THE BAND FEVER

I did nothing much in music for some years afterwards. I never disclosed talent at all approaching that of the "prodigy" in music, and as I grew into the boy of eight or ten years my pleasures consisted of baseball and other healthy out-of-doors sports. However, my enthusiasm for bands and band music never diminished, and when ever one was heard playing I followed it. Many a mile have I walked beside a band, falling behind occasionally and then running ahead to catch up again, perfectly contented to keep it up all day long and never feeling tired until reaching home.

How many of my readers remember the Presidential Campaign of 1876? I recall the torchlight processions of both political parties prior to the election; the bugle corps, fife and drum corps and bands of all kinds marching with and playing for hundreds of men some carrying banners with campaign slogans; all bearing torches or wearing caps holding torches, and draped in multi-colored capes. I would lie awake nights listening to bands playing with them. In that same year of 1876 we all visited the great centenial Exposition at Philadelphia. We remained for several weeks, yet all that I can remember of that wonderful fair are the bands which I heard.

In the meantime father had moved to Indianapolis, Indiana, to start in the manufacturing of church organs and to assume the position of organist at the Roberts Park Church, building the organ upon which he played for several years there. I began my schooling in Indianapolis and brought to light a very bad habit of drumming on the desk with my fingers, for which I often was punished. However, I could not seem to check the habit and carried it home with me, to the sorrow of my parents who often scolded me in consequence.

It was a symptom of the band fever which l had had from a child, so it is no wonder that I drifted into band work later on in life, although against my parents wishes. But, boys, I just felt it all through me, and know that there are many of you who feel exactly the same yet don't quite know how to get it out of your system. I never dreamed of being a cornet player then, but simply loved music in every form. It was not until many years afterwards that I really took an interest in my chosen instrument, and realized that by devoting enough time and thought and with proper practice I could become a good player of the cornet. At that time baseball occupied all my spare time, and I really was a good player, too. I got hurt along with the others, once breaking the third finger of my right hand. Of course, boy-fashion, I was rather proud of my accident and never told my mother of the injury, in consequence of which it never received proper attention and bothers me in my technique even today.

Father left Indianapolis in 1878 to accept a call as organist at the Tremont Temple in Boston, Massachusetts and as usual we all went with him, taking up the family residence in Somerville just outside of Boston. We lived there two years, and then come a fresh outbreak of the band fever, all because of my brother Edwin. He organized a little school orchestra of eight or ten boys which used to meet and rehearse weekly at the homes of the different members, and when Ed's turn come to have the orchestra at our home I was allowed to remain up later than usual and listen to it play. I was proud of Ed because he was the leader and played the violin, but that did not help to check the fever.

Later on Ed purchased a cornet, took a few lessons, and shortly afterwards joined the Somerville Brass Band. His teacher, Mr. Boardman, was the bandmaster, and took quite an interest in Ed and his work. Well, perhaps now I was not doubly proud of my brother and especially so when he was in full uniform. On the very first parade he made with the band I marched beside him over the entire route, gratuitously informing the public that "This is my BROTHER playing the cornet!"