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Column: A dog, a parade and Perham’s first band

Editor’s note: This bit of Perham history is excerpted from “Perham in its Eary Days,” written by Henry Kemper in 1901.

In 1880, John Hauck arrived from Ohio to teach school at the St. Joseph district, where he also organized a brass band. This awakened the young men of Perham, and we also organized a band with John Hauck as instructor.

Our first band members were the following: Michael Walz, Louis Struett, John Wimmer, Theodore Streukens, J. B. Kemper, C. H. Tuesley, John Gerber,Sr., Peter Jung, John Weis, Peter Mohr, Andrew Schoeneberger and myself, Henry Kemper.

We rehearsed and practiced diligently, and in six months time we had advanced so far that we could play “Coming Through the Rye” and other little old-time tunes. We then gave open-air concerts and serenades.

I shall never forget the first open-air concert we had on the street crossing. The people were highly elated over our achievements and threw bouquets and other things at us. We started from our hall and marched up the street just like we had seen other bands do in the cities, playing the last strain of “Tramp, Tramp, Tramp, the Boys are Marching.” We hadn’t advanced far enough to play the first part of that tune. The drums gave the usual signal to begin playing and Mike Walz, being the tallest man in the band, took the lead.

At first, all went very smoothly and nice; good time, heavy expression, and the attack was brilliant. But just as we got opposite the Merchants hotel, John Frisch’s big yellow dog, who had never heard such fine music, rushed into the street and made a sudden halt right in front of us.

Mike’s eyes were so intent upon his music that he fell over the nasty dog. Louis Struett, just behind him, fell over Mike. Tuesley was the next man in the same column and, seeing the havoc in front of him, played leap frog over the two but turned and came back to help the boys up. Mr. Walz had bent his slide trombone by the accidental fall and had to stop a little to straighten it up, with Struett and Tuesley assisting. The rest of us marched and played on to the street crossing, where we formed a circle.

By this time Walz, Struett and Tuesley came up, playing their unfinished part of the tune. Now the concert was to begin. Professor Hauck had given orders to turn to page one and play “Sweet-By-and-By,” but Walz, Struett and Tuesley had not been informed. Professor Hauck gave the time, one-two-play, and off we started. The attack was good, but what followed?

Tuesley had misunderstood the orders of the Professor and played “The Last Rose of Summer.” Struett thought we were to play the same tune that we had while marching and he tooted away at it with a vengeance. Walz got his book turned upside down by the unlucky fall and played the first tune backwards, commencing at the end.

Professor Hauck jumped up and down like a jumping Jack, pulled his hair and shouted, “Wo! Wo! Hold on – you’re off!” Well, we took a new start, and this time did a little better.

And Perham had a band.

“Perham in its Early Days” was written for “The Perham Bulletin” and published in book form in 2001 by the History Museum of East Otter Tail County. Lina Belar is the founder and retired director of the Friends of the History Museum of East Otter Tail County.