Monday, September 30, 2013

Today in 1962

Via NPR's Alt.Latino, on this day in 1962, César Chávez founded the United Farm Workers of America. An early poster from the National Museum of American History is below.
Source: Smithsonian American History Museum
Posting this as part of Hispanic Heritage Month.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

RIP Boomer

Today marked the end for our oldest cat Boomer. We rescued him from a Petsmart in Indianapolis in August 1998. He was probably 2 or 3 years old then. Boomer traveled with us from Indiana to Virginia, then to California & back to Virginia. Boomer had lost a lot of weight over the past 2 months, and we couldn't bear to see him suffer any more.
Photo by Patrick Jones - Boomer, August 2010
Photo by Patrick Jones - Boomer, August 2013
Boomer had gone deaf a few years ago but still had a nose for bacon & meat off the grill up until his last couple of weeks. We'll miss the cat.

Where did September go?

It's hard to believe October begins on Tuesday. I'm still catching up from September. The previous week we were in Indiana visiting family, then I flew on Tuesday for a week of meetings in Los Angeles. While I was out, a large package of records arrived from the Warren County Genealogical Society in Ohio, and I received a zip file of articles from the Willard Library in Evansville, Indiana. So I have some catching up to do.
Photo by Patrick Jones - Alexandria, VA, 8 Sept 2013
I now have the files to verify the Lambert family was in Indiana before it became a state, as well as Ohio. Descendants of Josiah/Josias Lambert can qualify for both the Territorial Guard Society of Indiana (if you're an Indiana Genealogical Society member) or the First Families of Ohio program. This is on my to-do list in the next couple of months, along with my long delayed documentation for First Families of Tennessee status.

I have a big trip to Bali, Indonesia later in the month and some major projects in my primary field. I'll try to bring some other intriguing stories from my wife's side of the family to the blog too.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Travel Tuesday - Homecoming

This past weekend we traveled back to Indiana for Wabash College homecoming and a special induction ceremony for the 1993 Swimming team in the Wabash College Athletic Hall of Fame.
Photo credit: Wabash College. 1993 Swimming & Diving Team.
It was an honor to be inducted into the Athletic Hall of Fame, and I'm very lucky to have been part of a team with such a talented group of guys. The team went undefeated, finished 8th in Division III, won the Notre Dame Relays, and of course, beat DePauw.
Photo by Patrick Jones. Wabash v Denison, 21 Sept 2013
The kids enjoying the Wabash College lawn

Monday, September 16, 2013

Kicking off Hispanic Heritage Month

Hispanic Heritage Month runs from 15 September to 15 October. Last year, I wrote a post with pictures that had been passed down from my Granny's early days in Tucson, Arizona. A more recent photo is below, taken from in front of the historic headquarters of the Organization of American States in Washington, DC.
Photo by Patrick Jones - OAS HQ, June 2013
I have written before about my great-grandparents Manuela Portillo and Plutarco Campuzano, and how they came to the United States from Mexico for opportunity. They raised a big family, now distributed in various parts of the US and in Europe too. I am proud of my Hispanic heritage, and post this for them. A link to the 2013 Presidential Proclamation reaffirming National Hispanic Heritage Month can be found here.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

South African Bill of Rights Mural

The photos below were taken in Durban, South Africa back in July. These are from a mural in front of the Durban International Convention Centre, depicting the South African Bill of Rights.
Photo by Patrick Jones - Durban, South Africa, July 2013
Photo by Patrick Jones - Durban, South Africa, July 2013
Photo by Patrick Jones - Durban, South Africa, July 2013
Photo by Patrick Jones - Durban, South Africa, July 2013

Photo by Patrick Jones - Durban, South Africa, July 2013

Friday, September 13, 2013

Friday Photo - Marina del Rey, 2009

It has been a while since I posted a Friday Photo, so here you go. Marina del Rey, California from 4 years ago.
Photo by Patrick Jones - Marina del Rey, 13 Sept 2009

