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 }

Das Weihnachtsfest

24 December 2015

O Tannenbaum, o Tannenbaum
Wie treu sind deine Blätter!

O Christmas tree, o Christmas tree
How loyal are your leaves!



{ Try this LINK if the video/music does not play }

Du grünst nicht nur zur Sommerzeit,
Nein, auch im Winter, wenn es schneit.

You're green not only in the summertime,
No, also in winter when it snows.

O Tannenbaum, o Tannenbaum,
Wie treu sind deine Blätter!

O Christmas tree, o Christmas tree
How loyal are your leaves!

O Tannenbaum, o Tannenbaum,
Du kannst mir sehr gefallen!

O Christmas tree, o Christmas tree
You can please me very much!

Wie oft hat nicht zur Weihnachtszeit
Ein Baum von dir mich hoch erfreut!

How often has not at Christmastime
A tree like you given me such joy!

O Tannenbaum, o Tannenbaum,
Du kannst mir sehr gefallen!

O Christmas tree, o Christmas tree
You can please me very much!

O Tannenbaum, o Tannenbaum,
Dein Kleid will mich was lehren!

O Christmas tree, o Christmas tree
Your dress wants to teach me something!

Die Hoffnung und Beständigkeit,
Gibt Trost und Kraft zu jeder Zeit!

Your hope and durability
Provide comfort and strength at any time!

O Tannenbaum, o Tannenbaum,
Dein Kleid will mich was lehren!

O Christmas tree, o Christmas tree
Your dress wants to teach me something!


This small postcard sized photo of a group of young soldiers has no note or mark to indicate any names, or the exact place, or even the year. But by their uniforms we can know that they were in Kaiser Wilhelm's German Army of 1914-1918. And by the wreaths and pine tree decorated with paper bows and tinfoil we also see that it is Christmas time. A time for a Weihnachtsfest, a Christmas feast, which they have announced on a chalk board hanging on the wall.

I'm less certain that they are all musicians of a German military band since they are in a bit of an undress state and do not have the swallowtail epaulets of army bandsmen on their tunic jackets. But as two men wear plumed shakos, with one carrying a snare drum and sticks, it does suggests that some may be members of a regimental band. The button accordion was not however a typical band instrument. Nonetheless it would certainly be appropriate for accompanying Yuletide music, and O Tannenbaum was surely a favorite for these boys to sing over their Christmas dinner. I chose a literal English translation to better convey the sentiment that German soldiers would feel.

They are all very young men, probably no older than 25, with a few maybe still in their teens. If they have seen war, I don't think they've seen much, so their boyish good cheer seems more suited to December 1914 than any of the following Christmas years of World War One. It is always hard to look at photos like this one and not speculate on the fate of the faces we see. It is better to remark on their merry humor and joyful smiles that capture that universal hope for peace.

This is my contribution to Sepia Saturday
where I wish everyone peace and good will for the new year

Winter on the Western Front

11 December 2015

Beneath his princely mustache
hides the amiable smile of a man
who values humor more than propriety.
Wit over lecture. Gaiety above sobriety.
He is a special kind of musician.

He's a drummer.

His comrades are a more somber lot.
They do not like the cold,
for they've been here before.

In a harsh winter,
their woodwind instruments crack,
the brass instruments freeze.
No amount of oil or grease
will speed up the fingers or vibrate the lips
when the thermometer plunges below zero.

The drummer's cohort handles
the bass drum and cymbals,
and is likewise a merry fellow.
Beating a drum always keeps you hot
no matter the season.
The bandmaster too waves his arms and stays warm,
but his dour expression marks a man concerned
with his duty to call the tunes.

The 21 bandsmen stand in a clearing within a pine woods.
They are the Musik-Korps band of the d.2 Ers. Batl. R.I.R. 104
as noted on a chalk board placed between the two percussionists.
The ground around them is covered in a fresh snow
that coats the bandsmen's heavy boots.

It is the beginning of winter somewhere on the Western Front.

This postcard was sent on 4.12.15 – 4 December 1915
in the European style of dates.

