Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Vacation Coda

We returned a few days ago from our trip to Winnipeg, the North Shore and Duluth, and I have three more vacation photos I wanted to share that relate to the G. Oliver Riggs project.

The first is me with G. Oliver in front of the band shell in Two Harbors, Minn., about 30 miles north of Duluth. Two Harbors is home to one of the oldest continuously operating community bands in the state, behind Meire Grove (1883) and Carlisle (1894). I don’t know that G. Oliver ever played in Two Harbors, but I’m sure he would have known of the band, which organized in 1897.

The Paul Gauche Memorial Band Shell in Thomas Owens Park.
The band shell is named after its longtime conductor, Paul Gauche, and the community band still plays weekly summer concerts there. The structure was built in 1937, and a group called the Friends of the Band Shell Park organized in 2010 to explore possible ways of enhancing the park and the band shell, which lacks storage and rehearsal space. To read more about the project and the band’s history, check out the group’s website.

The second photo is of G. Oliver in Duluth’s courthouse square, where his St. Cloud Municipal Senior Boys’ band played a concert in 1934. The band was in town for the American Legion state convention, and playing in front of the courthouse was part of the two-day itinerary (I wrote about the band’s Duluth experiences earlier this summer in this post: Here’s to Happier Adventures in Duluth).

G. Oliver in front of the St. Louis County-Duluth Courthouse, built in 1909.
The courthouse square is home to two other buildings, the federal building and city hall. According to the Minnesota Courts website, the design for the county courthouse and the square came from the office of architect Daniel H. Burnham, who oversaw the design of the buildings for the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. I wonder if G. Oliver thought about this connection as he stood outside the impressive building? I still haven’t been able to verify that G. Oliver attended the fair, but I know that his wife, Islea, did (I wrote about her experiences a few years ago in this blog post, A World’s Fair to Remember).

The nearby Soldiers and Sailors Monument was designed by Cass Gilbert, the architect of the Minnesota State Capitol – the same building where G. Oliver and his fellow Montana Cowboy Band members got trigger happy during the 1917 St. Paul Winter Carnival (an event I wrote about in this old blog post, Carnival Capers at the Capitol).

I realize I’m digressing a little here, but I can’t help it – I love cool old buildings and the connections they help me make to my family history.

A close-up view of the Soldiers and Sailors Monument.
Back to the subject of G. Oliver, I should mention that his little cardboard stand-in – Mini G., the Flat Stanley of bandmasters – was a flexible, uncomplaining travel companion throughout our trip. Don’t be surprised if he turns up in future vacation photos, admiring some other cool old buildings.


  1. I heard the Two Harbors band play a concert in the band shell in 2005, the year I rode my bike in the MS TRAM, The Ride Across Minnesota, organized each year by the Multiple Sclerosis Society. That year we rode from Grand Rapids to Duluth, stopping in Two Harbors the last night of the ride. The ride was great and so was the band concert. Thanks for dredging up that memory for me.

  2. You're welcome, Dan!

    It was fun to see you onstage Friday night playing in Jessie Jane's Jamboree - the live music sounded great!