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 }

Burnished Brass

29 February 2020

It's not just the blaze of sound
that makes brass instruments
so arresting in music.
It's also the brilliance
of their coils of shiny metal tubing
that commands attention.

Even on an overexposed photo of a brass septet,
the gold and silver gleam of brass
makes your eyes blink.

To make a sound
requires the player's air
to flutter the lips into a brass mouthpiece.
This small vibration,
like the buzzing of a bumblebee,
round and round,
steadily louder 
until it finally escapes out the bell of the instrument.

Curiously this effect
looks the same
no matter if it's
a quiet melody
or a thundering fanfare.
So what dynamic is this brass quintet making?
Soft or loud?

As a brass instrument's bell
pointedly directs the sound,
sometimes it aims forward
like cornets and trombones.
Sometimes upward
like tubas and tenor horns.
Less common is backwards
like my instrument the French horn.

But in the 1850s-60s
another early configuration for brass saxhorns
placed the bell over the shoulder pointed backwards.
This let saxhorn bands march at the head of a parade
and still allow the troops who followed
to hear the tunes and feel the beat of the music.
This brass quartet, led by a side action rotary valve cornet,
has three over the shoulder horns,
a bass and two tenor saxhorns.

Brass might tarnish
but it won't corrode or wear away
like the silver on this ferrotype, aka tintype, photo.

* * *

The first image is of an unknown group of seven men on a simple 5 x 7 inch sepia tone print. With four standing and three kneeling they are outdoors in front of a background of trees and vines which gives the photo a very dark contrast, which I have corrected. The musicians have three cornets, a valve trombone, two types of tenor horns, and a tuba. There is a vaguely 1900-1910 American style about them, but they could be from anywhere in that time frame.

* * *

The brass quintet in the second image comes from an oversize cabinet photo. It is unusual because the five musicians are posed pretending to be playing. If they were actually making a sound we would see a subtle firm pursing of their lips. These fellas are barely kissing the mouthpieces. 

The group has two cornets, tenor horn, valve trombone, and tuba. The three young men in bowler hats have such a strong resemblance, I think they may be brothers.

The photographer's name is embossed along the bottom of the dark green card mount. It's difficult to read so I've distorted the colors to get better contrast.
A. Wastvedt
Traveling Artist

Many early photographers worked as itinerant tradesmen serving rural communities by traveling with their camera and developing equipment by horse and wagon, or sometimes via the train lines on a private rail car. At a guess by his Scandinavian surname I would place this photographer somewhere on the great prairies of Minnesota, North/South Dakota, and Montana.

* * *

The third brass quartet appears in a rough tintype photograph, more correctly called a ferrotype. It is quite small, about 2¼ inches by 3½ inches, and very dark.

As each ferrotype photo is made by a single exposure of light to a thin silver collodion emulsion painted onto a metal sheet of iron not tin, no duplicates are possible. It also means that the image placed on the coated metal is backwards like a mirror's reflection. Left is right and right it left.

Magically the early cameras could pick up a lot of detail and with modern computer software I can easily improve the contrast and flip the image to correct the mirror effect.

Over the shoulder brass instruments were balanced on the left shoulder and the valve keys were pressed by the right hand. They remained popular with brass bands until the mid-1870s when improvements in piston valves and brass manufacturing made this cumbersome instrument obsolete. 

Unfortunately the faces of the four musicians are scratched
so we can't know if they were smiling or frowning.
But at least their brass horns shine through the darkness.

This is my contribution to Sepia Saturday
where discussion of old photographs
is always taken very seriously.

Music at Sea

21 February 2020

Enduring the queasy vertigo
of Mal de Mer is never pleasant.
And fretting over a lee shore
during a terrible storm
is most unwelcome. 

But in between these afflictions
there is one malady that follows
everyone on a sea voyage.


Day after day, week after week,
the tedious monotony of a 360° horizon
quickly dampens the spirit
of any traveler on board a ship.

