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 }

How to Play the Mandolin

02 October 2015

The first step towards mastery of the mandolin
is developing finger strength.
Daily exercises will improve digit dexterity
and harden the hand grip.

Remember, maintaining good posture is also an important key
towards advancing to the next level.


Students are encouraged to work together,
as playing duets helps with concentration
and cultivates good listening skills.

Pay careful attention to the music,
and learn to read ahead of the notes.

There are no tricks to learning the mandolin,
just a balanced approach between regular practice and musical fun.

* * *

These two young circus acrobats, presumably brother and sister,
are Les Andreu – Acrobates Mondains.
Their French postcards date from around 1906 to 1909.

Remember, playing the mandolin
can be hazardous to your health.
Always wear a properly secured safety harness.

* * *

 Laurens SC Advertiser
April 04, 1895

Perhaps the parents of Les Andreu knew about the Paris Medicine Co. which produced Grove's Tasteless Chill Tonc.  This mixture of quinine, lemon syrup, and other special  ingredients was a patent medicine concocted by a druggist, Dr. Edwin Wiley Grove (1850 – 1927), as a remedy for malarial childhood fevers and chills. A bottle cost only 50 cents in 1890, and supposedly "makes children as fat as pigs."  

It made Dr. Grove a very, very wealthy man.  

E.W. Grove sold his first elixir in 1878 through the company he originally started in Paris, Tennessee. Recognizing a need to reach a nationwide market, in 1889 he moved the business to St. Louis, Missouri. The drug company's advertisements used the fanciful image of a pig with the head of a smiling baby to create an instantly recognized brand that established Grove's Tasteless Chill Tonic as a national leader in the industry. 

Grove kept a summer home in  Asheville, North Carolina, a small town in the Appalachian mountains, which is where I now live. Since the 1890s it had a reputation as a healthful retreat for people suffering from the chronic conditions of tuberculosis. In 1913, Grove and his son-in-law, Fred Seely who was a pharmaceutical chemist and newspaperman., built the Grove Park Inn, a grand hotel and spa that became a focal point of tourism in Asheville. Ten Presidents, from Taft to Obama, have stayed at the Grove Park Inn.

 Cloverpoint KY Breckenridge News
May 14, 1890

This is my contribution to Sepia Saturday
which always carries a genuine guarantee to cure all ailments and complaints.


Postcardy said...

It is hard to understand how anything like the Tasteless Chill Tonic could have ever been popular. How could it be both tasteless and good tasting? And what does breaking chills have to do with making children as fat as pigs?

Lorraine Phelan said...

The photos of the child acrobats/musicians make me feel sad. The children are obviously multi-skilled but I wonder if they had choices, loving parents, any spare time to just be kids. Were the profits from performances put in bank accounts for them?

Jo Featherston said...

The advert for that tonic is pretty tasteless I must say, and the children's feats are so amazing that it's hard to believe they are real, but no doubt you would have told us uf they were just cut outs.

La Nightingail said...

Well, exercise is good for the health, and making music is good for the soul - however one chooses to do it. As for the Tasteless Chill Tonic, I hope neither of the Les Andreu children ever needed it. They had enough to deal with!

Barbara Fisher said...

Those two children are certainly very talented, but I do feel a little sorry for them. I wonder if they ever had the time to play.

Kristin said...

I wonder if the little girls neck receded into her shoulders as her brother kept balancing on her head.

Alan Burnett said...

In a theme that always was likely to stimulate the more exotic type of response from Sepians I eagerly anticipated your response. But even I could not have predicted acrobatic mandolin players. Wonderful Mike - a tonic to the senses far more powerful and efficacious than a cup full of Wampole's Preparation.

Wendy said...

As a handbell ringer, I also have learned to "read ahead of the notes." Thank-goodness my stand partner does not balance on my head.

It's funny how "tasteless" has both positive and negative connotations.

Helen Bauch McHargue said...

Babies cry for it? I wonder. Another great approach to the prompt.

Tattered and Lost said...

There was a horror or sic-fi movie that had a dog or maybe a pig with a human head. It was running down a street. I remember it terrified me. Can you imagine a child being given this tonic and then seeing one of the ads? I'd have run screaming each time they came at me with a spoon.

anyjazz said...

Fun stuff! I laughed all the way through.


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