I forgot to mention that my two brothers who went out with the Baker and Farron Company had finished their season's engagement, with Ed accepting a position in Boston as leader and Ern returning home. It was a presidential election year, with the campaign of 1884 just approaching.
Back in those times all bands were in great demand for torchlight processions in Indianapolis, the same as in other cities, and as brother Ern had become a pretty good trombone player from his years experience on the road, he began getting acquainted with the different musicians around town with an eye to business. One day he came home and told me he had an engagement for that night to play with Biessenhertz's Band in a Republican Club parade. To me it seemed fine that he should get a job so quickly after having been in town only so short a time. He had played for quite a number of these parades when one day he asked me: "Bert, wouldn't you like to do a parade tonight!" Well, wouldn't I just! It would be a fine chance to test my change in embouchure.
Ern took me to the band room with him to obtain a uniform, and when we arrived there the men were all ready to start out. He introduced me to the band leader, whom I found to be a dear old man and a fine musician - one of the old-timers. The leader spoke kindly to me, and asked whether I played first or second cornet. As I did not want to make a fiasco upon my first introduction to the band, I answered that I played second. He supplied me with a march book and then took me to his solo cornetist, who was none other than Walter B. Rogers! This was the first time for me to meet my "Model" personally, and I found him to be the most affable chap I had ever met in my whole musical career up to date. Rogers showed me the principal marches that would be used and made me feel quite at home. This was intensely gratifying, as I was beginning to feel a bit nervous at being only a strange boy among many experienced bandsmen.
I was mightily pleased to be playing in the same band with Walter Rogers, and thought that after we had become better acquainted I would apply to him for instructions on the cornet and learn his method of playing. I did not have the nerve to do it then on so short an acquaintance. We made the first parade and were immediately engaged by the Democratic contingent for the following night, after which we seemed to alternate every successive night between the two political parties. This kept the band business mighty good up to election day, as almost every night there was a rally of some sort.
I now had made such progress in my playing that I was advanced to first cornet. This of course placed me beside Rogers, and he being only two years my senior (the age of my brother Ern) we soon became quite intimately acquainted. By this time I also had come to know all the bandsmen, the most of whom were regular old-time professionals and old enough to have been my father. Association with these men seemed to so mature me that I soon began to feel like a regular "professional" myself, and being an unusuall robust, chunky boy for a seventeen-year older did not detract from the feeling.