With a Grateful Prayer and a Thankful Heart: Mummers' Strut

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Mummers' Strut

Many New Year's Day found my dad struttin' his stuff down Broad Street on a chilly January 1st. A boy from south Philly and his love of music made him a natural. Daddy was a self-taught musician and his repertoire included the banjo, clarinet, saxophone, accordion, organ, guitar and really anything he could get his hands on.
Mummers Day Parade 1939 (age 18)
Daddy decked out in his feathery plumbs playing his banjo.
(my daughter, Jamie, still has his banjo)Here he is (top left) with a few of his buddies

I probably won't be watching the Parade on New Year's Day~ it isn't like when I was a small child and would sit way up high on my dad's shoulders to watch the bands march by. It has become a bit rowdy now-a-days and somehow some of the magic is gone.
But, let me hear a few strains of Oh, Dem Golden Slippers and I instinctively feel the urge to begin a strange weaving/dancing/walking maneuver while my pumping arms are held out to the side all the whilst singing the only four words of the song I know.
Daddy was in several Bands including Fralinger. The following article source and full story here.
On a Friday evening, December 18, 1914, the Fralinger String Band was organized by a group of young men playing music on the corner of Second and Sigel Streets in South Philadelphia. It was on that corner where Dr. John J. Fralinger, a physician and pharmacist, owned and operated Fralinger’s Drug Store.

Leading the group was Joseph A. Ferko, who worked at the drug store. Ferko was able to convince Fralinger to buy a banner and sponsor a 28-member band in the annual Philadelphia New Year’s Day Parade. The philanthropic Doctor was a logical choice, being extremely well regarded for his leadership and interest in promoting promising young people. In fact, two years earlier Dr. Fralinger helped Ferko realize his career dream by subsidizing his tuition at the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy and Science.

The Fralinger family was already well known in the area. Dr. Fralinger’s uncle, Joseph Fralinger, founded Fralinger’s Salt Water Taffy in Atlantic City, New Jersey in the late 1880’s. Dr. Fralinger also sponsored the J.J. Fralinger Field Club, which competed as one of the top semi-professional baseball teams in Philadelphia and many of whose ranks later became musicians in the string band.

With a mere two weeks’ practice and preparation, the newly-formed J.J. Fralinger String Band made its debut in the annual Philadelphia Mummers’ Parade on January 1, 1915, led by Dr. Fralinger in a horse and carriage. The marching front man, or Captain, was none other than nineteen-year-old Joe Ferko. The band entertained its way to a third prize out of five, wearing pink and white costumes and playing “When You Wore a Tulip and I Wore a Big Red Rose” and “It’s a Long Way to Tipperary”. The $25 prize was split twenty-eight ways among the bandsmen, or a whopping $.89 apiece. It was a memorable day and the dawn of a great performing organization.



Thank you for visiting

Very Happy New Year 2010!!!!!

from Barcelona-EspaƱa

Karen said...

This was so interesting. I know you treasure the memories. How great that you still have his banjo.

marie said...

Another wonderful memory. That feather costume is really something!

I really had to smile at the end of the Philadelphia Mummer's Parade paragraph. My father-in-law walks around singing “It’s a Long Way to Tipperary” pretty regularly!

Valerie said...

Just reading the names of those songs brings back my dads voice singing and the record albums we had . Love the pictures. It is so neat to have those special memories.

How neat that your daughter is in the Utica/Rome area. My husband's grandfather came here from Lebanon in the early 1900's and started working a farm in that area. So my husband grew up in Westmoreland. That first generation is gone now and the farm has passed on to one of his cousins- but he still has family there. His brother and his little family now live in the house they grew up in.

It's a small world after all!!

Praying God's blessings on your family for a very Happy New Year. I am glad I came across your blog this year. It brings a smile to my face each time I visit.

Janice said...

Oh wow, what a great story. Your Dad was very talented, sounds a bit like my DS2 who also plays sax, clarinet, drums, guitar, organ, flute and anything he can get his hands on! But never a fiddle, he just couldn't get going on that at all. He is a student but works two days a week in a music store so all that investment paid off!!!! Have a good day XXX

Carol said...

What lovely memories and how cleaver of your dad to selft learn all those instuments.
Happy 2010


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