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Barrington, NJ
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Our Home Town

 



History of Barrington Band:   1912-1952 | 1952-1980 | 1980-Present


1912-1952

This portion of the history extracted from the Barrington Historical Society Publication No. 1, written in 1967 by C. Harold Houck and Thomas C. McParlen.   

On New Year's Eve, January 1, 1912, a group of townspeople, including Daniel Buckley, John J. Franke, Sr., Robert Taylor and Edward Shetsline, Sr., were "seeing the New Year in" with a party and, as the whistles blew and the cow-bells clanged, they decided to parade through the town, making some noise. Shetsline had a drum and Buckley a clarinet. They had so much fun that they decided, then and there, that Barrington should have a band.


The Barrington Band in 1918 pauses from playing at the dedication of the Culberson school. 
(Click to enlarge.)

     The original four lost no time in recruiting candidates, mostly from the Barrington Improvement Association, which had been formed the previous year. The first drive for members netted twenty-one eager fellows, none of whom could play an instrument and few who could read music.

These included Joseph Rodgers, James Hearne, Jr., Harry Brenner, George Culbertson, Jr., Paul Hearne, Walter Manlove, Robert Hudson, John Gilfillan, Jr., Frank Brenner, Howard Redmond, George D. C. Gesnaker, Charles Eltz, Edward M. Oliver, John S. Roberts, Howard Fox, Charles Gaskill, Joseph W. Fletcher, James Hearne, Sr. and Edward Dold, Sr.


The Original Barrington Band in 1913 poses on the porch of the Barrington mayor's home.
 
(Click to enlarge.)

     Other Barrington residents to join later were: William Elliott, Ralph Culbertson, Harold Houck, Jacob W. Houck, Harry Madison, Henry Youngblood, James Doherty, Albert Glenum, Frank Levis, Frederick Foerster, Earl Erwin, Louis Line, Ernest, Eugene and Herman Hehl, Robert Crooks, Arthur Glenum, Arthur Appenzeller and Leslie Githens. Many out-of-towners also signed up.

     At the first meeting, dues were fixed at the rate of ten cents per week per person. The next order of business was "who would play what?" When that was finally decided, they noted that they were in a position to buy enough instruments to get started for $250.00. Six property owners of the group signed a note in that amount at the Haddon Heights Bank, and things were "looking up".

     After perusing many catalogs, it was decided to order the instruments from Lyon and Healy Company of Chicago. The big day of the arrival of the instruments was a Saturday, and most of the men were on hand at the Barrington station to unload the freight car. Each man claimed his instrument and they all paraded out Clements Bridge Road, tooting, blowing, drumming and banging. It must have been Bedlam! But it was the first parade of a long and illustrious history for the Barrington Band.

     Remember, they still had to learn to play and this little matter was attended to at once. A bandsman from the famous West Jersey Band of Camden was a resident of Barrington, so they called on Jacob W. Houck, who agreed to teach the brass section for $3.50 per week. George Abel of Haddon Heights became teacher of the clarinet section at $2.00 per week. George Taylor, who played the piccolo, had to have a special teacher for another $2.00 per week. They rented the fire-house for rehearsals and were on their way.

     The first rehearsal for the entire band was held on April 24, 1912 and on July fourth, 1912, they played at the flag-raising for the Barrington Fire Company. A Ladies Auxiliary was formed to help raise money by holding lawn parties, suppers and minstrel shows.

     All that summer (this was long before air conditioning) shortly after dinner, strange noises could be heard coming through open windows of the homes of the bandsmen. They could hardly wait to get home to rehearse! If you listened intently you could detect the strains of "I Want A Girl", "Moonlight Bay", "Welcome Little Bear", "Ole Black Joe", and "Midnight Choo-Choo".

     The record books of the band show an outlay on December 6, 1912 of one dollar for `burnt cork" for minstrel shows. On March 26, 1913 another dollar was spent for "coal oil and carfare". On April 16, 1913 it was agreed to purchase uniforms from Wanamaker and Brown in Philadelphia. The price was $12.00 per suit. There is no record of the number of uniforms purchased but terms for the lot were $50.00 down and $50.00 per month.

     Later, in 1913, the band started annual excursions down the Delaware to Augustine Beach on the S.S. Clyde. They played all the way down and most of Barrington went along with them.

     On September 25, 1913 dues were increased to twenty-five cents per week.

     For practice in marching, the band often paraded out Clements Bridge Road to Gloucester Pike and over to Bellmawr. There was a tavern there, where they would "rest" and then parade back home. At about that time, the band staged an entertainment to raise money and the proceeds amounted to $29.70.

     There was a business meeting held regularly, once a month, and rehearsals once a week in the Fire Hall (where the ambulance equipment is housed now) at Second and Haines Avenues.

     On the night of December 31, 1914, just two years after the inception of the idea of forming the band, they held a sauerkraut supper and New Year's Eve Dance. The admission charge was twenty-five cents for adults and fifteen cents for children.

     Early in 1915, a glockenspiel was added and Louis Lina was recruited to play it. Jacob Houck ceased charging for teaching and became Band Director, and John J. Franke was elected Business Manager.

     On Sunday, June 13th, the band marched and played in the Children's Day Parade for the Barrington Presbyterian Church.

     By this time, word was getting around that the Barrington Band was pretty good.