The writer's name is Otto,
and he might be one of the soldiers in the photo,
but the handwriting style is beyond my ability to translate.


The band belongs to the Reserve-Infanterie-Regiment Nr. 104 of the Saxon Army of the German Reich. The initials on the board may read R.F.R which would likely stand for Reserve-Füsilier-Regimenter but that kind of unit does not show up in the lists of Imperial German Army Regiments with number 104, so I believe this is the correct unit name. This section of the German army served mainly in France and Belgium during the war.

The bandsman wear helmets made of boiled leather called Pickelhaube. Each military regiment had a distinctive Helmewappen or helmet crest that was not unlike a medieval coat of arms. The eight pointed starburst pattern on the bandsmen's Pickelhaube indicates that they are soldiers in the Royal army of Saxony, a principality within the greater German Reich. The helmet has no practical value for protection against rain or sun or sword blows, and certainly not bullets. The spikes, originally designed to hold plumes, are purely decorative. Very soon after the war began, the Pickelhaube's shiny medallions and spikes proved too easily detected by the enemy, so the German military quartermasters devised a helmet cover in drab canvas. It even fitted over the spike like a sock and had the soldier's unit number stenciled on the front. 

Model 1895 Sachsen (Saxony) Pickelhaube marked to Infantry Regt 177
with an unmarked Model 1915

This regiment's band was just one of hundreds attached to Kaiser Wilhelm's army. The musicians main duty was to perform marches for the troops. But they also played dance music to entertain the officers; opera overtures to inspire German townsfolk behind the lines; and popular folk songs to placate fearful Belgian civilians. It was rare for them to be on the front lines, but they could not avoid seeing the horrific consequence of the battles and bombardments.

At the bottom of the photographer's chalk board,
below the unit's official name, is written 
Weltkrieg 1914/15
World War 1914/15

These men had seen over a year of war,
and now were in their second winter serving in the field.
They could not know what we know,
that they must endure 3 more years of this appalling conflict
before they can return to their homes.
That future life,
if they were lucky enough to survive unharmed,
would never be the same,
as the years for this Weltkrieg
merged into a second terrible World War.
In December 1915, peace remained as elusive as ever,
and to smile was all anyone could hope for.

This is my contribution to Sepia Saturday
your source for vintage doughnuts (or strudel)

Music for a Desert Island

04 December 2015

This man is a castaway. He was engulfed in a terrible great storm, overwhelmed by terrifying forces, torn apart from friends and family, and yet he still managed the wistful smile of a castaway glad to have survived a tempest. He may be safe from harm now, but sadly he is marooned far away from his homeland. Cast up on a foreign shore not unlike a desert island, in a place so strange he could never have imagined it.

There are many more castaways with him, but it's his tale I wish I could hear.

{click any image to enlarge}

It is some time between September 1914 and November 1918, the years of the Great War, tragically known as World War One. The man is an African soldier of the French colonial forces, and he lies on the ground in front of 24 fellow prisoners held captive in a German prisoner of  war camp. There are Russian soldiers, French soldiers, and Belgian soldiers all wearing an assortment of rumpled military uniforms and caps. But there is only one black face in the group. Only one man who is truly a very, very long way from home. The men stand in front of the open doors of a barn or garage building. There are some packages on a bench, probably just delivered from the Red Cross.

I usually buy photos that include musicians, bands, orchestras, or musical instruments, but here there are none. This photo postcard caught my attention because it offered an opportunity to rescue a man lost in the sea of wartime. An African soldier who smokes a pipe with a contented smile. 

The dog in the foreground came as an added bonus.

The back of the card was addressed to Monsieur et Madame Cheylus of 18 Rue Amelot, Paris, France. There is no message, only a name in the upper left corner – H. Louis Brocard (?) who is presumably one of the French soldiers in the photo. Unfortunately he did not mark his place in the group. M. and Mme Cheylus lived only two blocks up from the Place de la Bastille, where today there is a large apartment block.

