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 in the Air

17 August 2018

Music can send you up
or bring you down.
Rock you to sleep
or set your feet in motion.

Romantic Nocturnes for moonlit nights,
or sprightly songs for sunny days,
there is always a tune
for any sentiment.

Herzlichen Glückwunsch
zum Geburtstag!

Hearty Congratulations
on your Birthday!

This postcard of a musical airship was sent from Rostock, Germany on the 22nd of July, 1910 to Walter Hasselfeldt. Rostock is a port city in the north German state Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, situated at the mouth of the Warnow river on the Baltic Sea coast. 

Though the postcard artist took some imaginative license to suspend a small orchestra in a gondola beneath an airship, his design was actually very close to the real design of the LZ4, an experimental airship constructed under the direction of Ferdinand von Zeppelin (1838-1917). Count von Zeppelin was a scion of a noble family that came from Zepelin, a municipality of Rostock where this postcard was mailed.,

Zeppelin LZ4,
preparing for departure on 04 August 1908
The first flight of the LZ4 was on the 20th June 1908. The airship was the fourth model of Count von Zeppelin's lighter-than-air designs. It was 136 m (446 ft) long and 12.95 m (42 ft 6 in) in diameter. Lift was provided by hydrogen gas and it was powered by two Daimler piston engines, each generating 105 hp. It successfully made a round trip flight across Switzerland and back to Lake Constance reaching an altitude of 795 m (2,600 ft).

During it next major test flight on 4 August 1908, the LZ4 was tragically destroyed in a fire when it came down for emergency engine repairs at Echterdingen, south of Stuttgart. The airship was docked, but the mooring tethers broke due to strong winds. It crashed into some trees and a static spark ignited the hydrogen. An estimated 40 to 50 thousand spectators witnessed the accident, but the public was so enthralled by the wonder of lighter-than-air flight that within 24 hours of the crash, Zepplin had received enough money in unsolicited donation to rebuild a new airship.

wreckage of Zeppelin LZ4,
near  Echterdingen, Germany  05 August 1908.

This is my contribution to Sepia Saturday
click the link for more flights of fancy.

Everything In Focus

11 August 2018

The young soldier aims carefully,
checks the sight line one last time,
adjusts the tripod,

smiles at his target,
and clicks the shutter.

It's a friendly grin
that I wouldn't meet until two years later,

but one I grew to know all too well
as I became his favorite quarry
to practice his camera marksmanship.

This is my father,
Lt. Russell E. Brubaker,
communication officer, Company L,
3rd Battalion,
38th Infantry Regiment,
2nd Infantry Division, United States Army.

It's 1952 and he is in Korea.

He was 23 years old,
just a year into his army commission,
and newly married.
 Last weekend would have been
he and my mother's 67th wedding anniversary.

Here he looks into the camera while sitting in the driver's seat of his company's jeep. He's stepped up a uniform level from his field dress and wears a tie neatly tucked military fashion into his shirt. The wheel well of his jeep is marked Rock of the Marne, the official nickname of the 38th Infantry Regt., earned during the regiment's service in 1918 during World War 1.

But this war was different. It began at the end of June 1950 with the invasion of South Korea by the forces of communist North Korea. That summer my father was just finishing ROTC at the University of Maryland where he and my mother were students. By the summer of 1951, the war had escalated into a global power struggle far beyond the Korean peninsula, and American troops were fighting Chinese soldiers as well as those of North Korea. My father was sent over in February 1952 and returned to the US in December, but the conflict did not end until the armistice of July 1953. By then my parents were happily living in Williamsburg, Virginia while my dad transferred to the US Army's transportation corps. His army career continued for another 23 years with postings in France, Washington, Korea again, Kansas, Germany, Virginia, Vietnam, Georgia, and finally Virginia once more where he retired at the rank of Lt. Colonel.

