A musical reunion nearly a century in the making
December 2, 2005
The first question Tom Dotson had for the lady who said she had an instrument from the Carson City Firehouse Band was, “Will you sell it to me?”
He later learned her name was Pat Cattell and she had a drum from the World War I-era band, a drum that was played alongside the banjo that Dotson recently acquired.
Since Dotson’s story about his search for information first appeared in the Nevada Appeal last month, he said several people have contacted him with leads, but it was actually finding another instrument that really gave him hope.
“I am reasonably sure that now that we have two pieces, more information will come out,” Dotson said.
Cattell has now joined in Dotson’s quest for information about the band and its members as well as a photo of the band in action.
The drum itself was purchased by Cattell in 1981 from Anna Sundeen, whose husband worked for the state and had fallen ill.
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“I like old things and things with history. (The drum) was in such good shape and it was so beautiful that I bought it. All Anna told me was it was played in the band and was played on the V&T,” Cattell said.
The second instrument has also brought more information about the band itself, including that it was a marching band and was formed before World War I, most likely in late 1913. The band took the name Carson City Firehouse Band, but had nothing to do with the fire department, according to Dotson.
The pair said their search for information is about gaining a greater understanding, and connecting to a piece of the state and the area’s past.
“These were real people and there is something about touching something from them that makes it more real. There is validation in real things,” said Cattell.
Dotson said, “Each of these men were real people. They had real families and they faced problems. They were either good or bad, drunk or sober, happy or sad.”
While the instrument owners have not appraised their pieces, they believe the instruments to be worth several thousand dollars. But the monetary value of the instruments is not as important as the history they represent.
“This is a piece of Carson City history and I am just the caretaker of it for now,” said Cattell.
n Contact reporter Jarid Shipley at email@example.com or 881-1217.