Why march in a parade when you could ride? No sensible musician would pass up a spot on the band wagon. But for a parade vehicle of 1910, horse power had a new meaning when the Mason City Band rode on a motorized touring bus.
Fifteen musicians plus a driver, direct their attention toward the camera in this postcard from Mason City, Iowa. The front of the bus has the marque The Overland for the Overland Automobile Company, of Terre Haute, Indiana, which began building motorcars in 1903. The company was sold in 1908 to John North Willys who renamed it the Willys-Overland company, which became best known in World War 2 as the manufacturer of the all purpose military vehicle, the Jeep.
The model number for this bus is not known, nor is the horsepower, however notice that the rear wheels are chain driven.
|Source: Library of Congress|
This photograph is titled Seeing Chicago, auto at Monroe near State, Chicago, Ill. and comes from the archives of the Library of Congress. The photographer was Hans Behm and it dates between 1900 and 1915. The radiator grill is not visible, but many details like the shape of the seats and the running board are so like the Mason City vehicle that I believe it is also an Overland touring bus.
The photographer of the Mason City brass band was standing opposite a building with a sign for
W.J. Daly Co. ...UMBING. This was William J. Daly, whose plumbing company specialized in steam and hot water heating and was located on 314 N. Main St in Mason City. Some years later the street was renamed to N. Federal Ave. Unfortunately Google Street View has not yet mapped downtown Mason City for us to see if the building is still there.
|1910 Mason City, IA city directory|
The back of the postcard shows a postmark of OCT 22, 1910 and is addressed to Mr. Harold Hazen of Garden City, Kansas.
Dear Son I am at Mason today it has been raining for some days but it is clear this morning I have been trying to start home for a week but have not got started yet but I am going to start Mon shure am going back to Rockwell this afternoon going out Home tomorrow and start home at 6 ...day Mom ur.. love
In the 1901 census, Harold Hazen, age 17, lived on a farm outside of Garden City, KS with his parents Henry D. and Rhoda J. Hazen and 4 sibilings.
|1910 Mason City, IA city directory|
The population of Mason City was approximately 16,800 in the 1910 city directory which listed six bands and orchestras, including the Mason City Band of 25 pieces. It was directed by Harry B. Keeler who also was listed as the president of the Mason City College of Music on 744 E. State St. Mr. Keeler believed his town could be the equal to any of the big cities back east, and he promoted the band as a way of developing Mason City as a center of culture. He must have been a perceptive music director because he recognized talent in a young boy who would one day put Mason City on America's musical map. With 76 trombones.
Today, not far from where Mr. Daly had his plumbing office, is the Music Man Square, a museum and community center devoted to Mason City's favorite son, the composer Meredith Willson (1902 – 1984) who wrote many songs and Broadway musicals, the most famous being The Music Man. Willson developed his early aptitude for music on the piccolo and flute, and in 1918 went off to New York City to study at Frank Damrosch's Institute of Musical Art, now called the Julliard School.
At age 19 he left the school to join John Philip Sousa's band. After working with the premier band in America for a couple of years, he returned to New York to play flute and piccolo with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra under Arturo Toscanini. In 1929 he left for California to pursue a career in Hollywood composing music for the new media of radio and movies with sound. The Music Man was Willson's first musical and was produced in 1957 based on material from his 1948 memoir There I Stood With My Piccolo.
|Meredith and Rini Willson from their weekday NBC radio program Ev'ry Day.|
According to a biography, Meredith Willson, America's Music Man by Bill Oates, Willson got his professional start by playing the piccolo with the Mason City Band under Harry Keeler. Did he ever get to ride on the Overland touring bus? If he did, the most sensible and less deafening place to seat a piccoloist would be on the back right. You have to watch where you point those things!
For another band that might have influenced Meredith Willson, read this post I wrote in 2011 on The Orphans Home Band of Mason City, Iowa. There will be another installment on that story in the near future.
This is my contribution to Sepia Saturday
click the link for more stories on wheels.