Obviously I wasn't around yet during his first time in Korea, and it wasn't until a couple of years later in France that we were first introduced to each other. Later when he went to Vietnam in 1969, I was a self-absorbed teenager and paid little attention to his service in that conflict. When he died in 2014 at the age of 85, my biggest regret was never taking the time to ask him about the stories behind these photos and what his war experience was really like.

Later that year, as my mom and I cleared up the countless boxes of ephemera acquired during their life together, I discovered dozens of small notebooks on which my dad recorded hundreds of lists and recollections about his life. I had seen some before in his car or around his desk and recliner, but I'd never bothered to look at what he wrote in them. It seems that whenever he was my mom's chauffeur for her many visits to doctor's offices, he would stay in the car with the dog and write down in these pads whatever reminiscence came to mind.

Written in no particular order on steno pads and school notebooks are lists of every place he called home including the dates (1952 Korea was number 14 of 42 homes in total); every car he owned (this army jeep isn't on that list since it was government issue, but it ought to be number 2 of 23 cars and trucks, and that's not counting the black and gold 1925 Harley Davidson motorcycle with a rusted out gas tank and bald tires that he purchased for $95 in Westminster, MD); and numerous lists of every camera he owned (and there were a lot of cameras!!). 

In this second photo of Lt. Brubaker standing up in his company's jeep, there is a narrow leather strap across his chest which I believe is attached to a camera case holding the same camera he stands behind in the first photo. It's his prize Swiss made Alpa 35mm SLR, which he bought in Tokyo when he was on leave in 1952. It was his fourth camera in a long list that eventually numbered over 300. Fortunately this list was put into a sortable spreadsheet format. There's a second list for camera lens that's even longer! 

The Alpa was my dad's first professional camera after getting hooked on photography in college when he used various Kodak Brownie cameras. One page in his notebook memoirs is devoted to these first cameras and how he developed the film in a closet at his home and at night printed photos in the attic. When he received orders for Korea he bought a Universal 16mm "spy camera" in Washington, D.C. which he carried in his first aid pack. It produced very small 2"x3" photos which are grainy with fuzzy focus.

All these photos are in a large album devoted to his Korean War photos which he put together a year later. It's the old fashioned kind made with black kraft paper and the photos are held on the pages by little gummed corners. Written in white ink are captions my dad added. Just so I can claim a musical photo for this week too, here is one of those 16mm snapshots taken in 1952 of a US Army Band during a parade drill in Korea. My father writes: 2d Div Band marches in review. Notice that the leader is out of step – Ha –.   (The leader is stepping left-right while the bandsmen are all right-left. My dad took pride in his marching style from ROTC training.)

Over several years my dad filled these mixed up notebooks with a number of short accounts, funny tales, and long lists of trivia and personal history. It's a treasure trove of detail about his life and our family history, but especially on both his army career and his later volunteer work teaching civilians safe boating operation in Virginia Beach with the US Coast Guard Auxiliary. Combining these notes with the myriad printed photos, color slides, negatives, and digital images I have inherited is like an archeologist puzzling over ancient wax tablets and broken pottery. He remembered the names of fellow officers, the men in his platoon, and some of the Korean people who worked around his bivouac. The war turned out to be just the first chapter in a very long narrative for him, illustrated with thousands of pictures. I'm very fortunate that he left me this gift of his memories to give some context to his photos.

This last photo of Lt. Brubaker holding a camera is also from Korea in 1952, but it was glued into a different album. Like the Alpa SLR this is also a high quality camera but to use a military comparison, where the Alpa was a pistol, this is a cannon. It's called a Speed Graphic made for the military by the Graflex Company of Rochester, NY. It's the iconic commercial camera used by magazine and newspaper photographers. The camera design requires single 4"x5" plates slipped into the back of the camera to take each photo. My dad may have used this in his duties as a communication officer in Korea, but I think he just exchanged cameras one day with the battalion's photographer so that each soldier could get a snap of the other.

