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 }

Music by the Lake at Glenwood, Minnesota

27 June 2014

It's summertime. The hats are white, the grass is up, and there's no ice on the lake. What could they be watching?

The children watch too, divided into separate clumps of boys and girls.

Some wish that they were on stage too. Then they could wear a different cap.

What has captured everyone's attention? It is a children's band concert with nearly 30 young musicians all dressed in white and wearing sailor hats (with a few adult ringers to play the solos.)

They are playing their music in the band shell by Lake Minnewaska in Glenwood, MN. Civic structures like this were once very common all across America as summertime concerts were regular events for small towns like Glenwood, which had a population of only 2,220 in 1930. Constructed of concrete and brick, the design produced very efficient acoustics that easily projected sound without the need for electronic amplification. This band shell was built in 1925 (we can spot the date marker on the right, partly hidden by the small tree) and it remains a feature of Glenwood's lakeside park where the sound of school bands may still be heard across the lake.  

What makes this a special photo postcard is that Glenwood, MN was the hometown of my grandfather, Wallace Robert Dobbin. He was born there in 1906 but by the late 1920s or 30s when this school band photo was taken, he had made a new life far away in Maryland where he worked at the Union rail station in Washington, D.C.

Of course Glenwood then changed from a hometown to a holiday destination. And in the summer of 1935 he took his wife - my grandmother, and their 5 year old daughter - my mother, for a trip to meet his extended family relations in Glenwood.  I believe it was their first trip to Minnesota and their first look at  Lake Minnewaska.  

They got a little wet.

On the left is my great grandfather William Dobbin, my mother Barbara Dobbin, my grandmother Blanche Dobbin, and my grandfather Wally Dobbin.     It is a moment of pure delight. 

This is my contribution to Sepia Saturday
where it's summertime and the living is easy.

The Leader of the Dover Cornet Band

20 June 2014

When did a bowler hat become a musician's fashion accessory? Especially for a musician wearing white tie and tails? Somehow it suits this rakish cornet player with his bristle brush mustache much better than a silk top hat would.

The photographer has posed him standing on fur rugs imitating grass, his arm casually resting on an immense carved newel post, and behind him is an elaborate backdrop of classical architecture, which I think resembles the Massachusetts State House.

Massachusetts State House
Source: Wikipedia

However the photographer was named Drew from Dover, New Hampshire which is on the northern border with Maine just above the seaport of Portsmouth, NH. The photo dates from the mid-1870s to 1880s and has been trimmed to fit into an album. This cornetist might have been relegated to the category of lost musicians except he was included as part of a set of photos.

All identified.

This photo was probably made by the same photographer but the card was trimmed more severely leaving just a bit of the same Gothic letters for Dover in the lower right corner. The cornet player is not wearing white tie and tail coat this time, but he is still very well dressed. The photographer has penciled in some improvement to his mustache and he also sports a small tuff of hair beneath his lower lip, which was a fashion popularized by several of the great cornet virtuosos of this era. The camera has even caught the ornamental engraving on his cornet. (click image to enlarge)

This third photo is a standard portrait and our musician is without his instrument. He appears a bit older and this time he wears a crisp wingtip collar with black tie. The reason we know it is the same man is because someone signed his name on all three photos. The handwriting on the maroon cards is difficult to reproduce, but on this cream color card the name is very clear.

R. L. Reinewald

With such a distinctive name and a location from the other photos, it did not take long for research to reveal that he was as distinguished a musician as he looks. 

His full name was Ralph Livsey Reinewald, and he was born in Lowell, Massachusetts in 1852. His father was a German immigrant and Ralph grew up in Providence, Rhode Island where he became an accomplished musician on the cornet. In 1870 he joined the US Navy to serve as a marine bandsman aboard the USS Vandalia. This enlistment lasted until 1876, when he took on a new job as bandleader of the Dover, NH Cornet Band. This is probably the time when the first two photos were made.

He played with that band for another 6 years when he was invited to take over the Salem Brass Band which had become famous under its previous bandmaster, Patrick Gilmore, a rival of John Philip Sousa. Gilmore went on to organize the great 22nd Regiment Band of New York, while the Salem Band under Reinewald's direction became known as the 8th Regiment Band of Massachusetts.

