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 }

Only Three Brothers

26 January 2018

Raymond on Piano.

Kenneth on Violin.

Milton with Cornet.

Only three Brothers.

A very large 8" x 10"  faded grainy photo
on heavy olive drab card stock.
No photographer's logo. No place. No date.
Except for the first names of the three boys
no other identification.

Just some pictures
of other brothers
or maybe the same brothers.

Gas lights, button top shoes, knickers.
Sometime around 1900?

Their mother enjoyed hearing them play.

This is my contribution to Sepia Saturday
where nothing ever gets swept under the carpet.

The AMAIZO Band from Above

19 January 2018

What's going on, Fellas?
What'cha watching?

That sure's a whole lot of people.
Why they all lined up like that?

Who's those folks over there
standing by that fancy little hut?
Ain't that the police chief?

Did'ja hear that?
Boy o'boy, that band music's swell!
Listen to them trombones wail!

What'a thing to see!
Wait'ill we tell Ma
what her favorite corn oil
cooked up today.

* * *

It was indeed a special thing to see,
but only two men really knew
what was going on.

The first one, dressed in
a sharp crisp uniform,

stood at attention
as he beat time for the musicians.

The second man was the real center of attention
as he stood in his new imitation Chinese pagoda.
This was his event, and he expected everything
to go according to plan.

We've met both men before
in my story from May 2016
The AMAIZO Band.

They are Walter Mays, the director of the AMAIZO Band,
and Raymond E. Daly, vice president and plant manager
for the American Maize-Products Company
in Hammond, Indiana, just outside of Chicago.

In the 1930s Mr. Daly's AMAIZO factory had nearly 1000 employees producing corn sugar, cereal sugar, refined corn oil, special starches, dextrins, and other products made from corn. Originally built for the Western Glucose Co., the American Maize Products Co. took it over in 1908 and Raymond E. Daly became its executive manager in 1910, serving for 30 years. By 1937 with the plant operating 24 hours a day in 3 eight hour shifts, the company was processing 35,000 bushels of corn daily.

In a 1991 Munster IN Times article by Archibald McKinlay on Raymond Daly's colorful years running the AMAIZO plant, Daly was described as a tough 6-foot-3, 225-pound Irishman from Chicago who was "a cross between Caesar and Cecil B. DeMille." Yet even through his imposing bluster, he was always fair. One poor foreman regularly had to endure being fired, only to be picked up the next morning by Daly and driven back to work.  The film director reference probably came from Daly's penchant for landscaping the factory's 100 acres with flower gardens, trees, ponds, and imitation Chinese pagodas.

The Amaizo Band was his idea to provide entertainment for his workers and their Hammond community. For some reason he decided the band should be made up from his African-American employees, perhaps because there was already an existing group of black musicians that played for local functions.  As a man who clearly demanded the best, Daly engaged Walter Mays, a very experienced Chicago jazz musician and band leader, to be the director of his new band. Such company bands were once quite common in America, but in this era it was especially unusual for a white employer to sponsor a band of black musicians who were also his factory workers. The earliest date that I've found for the Amaizo Band was 1932.

In the 1920s AMAIZO began promoting its corn starch and corn syrups as a national brand. To attract the attention of America's homemakers in 1930 the company sponsored a radio show over the Columbia network with Don Amaizo and his enchanting violin music, accompanied by his orchestra, and the recital of his latest thrilling adventures. The mysterious Spanish musician who was its star was never to be seen nor heard to speak. Each weekly episode would reveal more about how his adventures in strange lands and how he became a renowned artist, and I suspect, why AMAIZO golden syrup was his favorite sweetener for Frisuelos.

Mason City IA Globe Gazette
15 September 1930

In the time since I wrote my first story on The AMAIZO Band, I discovered a perfect newspaper article to verify my identification. I now know that the photographs were taken on October 12, 1933 at a special celebration organized by Mr. Daly to honor men who had worked at the AMAIZO factory for 25 years. The Hammond Times published a picture of the occasion.

Hammond IN Times
13 October 1933
The newspaper photo shows 24 men standing in front of the pagoda, flanked by the American Maize Products Co. president, D. K. Davis, on the right, and its vice president, Ray Daly, on the left. Mr. Daly wears the same suit and snappy beret that he has on in my first photo of the Amaizo Band. The headline above the photo is unrelated and reads in full: "Economic Advisor Says Distributor's Alleged Greed Brought Crash". It refers to a report on an economic analysis by Dr. Mordecai Ezekiel that the Great Crash of 1929 was caused by an imbalance between farm and industrial wages.