Many years later he would acquire one of these same heavy duty cameras, complete with stout case and flash accessory. Even though it was Navy issue he was very fond of it and it was a feature in his collection. In 2015, for better or worse, my mom and I decided we could not manage the disposal of my dad's numerous cameras and lens, and we sold the lot of them to a dealer.

Fortunately I've kept a few for nostalgia's sake, but I think the real value was never in the cameras anyway. For him it was discovering a creative pursuit that lasted a lifetime and produced thousands of photos. And each and every one was first reflected in his eye before the camera shutter clicked. For me, his son, it was how he introduced me to a fascinating connection between words, photographs, and history. It's what inspires my own eccentric collecting and this blog. When I read his handwriting in those notebooks, a style that is both conversational and military efficient, I can still hear his voice. If a camera can sustain a smile across time, handwritten words can preserve a sound of love.


For this weekend's Sepia Saturday theme I want to include one other small photograph from one of my dad's family albums put together before he even went to college. It's taken about 1946-48, I think, on a family gathering in Reisterstown, Maryland on the lawn of my Uncle Lawrence's home.  Two women and a man are taking photos of the same subject which is off frame. Each one has a different kind of camera that perfectly shows how the format of old photos was determined by the type of camera and how it was held.

Standing on the left is Cecile with a simple box camera. It used a tiny reflective prism or mirror set into one corner of the box in order to crudely aim the camera. I beleive this is one of the cameras I still have. It was quite challenging to frame photos with a box camera as the little thumbnail image in the viewfinder was reversed left to right. Generally they were held at waist height for a rectangular "portrait mode' oriented photo, but some could be tipped over for a "landscape mode" too. The shutter was activated by a simple side spring switch which could accidentally produce multiple exposure photos.

The man on the right, who I think is Lawrence Brubaker, looks down on a twin-lens reflex camera which uses wide format film that takes a square image. This camera has two lens on the front, one for the film and the other for the viewfinder. Both lens are controlled with a single geared knob which adjusts the image into focus so that the photographer sees is what the film will see. However, like the box camera, the viewer is a mirror reversed image left to right. Again the photographer holds the camera at various positions from chest to waist height as they look down at the prism image. These cameras often had great lens and were so finely crafted that they are still popular today with film photographers.

It's not exactly clear what the third camera is that's held by the kneeling woman. But the position of the viewfinder held to her eye means that her camera will produce an image from head height, albeit in this instance at waist height as she is kneeling.The camera's shape looks like it has film moving from side to side which creates a rectangular format photo. But it's the arrangement of a viewfinder which shows not a mirror image but a true-to-life image which give this camera an ability to "point and shoot". It was a novel technology that was improved upon over the next few decades.

Perhaps one day I'll figure out what the subject of their cameras was. Someone smiling?

This is my contribution to Sepia Saturday
Check the F-stop.
Advance the film,
and Click the shutter
for more cameras.

Here Be Giants

03 August 2018

There are some people we look up to in admiration.
Persons of distinction who are marked by greatness.
Perhaps a man in military uniform,
or a fellow that stands out in a crowd. 

Then there are people who look down on us.
With their nose in the air
they go around belittling average folk.
as beneath them.

Though we might think that these
are two different personality types,
there is actually one word
that describes both.


If it weren't for the smaller man beside him, it would be difficult to see that the gentleman in the center of this photo is not of normal height. In fact his stature was very abnormal. He was known as the Kentucky Giant and earned his military uniform as s soldier in the Confederate Army during the American Civil War.

On the back of the carte de visite photo
produced by W. L. Germon's Temple of Art,
914 Arch Street, Philadelphia, PA.
was his name written in pencil:

Capt. M. V. Bates
Age 32 years
Height – 7 ft 11 inches
Weight  478 lbs.