Stroll around the deck a few dozen times;
exchange pleasantries once more with fellow voyagers;
peruse again the shabby books
and dated newspapers in the library; 
inspect the ship's menu for the nth time;
and contemplate the horizon
that never gets any closer.
The weary traveler soon yearns for a distraction,
a diversion, an a
or anything that might be
a lifebuoy of 
for a mind adrift in an ocean of doldrums.

Yet all was not lost
on a ship manned with a few musicians.
Their siren song of music
could offer the perfect remedy
for this sickness of the long sea voyage.

Or maybe not.

These eight somber musicians were members of a ocean liner's orchestra. The ensemble had one flute, two clarinets, a single violin, cello, and double bass, and two players without instruments, perhaps on piano and percussion. All wear matching livery uniforms in a simple style. But with eight bristly upturned mustaches, it not hard to recognize them as musicians of the German Empire before 1918. 

They were photographed on a ship's deck outside a salon with decorative glass windows. The back of the postcard has a German stamp and postmark of 25/11/12 from Altona, Germany, a borough of Hamburg on the Elbe River.  However the photo was produced in the Republic of Argentina

It was addressed to Fritz Humert (?) of a city (unclear) in Bayern (Bavaria) from Wolfgang, dated 24.XI.12.  Fortunately Wolfgang, who might be one of the musicians, thoughtfully added an important clue to their location along the top edge. 

auf S.S. Cap Ortegal
on the Steam Ship Cap Ortegal

The Cap Ortegal was one of several passenger ships in the fleet of the Hamburg Südamerikanische Dampfschifffahrts-Gesellschaft. Established in 1871 from a conglomerate of merchant houses, the Hamburg Süd, provided passenger and mail transportation services from the ports of Hamburg, Germany and Genoa, Italy to Buenos Aires, Argentina with stops in England, France, Spain, and Portugal, and sometimes Brazil. By 1914 the Cap Ortegal was one of 50 ships in the Hamburg Südamerikanische fleet.

1910 Steamship Communication to South America:
Reports from Consular Officers of the United States
Source: Google Books

There were Hamburg Süd ships leaving roughly once every week for a one-way trip to Buenos Aires of 6,646 nautical miles or 7,648 miles. When it was commissioned in April 1904, the Cap Ortegal  at 7,818 tons was a modestly large passenger ship for its time. Its top speed was rated at 13.5 knots which allowed it to make the one-way trip from Europe to South America in roughly 21 to 26 days depending on ports of call, currents, and weather.

1910 Steamship Communication to South America:
Reports from Consular Officers of the United States
Source: Google Books

The Cap Ortegal was 134.4 meters (441 feet) in length and 16 meters (52.5 feet) in width. It offered accommodation to 164 passengers in first-class cabins, 94 in second-class, and 338 in third-class berths. The crew comprised 129 men, presumably counting every rank from first officer to coal stoker and the eight musicians in the orchestra. Power was supplied by two triple expansion steam machines developing 4200 hp to spin two propellers. It's interesting that in newspaper and magazine reports of the era of steamships, the description of ocean liners always included detailed specs on the engineering and machinery. Whether this was driven by an interest from the travel consumers or because of the fleet manufacturer's self-promotion is not clear, but it meant that the public always had ample information to compare ships. Reviewers wrote about vibration, steadiness, and speed with lengthy descriptions on the artful design of woodwork, upholstery, and social amenities. Of course this was aimed primarily at upper class travelers.

This next postcard shows the S.S. „Cap Ortegal“ in a colored profile illustration of the ship cruising through the ocean waves. From the message along the bottom border, it was sent on 14.1.06 — 14 January 1906, just a year and a half since its maiden voyage to Argentina. Looking like a seagull, a small X mark over the bridge may show where the writer's cabin is. Written in French along the top edge are the coordinates for where the ship was that day, Latitude North 25°26', Longitude West 17°35'. This places the Cap Ortegal 200 miles south of Tenerife in the Canary Islands off the west coast of North Africa.