Monday, September 9, 2013

Mappy Monday - 1870 Chart of the Indian & Pacific Oceans

The map below comes from the David Rumsey Map Collection, showing an 1870 chart of the Indian and part of the Pacific Ocean.
Source: David Rumsey Map Collection
I've focused on a portion of the map showing the islands of Java and Bali (part of present-day Indonesia). Bali is hosting the 8th Internet Governance Forum next month, I'll be there.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Indianapolis Star article on Harry's crystal mouthpieces

The image below is from the set of O'Brien photos sent to me by cousin Mike O'Brien. This undated article appeared in the Indianapolis Star titled "Crystal Mouthpieces for Clarinets". The article has been cut off on the bottom. At some point I want to get a better copy, and perhaps see if there are other Indianapolis newspaper articles referencing Harry O'Brien's music business.
Undated article from the Indianapolis Star

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Sepia Saturday - The Unknown Musician

The photo below shows my great-grandfather Harry O'Brien on the left and his son Lowell on the right. In the middle is an unknown musician holding a clarinet, perhaps visiting the shop to test one of Harry's crystal mouthpieces. The photo is undated, I am guessing 1940s. If anyone has an idea on who the musician is, please feel free to comment on the blog.
Photo Source: Mike O'Brien - Harry, Lowell & an unknown musician

Friday, September 6, 2013

Letters from 1929

I've written previously about my musician and inventor great-grandfather, Harry Edward O'Brien. A few weeks ago I found a reference to Harry in the Sousa Archives and Center for American Music at the University of Illinois. After requesting a copy of the file, a packet arrived last Friday. Below is a transcription of four letters between Harry and Albert Austin Harding, the band director at the University of Illinois in 1929.

The letters have been transcribed (typos and all) from the file and all credit is given to A. Austin Harding Papers, 1895-1958, Sousa Archives and Center for American Music, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Letter from Harry E. O'Brien to A. A. Harding

Harry E. O'Brien
Reed Instrument Mouthpieces
920 East Riviera Drive
Indianapolis, Ind.

February 26, 1929

Band Dir. Un. of Ill.
Urbana, Ill.

Dear Mr. Harding:

You, no doubt, will remember me as of many years ago when I made a little trip with you and played Eb Clar.

Under separate cover I am forwarding to you a few copies of my sixteen page booklet "What's What In Mouthpieces". It contains a lot of scientific information relative to the construction of mouthpieces which should be of great interest to the clarinet and saxophone players in your band.

It is only recently that I have advertised mouthpieces under my own name as I have been a manufacturer for fifteen years making for the leading houses of the world, but as I feel that I am getting along in years its time that I build up a business under my own brand, hence the reason for publishing the booklet that I am sending you.

The clarinet players as well as saxophone players are to a great extent kept in ignorance of the things they should know about the instrument that they are trying so hard to learn. Practically no valuable information is ever seen on the subject, nothing but sales talk. I have tried to get at the heart of the thing of most interest to the player and have given him some mighty useful knowledge that I have labored for years to obtain.

Mr. Harding, if you will be kind enough to send to me the name of the Solo Clarinet in the band, I sould be very glad to make him a present of a very fine crystal mouthpiece. Just ask him to fill out the order blank following the direction strictly as given. He need not send me any money. I am sure that if I can prove to him that he will get something most unusual from me, that others will be interested, and in a way it is proof of my product.

I should like to have a representative in Urbana and if you know of one who would like to represent me please ask him to drop me a line. And will you [page 2] be kind enough to pass to the reed instrument players thx booklets I am sending to you. I am sure they will appreciate my efforts to pass along some very much needed knowledge, to those who are seeking progress on their instrument.

Most sincerely yours,

Harry E. O'Brien


P.S. Birney Hite, whoom you will remember as an early member of your band, is still the Express Agent at Anderson Ind. Now married and has two very fine children. HOB

Letter from A. A. Harding to Harry O'Brien

March 6, 1929

Mr. Harry E. O'Brien
920 E. Riviera Drive
Indianapolis, Indiana

Dear Mr. O'Brien:

I am in receipt of the package of booklets as well as your letter and was glad to hear from you again.

I glanced over your interesting booklet and will be glad to distribute them to our clarinet players.