His full name was Martin Van Buren Bates and he was born on November 9, 1837 in Letcher County, Kentucky, the same year that in March 1837, the more renowned Martin Van Buren was sworn in as the 8th President of the United States. And at 5 ft 6 inches, also the 2nd shortest President. By the age of 12-13, Martin Bates stood 6 feet tall and weighed almost 300 lbs. During the War between the States, Bates chose to serve on the Confederate side with the 5th Kentucky Infantry Regiment. Enlisting as a private, he was quickly promoted to the rank of captain. His fame spread to the Union Army where he was known as the "Confederate giant who's as big as five men and fights like fifty." Wounded in battle near the Cumberland Gap, he was then captured, though he later managed to escape.

After the war, discouraged by the violence of local politics, Bates left Kentucky and moved to Ohio. There he joined a circus and was exhibited as being 7 feet 11 inches tall. The Guinness Book of World Records lists him as 7 feet 9 inches, but the website pegs him at just 7 feet 3.5 inches.

In about 1870 when the circus he was with traveled to Halifax, Nova Scotia, Martin Bates met someone with whom he could finally see eye to eye. Her name was Anna. It was love at first sight.

Just as in Martin Bates's photo, a man stands next to a very tall woman who rests her right hand on his shoulder. Her cdv photo was made by the Yosemite Art Gallery of I. W. Taber and T. H. Boyd, 26 Montgomery St., San Francisco, CA. And like Bate's photo the back has a penciled note written in the same handwriting.

  Mrs. Anna H. Bates
7 Feet 11½ inches high
age  29 years

Her maiden name was Anna Haining Swan. She was born on August 6, 1846 in Mill Brook, Nova Scotia. At the age of four, Anna measured 4 feet 6 inches tall. At age ten, 6 feet 1 inch. When she reached maturity as the "Canadian Giantess" her height was advertised as 7 feet 11 inches, but the website calculates that it was really 7 feet  5 inches. Her weight varied from 350 lbs to 394 lbs. In July 1865 Anna was one of  'freaks of nature' exhibited by P. T. Barnum  at his American Museum in New York City when the building caught fire. As she was too large to fit through a window, workers resorted to breaking through an exterior wall on the third floor and using a block and tackle fixed to a derrick to lower her safely to the street outside. It was a narrow escape as the fire destroyed Barnum's museum.

Anna was considered an accomplished performer on piano and voice, and even did some acting. In 1869 while on a tour of Britain a newspaper report described her as "Towers above all men when stood up, and most women when sat down. She has an oval face, and is softly spoken, with a gentle voice".

In 1870, Anna Swan returned to Halifax, Nova Scotia for a visit. There she was introduced to Martin Van Buren Bates who was appearing in a traveling circus. The show's promoter instantly recognized their doubled potential and hired her on the spot. But evidently money was not Anna's only reason to join the troupe. She and Martin felt a mutual attraction, and on June 17, 1871 Martin and Anna were married in St Martin-in-the-Fields in London. The Anglican officiant was Rev. Rupert Cochrane, a friend of Anna's family who was preaching in London at the time. His 6 foot 3 inch frame was dwarfed by the giant bride and groom.

The marriage of Martin van Buren Bates to Anna Swan, 1871
Source: Wikipedia
On their return to America in 1872, the Bates settled in Seville, Ohio. They continued off and on with circus tours in Europe and America, but clearly both desired a normal life. In Seville, Martin bought a small farm and had a special house designed for them with 14 foot ceilings and 8 ft. 6 in. doorways. Tragically in 1872 and again in 1879 Anna lost two infants due to complications during labor. The Bates retired from circus life in the spring of 1880 after their last circus tour.

Anna Haining Bates died unexpectedly in her home on August 5, 1888 just one day before her 42nd birthday. Her funeral was delayed when the casket company, believing the box dimensions ordered were incorrect, at first sent a standard size casket but then had to replace it.

Capt. Martin Van Buren Bates remarried in 1897 to Annette LaVonne Weatherby, a woman of normal stature. He lived a quiet life in Seville, Ohio until his death in January 1919.