The postcard was addressed to someone in Paris but it has a German stamp and three cancellations, one from Montevideo, Uruguay. That means the writer was on an outward bound voyage with the postcard being dropped off in Uruguay before the Cap Ortegal reached Buenos Aires. 

Passenger steamships like the Cap Ortegal could take on some smaller cargo, but they were  designed mainly for speed that would transport people and the mail as quickly and as efficiently as possible. Not surprisingly a postcard in this era served a more practical purpose as a cheap way to let the folks at home know that the traveler had arrived safely. Cards and letters written on board would be left at each port of call and picked up by the next ship returning to the home port.

The eight musicians of the Cap Ortegal's orchestra are likely German, but might be German-Argentinians too. Passenger liners did not spend more than a few days in a destination port before returning, so some of the crew and musicians may have made Buenos Aires their home.

The ship's "orchestra" was really just a chamber ensemble engaged to entertain the patrons. They likely had no maritime training, and probably were hired as seasonal or itinerant workers with no long term contract. Their performances were typically scheduled around meal times like many similar musical groups that played in German cafes or restaurants. On occasion they may have played for dances or for the folks in third-class. I don't know what kind of repertoire an ensemble like this would play. Undoubtedly they used arrangements adapted for this odd collection of instruments. Given the multinational clientele on board the ship, the concerts likely were not just German music but French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Brazilian, and Argentinian songs and dances. The better bands surely knew thousands of pieces by heart. But the worst groups would have played a small repetitive set of music that did little to relieve a traveler's affliction of boredom on the sea.

The next postcard image shows the interior of the Cap Ortegal's Speisesalon - Dining Salon. There are no people in the picture, just empty chairs and tables, but it displays an elegant style suitable for the first-class passengers. I imagine at one end there was a performing platform for the musicians with room for a small piano and drum set.

In this era before 1914-18 a globetrotting holiday was becoming a fashionable idea in the magazines, but few ordinary people could actually afford it. I don't think South America was then a major tourist destination, but it was definitely a place that had a lot to offer if you had an interest in commodities like coffee, grain, beef, timber, and cotton. Most of the travelers at sea on ships like the Cap Ortegal were traveling for business. The world of international trade needed salesmen, agents, managers, engineers, financiers, etc. to handle the business interests of import-export firms. And all these people traveled by ship moving along established sea lanes between the continents.

Businessmen needed to talk about the financial news of the day, so newspaper digests catering to each language were published for sea-going travelers. For English speakers it was The Brazilian Review printed in Rio de Janeiro. The weekly shipping reports listed all the ships arriving with their nationality and previous port of call, followed by a list of all the ships departing, giving the name of their ultimate destination. In 1909, the Cap Ortegal was one of 52 ships arriving in Rio during the week of August 7 - 13, and it did not even stay overnight, as it left the same day. Among the many small schooners and barques, are 30 steamships over 1,000 tons. The Cap Ortegal was one of the largest. If even half of those passenger liners were supplied with some kind of musical ensemble, then extrapolating for the entire Atlantic, that's a lot of music afloat.

The Brazilian Review
17 August 1909

Just a few pages before the shipping report, was some local news from Rio De Janeiro that caught my attention. The Director-General of Public Health had released a mortality list for Rio itemized by disease. as of August 8th, 1909:

Yellow Fever, 0; bubonic plague, 0; smallpox, 1; measles, 1; scarlet fever, 0; whooping cough, 0; diphtheria, 0; influenza, 7; typhoid fever, 1; dysentery, 2; beriberi, 0; leprosy, 0; erysipelas, 0; marsh fevers, 3; pulmonary diseases, 64.  Total deaths from all causes 250, equal to an annual rate of 20.46 per thousand inhabitants. Mortality of infectious diseases to total number of deaths, 32.40 per cent. Under treatment in hospitals: Yellow fever, 0; smallpox, 19; bubonic plague, 0; under observation, 10.  

