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Centennial Monograph: Musicians, Orchestras and Bands


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Centennial Monograph: Musicians, Orchestras and Bands


A chronology of music makers in Maynard from the 1900s through the late 1940s. (At the time of its writing, the centennial authors planned to update it through the 1960s).


Birger Koski





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A community is a total of the individual members of that community. Consequently, it has many faces and wears many hats. It has its vices, as last month's monograph on the liquor traffic revealed. It has its virtues. as so many papers, including this one will show. The history of any community is the history of the individuals living there -- individuals wearing many hats in the course of their lifetime - individuals living, loving, working, singing, crying, dancing, making music, doing the things that have been done from time immemorial.

Our paper tonight is concerned with singing, dancing and malting music of all kinds - a happy time. This chronicle again is incomplete as we have very few sources of knowledge prior to 1899. Of church choirs and quartets we will not speak as these would necessarily be apart of the church ritual. Music as a cultural aspect of Maynard*s history is our concern. Our title would indicate three separate groupings which actually is not so, as individuals in this cultural field would move in all directions, depending on circumstance. Our town, small in population, 4500 in 1905 and not more than 7000 until after World War II, has spawned an exceptionally rich musical heritage, unknown to towns of comparable size, because of one reason, that
reason being the heterogeneous character of our population -- a population of twenty-one nationalities rich in their old country musical culture.

Dance orchestras prior to 1900, we would venture to suggest, played music beamed to the English, Scottish and Irish, who comprised the major portion of the population, so Irish Jigs, Scottish Reels, English Square Dance, American Country Dances, polkas, schottisches, and cotillion was the order of the day. With the advent of (the) American Woolen Company in 1899, the population explosion of Eastern and Southern European nationalities was the result.

Three and four piece orchestras at regular dances, and eight to ten pieces for lodge masquerade balls were the rule. A listing of the orchestras we have come across is as follows:
(1) Gridiron Band (before 1900) Thomas Farrell, accordion; James Riley, violin; Warren Ball, piano; William Pierce, banjo and harmonica; George Lemon, singer and dancer; Edward Sheridan, cornet;
(2) Charles Sweeney’s Orchestra (piano) (June 30, 1899)
(3) Farrell's Moonlight Serenaders (July 28, 1899) played at the opening of Farrell’s Clam and Oyster Cafe, comer Summer and Glendale Street (possibly apart of the
Gridiron Band mentioned above);
(4) Lawton's Orchestra (April 27, 1900) new good young musicians;
(5) Higgins and Booth's Orchestra (Jan. 25, 1907);
(6) Ray Hamblen's Orchestra (trumpet) (July 22, 1910);
(7) Ed White's Orchestra (Nov, 18, 1910);
(8) Imperial Orchestra (Mar. 31, 1911), Mrs, Joseph Donahue, violin; Nina Woolerschied, piano; Waino Kauppi, cornet; Grace Hull, reader (Nov. 14, 1913);
(9) Schubert Orchestra (Oct.4, 1912);
(10) Metropolitan Orchestra (Aug. 7, 1911;
(11) Colonial Orchestra, Frank Sheridan (Jan. 28, 1916);
(12) Samoset Orchestra, John Gallagher, Director (May 26, 1916);
(13) Sheridan's Orchestra (Pastime Hall, Oct. 31, 1919);
(14) Elite Novelty Orchestra, Burton Coughian (July 22, 1921);
(15) Black & White Orchestra, Hughie Connors, violin; A1 Murphy, piano; Garcia (Marlboro) drums; Art Autio, sax; Louis Sullivan, banjo (July 3, 1925);
(l6) Long Lake Orchestra, Robert Sheridan, broadcast over WLEX, Lexington (June 7,1929);
(17) Melodeers, Carlo Seura, Hawaiian Guitar; Forrest Nelson, Spanish guitar; Coxie O'Neil, banjo - WLEX, Lexington (May 11, 1933);
(18) Frank Case Orchestra (April 5, 1935);
(19) Joseph Schnair's Orchestra (Mid '30s).

Two of these orchestras gained New England-wide fame - Sheridan's and Connors Orchestras. Frank Sheridan started in 1919 and continued until 1932. He played eveiy ballroom and lakeshore pavillion in these five New England States, including Nuttings on the Charles and Norumbega Park, high school and college Proms, you name the place, he played it. The author of this paper being a two-bit music man out of the thirties, tried out Frank about three years ago, asking him if he had played little-known Lake Baboosic in Milford, N. H., thinking to catch him, but he had played there also.

Battles of music were popular in those years, wherein two bands competed at the same ballroom the same evening - one-half hour stints for each band with the dancers at the end of the evening casting ballots for their favorite. Frank has a $100 loving cup which he won at Clinton, Mass. at a battle of music with Sullivan’s Orchestra of Milford, Mass.

Back on April 15, 1921, Frank recorded for Grey Gull Records, Vocallon Phonograph Company on Huntington Avenue, Boston for a six month period starting in February 11, 1921, with a six-piece orchestra; Frank on drums. Unfortunately we have been unable to find any of these records up to now.