Anna Haining Swan Bates
and Martin Van Buren Bates


Even though photos of GIANTS are not my typical genre to collect, it was the handwritten notes on the backs of these photographs.that really compelled me to add them to my collection. The unsophisticated cursive letters have a naive quality that suggest a child's handwriting. It seems likely that the young writer saw Martin and Anna at some circus show and bought the two cards as souvenirs. As the note on Anna's photo reads Mrs.Anna H. Bates, it dates the photo to after their marriage and return to America in 1872. Their ages on the notes were of course a showbiz adjustment to add youth and vitality to the performers, and their heights.were a typical exaggeration for awe inspiring embellishment.

In the 1840s and 1850s the first technology of early photography – the daguerreotypes, ambrotypes, and tintypes were unique images. Each one captured light directly onto the medium so they could not be reproduced or duplicated. But twenty years later in the 1860s the advent of the carte de visite photograph, which was both inexpensive and easily duplicated, opened up a great age of popular photographs. It did not take long for entertainers and showbiz impresarios to take advantage of this new process by promoting a lucrative fad for the collectible image. Heretofore wondrous people were notable people that ordinary folk could only hear or read about. Now the new cdv photo let anyone with a dime own a picture worth a thousand words. It might be the portrait of a celebrated politician, a member of royalty, a beautiful opera singer,    or even two giants.

This is my contribution to Sepia Saturday
where no topic is too big, no photo too small.

Full Steam Ahead on the USS Georgia

28 July 2018

Shoveling coal is not a task
we associate with a seafaring life.
For thousands of years, ships sailed the oceans

zigzagging on the force of wind.
Then beginning in the 1830s,
ships gained an ability to move in straighter lines
under the power of massive steam engines.

No longer did sailors have to climb tall masts,
hang on a swaying yard and unfurl a canvas sail.
Instead, deep down inside the ship,
seamen toiled in a sweltering hold,
feeding a firebox that boiled the steam.
It was very hard work.

And oddly enough,
sometimes musicians joined in too.

Navy sailors wore
their distinctive white uniforms

with a special pride.

But inevitably that whiteness
got soiled,

coated with a sooty griminess
that was probably the normal tint
for a sailor's work clothes.

_ _

We wouldn't expect
that a ship's band
would take part
in such grubby chores.

But they did.

These twelve begrimed musicians
belong to the band of the battleship USS Georgia.

It was August 1919
and they were performing an important duty:

Coaling Ship.

_ _

Two of the men were good buddies,
Swaboda on tenor sax
and Hudson on trombone.

They were used to the coaling ship duty
as they did it three
months before
in May 1919.


_ _

There was just one difference
between the work in August and May.

In May the sailors were in the North Atlantic
but in August they were in the Pacific,
heading on to San Francisco's Mare Island Navy Yard.

USS Georgia (BB-15)

The USS Georgia  (BB-15) was a battleship of the United States Navy. Commissioned on September 24, 1906, she was the third of five Virginia Class battleships. Each one of these so called pre-dreadnought battleships was built in a different shipyard, their keels laid from 1901 to 1902. The USS Georgia and its sister ships became part of the Great White Fleet ordered by President Theodore Roosevelt to embark on a global tour in December 1907 that would showcase America's new naval power to the world. In this era a battleship's steam engines were powered by coal, and the fleet of 38 ships would need 125,000 tons of coal just to cruise from Hampton Roads, Virginia, to San Francisco. Remember the Panama canal was not completed until 1914. The complex logistics of moving a naval fleet, then and now, required setting up numerous ports to refuel the ships called coaling stations. For this purpose America made good use of its new colonies of Hawaii, Guam, and the Philippines, recently acquired in 1898.

USS Georgia 1907-08

By 1917 as the United States joined the allied efforts in WW1, the USS Georgia had long been outclassed by bigger, faster, and more deadly battleships in the US Navy. More importantly they were no longer powered by coal. The US Navy was now following Britain's lead and converting all its new ships from coal to oil powered engines.

Just as it the Georgia was about to be decommissioned the war department brought the Georgia back to fleet but relegated it to gunnery training in Virginia.