In 1900 he accepted an offer to return to the US Navy and become the new bandmaster of the Portsmouth Naval Yard Band. His commission was to train the best band in the US Navy. Reinewald, like many bandmasters of this era, was a self-taught musician who had no academic degree but came up through the ranks based on his reputation as a talented musician and composer.

In the navy, an admiral's flagship would always have a band to provide shipboard entertainment for officers, sailors and guests. Most navy band musicians could play string instruments as well as traditional wind instruments and they were equally adept at playing orchestral, opera, and dance music as military marches.

-- --

US Naval Band, Portsmouth, New Hampshire circa 1908

This image of the Portsmouth Naval Band is undated but was probably made around 1915-25. In the center of the back row, we can recognize that the older man with a cornet and gold stripes on his jacket - the bandmaster, has the same features and nearly the same stance as R. L. Reinewald in his first photo wearing the bowler hat. 

Portsmouth, NH Herald  June 16,1900 

As bandmaster Reinewald had freedom to organize concerts outside of the navy and to take on students. In 1900 he set up Reinwald's Conservatory of Music in Portsmouth and offered lessons on violin, cornet, clarionet, piano, trombone, guitar, mandolin, and cello. He also furnished music for weddings, concerts, balls, parades, etc.  His advertisement which notes Special Attention to Beginners was changed a few months later to read Special Pains Taken with Beginners.  

His concerts which may have included non-navy personnel, were booked into the seaside resorts and clubs along the New Hampshire coast between Maine and Massachusetts. On one engagement for the Portsmouth Athletic Club in September 1900, a local telephone operator arranged to have Reinewald's band concert transmitted over the telephone lines to several telephone exchanges in Massachusetts. This broadcast was only heard by other operators, but they were so impressed with the sound quality and the music that they asked to know the name of the band.

R. L. Reinewald transferred to sea duty in 1908 and made two European tours. After 30 years of exemplary service he retired from the navy but remained in Portsmouth where he ran a music store. The store sold instruments, sheet music, and offered music lessons on all instruments. He advertised regularly in the Portsmouth Herald newspaper  right up to his death in 1934 at the age of 82. In addition to an obituary (which has provided many of the details on his life), the newspaper also ran this special editorial tribute. 

Ralph L. Reinwald 1852-1934
Portsmouth, NH Herald  February 15, 1934 

Bandmaster Reinewald was a celebrated musician for good reason. He was clearly an important teacher for countless navy musicians as well as a honored performer in the Portsmouth area. He represents a tradition of musicianship and professionalism that was part of American military culture at the turn of the 19th century.

 *** ***

When photos like these are sold, they are rarely kept together. Undoubtedly there were other interesting photos in the adjacent pages of the Reinewald photo album from which these were taken, but we will never see them. But even more rare is the following bit of ephemera that came with the photos. It celebrates a special occasion in Ralph Reinewald's life – his marriage. It may even be the reason he once posed for a camera dressed in white tie, tail coat, and bowler hat.

It was 137 years ago on a Tuesday. June 19th, 1877 to be exact, that young Ralph L. Reinewald married Alice Gertrude Adams of Portsmouth, New Hampshire. We can only guess how long the ceremony took, but surely the party afterwards lasted much, much longer. He was a sailor after all. There was food, music, drink, more music and speeches. One of Ralph's fellow bandsmen delivered a poem that day. Sadly time has torn his name from the old paper, but his clear fine handwriting gives him a voice to tell the story of a young man about to embark on a voyage of discovery.

Dover N. H.
June 19th 1877

The following lines are respectfully dedicated
to Mr. & Mrs. Ralph Reinewalde by their author
Hen... Ho...pun( ?)

What are the bells all ringing for,
Now what on earth is up?
Has somebody been drinking of
Th' intoxicating cup?
The Turks, have they been beaten? or,
The Dutchmen taken Holland?
Wont some please, to tell me, as
A stranger, here I stand.

T'was thus I spoke, (while on a warm
And sultry day in June
I, in the town of Portsmouth had
Been cast by Dame [Fortune]
But ere an answer I could get
A procession came in view
And who, and what, I then did see
I'll now relate to you.