The Brazilian Review
17 August 1909
Compared to our jet-set lives in the 21st century, the world of 1909 had many more things to worry about. The notion of quarantining a ship's passengers and crew was the standard method of preventing an outbreak of contagious disease for centuries. It usually worked, though not always to the benefit of those on board the ship. Now with the recent epidemic of deadly pulmonary illness in China, humans must learn new rules of life and death.

This next sepia tone postcard of the Cap Ortegal is a photo but has no postmark. It probably dates from around 1913-14.

The S.S. Cap Ortegal served the sea route from Hamburg to Buenos Aires from 1904 to 1914. At the outbreak of the great war, it took refuge in Tenerife in the Canary Islands, which being part of Spain, was a neutral port. It remained there until 1919 when it was handed over to France as part of the German war reparations. Renamed the Chambord, it was refitted with many more cheaper berths, likely for migrant Asian laborers, and in 1922 began passenger service to French Indochina, Madagascar, and French possessions in the Indian Ocean. It was retired and sold for scrap in 1932.

Imagine the number of times
people waved as the ship left the docks.
Gute Reise!
Buen viaje! 
Bon Voyage!

Can you hear the orchestra?

* * *

For a British contrast,
check out my story from May 2019:

This is my contribution to Sepia Saturday
where everyone's trying to rearrange the deck chairs.

Music at the Coliseum

15 February 2020

"Say there, Bill. Isn't that Miss Annie from finance?"

"Mother, do you think the band might play
'Violette' if Father asked the director?"

"Waiter! Where's my soup?"

"Oh, Judith,  you should have been here
in May for the flower show."

"What's that? I can't hear over the band."

"Waiter, this is the wrong soup.
I ordered the green turtle!"

"Tuesday I'm off to Kalamazoo, Wednesday is Ann Arbor,
Thursday Detroit, and then if sales go well,
back to Toledo on Friday."

"Yeah, this band's okay if you like that Italian opera stuff.
But give me Sousa any day."

"Waiter, this soup is cold!"

Exchanges like these must have been heard a million times in the Chicago Coliseum. It was a big place in the heart of bustling great city, only a short walk from Chicago's train stations, and close to its business and theater districts. For many people, both natives and visitors, postcards of its crenelated castle walls were a popular means of communicating that they'd been to the Windy City, "be home soon."

The Coliseum was the largest venue of its type in Chicago. It was built in 1899 by Charles F. Gunther (1837-1920) a German-American confectioner whose caramel candy made him a very rich man. Gunther used his wealth to indulge a hobby of collecting Civil War memorabilia.

In 1889 he purchased the infamous Libby Prison in Richmond, Virginia, which was used to house hundreds of Union Army officers during the war. Gunther had this old warehouse building, 140 feet wide and 100 feet deep, disassembled brick-by-brick, shipped to Chicago on 132 railroad cars, and then rebuilt to house his museum of the Civil War. Though his collection included the table where General Robert E. Lee surrendered at Appomattox Court House, and President Lincoln's deathbed, he exhibited many other curiosities unrelated to the war. By 1897 the public's fascination with the war and the weird had waned, so Gunther decided to take down his prison museum and build on the site a  new convention arena for Chicago. He was also exploiting a terrible fire that in 1897 destroyed an earlier Chicago Coliseum located in another part of the city.

Libby Prison ,1865, Richmond, VA
Source: Wikimedia

The first colorized image shows the arena's interior when set up as the Coliseum Gardens. Hundreds of people sit around tables with waiters hovering nearby. A water fountain splashes in the center and along the far wall is a band stand dressed up as a Grecian temple. Along the message border is a caption.

Largest in the World Under Roof,
Seats for Six Thousand.
Chicago ___Oct 17___ 1906

Coliseum Garden,
Where Ellery's Royal Italian Band = Ferullo, Leader
Gave a twelve week's Season of Concerts.
I heard them five or six times

It was sent to Miss Louisa K. Antrim
of Merchantville, New York
but has no stamp or cancellation.