     On January 25, 1915, they led a demonstration parade from Barrington to Mount Ephraim, where the governing body of Centre Township was meeting, to demand that Barrington be supplied with running water. This parade was organized by Arthur Hawes. In that same year, the name was changed to "The South Jersey Band from Barrington, N. J.".

     Things were "looking up" and dues were reduced to ten cents.

     On August 2, 1915, the Band graduated to gasoline torches for their nighttime parades. Two were purchased for $1.50.

     In 1916 the band was awarded a loving-cup as the best-appearing band in the Firemen's Parade at Collingswood. Also, in that same year, the band sponsored a popularity contest and the "most popular girl in town" received a diamond ring and the runner-up a wrist-watch. This affair was held in Heakes Hall, (Barrington Avenue, between Kingston and Albany).

     In 1917, the band played in the Philadelphia Mummers Parade for the first time, and continued doing so for the next seventeen years. Later in 1917, they played a concert over radio station WIP, in Philadelphia, and continued to play at Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day exercises in Barrington, Haddon Heights and Haddonfield.

     During World War I, in 1918, three members of the band were hired to ride around Philadelphia, in an open truck with signs, to promote the sale of Liberty Bonds. (Could this have been the original sound truck?)

The Barrington Band in 1922 is strutting down the Wildwood boardwalk.  (Click to enlarge.)

 In 1921, the band joined with the Barrington Athletic Association and held a street carnival to celebrate the opening of the new, concrete Clements Bridge Road. The following year, 1922, they accompanied the MacAndrews and Forbes Company's Annual excursion to Wildwood, by train, and continued this jaunt annually, for the next twenty-two years. Several hundred residents of the town usually went along.

     Minutes of the business meeting of August 5, 1922, records the adoption of the following motion: "Any member of this band becoming intoxicated will automatically suspend himself".

     In June, 1924, they played at the Barrington School Commencement exercise.

     1926 saw them emerge resplendent in new modern uniforms consisting of maroon capes, leather puttees, plumed hats and leather pouches for carrying the music.

     They continued until May 9, 1952, when the group disbanded. In the more than forty years of its existence, there were only four presidents: Daniel Buckley, Robert Hudson, Louis Lina and Alex Homer; one Band Director: Jacob W. Houck, and one business manager: John J. Franke. Many of the members have passed on but pleasant memories linger and the "Barrington Band" has a special spot in the hearts of the senior citizens of Barrington.

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1952-1980

     The Band became inactive from 1952 until 1970 but, still met once each year at the home of Harold Houck. In 1970, Earle Felten, William Townsend, and Harold Houck decided to reactivate the band. They recruited musicians, young and old, and with the help of Peter Strang, Superintendent of Schools, practiced in the Woodland School with the school band. Earle Felten became the second conductor of the band. Interest grew, and the band moved to the Fire Hall where it practiced until 1989. That year saw a return to the Woodland School for a year until the group moved to its present quarters at the Senior Citizen's Recreation Center adjacent to the Barrington Borough Hall.

     In 1970 Earle Felten and Harold Houck visited Jack Kerns Superintendent of Camden County Parks, suggesting free band concerts during the summer in the County Parks. In 1972, the Barrington Band was the first to provide free concerts in the parks. The current concert series is very popular with some big bands such as Tommy Dorsey, the Haddonfield Symphony, string bands, and many others, entertaining each summer.     


Walter Prichard with his baton.  (Click to enlarge.)

The band was again inactive for a few months in 1978. Norman Matchett and Walter Prichard revived the group and again began rehearsals at the Fire House. Walter Prichard conducted the band from 1978 until 1988 when he became conductor emeritus.

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1980-Present

In 1980 the band had about 20 "friends who played music," as stated by Kathy Ball, a past band president. The band played from Rubank Ensemble books and older arrangements of sheet music.  At this time, Harold Houck, son of the original band director Jacob Houck, was still playing with the Band.  He joined at age 14, retiring at age 89 due to ill health. Harold started a tradition of lifelong participation that continues to this day.


Clarinet section during a concert.  Circa 1980.  (Click to enlarge.)

     Penny Teter became Assistant Conductor in 1987 and the Principal Conductor in 1988, conducting the concert in Cape May, New Jersey.  She used the band as a part of her Master of Arts in Conducting Thesis in May 1991 from Trenton State College (now the College of New Jersey).  Since then, the band has grown in sophistication and size. The repertoire of the band has grown tremendously to include favorite marches, show tunes from Broadway musicals, as well as a wide variety of contemporary symphonic literature.  Additional Assistant Conductors since that time have included George Hankins and Beth Griffith.

     In 1989 the band established an annual award, in memory of Harold Houck, for musicianship and academic achievement, to be given to a member of the Woodland School eighth grade graduating class.

     The Band has continually played for Barrington civic events and local nursing homes since its inception.  Highlight performances included a participation in a re-creation of a historic cattle drive that had passed through Barrington; the Miss Barrington contests, the dedication of the Deptford (NJ) Water Tower, and the Barrington/Haddon Heights patriotic service in the Haddon Heights Dell.  The band has also participated in the City of Cape May (NJ) Summer Gazebo Concert series since the series began.

Currently, players range in age from 11 to 80+.  Several families have been band members for multiple generations.  Attendance has increased to approximately 35 to 40 players.  For a description of the current band, read the About Us page.


This photo is during a rehearsal during the Christmas season of 2002.  (Click to enlarge.)

    

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updated August 4, 2012