Now as they near, and nearer came,
A voice both loud and hearty
Cried out, "you now know what it is,
It is a wedding party."

T'was so; and in the mid'st there was,
One by who's timid carriage!
Showed he was going to be tied,
In bonds of holy marriage.

Now when [he] close to me had [come]
In accents loud I bawled
That chap! why dont you know
T'is little Ralph Reinewalde
And sure enough, the man w...
Frightened, and pale, did stan[nd]
Was Ralph, the well known Lea[der of]
The Dover Cornet Band.

For seven long years, he on the br[ink]
Of matrimony stood!
And shivered, and shook first s...
But now At last he said he would.
So now the've both made up thei...
That f... ... will be bet...
To sail the stormy seas of life,
As man and wife, together.

That health, and wealth, and happiness,
In this life they will see!
This is the wish of all the boys,
That play in the D. C. B.
And now to both, I'd like to say,
Ere the pen falls from my hand.
I hope they'll have a little Ralph.
To play in the Dover Band.

Alice and Ralph Reinewald were able to celebrate their 50th anniversary together in 1927. As far as I know they never had a little Ralph, but they did have a daughter, Asa. Did she ever learn to play a musical instrument? With a bandmaster father, what do you think?

This is my contribution to Sepia Saturday
where everyone sends congratulations to the happy couple.

On The Road in White City, Kansas

13 June 2014

It was Wednesday about 4:00 in the afternoon. First it was the sound of all the motors that alerted people that something was happening. Then it was the band music. Everyone hurried so they wouldn't miss them. The Herington and White City Commercial and Auto Clubs and Bands had come to town. Such an occasion merited a souvenir postcard and the photographer had the automobiles, bands, club members, and citizens pose in a big semi-circle across the main street of White City. It was April 13, 1910.  

Not long afterward, Vinie Kilchen sent the postcard to her sibling. 

hear is a picture of the otos
as thay look when thay came in
to town. You can see the Ladys
band, all got white avase (?) on.
the Hearington band is to the
wright of them. write soon your
Sister Vinia K.

I dont know where Vet
is. when he sent me the
card he was in Gold
feal Nevada. he sead he
would write soon but non letter

It was a big crowd for such a small town as White City, which had a population of 800, but this was an unusual event. The motorists in their caps and goggles had driven up from Herington, Kansas, which was about 19 miles to the southwest, as part of a two day tour of three Kansas counties by the Herington Commercial Club. A notice appeared in the Daily Capital newspaper of Topeka.

Topeka KS Daily Capital
April 12, 1910

The Herington Comercial Club (which may have been a fraternal/professional society) had 50 members and 12 to 15 automobiles. Their reported purpose was "to come in closer touch with the people" of Dickinson, Morris, and Marion counties. They had quite a rigorous schedule to visit 16 townships. Considering that this was travel over Kansas dirt roads, they were probably in closer touch with the dust than the people.

There were no car radios then, so the Commercial Club brought along the Herington Brass Band to play music at each stop.

 _ _

The band had 10 musicians with brass instruments and drums. They are dressed in typical bandsmen uniforms with military style hats. The name on the bass drum reads Herington Citizens Band. Since there was no band bus, they must have divided themselves up to ride  along with the club members.

The White City Ladies' Band was half again as large with 15 musicians, also all brass with two drums. The gentleman with a bowler hat at the left of the women is their band leader, Mr. Alfred Musgrave. More about him later. The women have no uniforms but wear white shirts and long skirts.

Topeka Daily Capital
July 8, 1908

The White City Ladies' Band had already earned a fine reputation in the state capital when the Topeka newspaper reported on the band in 1908 and included a photograph. The town had previously supported a gentlemen's band but it had "winked out" in 1906. But the women of White City were determined to have music so they organized their own female band in July 1907. It had 18 musicians under the direction of Miss Cordelia Thornley, a local school teacher.

Other newspaper reports from 1908 to 1911, had the band playing for county fairs, Chautauquas, and other community events throughout this region of Kansas that is south of Junction City and Ft. Riley. and northeast of Wichita.

