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Strike Up the Band

393_00SeacoastNH.com Presents  
Historic Portsmouth #393

From the look of the midriffs here, the South Berwick Cadet Band could do with some aerobic marching practice. A snappier image of the musicians shot in Portsmouth in the 1880s was auctioned on eBay this week. That formal portrait shows the group of 20-strong in their snappy new uniforms and pointed Prussian-style helmets. (Continued below)

This candid shot offers a more casual view of the amateur musicians. I emailed historian Wendy Pirsig, editor of the hugely informative book Placenames of South Berwick, to see if she knew this group. The band received an annual stipend of $100 from the Town of South Berwick, she writes, to put on open air concerts in the 1890s. They were also likely among the welcoming bands that played when the survivors of the Greely party arrived in Portsmouth in 1884 after two years stranded in the Arctic. A framed picture of the band can be seen at the Counting House Museum in South Berwick.  (Courtesy Old Berwick Historical Society)

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BONUS PHOTO

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