Stamped along the top of the card is a German phrase: 
Kriegsgefangenen - Sendung!
Prisoner of War - Mailing!
Gefangenenlager Müncheberg (Märk)
Prisoner Camp Müncheberg (Märkisch-Oderland)

The small town of  Müncheberg was one of over 180 prison camps scattered across Germany to contain the hundreds of thousands of Belgian, French, British, and Russian soldiers captured by German forces during the war. Müncheberg is is located just east of Berlin halfway to the border with present-day Poland. The camp was identified in a catalog entitled Map of the Main Prison Camps in Germany and Austria, a small pamphlet produced in 1918 by Mrs. Pope-Hennessy for families of British prisoners of war.

The prison camp, four acres in extant, is in the town and is surrounded on three sides by houses. American prisoners here. 3rd Army Corps. (British)

At the end of the war in 1918 over seven million POWs were held collectively by the nations at war. And of that number, 2,400,000 soldiers were imprisoned by Germany. Though the United States declared war in April 1917, American soldiers were really only exposed to battle in the last 4 months of 1918, and suffered much fewer captured soldiers.  

Map of the Main Prison Camps in Germany and Austria
by Mrs. Pope-Hennessy
Source: State Library of Victoria


As the war expanded in 1915, France began to utilize troops from all its vast colonial empire. This postcard image produced as propaganda by the German war department shows soldiers from Senegal, Guinea, Somalia, Tunis, Anam (Vietnam), Sudan, and Dahomey. The Kaiser hoped to sow seeds of rebellion among the native people in the the British and French colonies.

French colonial troops from North and West Africa
Source: Wikipedia

German photographers produced many variations of this type of postcard. This next image comes from my collection and shows a group of ten POWs representing the allied nations at war with Germany. On the left is a French Zouave soldier from North Africa dressed in this colonial legion's distinctive white pantaloons, embroiderer jacket, and fez. Then two Russians with two different army hats, another French soldier holding a cane, a Belgian, two British soldiers from different units, the one at the back may be from an Irish regiment judging from the harp shaped cap badge. The soldier on the far right is Italian and he has his hands on the shoulder of another Frenchman I believe, who wears a Red Cross armband. And seated center left is an African French colonial soldier, the only one of the ten soldiers who looks somewhat defeated. In fact his cane may indicate he was wounded or injured during his capture.

It is impossible to know to what degree they were comrades, but their brotherly expressions look genuine. Even though the photo is printed on a postcard in a much smaller format, the camera caught a lot of detail. Unfortunately the postcard lacks any marks to establish where or when these men sat for the photographer. Perhaps the image was intended as propaganda that might convince allied soldiers to surrender rather than fight. But 100 years later they look as if they are modeling for a military uniform catalog.


Just to the north of Müncheberg, at the mouth of the River Oder, was another camp at Altdamm. This town of 7,300 inhabitants was once part of Prussia but now lies in Poland. In 1918 Mrs. Pope-Hennessy said it had

three camps with capacity for 15,000 prisoners. Built on a sandy drill-ground amidst pine woods. A few naval and civilian prisoners of war here. The centre of a large number of working gangs employed in the neighbourhood on estates in forestry, factories, hotels, etc. 2nd Army Corps. (British)

 This camp held another castaway faraway from his home.

He stands to one side of a small orchestra. He is the only African face amid French, Belgian, Russian, and British soldiers. He wears a French Regimental number 159 badge on his collar. He has no instrument but I think he is one of the musicians. There are three cornets, two with Central European rotary valves, and one with British/French piston valves. One Russian soldier holds a fine blackwood flute.

Each of the nationalities represented in this orchestra have very distinctive mustaches and hat styles. It is quite easy to see the difference between Russian, English, and French. The subtle difference between Canadians, Irish, Polish, Ukrainian, etc. are more difficult, but each man had a story to tell and a tune to play. The orchestra's conductor sits center with a baton but without a cap. I believe he is French.

There are at least 10 string players, including a cello and double bass. There is a pair of clarinets and a pair of trombones, each allied with one Russian and one British player. Another British soldier has a small tuba. The Red Cross and the YMCA both distributed musical instruments to the POW camps. Altdamm and Müncheberg were camps designated for enlisted ranks, who could be assigned limited work duties. Officers were held in other camps and were supposedly prohibited from doing anything that might contribute to the German war effort.