_ _

On that spring day there were 17 automobiles on the main street of White City. All except one had open tops providing no  protection from dirt, sun or rain. The autos or otos, as Vinie spelled it, were a new innovation of transportation for the rural population of Kansas, that was more accustomed to using trains and horse wagons to traverse the prairies. Each automobile had a badge of the manufacturer on the brass radiators. The one on the far right is not clear enough to read, but the one next to it is a Buick, a General Motors brand still made in the USA but without the wood spoke wheels and running boards.

1909 advert for Buick Model 10
Collinson Automobile Co., Arkansas City, Kansas
In 1910 a new Buick Model 10 touring car would cost $1050. It had two bench seats that could seat 4 tuba players or more, and was promoted as being so easy to operate that a six year old could drive one. And start it with the hand crank too!

Today the main route through White City is on Kansas State Road 4, known locally as MacKenzie Street. On the far right of the photograph there is a sign for the White City post office. Assuming that government property has not changed location, the Commercial Club Automobiles are arranged near the intersection of MacKenzie and Adolph St.

If we pan to the right in Google Maps Street View we can see the White City post office building of 2014. It seems that in the intervening decades White City has seen some tough times. The population is down to around 600, and none of the 1910 street front appears to have survived into the 21st century. Though at some point the town did achieve enough prosperity to pay for red bricks to pave the street.

>> <<

Back in 2011, I posted a story on another postcard of the White City Ladies Band that dates from later that same year in October 1910. In this formal photo the 17 female musicians wear fancy embroidered uniforms with military hats and hold brass instruments and two drums.

This past year I was contacted by the granddaughter of the band director who stands in the center on the back row. His name was Alfred Musgrave (1874-1947). His wife Mamie Baird Musgrave (1877-1975) is standing far left on the back row with a tuba. In the 1910 census Alfred listed his occupation as Photographer, own shop, and most likely took this studio photograph and the outdoor photo of the bands and autos too.

 According to his granddaughter:

 He directed several bands in many small towns in the area.  He was also a band teacher in the local school and a photographer.  He may have taken this photo as he had a cable that enabled him to when he was also in the shot.  He often made postcards of his bands to sell to the members.  I think he is holding a trumpet or cornet, and I know he often played along with the bands.  The woman in the far left of the back row in your photo (holding an upright tuba) is my grandmother, Mamie Baird Musgrave (1877-1975).  She usually accompanied him when he went to those other towns, and she often played along as well, even with the men’s bands.   They needed a bass instrument, and her husband was the director.  What could they say?  As their kids grew up, they went along also.  I have several photos of my teen-age aunt playing cornet with men’s bands.  

Alfred W. Musgrave (1874-1947)
Source: Musgrave Family Collection

The White City Ladies' Band
White City, Kansas
Source: Musgrave Family Collection

In another message she adds:

  My grandfather, in addition to directing and teaching bands, was a piano tuner.  When my aunt married and moved to Steamboat Springs, CO, my grandparents would drive from White City across Kansas to eastern Colorado to visit his brother and then to northwest Colorado.  To pay for the trip, he would tune pianos along the way.  Many people had  pianos, and they needed a yearly tuning, I guess.  I think he made about $12 a tuning, which for the times and the Depression has always seemed pretty good to me.   When they were in Steamboat, they had a tent, and after a while a home-made trailer.  The   family had the makings of a band, and they gave concerts there.  My grandmother and aunt on tuba and cornet, Mom played the xylophone (bells), and son-in-law Russ the drums.  Grandpa directed, with help from his small granddaughter.

The White City Ladies' Band
White City, Kansas
Source: Musgrave Family Collection

I am very appreciative to Alfred and Mamie's granddaughter for providing these additional photos and a personal history that lets me tell a more complete story of the Ladies' Band — the Pride of White City, Kansas.    Thank you, N.L.

This is my contribution to Sepia Saturday
Click the link to hitch a ride to somewhere else.

Postcards of French Minstrels

06 June 2014

7.  Chanteurs des Cours
Avec une concurrence pareille, nous sommes!

7. Singers for Coins {Buskers}

With such competition, we are f...ed!

1.  Chanteurs des Cours

Sois bonne, ô ma chere inconnue
Pour qui j'ai si souvent chanté !