In September 1918 it was assigned to an escort convoy taking troops and war material to France. On this its first war service the ship was overburdened by an extra 525 long tons of coal added to its normal stocks which forced it to struggle through heavy seas. As a consequence the crew was confined to close quarters which created conditions ideal for the spread of disease. The ship's medical officer recorded 120 cases of influenza and 14 cases of pneumonia. Seven men died from disease. And despite the extra coal, the USS Georgia ran out of fuel on the crossing and being unable to complete the voyage, returned to its home port.

_ _

Before the USS Georgia could be reassigned, in November 1918 the Germans signed the armistice ending the war. The following month the battleship joined hundreds of other ships to serve as a troop transport, and from December 1918 to June 1919, the Georgia made five trips bringing over 6,000 soldiers back from France. The crowd of soldiers and sailors now on the ship introduced another vector for the virulent influenza pandemic that would soon kill millions more people than died in the Great War. 

USS Georgia 1919

It's difficult to find photos of how engine rooms of steam ships once operated. Perhaps the dim light was too challenging for photographic film of the time. Maybe photographers didn't want to get coal dust on the camera lens. But in 1906 one British photographer tried, captioning his postcard: In the Stokehole of a Battleship. The dark image shows two men called stokers, or sometimes coal passers, standing on the black rubble floor of a battleship's engine deck ready to throw coal into the inferno that was a steam engine's firebox.

The card was addressed to A. Lucas, Mess 22, Boscawen III, Harwich and posted January 2, 1906 from Portsmouth, England.

Dr. Bert
I hope you
spent a happy
Xmas. I went to
Forest Gate for
my leave   hope you
are well  just drop
a line
Fred Lucas

HMS Agincourt (1865)
Source: Wikipedia

My guess is that Fred and Albert Lucas were brothers serving in Britain's Royal Navy and assigned to different ships. Bert's Boscawen III was a converted Minotaur-class armored frigate, originally named the HMS Agincourt. It was commissioned in 1868 and over its career served as the flagship for 15 admirals. But like many navy ships it eventually became too outmoded for active service. So from 1893 to 1909 it was renamed the Boscawen III and used in Portsmouth and then Harwich as a depot ship for boys entering navy service. Essentially a floating barracks.

By a strange coincidence for my story, this old ship was moved to Sheerness in 1909 and converted into a coal hulk known simply as C.109. For five more decades it retained this useful purpose, surviving until 1960 when it was finally broken up for scrap. As a coal hulk it may have resembled the barge these American sailors are standing on in 1919.

Dozens of seamen armed with broad shovels and large sacks swarm atop the flat deck of a coal barge. The photo was taken atop the radio mast of the USS Georgia in 1919. It's quite possible that Swaboda and Hudson, the tenor saxophonist and trombonist of the battleship's band, are in this picture. If they aren't, they may be performing on another deck to give the other sailors some rousing march to speed up the task. Music was not just for officers' parties.

USS Georgia 1919 coaling ship
The USS Georgia had a top speed of 19 knots (35 km/h; 22 mph) propelled by two screw propellers powered by triple-expansion steam engines. The steam was generated in twenty-four coal-fired boilers which could take the battleship up to 4,860 nautical miles (9,000 km; 5,590 mi) on the coal stored on the ship. This amount was roughly 1,700 tons.

And every lump of coal in the ship's bunkers
was loaded sack by sack
by shovels manned by sailors
and sometimes musicians too.

Postcard circa 1910-20
Source: The Steel Navy

I think the two postcards of the USS Georgia Band in 1919 were preserved by one of the bandsmen for a special reason. The battleship's destination in August 1919 was to be its final port of call. The ship was decommissioned in July 1920 and sold for scrap in November 1923. The buddies who served together during America's contribution to the Great War shared a bond that only sailors fully understand. It was a friendship sustained by coal dust.

This is my contribution to Sepia Saturday
click the link for more stories of the sea.