The photo was accompanied by a report on the event held at the American Maize Plant in Hammond, just on the Lake Michigan border with Chicago. All 800 employees were given the day off, with pay, to attend the celebration. They formed a parade with each department passing by a reviewing stand. The music came from the company's 22-piece band  who were wearing their new uniforms for the first time. They were led by Captain Walter Mays. After the company directors were introduced vice president Daly presented each of the 25 year employees with a commemorative silver button in recognition for their years of loyalty.

Hammond IN Times
13 October 1933

The employees also presented Mr. Daly with two beautiful canes as tokens of their regard for him, which we can see him holding in the rooftop and newspaper photos. The day's events continued for the assembled workers who enjoyed old-fashioned steak barbecue slow roasted over six charcoal pits. Afterwards there were athletic events, including three boxing matches, a departmental relay race, and an egg and spoon race. (See if you can spot the boxing ring in the photo.) The Amaizo Band played a concert in the afternoon and then again for an evening dance. The Amaizo quartette, presumably an employee vocal group, rendered several popular selections. This was how Raymond E. Daly retained workers for 25 years and more. He made his factory into an agreeable workplace that valued the individual and fostered pride in the teamwork of all the employees.

My first photograph in this story, an 8"x10" glossy made by Bodies Art Studio of Hammond, Indiana, was likely taken from atop the AMAIZO main factory building. The same photographer also brought his camera down to ground level for two photos of the band. The one featured on my 2016 post,  The AMAIZO Band, is the better photo, as it has Mr. Daly standing with Walter Mays and more importantly includes the AMAIZO sign on top the building. But there was a third photo which I recently acquired along with the rooftop photo that shows off the individual band musicians with their leader, Walter Mays.

The 31 bandsmen stand or kneel in two rows.
According to the 1991 local history article,
the uniform colors were blue and gold.

Their dashing berets are a very modern fashion
which I've not seen before on other civilian bands
from before the 1930s.

By 1933 Chicago was already recognized
as a cultural center for African-American music.
It attracted many blues, jazz, and classical music artists
as it supported a vibrant entertainment industry
of nightclubs and theaters.


Mr. Daly even commissioned a large banner
for the Amaizo Band
with the name of its director, Walter Mays,
and a slogan that it used
Conn musical instruments.
Notice that some of the men
are kneeling on handkerchiefs
to protect their new uniform trousers.

For decades the C. G. Conn Co. of Elkhart, Indiana
was the world's largest
manufacturer of band musical instruments.
So it's no surprise that Mr. Daly
made a deal to purchase a full set of Conn instruments.

I find it interesting that this conventional wind band
used only clarinets with the large assortment
of brass and percussion instruments.
This may be because the clarinet
was the bandleader's principal instrument.

Walter Mays was born in 1884 in Oakland, California. A talented musician he was of the generation that spanned the tradition of 1900s ragtime bands that after 1920 became what we now call Jazz Music .  Mays was in his thirties living in Chicago when he joined the band of one of the first pioneers in African-American music, the bandleader and composer Charles L. Cook(e) (1891–1958). In 1919, he toured with the American Syncopated Orchestra on a nationwide tour. It was the first serious presentation of jazz styles to American audiences. It was led by another celebrated black musician, Will Marion Cook (1869-1944), no relation to Charles L., and Mays played both clarinet and saxophone.

Walter was a professional and clearly Raymond E. Daly respected his talent and wanted him to develop a band worthy of the AMAIZO brand name. The band remained a part of Daly's factory life, playing for annual picnics and Christmas parties until about 1942 when many workers probably went off to serve in the war. By 1938 Raymond E. Daly was also the chairman of a Hammond bank and a prominent member of Chicago business interests. He finally retired from the AMAIZO plant in 1945. and died in 1951 at age 74. 

Evidently Walter Mays also worked a regular job at the AMAIZO plant too, as during the war years he represented one of the employees unions. After the war his name disappears from Chicago area newspapers, but at some time afterwards he returned to California and died in Oakland in 1970.