The Altdamm POW camp orchestra is posed on sandy ground with pine trees in the background, exactly as described by  Mrs. Pope-Hennessy. Though some of the 25 musicians do not show their  instruments, it is likely the orchestra still made a good sound.

And what did the African soldier play? If you look at the snare and bass drums in front, there are caps placed atop them. The soft hat has numbers that I think match the collar badge No. 159, and it is very like the African soldier's cap in the previous group of POWs, so I believe he is one of the drummers.

The card has a very lengthy message written on 15 XII 17 or December 15, 1917. The language is German which demonstrates that some POW camp postcards were used by the German guards. The blue pencil is difficult to decipher, but it does refer to Weihnachten or Christmas. Perhaps the orchestra was preparing for a special Christmas entertainment.

In 1914 before the war, any European could have easily traveled from London to Paris, or Brussels to Berlin, or Vienna to Moscow. But few Africans would have dreamed that within the next few years a great number of them would take this frightening grand tour of Europe. The native colonial military forces made a great contribution to the war effort that is poorly recognized in histories of  WW1, and it deserves to be better known.

What intrigues me is the mix of cultures in these images. What kind of music did an African drummer play when his fellow musicians spoke dissimilar languages and marched to the step of different march tunes. The French, English, and even Russian prisoners of war would expect letters and packages from home. But could a soldier from Senegal take heart that his family knew he was safe and alive?

Or was he like a castaway waiting for rescue? Always hopeful that one day he would return home. 

This is my contribution to Sepia Saturday
where we are all trying to find our way.

Music Without Borders

27 November 2015

These children have traveled a long way from home. I know where they started, and I know how they joined my photograph collection, but their journey in between is a mystery. Is it mother who draws their gaze off to the side of the camera? In later years did their children marvel at their youthful likenesses. Did some grandchild safeguard this photo inside the family album while emigrating to a new country? What great great niece forgot their lineage and sold their photo to an antique dealer? We can never know, as all that remains of their names or lives is this charming image of a sister and brother. 

The two siblings are posed artfully on a photographer's studio chair and pedestal. The girl is perhaps 6 or 7 years old, with her hair either cut with a boyish style or drawn back behind her neck. She stands on a chair with a book in one hand and a protective arm around the shoulder of her little towhead brother. He sits on a pedestal and looks about age 4 or 5. He holds a kind of recorder or penny whistle instrument. Though his hands are in the right playing position, both the whistle and book may only serve the photographer as props to limit the natural fidgetiness of small children.

Despite some scratches the image has a lot of clarity, the mark of a good camera. The photographer's name and location is printed at the bottom of this small carte de visite photograph.

J. Poruznik — Bieltzy



The back of the card has an elaborate engraved design.

Photographisches Atelier
J. Poruznik
vormals (formerly)
A. Kluczenko


Surrounding the proprietor's name are eight impressive medallions depicting awards won in 1875 by the photographer in Wien, Linz, Stanislawow, and Brussels. I would judge the photo to be a bit younger than the 1875 date, maybe 1880-85. The German words and names are because the city of Czernowitz was then part of the vast Austrian Empire. Today it is called Chernivtsi and is in Ukraine.

In one corner are Russian words with Cyrillic letters made by a rubber ink stamp. The second word means photographer so I suspect they indicate that copies may be had at any time, or words to that effect. But the language difference is due to the place name, Bieltzy, on the front of the cdv. It was quite common for successful photographers to open branch studios in other towns that were run by former apprentices. In 1880, this small town called Bieltzy, or Beltzy, was in Bessarabia, then part of the Russian Empire. In the 21st century it is now known as Bălți, Moldova.


The Austrian Empire comprised dozens of ethnic and national peoples under the authoritarian rule of Kaiser Franz Josef. The city of Czernowitz was about 600 miles east of Wien and was the capital of the Duchy of Bukovina. At one time Jewish residents were the largest percentage of the population, at over 25%, followed by Romanians, Germans, and Ukrainians. It is said that the famous Jewish melody, Hava Nagilah, was composed in Czernowitz. After 1918 the city became part of Romania, and after 1945 it was taken over by the Russian Soviet Union. 