Ladies of Brass with Hats

21 July 2018

Not so long ago
the sight of a woman who was
without a hat on her head
was an unusual,
if not unseemly, occurrence.

A woman's hat might be of any shape or size
as fashion might decree,
but if she was to be in the public eye
she must wear a head covering.
At least according to the conventional rules
of European society in the 1900s.

Men also needed hats
to be properly dressed 
 but generally only when outdoors.

Upon entering a building
a man could check his hat at a cloakroom.
But a woman on the other hand,
retained her hat
no matter the activity or situation.

There were pill box hats.

Flat berets. 

 Military or police style caps with brims.

 And sailor caps sized extra-large.

How did the unwritten regulations on apparel
apply to these female musicians
in German brass bands?

The first drummer girl with the sombrero type hat was a member or the Damen Blas-Orchester „Ariele“, directed by Aug. Bornschein. This ladies wind wind orchestra is made up of six young women and four men, all with brass instruments except for the drummer who has her snare tilted up on a chair with the bass drum and cymbals beside it. The women are dressed in matching frocks that have a kind of layered effect that includes contrasting banded edge and a few dangling pom-poms. Their hats are quite large and have a dark sash on the front brim. The drummer also flaunts a long pearl necklace.

The men are mostly hidden from view at the back. My guess is that the older man playing tuba is Herr August Bornschein. It's likely that some of the women, and maybe younger men too, are related. In front of the one woman who is standing center, is a set of four natural trumpets with flags attached. The flags display an emblem AB for Ariele Blas or Ariele Wind.

Their postcard was sent from Gelsenkirchen, a city in the North Rhine-Westphalia state of Germany, on 11 February 1912.

* * *

The next image came from another postcard of the Ariele Damen Blas Orchester which had one more woman to make an ensemble of seven women and four men. The caption says their director is P. Jentzen früher i.e. formerly Bornschein. Their brass instruments are precariously stacked into a large pile.

In this picture the women are turned out in identical dark dresses with nautical bonnets, sailor collars, and flotation sashes. Notice the anchor patches sewn onto their shoulder sleeves.

This card was posted on the 29 July 1911. The bearded green man on the stamp, is Luitpold, Prince Regent of Bavaria. The stamp commemorates the 25th anniversary of his reign as regent of Bayern or Bavaria. He assumed this responsibility as head of state in 1886 when first his nephew, King Ludwig II and then nephew King Otto proved too mentally unstable to rule. Prince Luitpold died in December 1912 at age 91.

* * *

The third image comes from a very similar band called the Österreichisches Damen Trompeter Corps „Bohème“. The director is A. Lohmann who I believe is the man standing right of center. This Austrian brass band of ten musicians also has six women and four men. All with brass instruments except for another woman on drums. The women all wear matching outfits, a vaguely folk style dress with a tight collar. Their hats are slightly smaller than the Ariele's big hats and with a large pom on the upturned brim. They also have a broad hip sash which was a popular style with female musicians in German/Austrian Damen Orchester.

Like the Ariele ensemble, the Bohème band also has a woman with a trumpet standing center. She is the lead soloist as all the other brass are in the lower sound spectrum of alto, tenor, and bass instruments. In the foreground are two pairs of natural herald trumpets, again with embroidered flags attached.

The Bohème brass band is a long way from Vienna as their postcard was sent from the port city of Hamburg, Germany on the 7th of March 1912.

* * *

The enormous pancake hats in the fourth image were worn by the women of the Damen Blas-Orchester „Teutonia“, directed by Franz Britting, the man with the trumpet seated center. It is another 10 piece brass band with six women and four men. The women wear white blouses, or shirt waists, with dark colored skirts and folk-like embroidered vests. The large hats hovering above their massive coiffures, are held on presumably with long hairpins. As with the other groups, a tripod of natural trumpets occupies the centerpiece of instruments.

Unfortunately the stamp and its postmark was removed from this postcard, so the date and location is not known. However its printing style resembles several other cards from the 1900-1914 era.

