The History of Taylor County: Chapter Two Hundred and Eighty Five

Sousa Visits Grafton

The Paige Comedy company featuring the comedian Thomas E. DePew and Miss Amy Laird came to the Opera home the three night, September 3,4 and 5, 1903, in a repertoire of popular drama to very good business and the company made a most favorable impression on their initial appearance on the local stage, a moving picture machine called by the high sounding name of The Parisian Kalitecnoscope was used between acts 1 and 4 during the week and showed an imaginary picture of a trip to the Planet Mars, that was a thrilling experience of adventuresome scientists who left the earth in an effort to discover if the planet nearest the earth was peopled.


Melvin B. Raymond, New York theatrical producer, sent that great play of ranch life from. The pen of Augustus Thomas “Arizona” to the Opera House September 15,1903. The acting of Fredrick Watson as Henry Canby, a cattle king and owner of the Arivaipa Ranch and thousands of cattle. Miss Ines Barlo was Bonita Canby, his niece, Francis Justice as Lieutenant Bonham of the 11th United States Cavalry and Robert Deshon as Tony Mostano as a Mexican vaquero in the employ of Canby were outstanding in this great drama of southwestern border life. One of the greatest scenes in the play was a cycloramic view of the great Mohave Desert with Bonita shown on horseback high above the desert and looking across the vast expanse of waste sees the activities of a band of cattle rustlers that causes her to put spurs to her horse to get word to the military post to end the depredation of her uncle’s ranch.


Sousa, considered the greatest band master and composer of his time brought his famous band to the Opera House for a concert September 9,1903. In addition to the sixty members of the band Miss Estelle Leibling, soprano singer and Miss Anna Otten, grand violin artist, were featured in the concert. Sousa on this occasion led his band in a new composition composed by him and entitled “Looking Upward” a suite of three movements: 1, The Light of the Polar Star; 2, “Under the Southern Cross; 3, Mars and Venus, beautiful beyond description to the music lovers that filled the house who called the composer to bow this thanks for this suite.


Leo Zimmerman also came in for his share of applause with his trombone solo, “Air Varie”. Miss Liebling’s number, “Thou Brilliant Bird,”  was received with acclaim by the audience. Marshal Lufsky’s song was so perfect he was compelled to bow his appreciation. Sousa led his band in his newest number entitled “Jack Tar,” which had a swing that the feet could hardly keep still. Miss Otten’s violin solo “Rondo Capricioso” was a classic that demonstrated her mastery of this instrument.


John W. Vogel with his minstrel company who always found business to his liking in Grafton came to the Opera House, September 24. The comedians and specialty members of his company on this date were all new to Grafton and proved artists of unusual merit in entertaining  the local patrons. Lew Benedict, Arthur Crawford, John Cartmell and Arthur Rigby the comedians were an amusing quartette and introduced all new jokes and songs that appealed to the audience especially Cartmell’s “Ah Hates To See The Rent Man Come Around” and Arthur Crawford’s singing “It Was The Dutch Home Sweet Home,” Lew Benedict’s “Sarah Brown,” and Arthur Rigby’s “Fairy Tales”.


Harry Leighton whose clear high tenor singing “Hi Jenny Johnson,” Edmund Balz’s baritone song, “I’d Lay Down My Life For You,” and the rumbling bas voice of Fredrick V. Jump, who sang “Until Then” was given the tremendous applause they deserved. The olio opened with Tommy Hayes, a trick bone soloist that almost made the bones talk followed by a very clever master of ambidexterity the great Knetzger. The Arthur Rigby an authority on baseball matters had a wordy argument with the umpire that brought shouts from the gallery. Crawford and Finning did a comedy musical act and the curtain fell on a marvelous acrobatic act by the Melrose Troupe that sent the audience home more than satisfied with the evening’s entertainment. 


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