A century ago, one of the best gigs in Carlisle was playing the “hookies.”
In an Aug. 24, 1920, news brief, The Sentinel predicted that the annual festival hosted by the Empire Hook and Ladder Company “should be largely patronized.”
“The hookies have always been good, loyal firefighters and the public has a chance to show its appreciation,” the article reads. “The 8th Regiment Band will play.”
Apparently, the ensemble was in high demand the summer of 1920. On Sept. 4, the band was scheduled to play at the American Legion picnic at a park in Boiling Springs.
“All of the posts in Cumberland County are expected to assemble there for a great outing,” The Sentinel reported on Aug. 31. “All ex-servicemen, friends and relatives, in fact, everybody is invited. There will be dancing, baseball and a big program of amusements.”
The mood was very different the morning of Aug. 2, when the band left Carlisle with National Guardsmen of Company G. Their destination was the training facility at Camp Fetzer near Mount Gretna.
A crowd of relatives, sweethearts and curious onlookers gathered to witness the 10:46 a.m. departure by train. “The band was not uniformed nor had it any instruments,” The Sentinel reported. “This is probably the first time in the guard’s history the 8th Regiment Band of Carlisle left for a camp in this fashion. Capt. Rippey T. Shearer’s men were uniformed and marched like veterans.”
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No reason was given on why band members were not in uniform.
Though record rainfall that year hampered the training schedule, there was enough time for fresh recruits to rally and make progress under the leadership of the older men, many of whom had served in France during World War I.
Band members from Carlisle numbered about 25 men who were attached to the headquarters company of National Guard units training at the encampment.
“The band has been furnishing music for the outfits going to and from the drill field … and providing concerts for the men while off-duty,” The Sentinel reported. “John T. Sheaffer of Carlisle has been in the National Guard for more than 30 years. He has had charge of the musical organizations at the camp for about 15 years.”
Company G and the 8th Regiment Band were greeted by a crowd in downtown Carlisle when the train pulled into the station on Aug. 23.
“The playing of the band was a gratifying surprise to everybody,” The Sentinel reported. “The band played with a dash and vim that stamps it a first class musical organization.”
Tour Through Time runs Saturday in The Sentinel print edition. Reporter Joseph Cress will work with the Cumberland County Historical Society each week to look at the county through the years. Send any questions, feature ideas or tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Email Joseph Cress at email@example.com.