|Verne Q. Powell|
We've come across several historic documents pertaining to Verne Q, Powell, including the very first brochure from his shop on Huntington Avenue, details on design, and of course, the story behind his very first flute. This week, we've come across something particularly special in terms of history -- Verne Q. Powell's autobiography. The exact date when it was written is unknown, but it was truly handwritten (in cursive) by Mr. Powell. We hope you'll enjoy the transcription below:
Powell learned to play the ocarina at 8 years of age. At 10 he graduated to the fife and started a drum
corps with Bert Anthony (a nephew of Susan B Anthony, the founder of women’s
suffrage) and Ron Bates, the best drum major he ever knew. His baton was a croquet ball on a broom
handle. This was the fall of 1888, the
Harrison-Morton campaign, and this trio snuck out evenings and paraded down
town on Sat evenings to the amazement of the public.
this time an older friend took him to hear the first Edison record machine
because it had a piccolo record, so now it had to be a piccolo, so older
brother Will went to Lyon & Healy and got a six keyed piccolo which cost
$3.40 and Verne says he shined his brother’s shoes for the rest of his life to pay
for the piccolo. Then he organized a
real drum corps of 6 piccolos, 6 snare drums, bass drum and the same drum
major. They played for all the ball
games, etc., just for admission.
At 14 he
was learning to make jewelry with his older brothers and he made a 6 keyed
piccolo from a piece of a brass chandelier which he could play.
he bought his first Boehm flute from an Elkhart firm, paying for it on the
monthly payment plan and using it as best he could.
he bought his first good Boehm flute, a Rudall-Carte wooden flute, from Wm. S.
Tipton (father of Albert Tipton, now 1st flute with the Detroit Orchestra).
1910 he went to Chicago to take some lessons from Alfred Quensel (1st
flute with Theodore Thomas) and while there heard for the first time George
Barrére with Damrosh. Barrére played on
a silver flute which was then called “tin-whistle” but Verne was so thrilled
with his playing that he made up his mind to make a silver flute for
himself. So when he returned to his home
in Fort Scott, Kans, and his brothers jewelry store, he proceeded to gather up
the scrap silver which consisted of 7 teaspoons, 3 silver watches and some
plugged silver coins, melt them down and make a silver “tin-whistle” for
himself. He has it now and always will
keep it. It is a rather crude affair but
it plays well and many have played and liked it.
It was this
event that eventually brought him to Boston with the Wm. S. Haynes Co. He was with them ‘till 1913
when he left and started in for himself.
talented flutist with his creative ability in working precious metals, he has
been able to produce flutes of silver, gold and platinum for the world's