With different seating arrangements the old Chicago Coliseum could go from 6,000 to 12,000 patrons. Many sporting events were held in the Coliseum. And countless trade shows took over its floor space displaying the latest industrial equipment, the newest automobiles, or the future of household appliances. Beginning in 1904 it hosted five consecutive Republican Party National Conventions.

Interior of Chicago Coliseum
during 1912 Republican National Convention
Source: LOC

The castle walls were the only part of Gunther's Civil War museum to remain in the new structure which was scheduled to open in 1900. It's penitentiary-like appearance led to a mistaken belief that the huge Coliseum had once actually imprisoned Union soldiers. Spreading fake news is nothing new. My second image came from another postcard showing off the Coliseum's distinctive facade.

The message reads:
Dear Annie –
The place where I was at
last Sunday to hear Ellery Band
find (?) 676 East 63rd Place
Miss Weber
Write me soon
as I may go to

The postcard was sent on September 14, 1904
to Miss Annie Marie P. Bundy
c/o the Piano Studio of Topeka, Kansas.

It's rare to get ephemera with a trail of provenance.

As stamped on the back,
years later Annie donated her postcard
to the Topeka Public Library.
When the library no longer wanted it in their collection,
an antique dealer picked it up, leaving a note of its topics,
and then sold it to me on eBay.
The rest is history.

In 1929 the much larger Chicago Stadium was built with 18,000 seats to handle sporting events like hockey and basketball. Then in 1934 the 9,000 seat International Amphitheater opened for conventions, hosting both Democratic and Republican presidential conventions from 1952 to 1968. This diminished the bookings at the old Coliseum, and the district around the arena became rundown. In the 60s and early 70s it became the Chicago concert venue for rock bands. Finally in March 1971, the Coliseum was closed for fire code violations. It never reopened for public shows and in 1982 was slated for redevelopment and partially demolished. However parts of the original exterior battlements remained until the 1990s when a section of Gunther's Libby Prison facade was preserved for the Chicago History Museum.

Yet in its golden years of the first two decades of the 20th century the Chicago Coliseum was THE PLACE to to go for events of all kinds, especially concerts of wind bands not utilizing electric amplification. And one band in particular got its name advertised on many Coliseum postcards from this era—The Ellery Band.

The postmark is unclear,
September 15, maybe 1906-08?
Sent from Wisconsin
to Miss Helen Bobolz (?)
in Chicago

Dear Helen
Ma wants you to
come home Saturday
night. We are
very busy in the corn
and want you to
come home. Don't
forget to bring
me something home
Brother Erich

The Coliseum Gardens were always cool and delightful, as advertised in the Chicago newspapers. In August 1905 the Ellery Band under Band Director Ferullo performed two concerts daily. In the afternoon the band played overtures to "Poet and Peasant" and "Faust"; music from "Boehian Girl" and "Manon Lescaut"; Chopin's Funeral March; etc.  In the evening it was Mozart's "Gloria"; "Organ Offertory"; and "Hymn to the Sun".  Admission was 25 cents. No higher. Catering by Edelweiss Garden Management.

Chicago Tribune
6 August 1905

The Ellery Band's director was a handsome Italian musician named Signor Francesco Ferullo. His photo made a dashing advertisement of the band.

Appleton WI Post Crescent
12 October 1904

A native of Naples, Italy, Ferullo trained as an oboist at the famous Naples Royal Conservatoire. At age 18 he joined the San Carlo Opera orchestra where he played for 3 years before being recruited in 1901 to play solo oboe in the Ellery Royal Italian Band. After his arrival in America he toured with the band for hundreds of concerts, often being listed as oboe soloist for tunes taken from popular Italian operas.