Hughie Connor’s Orchestra beginning in 1925, covered New England including the Black and White Inn, now known as Marlboro Country Club, Station WEEI, hotels in Worcester, and Hampton Beach in 1932. As an aside, around 1925, with the Charleston hitting the ballrooms, the Selectmen in Maynard put a stop to this dance as it shook the floor timbers and foundations, and there was danger of the hall caving in (Oct. 30, 1925).

In another aside, the dance marathons of the thirties brought Eddie Murphy of Maynard into the twenty-fourth day of a marathon in Clinton, dancing with a broomstick, as he had worn out two partners and was waiting for some man to drop so he could have his partner (June 8, 1933). The three brass bands that Maynard had for many years, also played at dances with a reduced personnel.

Maynard has had a few fife, drum and bugle corps. The first one that we know of is The Maynard Fife, Drum, and Bugle Corps, sponsored by the Temperance Society, Good Templars (June 23, 1899). We do not know when it was organized and when it vanished, but a wonderfully clear picture of it is in our possession.

February 21, 1913 - William Stokes, one of the members of the defunct Good Templars Fife, Drum, and Bugle Corps organized a fife and drura corps of ten members, meeting every other Monday Eve; planning to hold (a) dance to raise funds for uniforms. March 28, 1913 finds the Fife and Drum Corps parading around town for practice. The Corps rents room in Cannon*s Block (Nov. 7, 1913). Albert Axford leads the Corps at Memorial Day Exercises in Stow (May 7, 1915). That is the last date we have for this musical organization.

Boy Scouts, Troop I, Snare Drum and Bugle Corps was organised in 1921 at St. George's Church. Fred Scott was the Scout Master. This group, composed of about a dozen scouts, existed for about four years, playing at all occasions. The short army-type bugle was used. Mr. Allen Webster, one of the members, when contacted recently, remembered his brother John, Novello Cuttell, and the Sickle Brothers as some of the other members.

A news note of May 15, 1925 informs us that the St. Bridget's Fife, Drum, and Bugle Corps will appear at the Memorial Day Parade, continuing that this group was organized about six months ago. This would place it back in 1924. It was a large organization, about 200 members, and continued in existence into the thirties. It was set up in two companies. Leo Kelly was Battalion Major; Walter Carbone, Battalion Adjutant, and John Horan, Sergeant Major.

Company A had John Moore as Captain; William O'Toole, First Lieutenant; Charles Sweeney, 2nd Lieutenant; Andrew Fardy, Top Sergeant; John Lanigan, Leo Mullin, Hillary Kane, Gerald Tierney, Line Sergeants; Edward Murphy, Thomas Chidley, John Veleno, Richard Thane, Charles Kelly as Corporals.

Company B - Captain Delmar Kilkenny; Paul Allen 1st Lieutenant; George Sullivan, 2nd Lieutenant; Richard Murphy, Top Sergeant; John Tobin, Mark Kelley, Edmund Duggan, Ralph Thane, Line Sergeants; and Walter Brayden, Kevin Spratt, Raymond Paul, James Duggan, Henry Fairbanks as Corporals.

Color Sergeants were John Bakun and Maurice O^Connor, and for Drum Major, Joseph Wardzala.

Rev. Charles Donahue was in charge of the Cadets with Harold Sheridan and John Gallagher helping in the training. Frank Sheridan trained the Drum Group, while William Coughlin of Concord Junction, aided with the Fife and Bugle Squad.

For Choral and Glee Clubs our first date is May 20, 1904 when the Maynard and Hudson Choral Clubs give concert in Cooperative Hall. January 13, 1905 finds the Maynard Glee Club organized for season with Pres. R. W. Carter; Secretary Hiram Parkin; Treasurer George Salisbury; Librarian George Lawton. Notes in the papers appear for some years as to the existence of the Club.

The next group is some years in appearing but July 22, 1921 we find the Colonial Quartet appearing at the Waltham K. of C. at which they made a great hit, with James B. Farrell as Manager. I took the liberty of calling up Jim for further particulars of this group and this is the way the conversation went in part (nostalgia took over):
Author: "Who were the members of this quartet?"
Jim; "When Irish Eyes are smiling, shure it‘s like a mom in spring, with a lilt of Irish laughter, you could hear the Angels sing", and he sings it to the end.
Author: "Good, Jim, but --"
Jim: "You want to hear another one - 'The Bowery, The Bowery', and he sings that to the end.
Author: "Jim, wait - who -?"
Jim : "Here's another one - Moonlight and Roses" and so to the end.
Author: "Jim, but, but who -?"
Jim: "Wait, I remember another one - There'll Never be another Mary* - and so on.
After a while, believe it or not, we were harmonizing, it was too infectious. And, so far, far into the night, we sang over the phone but at the end I did get the names. James B. Farrell, First Tenor; Willian B. Scully, Second Tenor; G, Edward White, Bass; Anthony B. Hilferty, Bass. Happy Birthday, you octogenarian, you.