Bieltzy was a much smaller town located another 125 miles east in what was then a Russian province. By 1890 it was an important rail hub of Eastern Europe. And it too was a center of Jewish culture. According to this website, in 1897 it had a population of 18,478 residents, divided into the following ethnic groups.  
  • Jews - 10,323
  • Russians - 3,627
  • Moldovans - 3,157
  • Ukrainian - 581
  • Polish - 533
  • Germans - 103
  • Armenians - 50
  • Greeks - 16
  • Bulgarians - 7
  • Gipsy - 6
  • Gagauz - 3
  • The rest - 72

Source: The Internet


This postcard shows another brother and sister, perhaps ages 11-13. The taller boy wears a large wool cap and heavy peasant boots while playing a recorder-like instrument very similar to the Bieltzy boy's whistle. His barefoot sister clutches his arm as she looks apprehensively into the camera lens. The caption reads:

Russian Types - Shepherds  

This pair might have considered themselves Russian citizens, but as the postcard was produced for the soldiers of  the Kaiser's German Army advancing toward an Eastern Front in 1914, they more likely spoke Polish or Ukrainian. The back of the card is dated 17 June 1916 and sent by German military Feldpost.

The two children from Bieltzy might be Jews, or Catholics, or Eastern Orthodox Christians. Who can tell? The young shepherds  might be Poles, or Ukrainians, or Romani (i.e. Gypsies). It is now too late to know, and does it really matter?  At some time over the next several decades, 1900 - 1991, people of every language, religion, and culture in this part of Eastern Europe became refugees. Families compelled to abandon their homes and property and take to the road. Constantly on the move, displaced by violent forces and in fear for their lives, people sought sanctuary anywhere that seemed safer than where they were.

Entire populations of Polish and Ukrainian towns were forcibly moved east, then west, and back again by one despot after another. Some ethnic groups like the Jews and the Romani, were murdered on a horrific scale still too monstrous to completely comprehend. People with contrary political beliefs, considered just as suspect as religious faith or national origin, were terrorized into secret prison camps. It begs repeating that history demands we not forget their suffering.

Which brings me to an unexpected feature that I found when browsing through the infinite internet. I wanted to convey the disquieting quality that I see in these two antique images of children. There is something chilling about knowing the location of their homelands and the time frame of their future. I went in search of an image of 21st century refugee children.

I found this.

A real story of our time
about a small Syrian child with a musical instrument.
An "instrument" so silly it only adds to the pathos of the boy's life.
Please watch it and t
hink of this boy's courage, his dream of peace.
Then consider what you would want for your children.

The following report was made for CNN
and broadcast on November 27, 2014.
I posted it originally as a YouTube video but it has been removed,
however readers can still watch it by clicking this link
to the original CNN article as published on their website.

Little flutist plays to keep hope alive, feed his family
Joe Duran and Simon Rushton, CNN
Updated 12:33 PM EST, Thu November 27, 2014


In the busy streets, shoppers and workers rush by the homeless little boy with a flute -- some dropping change, but most ignoring him.

Sitting on the sidewalk in Istanbul, Turkey, his head is barely above knee height of the adults around him. But he plays on -- for hours, knowing that each coin or note can help his family survive another day.

The flute is a cheap one, but it is key to their struggle. The money he makes -- usually about $10 a day -- will help feed his mom and four siblings.

The family escaped the horrors of war in Aleppo, Syria, and he says they now live in a park. He does not say which park or if they have a tent for shelter at night.

According to U.N figures, there are about 1 million registered refugees in Turkey, but the country says the total is closer to 1.6 million. Research from the Migration Policy Centre adds that in the last couple of months, there has been another spike as Syrians flee the rise of ISIS.

The boy says he has been in Turkey for about a year.

He plays falteringly and his young face looks innocent, but he knows the cruelty of war. He says his dad died in Aleppo, which has seen some of the fiercest fighting in Syria and is a rebel stronghold that President Bashar al-Assad's army has attacked.