Mr. Neil A. Kjos is my first chair solo clarinet this year and I will have him fill out one of the blanks as you suggested in order that you may send him one of the mouthpieces. Mr. Kjos might be interested in acting as your representative here. I will speak to him about it and will be glad to cooperate with him in the matter. You might advise me regarding any concessions in price you would care to make to me or to the University, as I may be placing some orders for mouthpieces myself.

I am glad to have some word concerning Bernie Heit. Bernie was a very likable chap as well as a good musician and I was sorry that he did not stay longer here at the University. If you see him give him my kindest regards.

We have just returned from our annual concert tour and I am sending you under separate cover some programs, etc. as I thought you might be interested. You will note that may whole solo clarinet section played Weber's Concertino in unison.

Very truly yours,

A. A. Harding

Letter from Harry O'Brien to A. A. Harding

March 8, 1929

Mr. A. A. Harding
Dir. U. of Ill. Band 
Urbana, Ill.

Dear Mr. Harding:

I was very glad to get your letter of the 6th, and to know that you are still with it.

As soon as I hear from Mr. Kjos, I will forward to him one of my newest crystals.

I can allow you the same as I give to dealers, 40% off on crystal and 50% of on hard rubber silver faced saxophone mouthpieces.

I have perfected for Selmer (confidently) all of their crystal mouthpiece and the measuremtns of their facings. They were without crystal mouthpiece from 1914 until 1926, at the time when I perfected a crystal clarinet mouthpiece and turned over to them to market. This I labored on for ten years. My arrangement with them permits me to sell the same mouthpiece under my own brand, and this I am just beginning to do. I also invented the Henton mouthpiece and manufactured over 40,000, as well as the Clarion metal lined crystal mouthpieces for Selmer, of which I have made many thousands. I am trying to produce the worlds very best in crystal mouthpiece for clarinet, and I know that I have certain refinements of measurements not incorporated in any other crystal mouthpiece.

I have perfected a new measurement on the crystal clarinet and have called it lay No 5, this with the assistance of Mr. Roy Schmidt, Solo Clar with Sousa one season, Conway two seasons, and one season with Minneapolis, now with the Dertoit SyM, and is considered to be one of America's best. I am very anxious to have your Mr. Kjos try this facing. It is simply great for band work. I will be glad to supply you at no cost a full line of sample mouthpieces.

Very sincerely yours,

H. E. O'Brien


Letter from A. A. Harding to Harry O'Brien

March 9, 1929

Mr. Harry E. O'Brien
920 E. Riveria Drive
Indianapolis, Indiana

Dear Friend:

Your letter of March 8 just received. I had Mr. Kjos fill out one of your blanks and I am enclosing it herewith.

I am asked every once in a while to get mouthpieces for the reed players in my bands so I will be glad to represent you personally (I represent the C. G. Conn Company in Champaign-Urbana, also Champaign County). It would be helpful if you would, as you suggest, send me a full line of sample mouthpieces. Just a few days ago one of my clarinet players asked me if I could get a number of mouthpieces in the different facings for him to make a selection from.

This summer I will order an especially made mouthpiece for our octavin, as I understand you have made mouthpieces that will make them play in tune.

Very truely yours,

A. A. Harding
Director, Bands & Orchestras 
University of Illinois
Neil Kjos later went on to create the Neil A. Kjos Music Company, which exists today run by his family. Perhaps the material provided by Harry O'Brien had an impact in influencing his decision to create an educational publishing company for beginning musicians.

On 7 January 1922, the Music Trade Review included a description of the patent received by Harry O'Brien for mouthpieces for clarinets and saxophones:

H. Benne Henton, cited in the description above and half-owner of the patent developed by Harry O'Brien, was from Harry's hometown of Shelbyville, Illinois (see Henton's Findagrave entry), and became a highly regarded saxophonist. Birney Hite, mentioned in O'Brien's letter, was also from Shelby County, Illinois.

The letters above show Harry reaching out to his musical contacts to help promote his line of crystal clarinet mouthpieces. A photo below shows Harry & son Lowell O'Brien manufacturing musical instruments & equipment in their shop in Indianapolis.
Photo source: Mike O'Brien - Harry O'Brien & son in undated photo