Any photos not otherwise credited are from the personal collection of Frank Passic, Albion Historian.
Morning Star, June 10, 2007, Pg. 12
Albion is fortunate to have a community band, and a now-historic WPA-funded band shell in Victory Park. I encourage our readers to attend the concerts on Sunday evenings this summer for an enjoyable time. The band shell is just one of several river-area related assets we have in our community today thanks to Mayor Norman H. Wiener. He pushed for and secured funding for local community projects during the days of the Great Depression into World War II. It would be most appropriate if our new River Walk were named in his memory. Let your views be known to your city councilperson before the Walk gets named after someone else.
One family that made its musical mark in Albion’s history is the Bohm family. Yes, it is the same family that the Bohm Theatre is named after. In 1914, brothers Albert (1887-1960), George (1890-1951), Gustave “Gus” (1897-1967), and sister Mayta (1894-1950) formed the Bohm Saxophone Quartet. Their early concerts were held in the original Bohm Theatre on W. Porter St., where the Moose Lodge is today. This was during the days of silent films when movie theatres were also used for concerts and other events. The quartet became so popular that the theatre was always packed on the nights they performed. After George Bohm purchased the Censor Theatre a few years later and moved there, the group continued their performances there during the 1920s.
The saxophonists traveled across Southern Michigan to play for openings, dances, parties, and other events. They became so popular that once the Albion Republican Committee sponsored them for a rally held in Marshall in which William H. Taft was the speaker.
On a musical note, the Bohms were very accomplished musicians. Albert played baritone sax; Gus played a B-flat tenor, with George and Mayta each playing an E-flat alto sax version. Mayta also played the piano at the Censor Theatre to accompany the silent films. George and Gus served and played in the Navy during World War I. Gus was a member of the largest naval battalion band in existence. It was under the direction of the “march king” himself, John Philip Sousa. Gus toured with Sousa’s band as 1st clarinetist, performing at Liberty Loan rallies and events across the country. Some of the Bohms also performed as part of the Albion City Band. In fact, Gus performed with the ACB as early as age nine! If you look at some of the band photos from the 1930s, you’ll spot George and Gus amongst the group.
From our Historical Notebook this week we present a photograph of the Bohm Saxophone Quartet circa 1915, featuring left to right: Albert, Gus, Mayta, and George. Special thanks to Gus’ daughter Geraldine (Bohm) Metzler for supplying this week’s photo and information.
The Bohm Saxophone Quartet circa 1915 - Albert, Gus, Mayta and George Bohm
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All text copyright, 2020 © all rights reserved Frank Passic