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 Kid Band of Platteville, Wisconsin

30 April 2011


When early photographers arranged the camera for a band photo, it was usually with the musicians facing the lens like The Cadet Band  Another common photograph was the outdoor concert performance like the  Mystery Band. But snapshots of a band rehearsal are most uncommon, especially ones that seem alive with sound like the Kid Band, from the State Normal School, Platteville, Wisconsin. Fourteen boys along with their teacher on cornet, sit at their school desks surrounded by chalkboards displaying a generous amount of musical classwork. Is it after noon? I make it out to be about 4:30.

This postcard with it's encouraging question was sent to Allen Powell of Genoa Junction, Wis by B. Cushman on July 13, 1911. But as the postmark 19_1? is unclear, the year is only a guess. And another good guess is that Allen is likely the same age as these boys, as I could not find his name in census records. 

Platteville is a small town in southwest Wisconsin, not far from the Mississippi river. With a heritage of lead and zinc mining, there are lots of miners in the census. But what kind of job was a "zinc roaster"?

The card back also has a stamp for M.A. Bishop - Books & Stationary, Wallpaper. There was a Platteville resident named Myron A. Bishop, born 1846 in Ohio whose occupation was listed in various decades as landlord or hotel owner. But by chance on the same page of the 1910 Census was another name, Clarence Riege - age 26, occupation: Music Teacher, usually a vocation description for young women.

The State Normal school, established in 1866, was the first teacher college in Wisconsin. So this class might be for more than elementary music. Clarence Riege remained in Platteville as a music teacher through the 1920 and 1930 census, and in one genealogy listing I find him as a "Prof." at the Normal School.  Is he the band leader in the photo? Maybe, but it's just another guess.

My contribution to Sepia Saturday


8 comments:

Bob Scotney said...

Children playing music - not something we see so much these days in the UK. I would love to be able to read what was written on the blackboards (something esle that has disappeared over the years.)

Postcardy said...

a very interesting photo and postcard.

Howard said...

Fantastic postcard! Do you think all of the children in this card could read the music on the blackboards? I can't see that being the case in a modern school. The blackboards are worthy of mention too - they are enormous!

Kristin said...

I just attended one of my granddaughter's orchestra concert this past week. She is 12 and the gym where the event was held was full of students playing various string instruments. It was amazing to hear the difference between the 6th graders and the 8th graders. My grand plays the bass.

barbara and nancy said...

Of course that's the teacher. Don't you think? Especially if women were the usual band teachers.
Nancy
Ladies of the grove

Tattered and Lost said...

I just know the photographer kept saying, "No, don't play your instrument. Just pretend to play. If you play you're going to be blurred. Your mother will not want you blurred."

Alan Burnett said...

Love the photograph. It's the type you can enlarge it up and almost walk around, gazing at so many areas of fascination : the people, the instruments, the classroom.

Nancy said...

You must have an amazing collection of music photos. This one is really interesting not just for the musicians but also for the room. I wish we were able to read the writing on the chalkboards!

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