13 - LaCrosse, Wisconsin
14 - Winona, Minnesota
15 - Rochester, Minnesota
16 - Red Wing, Minnesota
17 - Menomonie, Wisconsin
18 - Marshfield, Wisconsin
19 - Sunday
20 - Racine, Wisconsin
21 - Waukegan, Illinois
22 - Elgin, Illinois
23 - Spring Valley, Illinois
24 - Geneseo, Illinois
25 - Morris, Illinois
26 - Sunday
27 - Valparaiso, Indiana
28 - Cassopolis, Michigan
29 - Charlotte, Michigan
30 - Hudson, Michigan
July

1 - Paulding, Ohio
2 - Van Wert, Ohio
3 - Sunday
4 - Bowling Green, Ohio
5 - Toledo, Ohio
6 - Defiance, Ohio
7 - Butler, Indiana
8 - Angola, Indiana
9 - Albion, Michigan
10 - Sunday
11 - Lapeer, Michigan
12 - Caro, Michigan
13 - Saginaw, Michigan
14 - Flint, Michigan
15 - Clare, Michigan
16 - Cadillac, Michigan
17 - Sunday
18 - Traverse City, Michigan
19 - Kalkaska, Michigan
20 - Big Rapids, Michigan
21 - Grand Rapids, Michigan
22 - Allegan, Michigan
23 - La Grange, Indiana
24 - Sunday
25 - New Castle, Indiana
26 - Connersville, Indiana
27 - Shelbyville, Indiana
28 - Lebanon, Indiana
29 - Fowler, Indiana
30 - Paxton, Illinois
31 - Sunday
                August
1 - Linton, Indiana
2 - Newton, Illinois
3 - Mattoon, Illinois
4 - Lincoln, Illinois
5 - Jacksonville, Illinois
6 - Carthage, Illinois
7 - Sunday
8 - Keokuk, Iowa
9 - Kahoka, Missouri
10 - Memphis, Missouri
11 - Centerville, Iowa
12 - Croydon, Iowa
13 - Leon, Iowa
14 - Sunday
15 - Creston, Iowa
16 - Nebraska City, Nebraska
17 - Auburn, Nebraska
18 - Holton, Kansas
19 - Washington, Kansas
20 - Beloit, Kansas
21 - Sunday
22 - Osborne, Kansas
23 - Concordia, Kansas
24 - Abilene, Kansas
25 - Salina, Kansas
26 - Osage City, Kansas
27 - Garnett, Kansas
28 - Sunday
29 - Newton, Kansas
30 - Great Bend, Kansas
31 - Kinsley, Kansas
September

1 - Larned, Kansas
2 - Conway Springs, Kansas
3 - Eldorado, Kansas
4 - Sunday
5 - Eureka, Kansas
6 - Yates Center, Kansas
7 - Coffeyville, Kansas
8 - Muskogee, Oklahoma
9 - Fort Smith, Arkansas
10 - Clarkesville, Arkansas
11 - Sunday
12 - Memphis, Tennessee
13 - Covington, Tennessee
14 - Dyersburg, Tennessee
15 - Martin, Tennessee
16 - Paducah, Kentucky
17 - Princeton, Kentucky
18 - Sunday
19 - Central City, Kentucky
20 - Springfield, Tennessee
21 - Franklin, Tennessee
22 - Lawrenceburg, Tennessee
23 - Florence, Alabama
24 - Columbia, Tennessee
25 - Sunday
26 - Pulaski, Tennessee
27 - Athens, Alabama
28 - Decatur, Alabama
29 - Cullman, Alabama
30 - Calera, Alabama
October

1 - Montgomery, Alabama
2 - Sunday
3 - Greenville, Alabama
4 - Andalusia, Alabama
5 - Evergreen, Alabama
6 - Mobile, Alabama
7 - Gulfport, Mississippi
8 - Hattiesburg, Mississippi
9 - Sunday
10 - Laurel, Mississippi
11 - Jackson, Mississippi
12 - McComb, Mississippi
13 - Amite, Louisiana
14 - Brookhaven, Mississippi
15 - Hazelhurst, Mississippi
16 - Sunday
17 - Kosciusko, Mississippi
18 - Water Valley, Mississippi
19 - Vaiden, Mississippi
20 - Lexington, Mississippi
21 - Yazoo City, Mississippi
22 - Utica, Mississippi
23 - Sunday
24 - Winnsboro, Louisiana
25 - St. Joseph, Louisiana
26 - Lake Providence, Louisiana
27 - Hamburg, Arkansas
28 - Warren, Arkansas
29 - Arkansas City, Arkansas
30 - Sunday
31 - Hot Springs, Arkansas
November

1 - Arkadelphia, Arkansas
2 - Nashville, Tennessee
End of season

If my counting is correct that's 160 dates with no shows on Sundays. Still want to follow the bandwagon?




This last wagon is not, strictly speaking, a bandwagon, but it is musical. It is the Carillon for the Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus.  A carillon is usually a consort of different sized bronze or brass  bells suspended in a church tower and played by a group of bell ringers pulling on ropes. Sometimes these bells can have their own separate tower, and a remote device connects them to just one person who plays the bells by hammering their fists on a set of levers arranged into a keyboard. This carillon wagon must have been made extra heavy-duty for the great weight of the bells. It may have had a steam powered mechanism similar to a music box to play tunes as it moved in the parade. The digital image collection of the University of Maryland has a neat photo of the Hagenbeck-Wallace Carillon as it get ready to join the parade. Look to the left of the photo.

Unlike the other photos this one is posed and would seem to show the carillon player with wife and daughter. Or he might be the circus manager. The Hagenbeck-Wallace company was bought by the Ringling Circus in 1929 and continued to operate until 1938.

All of these photos are proper photographs and not postcards. They are marked on the back with a stamp by a very specialized photographer.

Circus Snaps
Robert D. Good
Allentown, PA.







Robert Good was a pharmacist and avid circus fan. For many years in the 40s and 50s  he advertised in various magazines, principally Billboard, offering reprints of his circus photo collection to the many circus enthusiasts in America. It was a popular hobby and must have kept Mr. Good busy.

I'm unsure just how many photos were taken with his camera, but he was not the only dealer selling circus photos. This last page was taken from the circus fan club journal, The Bandwagon, March 1946., again from the Circushistory.org website. Who would think that contortionists could be a hobby? Is that like yoga?












I know I would follow the bandwagon. Wouldn't you?
But if you would like to see more elephants, large and small,
follow the link to Sepia Saturday.



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