During all those years that Walter Mays led the Amaizo Band, Raymond Daly repeatedly tried to get the band into the annual 4th of July parade held in Whiting, Indiana, a neighbor city of Hammond on the southern shore of Lake Michigan and just across from the AMAIZO plant. Yet every year his attempt to integrate the all-white parade with his colored band was denied. Today the AMAIZO plant still produces food starch and sugars, but it is owned by the CARGILL conglomerate, a global corporation. The plant now employs around 260 workers, but I doubt they have a marching band that matches the Amaizo Band's snazzy blue and gold uniforms.

This is my contribution to Sepia Saturday
where someone always knows where all the bodies are buried.

Top Hats on Parade

12 January 2018

Before the parade passes by
I've gotta go and taste Saturday's high life

Before the parade passes by
I'm gotta get some life back into my life

I'm ready to move out in front
I've had enough of just passing by life

With the rest of them
With the best of them
I can hold my head up high

For I've got a goal again
I've got a drive again

I'm gonna feel my heart coming alive again
Before the parade passes by!

Look at that crowd up ahead
Listen and hear that brass harmony growing

Look at that crowd up ahead
Pardon me if my old spirit is showing

All of those lights over there
Seem to be telling me where I'm going

When the whistle blows
And the cymbals crash
And the sparklers light the sky

I'm gonna raise the roof
I'm gonna to carry on
Give me an old trombone
Give me an old baton
Before the parade passes by.

* * *

Lyrics from "Before the Parade Passes By"
by Jerry Herman featured in his 1964 musical
Hello Dolly!

This is a photo puzzle that I've not been able to solve.
There are no markings on the postcard and very few clues.

The men in top hats look like a fraternal society of some kind
that liked top hats, white gloves, and ceremonial spears.
wooden clapboard houses, dirt street, trees, and utility poles
resemble a typical American town from around 1910.
But the band leading the parade wear uniforms
with swallowtail shoulder epaulets that were worn
by British or German military bands.

However I don't think this parade was
in Britain or the United States.
My best guess is that they are somewhere in Canada,
during a warmish season sometime before 1914.
And I bet all those children followed the parade
as they set off down the street.

Because it's a good song
that everyone should get stuck in their ear
for the rest of the day,
here is Jerry Herman's tune as played
by the mass Canadian military bands and choirs
at the Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo 2009.

* * *

* * *

This is my contribution to Sepia Saturday
where the streets are paved in grit and grime.

The Line Up

05 January 2018

Ducks and Children.
We like to get them into nice neat rows.
Though ducks are generally more cooperative,
young band musicians sometimes can be persuaded
to form into a uniform straight line.

Right to left, shortest to tallest,
it looks even better
when the instrument sections
can stand together.

These eight boys, 5 alto horn players and 3 clarinetists including a small E-flat clarinet, offered the photographer with a perfect opportunity to arrange them according to height. They are unknown but an annotation on the back of their postcard photo reads "Warren, O(hio) Italian Band". A few do have Italianate features and I'd bet a couple are brothers but I've been unable to find any reference to an Italian band in this area of Ohio. The postcard style suggests circa 1910-18 but that is just a guess.

* * *

Of course photographers have been lining up families
since cameras were first invented.
This charming boudoir-sized cabinet card photo
of five children, two girls and three boys,
each with their hands placed onto
the shoulders of the next tallest
attracted my attention
as an extra to add onto
a purchase of another musical photo.

Their names are unknown,
but based on their button top shoes
I would date them at around 1900.
The photographer was

Wright Studio
2169 Washington Street,
Roxbury, Mass.

* * *

This last lineup offers an impressive number of bright faces smiling for the camera. They are the 13 musical children of Pastor William Fetler and his wife Barbara Fetler, who performed as the Rainbow Family Orchestra of Riga.

They first appeared in my post from July 2013 entitled The Rainbow Orchestra which tells the remarkable story of how the family band of Rev. and Mrs. Vaseely Andreyevich Fetler-Malof of Riga, Latvia came to America in 1939 just months before Hitler's invasion of Poland.

The first postcard has a date stamped on the back of 21 April 1939 and must have been made while they were still in Europe. This second line up, also by height but not necessarily by age I think, was made in America a few months later to judge by their 1940s American fashions and hairstyles. The names of the 13 Fetler children in descending order of age are Timothy, Lydia, Mary, Daniel, Paul, Philip, John, Elisabeth, Andrew, David, Peter, James, and Joseph. Rev. William Fetler's official US immigration form did not provide enough lines for that size family and their list necessitated a extra piece of paper.

This is my contribution to Sepia Saturday
where everyone is lining up for a Sepia New Year.


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