The boy, who says he is 6, complains that his head hurts and talks of the guns back in Aleppo.

As he plays on, he is relying on the kindness of strangers and watching for police patrols, as begging on the streets is illegal.

When police do see him -- this time as he walks back to his makeshift home -- an officer confiscates his flute.

But he cannot be kept down. A new flute is $5 -- half his daily profit -- but if he is to play on, if he is to help feed his family, if they are to have some hope, it's a small expense.

And tomorrow, he will play again.

This is my contribution to Sepia Saturday
click the link for more children at play.

The Kid Band of Caldwell, Ohio

20 November 2015

I don't see color very well. It's not because I am colorblind, but because I collect antique photographs that record images only in monotones. Early cameras produced lovely ochres, robust sepias, vibrant ambers, and distinguished greys. But they were never able to represent the true colors of reality. Negative films and glass plates still preserved a genuine likeness but we view these old prints through a kind of prism that converted colors into a smaller range of monotone hues. The result is that we may only guess at the actual pigments and shades. That is why this postcard image of a boys band is unusual. Someone corrected the "deficiency" of the original photograph by painting color washes onto the photo print. Instead of grey tone, we see that the young musician's uniforms are a russet red fabric. Their instruments are silver plated. Their faces a creamy beige.

They were the Caldwell Kid Band.

These 14 boys lived in Caldwell, Ohio and played in a band of mostly brass instruments with two clarinetists and two drummers. The youngest looks to be about age 7. The tallest might be 13. At the back stands their bandleader, a man wearing a bowler hat and an ordinary suit coat. 

The back of the postcard has no postmark but does have a cryptic message.

 Pick your
fellow out
 now for it
 will be to late
 some day

The front of the card has a caption in case we missed the band's name painted on the bass drum. No. 208,  Caldwell Kid Band, Caldwell, Ohio, which is repeated on the back with the information that it was Made in Germany. Until the advent of WW1 in 1914, most of the world's souvenir postcards were printed in Germany, so this card dates to around the beginning of the 20th century. 

Caldwell, OH is a small village in eastern Ohio and is the county seat of Noble County. In 1900 it had a population of  927, but in 1910 it could boast 1,430 citizens. Today that number has expanded only a bit more to about 1,700. Yet despite its size the townspeople supported both a men's band and a boy's band too.

In 2005, Pat Parks, a feature writer for the Cambridge, OH Daily Jeffersonian wrote a short history of the music making in Noble County. He said this about the Caldwell Kids Band.

An unparalleled musical organization was organized in 1906 by John Calland that was not composed of adults but was formed with youngsters ranging in age from nine to 13 years. They soon gained popularity and often traveled to neighboring villages for social functions. Calland moved from the Caldwell area in 1908, and an accomplished musician U.H. Shadwell, took over the reins when he left. The band became known as the youngest group of organized musicians in southeastern Ohio. They were called the Caldwell Kid Band.

Their repertoire included a wide variety of sacred and patriotic music, and their music attracted a crowd wherever they traveled. Members were Edgard Artman and Irwin Quick, tubas; Oscar Noble, baritone; Donald Dye, Benson Day and Earl Schob, trombones; Robert Shively and Miles Racey, altos; George Williams, Thomas Keenan and Frederick Schob, clarinets; Clare Shadwell, Danner Hastings and Harry Richcreek, cornets; Paul Conner, bass drum and Charley Ferguson, snare drum. Shadwell also sat in with his cornet at times.

The Noble County Historical Society was fortunate to receive several of the uniforms that were worn by the Caldwell Kid Band from Mary Richcreek several years ago. It is hoped to feature these uniforms and other memorabilia in a display at the historic old jail. The first annual assembly of the Noble County Chautauqua was held at Chautauqua Court on west North Street, Aug. 14-21, 1910, and the Caldwell Kid Band performed every afternoon and evening. C.C. Caldwell was the general manager of the affair. By 1913, the Caldwell Kid Band had grown up. The quality of their music was better than ever, but the novelty of youth had faded. They played their last concert in 1913.

