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
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Summer Music at Rye Beach, NH

17 June 2011

The sounds of summer are always musical, but once upon a time they were shared by everyone. A holiday at the beach in 1900 was never complete without music from the bandstand. Every resort and hotel offered extra attractions like a band or orchestra. Groups with a theme were popular favorites like Herr Blome's Berlin Meisters in Blackpool, England which I posted last year.

These five musicians stand behind a bandstand on the other side of the Atlantic in Rye Beach, New Hampshire in the summer of 1897. The large format photo has the double bass player marked as Paul Whiteman, along with two violins, a clarinet, and cornet. Their uniforms have fancy but discrete embroidery and they wear jaunty white nautical caps with a letter N badge. There is no music leader here, and the rest of the orchestra is probably out for supper.

Rye Beach is part of  Rockingham County   that small part of New Hampshire's Atlantic coastline  that separates Massachusetts from Maine. Tourism started in the 1840's with the Ocean House,  shown here in a stereoscopic card from the New York Public Library collection. Note the bandstand on the front lawn. Another large hotel was the named the Farragut House, capitalizing on a visit of the famous Admiral Farragut. Perhaps this connection and the nearby Portsmouth Navy Yard  explain the musicians' yachting hats. But unfortunately fire was a common hazard, and these grand buildings didn't survive into the 1900's. 

Neighboring Hampton Beach  was developed in 1907 when the New Hampshire beaches really became a popular destination for visitors from all over New England. This postcard is from 1914 and shows the band stand and the boardwalk. It was sent to Miss Irene Blessing of Leominster, MA.
We are having a great time Wish you were here with us.
We have three concerts a day here and oh such dancing. Minnie

I failed to find any records on the double bassist Paul Whiteman or his N orchestra. I do know he could not be Paul Whiteman (1890 - 1967) the famous jazz band leader of the 1920's. He and his comrades were no doubt seasonal musicians, perhaps a traveling ensemble that played the New England resort circuits.

One check was to go through the census of Rye, which was done on June 26, 1900. After several pages of the usual farmers, shop keepers, fishermen, etc. - all born in New Hampshire or Massachusetts, abruptly there are two whole pages of men with wonderfully melodious names like Giovanni Crestello, Franncesco Pappatoro,  Leonardo Belatriccio - all born in Italy. Over 200 men imported from Italy and employed to build the the Electric Railroad, the trolley car line that is pictured in the postcard. I would bet that several of them went on to become musicians in the hotel bands too.

My contribution to Sepia Saturday
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Karen S. said...

Great post, I really like the boys in the band and the street car...those were the days....when ever I get a chance to ride on I take it....we have an old street car at Lake Harriet they run up and down (a few blocks) but it's fun!

Bob Scotney said...

I just hope that the noise from the tramcar did not drown the sound of the music.

Postcardy said...

Interesting post. I rode the Lake Harriet streetcar that Karen S. mentioned last month. They have a bandshell and concerts there too.

Tattered and Lost said...

I love the casual poses of the guys, not the normal body stiffness one would expect. And how wonderful it must have been to be on that boardwalk and hear the music playing.

Pat transplanted to MN said...

When I started to look at this, I remembered the post from last year...those were fun times for the band and for those who could stop to listen

~Tracie~ said...

Great post,loved the boys in the band pic...I could hear the music from the bandstand :)

Christine H. said...

You've done it again. A wonderful post, combining great photos with equally great research and wonderful details - like those Italian names.

Little Nell said...

The seaside scene with bandstand looks very busy; everyone bustling abut in their holiday best! It seems curious that the message is written around the borders of the picture, but perhaps this is more common than I would know, not being a postcard expert.

Howard said...

Great post Mike. Mr Whiteman and the horn player have magnificent moustaches!


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