of a Band Member
By Mark W. Mantz
I started to rehearse with the Marine Band
right after I graduated from Slatington High School in June 1941 and
was officially voted into membership April 6, 1942. The Band owned the
building at 27 South 7th Street in Allentown and had a Club Room and
rehearsal room and lodge room on the third floor. The second floor and
an annex next door were rented out for various occasions.
The remodeled Club Room became one of the
most popular clubs in Allentown. The musicians were automatically
Active Members and the public from many miles surrounding Allentown
could join as Social Members. The Club Room had an impressive-looking
bar, lighted with a number of colored lights. There was a kitchen for
members who wanted to sit at one of the many tables and enjoy a light
lunch or a friendly game of cards. On a Saturday night, there often was
a small combo providing music for dancing. During the summer months,
the band would rehearse in the air-conditioned club room instead of the
hot third floor.
The first director I played for was Maestro
Albert Marchetto, a great musician/composer and a wonderful gentleman.
I remember one of his "pet" expressions when someone had difficulty
playing a part in a number. He would say, "play in the key of silence"
rather than mess it up. A few of us "old-timers' well remember being
invited to Albert's house for one of his special Italian dinners, which
consisted of 5 or 6 entrees each followed by one of his special Italian
wines. It took several hours to get through that meal. I remember one
year, on the day before Christmas, Albert knocked on our door in New
Tripoli and gave us a large tray of assorted meats and cheeses for
Christmas. He retired as director in 1959. He and I always had a close,
friendly relationship, and it was a sad occasion for me when he died,
August 18, 1973. I was honored to be selected as one of the pallbearers
at his funeral.
Albert's successors as director to date
have been W. Valgene Routch and Raymond S. Becker, Jr.
During those earlier years with the Marine
Band, the manager, Myron Neiser, would walk through the band during
rehearsal and give us "out-of-towners", what they called car fare. I
don't know what some of the other members got, but he used to give me
35 cents at each rehearsal. For a short time before care fare was
eliminated, I received 45 cents. I doubt that paid for my car expenses,
but it was the thought that counted. Speaking of car expenses, when I
deduct my two years on active duty with the 243rd Army Band and
possibly 5 or 6 rehearsals per year for personal reasons, I arrive at a
conservatively calculated total of 145 to 150 thousand miles driving
from New Tripoli to reherasals and to the various engagements
throughout the area.
(Mark Mantz was part of the Marine Band of Allentown for 60 years. As part of the Centennial Celebration, he was asked to write about his memories of those years. Mark's instrument fell silent Dec, 27, 2002.)