In 1904 the band director then, Maestro Chiaffarelli, resigned due to ill health. Trading his oboe for a baton, the young Francesco Ferullo took over the duties of band leader. Despite a small stature, his musical gyrations and animated, often gymnastic, movements on the podium proved a big hit and the Ellery Band became celebrated across the country for its exciting renditions of music from Italian, German, and French operas. The band had over 50 musicians and performed in nearly every major city on both the east and west coasts, as well as a 10 to 12 week run at the Chicago Coliseum.

In the summer of 1905, his Ellery Band was competing with the Imperial Italian Band of Emilio Rivela performing at nearby Rivinia Park in Chicago. Maestro Rivela was another Italian band leader hired to lead the Ellery Band before Chiaffarelli. The band actually had several directors and every one had a splendid mustache.  Rivela's was reputed to be over 12 inches long uncurled.

Chicago Inter Ocean
7 August 1905

Ferullo's band was sometimes called the Royal Italian Band as all the bandsmen were indeed Italian, but the "royal" part was made up and had nothing to do with the King of Italy. More often it was called the Ellery Band, or just Ellery's Band, both linked to Channing Ellery, an American music impresario who loved Italian music and musicians. From 1895 until his death in 1917, Channing Ellery imported hundreds of Italian band musicians to play in a band of his own creation. Though he studied to be an opera singer, Ellery's only musical talent was as a whistler. He did not play any band instrument. Instead he used an inherited personal fortune that allowed him to finance a musical organization that would introduce America to the music he most admired, the music of the great Italian composers, Donizetti, Verdi, Puccini, etc.

Albuquerque NM Journal
24 March 1906

For more details on Channing Ellery
and his many Italian bandmasters,
please check out my post from August 2019.
An Atlantic City Love Story, part 2.  

1906 proved to be a big year
in the career of Francesco Ferullo.
For one thing he got married in June. 

Albuquerque NM Citizen
14 June 1906

His bride was a beauty from Kansas City, Missouri.
Her father was a wealthy businessman.
The announcement made all the newspapers.
It was a familiar story.

Stay tuned for more about
Mr. and Mrs. Ferullo.

This is my contribution to Sepia Saturday
where everyone is still waiting for the check.

Music on the Wing

08 February 2020

It's been a human desire
since the dawn of time.
A universal dream of mankind
that always seemed impossible
until suddenly it became possible.
A wonder so amazingly achievable that
even young boys might do it.

And if two children
then why not more?
Perhaps a sextet
of female musicians,
with chaperones too,
could experience this new marvel.

It was a triumph of human invention.
What was once absurd to imagine
was now so believable
that any man, woman, or child,
or even all three,
could indulge in the dream.

What was this dream turned real?

Human flight.

The first two lads sit apprehensively
in a flimsy painted canvas monoplane
that seems to be flying high above
a body of water while
looking down on a great metropolis.
The city is Zurich, identified alongside
the photographer's name Photo-Rapid in the lower corner.
The words Gesetzl. geschützt. means VAT. protected,
an apt phrase for a Swiss postcard.
Above the logo is the northern outflow
of Lake Zürich or Zürichsee
beginning the Limmat River .

Rudolf sent this card on 21 November 1911.
I think he may be one of the boys.

* * *

The second image comes from another postcard
depicting a similar imitation single-wing monoplane.
Seated comfortably in the plane's fake fuselage
are the Harzer Damen-Orchester,
a German ladies orchestra,
of six women directed by Herr Herman Ernst,
who looks as if he is standing on the far wing.
Painted on the side is a name, Rumpler – Taube.
Taube is German for pigeon,
and Rumpler was
an early German manufacturer of airplanes.

Like Rudolf and his young friend flying over Zurich
these musical ladies and gentleman, with their stalwart pilot,
are airborne above a sizeable town on a river.
This is Heidelberg, Germany on the Neckar River.
The postmark date is 6 July 1913
sent from Heidelberg.
There is also an imprint
for the Odeon-Palace in Heidelberg
which is presumably where
Herr Ernst and his orchestra were performing.

