THE TOWN OF Harmony, 10 miles west of Frederick, is located in a picturesque Frederick County valley between the South Mountain and Catoctin ranges. Once a bustling town of three churches, three stores, three churches, a school and a post office, it doesn't merit a dot on the map today. Most motorists passing the intersection of Harmony Road, Brethren Church Road and Hollow Road don't even realize they've visited the town.
Harmony wasn't always Harmony. Originally, it was called Bellsville because the chimes of its church bells echoed through the hills.
The big news these days is that the town band is celebrating its 75th anniversary. Ever since it was organized April 5, 1916, the Harmony Cornet Band has faithfully met every Tuesday night for rehearsals. (The only break in that routine came during World War II, when many of its members were in service).
The Harmony band is one of the survivors of an era when many Maryland towns had bands that would provide entertainment for residents and compete in other towns. The founders often were German immigrants. At least this was the case in Harmony.
Even now many of the amateur musicians have Germanic names. Jack Kling is the director, Albert Summers gives the beat on the bass drum and Bernard Shultz does the snare drum. Michael Shultz, on French horn, is Bernie's son.
In many cases, the Harmony band has become a family tradition. Susan Ward, the band's assistant director, for example, represents the third generation. Her grandfather, Gaither Stotelmyer, played until a year before he died in 1989; her father, Harold, has played the trombone and cornet since his early teens. Like most members, he has never had a formal music fTC lesson.
In its salad days, the band had some 50 members. That number has decreased to about a half, because today's kids are not interested in band music. "It's a horse-and-buggy organization," says Jimmy Main, who was born just two doors away from the band hall.
Now that the summer festival season is in full swing, you might spot the Harmony band in a parade. Give a big hand!
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A READER familiar with the social history of New Jersey sent in this comment after reading a recounting of the Snyder-Gray murder case on the Opinion * Commentary page recently:
"For years in New Jersey diners, a heavy doughnut was known as a sashweight, a weird reference to the instrument of death that Judd Gray employed to do in Mr. Snyder."
Another reader said the article recalled for him the time in World ++ War II when his development in a Johns Hopkins lab of a meter to measure poison gas in the atmosphere was, to his surprise, tested in a gas chamber in another state -- during an actual execution. It was the first and perhaps last such test.