Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Deansboro Band

In May, 1927, a group of enthusiastic and enterprising musicians met in the Deansboro Garage for the purpose of organizing what they called the Deansboro Community Band. This energetic group, consisting of young men from all over the Town of Marshall, treated the residents of Deansboro to a concert every Tuesday. Harry Goodson remembers that these concerts, for the most part, were performed on the back of a flatbed truck in front of the general store and were called Open Air concerts. Soft drinks, hot dogs, and ice cream were sold; and Art Sanders' grandmother popped a lot of popcorn which Art sold for a nickel a bag. On a good night, he made as much as $5.00!People either stood around, listened and applauded; or sat in their cars and honked their horns with appreciation after each number

Concerts were also held on the front lawns of many homeowners. Eleanor Dawes met her husband Bob at an open air concert in front of the Dean Homestead. He was from Clinton, so you see the band had a wide audience. They also held concerts in the Maccabee Hall, in Oriskany Falls, in the village park in Clinton, for the Paris Hill Fair and the Vernon Fair, and Waterville. The band also furnished music on past Memorial Days.

Of course, this was not the first band out of Deansboro: there is evidence there was a band as early as 1898, but nothing much can be found out about this. The later band had at least two directors: Harry M. Williams of Utica; and John Albrecht, formerly with the famous Sousa band, also of Utica. In addition, there were bylaws and officers: president, R.E. Thayer; vice president, Peter Klotzbach; secretary, O.E. Buckingham; treasurer Walter Steinmann; manager I. Weaver; librarian Raymond Thayer. At its inception, the band had 21 members, rising to 30 over the years. The picture below shows the band, but the date is unknown. Since it went from 1927 until 1941 (the last instance I could find of the Deansboro Band), most likely the personnel changed from year to year. Donald Bennett was a frequent soloist.

The concert usually consisted of a mix of classical music and favorites of the time. An example of the music offered by the Deansboro band was detailed in a Utica Daily Press article from 1931. The program included the following selections: "Cruiser Omaha (a march) by King; Stilly Night by Huff; "Empyream" by Hayes; "Sunset Limited" by Holmes; "Over the Stars" by King; "Golden Book  Medley" by Kroyman; "Under the Double Eagle" by Wagner; "I'm Happy When You're Happy"; "Officer of the Day"; and "America," which concluded every concert.

The Deansboro Band also sponsored field days. The first was in 1929, which drew more than 2000 people to the hamlet. There was a parade in the morning with floats, decorated bicycles and decorated cars, a ball game in the afternoon, and a dance at Maccabee Hall in the evening. Subsequent field days were just as popular, including more attractions such as a time race, a hill climb, horseshoe tournaments, and a boxing match but always ending with dancing. To express their appreciation to the many neighboring villages which supported the field days, the band performed concerts in those villages which were well received, the band being referred to as "wide awake," "a pleasure to listen to," "delightful," and with "excellent musicianship."

UPDATE: As a famous broadcaster used to say, "This is the rest of the story."  Dorothy McConnell has provided me with the following transcript of her interview with Art Sanders regarding the Deansboro Band:

"With the ending of World War I, many communities began organizing special monthly parades of returning soldiers with floats and marching  bands. Later, by saving the parades, floats, and marching for big holidays, the band developed the idea of a semi-permanent concert, usually on a Friday or Saturday evening. In the early 1920s Deansboro's musicians gathered on the steps of Pete Klotzbach's meat market and Ben's Smith barber shop to play a few rousing marches on Friday evenings - heavy on the drums. Soon, cars full of parents and children started parking along the roads;  and at the end of each piece, there would be applause and the honking of horns.

I think Don Williams made the first wooden platform in sections, and the saw horses to support it. The location was moved across the road, to the small grassy area just outside the big iron fence around the Hovey place on the corner (the Dean Homestead), in front of the big chestnut tree. Flood lights were provided with power from the Deansboro Hotel. Don later made a larger folding band stand with wheels so it could be moved, and it was stored in the horse sheds behind the Methodist Church." (Note: a 1936 article in the Utica Observer-Dispatch mentions that "members  of the band will occupy a portable platform aboard a motor truck."  Could Mr. Williams have made that as well?)

"For many years, Deansboro owned Friday evening and these band concerts brought together lots of people. It was a two-hour event, with the presentation of returning soldiers, news of sick or injured neighbors, something introductions of instrumental soloists or singers, and ads for local business who underwrote the expenses of the concerts. Earlier, hand held megaphones were used until someone donated an electric amplifier. Talented band leaders probably enjoyed the challenge of working with musicians who enjoyed playing together but had no time for rehearsals."

Perhaps this band was the precursor to the organized 1927 band?

Dorothy adds: The committee for the 1931 band concert was: General Committee: Peter Klotzbach, Ralph Moore, Roy McMullen, and Clark Shaver. Parade Committee: Clarence Bunt, Charles Pierce and Art Pughe. Hill Climb (for cars!): Del Pamiter, Gardner Hart, Hardie Sanders. Baseball: Jay Davis, C.F. Ingersoll.

Many thanks to Bill Kennard for the Deansboro Band memorabilia and memories!

Left to right rear: Walter Bennett, Unknown, Charles Pierce, Dr. Lynn McConnell, Unknown, Donald Bennett, Warren Nelson, Jay Davis, Douglas Weaver, DeForest Ingersoll.
Left to right front: Unknown, Charles Seals, Unknown, Art Pughe, Bill Grannis. Carl Anyan, Unknown, Bill Niles, Unknown, Harry Williams, Director

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