The Boys in the Band
How can you develop character in boys and keep them out of mischief? The Minneapolis newspaper answered this question by starting the Minneapolis Journal Newsboys Band in 1897 with 55 members. One of the band’s high-profile performances was to march in the October 12th, 1899 military parade to welcome home the 13th Minnesota Volunteers from the Philippine Islands. President McKinley was in the reviewing stand at Nicollet Avenue and 10th Street.
In 1913, the original Newsboys Band members launched the Minneapolis Working Boys Band to give other boys the opportunity they’d had. At age 10, a boy could join the auxiliary band and progress to the concert band when he reached the required musical proficiency. Boys could stay in the band until age 18. By 1944, the band had 150 members and more than 5000 past members.
One famous alumnus of the Working Boys Band was Mike Todd (1909-1958), born Avrom Hirsch Goldbogen in Minneapolis. Todd, who was a theater and film producer and the third husband of Elizabeth Taylor, played a horn in the band and also sold newspapers at 6th Street and Hennepin Avenue in 1917.
The History Theater in St. Paul will open a play on the Working Boys’ Band on May 3rd. It runs through June 1st.