* * *

The third colorful image
comes from another Swiss postcard
which shows a cartoon of a happy family
in an open Wright brothers style biplane
high above a snow covered town.
Mother and father toast the new year, Bonne année,
while seated precariously on the nose flap
is baby, perhaps the designated pilot,
wearing cupid's wings
and holding a bow and quiver of arrows.

This card's postmark is dated 29 December 1911
from La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland,
a city famous for its watch makers.

* * *

Wilbur and Orville Wright made their first successful attempt at powered flight in a double wing machine on December 17, 1903 over the sand dunes of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. Over the next two years they worked on improvements to their design, but made no flights in 1906 or 1907.  By 1908 the brothers had enough confidence in their biplane and sufficient experience as pilots to believe they could reliably demonstrate their invention in a controlled flight. 

In May 1908 Wilbur Wright took their flying machine to France in an effort to get a contract with the French military. He began public demonstrations on August 8, 1908, flying over a horse racing track near Le Mans, France. The first people who witnessed him flying seated on the open wing and managing the airplane with apparent ease were amazed. Soon thousands more people came to see for themselves. Not only was this a momentous feat of modern engineering, it was a mind-bending revolution in human imagination. Man could now fly.

The Wright brothers were not the only inventors pursuing the dream of powered flight. They were just the first, and contrary to the American myth, it was their success in Europe, not the United States that made them famous. By the fall of 1908 Wilbur was taking up single passengers in his machine. By February 1909 he began teaching three Frenchmen how to fly the Wright airplane.

During the summer of 1909, Orville Wright traveled to Germany where he demonstrated their airplane to the Kaiser in Berlin on August 30. Hundreds of thousands of people saw him fly. By October he set a new unofficial altitude record by soaring to 1,600 feet. Soon there would be a factories in France and Germany turning out Wright flyers.

The Wright brother's competition was not fixed-wing aircraft but Count Zeppelin's giant dirigibles filled with hydrogen gas. Zeppelin flew his first airship in 1900 but it was not until November 1909 that his improved designs became feasible and practical for constructing multiple airships suitable for commercial use.  Yet as history would prove in the following decades, the future of human flight would not be in lighter-than-air dirigibles. Birds flew with wings, not giant gas sausages. Mankind would soon fly with wings too.

The last two images depict single wing aeroplanes
very like the painted theatrical models used
by the Swiss and German photographers.
This one comes from a postcard photo of a monoplane
resembling a dragon fly hovering above
a busy city boulevard. It is captioned:
1140.  PARIS – L'Avenue de l'Opera   N.D. Phot.

It was postmarked 28 November 1910 from France,
and addressed to Emile Weber of Zurich
from his brother Hans.

* * *

The last image is a colorized photo print from a German postcard.
It shows a long line of Germany soldiers
with a birdlike airplane above them.
It is captioned:
Antreten zum Parademarsch ~ Start for the parade march

In the foreground is a fife and drum corp
playing next to a Germany military band.
All are wearing the distinctive Pickelhauben spiked helmets
of the Imperial German Army.
This postcard was sent from Hannover
via free military Feldpost
on 28 May 1915.

It was the ninth month of the Great War.
Zeppelins and aeroplanes

were now demonstrating
many new applications of flight
that were not part of the original dream.

Last year the world celebrated the 50th anniversary
of the Apollo 11 moon landing on July 20, 1969.
It represents the pinnacle of human achievement.
But though we worried about whether it would succeed,
the science was never in doubt.
Throughout the preparation, planning, and testing
people around the world could follow the idea
toward the final goal of leaving a human footprint on the moon.

But what the Wright brothers achieved
inspired a very different sense of astounding wonder.
The ancient dream of mankind to fly like a bird
had become a reality.
Imagination was no longer needed
we could see it on a postcard.

This is my contribution to Sepia Saturday
where sometimes we like to pretend
we know what we are doing.


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