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 Snare Drum and Cornet

22 November 2011

A short fiction seen through the lens of an old camera.

"That's you?", asked the boy.

"Yes, that was me. It was a very long time ago," he said. "I played in the band at school." It did seem like another world. After two wars and so much change, it seemed like a picture of someone else.

"G... G... Gosh, I never thought of you as a ... a ... you look shorter than me," stammered the boy. "Who's the other fella?"

He looked at the photo again. "That would be Louis. He and I were best friends. We both lived on the same street, just a couple of flats apart. We made quite a noise practicing." He could hear the sound of the cornet and the drum now, mixing into the calls and shouts from the tenements and the rumble and rattle from the street.

The boy handed the photo back. "Where'd you get the instruments?"

"Oh, these were brand new. Father McDonnell got a special deal from a music store over on 48th St. Everyone got to pick out one and then we started lessons everyday at school. Father Mac led the band himself." He could remember little of the music they first played. But he could recall the concerts. Playing for the rest of the school; parades for the special saint days and church pageants; once even for the governor and the mayor. Music for almost every purpose, and he and Louie played it all.

He saw that the boy was still watching him closely. "So what happened to him?" 

"Louis? He almost finished out at Our Lady's School, but times got hard for him. His dad had a bad accident down at the docks and lost his job, and with a big family, Louis had to go out and get work. But the work he found was with some pretty rough people. Before long he was involved with some gang running whiskey and rum. It didn't end well". That day he read the newspaper report on the murder, and Louie's name jumped from the page, was a moment that still stopped his heart. 

"Father Mark?" The boy hesitated. "Do you think I could play an instrument?"  

"Sure you could. I bet you'd make a great drummer or cornet player. I'll have a word tomorrow with Sister Rose" He patted the boy on the back. "Run down and tell Sister Mary that I'll be down in a moment."

"Gee, you mean I get to choose?" The boy's eyes were wide with excitement.

"Yes, you get a choice. The snare drum or the cornet."

My contribution to Sepia Saturday
Click the link to find other enthusiasts of vintage photographs.  


Garnet said...

Charming. Both the picture and the story.

Wendy said...

I love this picture.

Liz Stratton said...

We are all thankful for those who bring music into our life in whatever form. Happy Thanksgiving Mike.

Postcardy said...

I played the snare drum in the band at school (though never at that extreme angle). I had a practice pad for practice that was relatively quiet.

tony said...

Marching To A Sad Drum......

Jinksy said...

Loved you photo! :)

Bob Scotney said...

A fascinating story to fit the photo.

I shall have to remember there is such a thing as a snare drum.

Marilyn said...

Wonderful post, loved it.

Alan Burnett said...

I have always wanted to try this approach. You not only show me how it should be done but you come up with the perfect description "a short fiction seen through the lens of an old camera". Love it.

Anonymous said...

Great photo and I like the way you turned the photo into a story. The boy on the left has an interesting angled button-down pocket on his jacket, and I'd like a pair of those boots! Jo

Little Nell said...

A lovely story Mike, but the picture is wonderful.

Howard said...

Great picture and story Mike.


Nice picture, and nice prose. I can quite picture the scene. One doesn't always know what befell folks in old pics. Nice spin to it.

Pat transplanted to MN said...

Wonderful tale and a great photo. I have often thought of doing something similar with my photos of unknown people in the families. You were first! Great job!


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