In the living memory of most Maynard people out of the 1930's, the name Anchor and Ark Glee Club strikes areal musical bell (no pun intended). This aggregation of musical talent brought attention from all of musical New England to Maynard, Massachusetts for a dozen years. As a member of the New England Federation of Mens Glee Clubs, in its span of life, it won four first prizes and three second prizes in Group Three, Small Glee Clubs Contests.

The origin of the Club has an interesting history. Back in late 1929, Mrs. Grace (Parkin) Salloway, under the aegis of The Methodist Church, put on a Gilbert and Sullivan Operetta, "H.M.S. Pinafore”. Mrs. Salloway is mentioned later in this paper under individual artists.

Comments by many in the audience to the effect that most of the cast were members of the Masonic Order prompted the organization to set up a Glee Club immediately. It was named the Anchor and Ark, representing Masonic Symbols.

Five months later, according to a news article of May 9, 1930, the Anchor and Ark Glee Club gave its first Annual Concert with solo work and quartet singing in addition to the Glee Club. Gavin Taylor, Jr. was Director and Mrs. Hazel Hooper, Pianist, along with twenty-two voices. Frank Holland was President; William Jones, Librarian; Merton Merrick, Secretary; Tenors: Edward Carleton, Jr., Harlan Cook, Gustav Ey, George Jamieson, Ralph Jones, William Jones, Wilder X. Macurda, William Merriam, Hiram Parkin, Lindsey Smith, David Walker; Basso: Elmer Cook, Harvey Fairbank, Frank Goettler, Frank Holland, William Johnston, George Lawton, Harold Merriam, Merton Merrick, Mark Newton, Al Tallant, Gavin Taylor.

Starting with 1930, through 1942, the Club held an outing nearly every year either in Maine or New Hampshire, in addition to concerts given locally, Concord, West Acton, Stow, Waltham, Rochester, N.H., Fitzwilliam, NH, Somerville, Hudson, Watertown, Natick, Lexington, Sterling, Belmont, Brookline, Leominster, Harvard, Woburn, Winchendon, Jamaica Plain, Roslindale, Sudbury and Arlington.

April 28, 1931 the Club gives its Annual Concert with Walter Smith, Trumpet Soloist and leader of the Aleppo Temple Band, Additional voices by May 20, 1932 in the Glee Club are as follows: Alan Palmer, Walter Larkin, James Beckwith, Theron Lowden, Harry E. Holt and William Brennan.

May 20, 1932 news article tells us the Club has competed for the Governor Winant Trophy against twenty clubs (all large in numbers) at Portsmouth, N.H., and receives favorable mention.

April 8, 1933 it wins first prize at Synphony Hall in the Small Club Contest sponsored by the New England Federation of Mens’ Glee Clubs; First prize at Hartford, May 11, 1935; Second prize. Fall River, I936; Second prize. Fall River, 1937; Second prize, Springfield, 1933; First prize, New Haven, 1939; First prize, Melrose, 1940.

The Annual Concert for the '33-'39 season had Walter Smith, Trumpet Soloist.

February 3, 1939 the Club, augmented by The Andover Male Choir, and led by Frank T. Holland, held its concert at the High School Auditorium.

April 19, 1940 the Club without any outside aid, led by Frank T. Holland and accompanied on piano by Mrs. Harlan Cook, held its Annual Concert at the same auditorium. The highlight of the evening was the rendition of Amy Sherman Bridgman's words to Sibelius’ "Finlandia”. She, being in the audience, was highly thrilled and pleased. The editor’s feeling was that the Glee Club sounded simpler but better without outside help.

October 4, 1940 the Club held its 10th Anniversary Banquet at Howard Johnson’s in Concord.

February 28, 1941 news note offers associate membership for men from all towns in the area. This would be a non-singing, financially contributing membership so outside artists could be hired in advance.

April 10, 1941 the Annual Concert at the High School Auditorium had an audience of 300. Frank Holland was Director and Mrs. Harlan Cook, accompanist. Andover Mens’ Glee Club augmented the local club.

May 7, 1942 - The Annual Concert again at the Auditorium had Everett Collins as guest conductor and the Andover Club included.

Due to the Second World War, the Club had to disband for lack of personnel. All in all, the record shows that the Anchor and Ark Mens’ Glee Club made a real contribution to the musical culture of the community.

May 11, 1933 finds a three night production of Gilbert and Sullivan's "Pirates of Penzance" with fifty voices, Mrs. Grace Salloway directing, apparently was extraordinary for a town the size of Maynard to find such talent within its confines, and an event long to be remembered.

October 26, 1934 ~ News report tells us of the Sunshine Singers, with Alan Palmer, broadcasting weekly over WLLH, Lowell.

Among the nationalities that settled in Maynard starting in the 1890’s, choral groups were a must in their organizations. The author of this paper being of Finnish descent, is particularly cognizant of the role that music, vocal and otherwise, played in the life of the Finnish Clubs and Societies.

We turn next to individual artists that gained prominence in their respective musical areas. First of all must be mentioned the Woolerschied family - Theodore, Ernest, Albert and John, four brothers and their offspring. This family group unquestionably was the most prolific musical family in the History of Maynard.

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