Be good, O my dear unknown
For whom I have so often sung!

2. Chanteurs des Cours

Nous so-o-o-o-o-ommes
Des nobles gentilsho-o-o-o-o-ommmes!

We are
Noble gentlemen!

3. Chanteurs des Cours

Jeunes filles, gardez bien
Ce qui vous appartient.

Young Girls, take good care
Of what belongs to you.

4. Chanteurs des Cours

J'tez nous des ronds par vos fenêtres
Par vos portes ou par vos greniers,
C'est pour soulager de pauv'z êtres
Qu'ont pas bouffe d'puis le mois dernier .

Throw us some pennies through your windows
By your door or your attics,
It is to relieve these impoverished beings
That have had no food since last month.

5. Chanteurs des Cours

C'est si gentil la femme,
C'est si mignon à caresser
La femme on ne peut s'en passer !

It is so nice a woman,
It is so sweet to caress
The woman you can't live without!

6. Chanteurs des Cours

Manon, voici le soleil
C'est le printemps, c'est l'éveil
C'est l'amour maître des choses!

Manon, here is the Sun
It is spring, it is the awakening
It is love, master of things!

8. Chanteurs des Cours

Emporte moi brise légère

Carry me light breeze

9. Chanteurs des Cours

Lou roussignol
N'a pas encore chanté

The nightingale
Has not yet sung

10. Chanteurs des Cours

Quand je vis Madeline
Pour la premire fois

When I saw Madeline
For the first time

[Aveugle de Nésense]

[Blind since birth]

Trade Card for A. Bergert & Cie.
Source: Wikepedia

This postcard set of humorous French characters was produced by the publisher Albert Bergeret (1859 - 1932) of Nancy, France. Each one was postmarked from 1903 to 1904 during the height of the postcard craze in France. In 1900 Bergeret's company printed 25 million postcards. Only three years later it tripled to 75 million making his firm one of the largest postcard companies in the world. Such production numbers came about with the development of the French collotype method of mechanical printing. The company ceased printing activity in 1926.

After the Franco-Prussian war of 1871, Nancy marked the eastern point of France as Prussia, the victor in this war, had annexed the region of Alsace-Lorraine. Most of the photo postcards Bergeret made were of the architectural and scenic sites of Nancy and the Lorraine province. But he also created many comical cards which proved to be very popular as they used actors and costumes to tell a short story on a theme and came in sets of 6 to 10 cards. In this case the Chanteurs des Cours or Singers of Coins represent the kind of street balladeers or buskers that were a familiar entertainment to people all over France.

The appeal of the sets was that they could be sent sequentially to a friend or relation for a postcard-a-day surprise. Most of these cards were sent by Raoul to his cousin, Mademoiselle Stephanie Jourdan of Rennes. Though I have a full set of 10 cards from him, No. 5, 6, 8, and 9 are from other writers to provide some contrast with the way messages were inscribed on the cards.

These buskers in their colorful bohemian costumes would not look out of place today on the streets of Paris or London. (Though I believe they were just actors and probably not real street musicians. In fact I think all 14-15 minstrels are portrayed by only 4 players. Follow the hats and trousers and you'll see that the faces repeat.) The string instruments – guitar, violin, mandolin – still remain standard equipment for street musicians, except for the man honking a brass instrument on No. 4. He blows an Ophicleide which I featured in 2011 using another copy of this same postcard. Readers can learn more about this odd and now obsolete instrument on my post entitled Oh Ophicleide, Ophicleide!  For the French public of 1900, it would not have been unfamiliar as it was still occasionally found in churches as a support for the low voices of the choir. But the sound of the ophicleide is rather unrefined and would strike most people as a rather discordant instrument. Hence its use as a clownish instrument.       

My attempt at a translation using internet resources (along with the valuable assistance of my wife) may not be exactly correct as there are some dialect words and old style contractions that are not used in the current French language, but I hope it conveys the wit and charm of these whimsical singers even if the subtle jokes remain unknown. Any improvements to the meaning are of course, always appreciated. 

This is my contribution to Sepia Saturday
where the theme could be anywhere the wind blows.


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