The article includes a small image that was the same photo used in June 1907 by the Cincinnati Enquirer to promote the band. The caption says that the oldest member was 13 years of age and the youngest only 9. It then includes the surnames of the 14 boys. The scan of the newspaper is not clear but I think the two drummers on either side are the same boys as in the postcard. If I'm correct, then the man standing with the band is its first leader, John Calland. 

Cincinnati, OH Enquirer
June 7, 1907

Cincinnati is about 200 mile west of Caldwell, but in 1907 the Kid Band was beginning to make a statewide reputation.

Hillsboro, OH News Herald
April 22, 1909

Besides performing at local functions around Caldwell, the Kid Band also worked as the entertainment for a land company auctioning off building sites. In April 1909, an Ohio realty broker took out a full page advertisement for the sale of residential property sites called Highland Terrace in Hillsboro, OH, about 140 miles west of Caldwell.

Prospective buyers were offered free carriage rides to the grounds, and enticed with $500 of beautiful silverware given away free to people who attended the sale. Grand open air concerts were given by the Famous Caldwell Kid Band and the Hillsboro Military Band.

Reviews of the event the next week reported that seventy lots were sold at prices from $50 to $500. The Kid Band performed before hundreds of people.
The features of this land sale make me wonder if the strange message on the postcard refers to picking out home sites.


The 2005 newspaper account of the music in Noble County provided a nice list of the full names of the Kid Band and I was able to find most of them in U.S. Census records for Caldwell. Most boys had a birth year between 1896 and 1900. They were sons of farmers, merchants, managers, tradesmen, physicians, and lawyers and came from middle class rather than working class families. One boy, Miles H. Racey, was born in 1895 and was in the 1900 census where his father listed an occupation of Photographer. In the next census of 1910, father was gone and Miles' mother, Lindey Racey, was listed as divorced.

Her occupation?  Retoucher Photograph.

Did Mile's father take the original photograph of the band and did his mother paint the colors onto it? There were probably very few photographers in such a small town and I'd expect Mile's father gave a discount if his son was to be in the picture too. And Mrs. Racey must have taken some pride in her photo artistic skill to enter Retoucher as an occupation.  Miles H. Racey played alto according to the information in Mr. Park's article. That would be either the boy holding an alto horn and standing second left in the first cropped image,  or the boy seated center with a mellophone in this next enlarged image. Of course, a German print shop may have applied the colors to the postcard print but I like they idea that Mile's mother colorized her son's face.

The Caldwell Kid Band performed for a only very short time from 1906 to 1913. In a way their story reads a bit like Meredith Willson's famous musical The Music Man. At the beginning of the 20th century, public schools did not include band programs, or athletic sports for that matter. All across the country, adult musicians like John Calland organized similar bands for boys, and girls too, that would serve to train children in a useful skill and a satisfying discipline. I have found dozens of groups like this.

But by strange coincidence, this is the third boys band from the same area of Ohio. Unfortunately we see the boys in the other two photos only in sepia tones.

Back in 2009, I wrote about the Famous Cadet Band of Malta-McConnelsville, OH in my post entitled The Boys in the Band. The cards postmark dates this band of 12 boys and one dog to December 1909. McConnelsville is on east bank of the Muskingum River, opposite Malta which is in a different county. Their photo is in my top 10 favorite musical images in my collection.

{ Be sure to click the images to enlarge them. }

In 2012 I wrote a post about one of my most challenging cases of photo detective work, the Boys Concert Band. This large format photo had the full names of the 9 band musicians and a date of 1908, but there was no location noted. After a lot of research I discovered that the boys all came from Pike Township in Perry County, OH. Alas, as much as I love this photo, I will never know the color of their uniforms. Red? Green? Blue?

In 1910, Pike Township, Malta, McConnelsville, and Caldwell had nearly the same population of approximately 1500 citizens. Pike Township is 22 miles west of the twin towns Malta-McConnelsville, which are 26 miles west of Caldwell.

The close arrangement of towns strongly suggests that they knew of each other, and could have met and played concerts together. But that is research for another day.

This is my contribution to Sepia Saturday
Click the link for more boys at play.


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