* * *

The ladies in pillbox hats on the fifth image came from another postcard of the Damen Blas-Orchester „Teutonia“. This time their name has the prefix Schwäbisches or Swabian which refers to the southwest region of Germany called Swabia. Now divided between the modern states of Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria, the natives speak a dialect of high German.

This postcard was never mailed but has an incomplete address to a Georg Förtner of Nürnberg.

* * *

The flat berets of the sixth image were worn women of the Alt Heildelberg Damen Blas Orchester. Their name is written on a banner draped on the bass drum. The director was C. Oppermann. This brass band has eleven musicians with six women and five men. This time the men wear caps which I believe are a style worn by college students. Founded in 1386, Heidelberg University is Germany's most celebrated educational institution. Both the men and women also have narrow striped sashes across their chests which I believe is another academic tradition. Like the other groups, there is one high trumpet played by a woman seated left center. The other rotary valve brass instruments are below its timbre. And again a stack of four natural trumpets are in the center foreground.

This postcard was mailed from Saarbrücken on the 8th of September 1912.

* * *

The military style caps in the seventh image were worn by the women of the Damen Trompeter-Corps „Elbust“, directed by Fritz Thiele who is seated center. The women have white shirtwaists with dark fringed skirts. They also combine the narrow striped chest sash with the wide hip sash. Two pairs of natural trumpets lean on the knees of the seated women. On the floor by the director's feet are a tambourine and a small box with a metal xylophone.The woman seated center right has the only high trumpet.

This postcard was sent on 2 January 1910 from Hagen, Germany in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia.

* * *

The last excerpted image was part of this group of nine musicians captioned on their postcard as the Damen Blas-Orchester „Gut Heil“ or "Good Luck". The director was Felten, Kapellmeister, seated right center holding a paper roll, the symbol of a pianist. This brass band has five women and four men. The women are decked out in white sailor type suits with contrasting broad square tied collars and flat caps similar to those worn by the German navy. Once again a pyramid of natural trumpets is arranged in the center. For more postcards of German lady trumpeter corps playing these natural trumpets follow my stories: More Ladies of Brass; and Even More Ladies with Brass.

This postcard was never posted so there is no date, but I think it is like the other Germanic ladies bands and belongs to the same 1910-1914 era before the start of the Great War.

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I've posted the images of these eight postcards of six different bands because I think they exhibit an intriguing number of similarities in both fashion sense and musical ensemble. And as my regular readers know, I have a fascination with hats and how frequently they appear in antique photographs.

These ensembles represent a time in the 1900s when live music was the principal attraction at taverns, cafes, restaurants, and music halls. The entertainment industry, i.e. Show Biz, in central Europe became so ubiquitous that it sustained a bewildering variety of traveling musical troupes. And as many of these groups employed female musicians they represent a striking contrast with how women from this era are usually portrayed in social history.

Not all of the Damen Blas Orchester wore hats. In the hundreds of postcards in my collection, most have no hair covering, while some wore just kerchiefs or ribbon bows. As we can see in the Ariele and Teutonia groups, the women changed costumes, probably to suit the region and the venue where they performed. Sailor suits for port cities, folk vests for southern alpine towns. Undoubtedly the success of a female musical group hinged on a strong fashion style that attracted audiences and  maintained a freshness that kept people returning to hear more.

Because brass instruments are inherently loud, these brass bands likely played on outdoor stages, which may also partly explain the hats. The more refined music of the Damen Konzert or Salon Orchester which had women playing primarily string instruments, mainly performed indoors, so in their postcards women are generally shown without head covering. I imagine that most female groups imitated the trends in theater and society circles and adapted accordingly. And I readily acknowledge there are probably many subtle clues in dress styles from the 1900s that have evaded my limited masculine sensibilities. Can you picture the rhythmic movement made by their hats as they marched onto stage? That made a class act.

This is my contribution to Sepia Saturday
where summer hats are de rigueur.


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