Saranac Lake Boys' Band at the Saranac Lake Club in the Berkeley Hotel, undated Saranac Lake Boys' Band, "Playing for Sousa" (middle) July 1921, in front of the Main Street Saranac Lake High School. The sign near the entrance reads "1892 - 1921 / 29th Season / Sousa Band" Saranac Lake Boys' Band at the Lake Placid Club in the 1926 Canaras The Saranac Lake Boys' Band was organized by theatrical agent William Morris; in 1929, it was taken over by the Saranac Lake High School. 1 It was directed by Phillip L. Steneri, music director of the High School, who also directed the girls Mandolin Club. 2

In 1926, the Boys Band finished first in section B in the New York State Musical Festival. In 1927, weekly band concerts were to be sponsored by the board of governors of the Boys Band. The village board appropriated $300 to support the weekly concerts. 3Saranac Lake Boys' Band, c. 1920

1926 Canaras

The Saranac Lake Boy's Band under the direction of Mr. John Rusterholtz has become one of the best known activities of our high school. It is governed by a board of directors comprised of the business men of the town. In its beginning the band was not strictly a school affair but centering about school life as it does, and being made up almost entirely of students it is now recognized to be the school band and is included in the list of extra-curricular activities.

The band has been progressing rapidly and now has in connection with it an organization known as the Junior Boy's Band. This prepares the younger boys of the Junior High School for filling the places left by the graduation of the Senior members. Through diligent and regular practice, Mr. Rusterholtz has brought the band to the point where it can play quite difficult music in an excellent manner. Last year the boys were judged sufficiently expert to be sent to the band contest at Binghamton and should the present idea of sending them on a trip this year be carried through, it will make the second time our school has been represented in contest by the band. Besides this, the organization has been in demand at many fairs, skating races and town events where it has built up a fine reputation.

The Adirondack Record - Elizabethtown Post, February 18, 1921


Rev. J. J. Waters and [Village] President Isaiah Vosburgh of Saranac Lake, who are both convalescing, were serenaded Wednesday afternoon of last week by the boys' band in which they both have taken great interest.

Adirondack Daily Enterprise, February 26, 1970

Saranac Lake Boys' Band Founded 50 Years Ago

Stepping along in their smart brown plaid mountaineer's jackets, trousers tucked into their sock tops, and coonskin tails decorating their overseas style caps, the Saranac Lake Boys' Band was the pride of many Winter Carnival parades and in summer, dressed in white "ducks" they were a feature of "Decoration Day" celebrations.

The group was founded 50 years ago this month and no doubt provided the absorbing interest necessary to keep growing boys occupied, out of mischief and on the road to success, for its alumni include some of the leaders of the community today.

The band was originally a program of the Saranac Lake Boys Club and practiced in the old Armory which was a convenient arrangement when the skating races were held on the Lake Flower rink behind the building. The boys just opened the windows, played fortissimo and the spectators had entertainment between races, and the figure skaters had live music for their performances.

The band's first director was Archie Nemmo and Roy Lobdell was parade director. Later John Rusterholtz, the Saranac Lake High School faculty, became director and still later the band was incorporated into the high school program.

John Pedroni who lent The Enterprise his picture of the band in summer uniform, recalls that the money for the first instruments was raised through donations from individuals and organizations in the village. The drive for funds was helped along by displaying the shiny new instruments in Leonard's Department Store window.

Mr. Pedroni also recalled the names of most of the members and listed them as follows:

Clarinets — Hyman Weiner, name missing, Eugene Keet, Allan Gould, Edward Rice, Harold Hastings.

Saxophones – John Pedroni, Arthur Steneri, Grant Cane, Ralph Davidson.

Trumpets — name missing, Alfred Endell, Merill Thomas, name missing, George Hogan, Clarence Petty, Floyd Ahearn, Fred Endell, Merrill Thomas, Lyttle. [sic]

Alto Horns – Seward McKee, Howard McKillip, Robert Buckley, name missing.

Trombones — name missing William Petty, Lawrence LaVallee.

Baritone — name missing, Anthony Gedroiz.

Drum — Nick Acrivelis.

Bass – Oscar Moody, Richard O'Brien.

An excerpt from "My old Alma Mater" by BILL MCLAUGHLIN, Adirondack Daily Enterprise, June 12, 1984 (complete article at: Saranac Lake High School)

"In the village, the school had become everything to everybody. A glee club organized in 1900 quickly developed into showtime operettas. In 1922, William Morris, the famous N.Y.C. theatrical agent, organized the Saranac Lake Boys' Band. It was taken over by the school in 1929. Saranac Lake had exceptionally fine bands and were consistent winners at Syracuse University's state finals under Willard Greene during the 1930's.

Albert Gummer, a talented trumpet player, went directly from high school into the United States Navy Band and played until retirement and he never came back to Saranac Lake.

Walter Nutter played the loudest trumpet in school history and in the 1930's and 40's while playing at the Birches was only allowed to toot his horn if he faced the wall.

The late Carlton Kilroy, as a 15-year old kid, played drums in a roadhouse called the Mt. Baker Club which was frequented by prohibition era gangsters, their molls and several floating courtesans from Montreal.

When Prof. H. V. Littell got wind of it, the school board met in cacophonous cadence and squelched Carl's income. He was warned not to pursue employment in such dens of sin until after graduation or at age 18, whichever came first."

See also:


1. Adirondack Daily Enterprise, June 12, 1984. However, the 1926 Canaras lists it as a school band, so the date must have been before 1926.
2. Adirondack Daily Enterprise, November 14, 1972
3. Adirondack Daily Enterprise, June 3, 1952