“And The Band Played On!”

We traveled right through Picture Rocks, PA, in Lycoming County, about an hour from our home. WePicture Rock 5

were headed for the next, little town, Tivoli. But as we passed through the small hamlet of Picture Rocks, I couldn’t help but wonder why it had such

a unique name. It didn’t take me long to learn that it is so named for pictographs that were left, many moons ago, by Native Americans when they inhabited this

Some of the cliffs at Picture Rocks.

Some of the cliffs at Picture Rocks.

Muncy Creek valley.

If you stay on the main thoroughfare, you miss seeing the cliffs that surround this valley and it’s on these stones that the pictures were drawn, but long since have disappeared. The town is built upon land that was once a Munsee Indian village. Evidence of this is seen in the arrowheads and other relics that have been found in the vicinity of the creek. In the 1800’s the town prospered when manufacturers arrived to harness the water power provided by Muncy Creek. Today, businesses still line the main street.

The town of Picture Rocks.

The town of Picture Rocks.

Approximately, 700 people reside here in 274 households.

We are fortunate to live in Northeastern PA where interesting, small towns abound around nearly every curve of the road. I know even less about Tivoli, except that the Tivoli Methodist Church stood, for many years, so close to the highway that passing tractor trailers occasionally tore off the corner of the

Early photo of Tivoli U. M. Church. It now has an addition built.

Early photo of Tivoli U. M. Church. It now has an addition built to the side..

building’s cornices. Today, the congregation continues to worship in the same building, but it has been moved to the other side of the road. This small church, now nestles among trees on a spacious piece of ground. It was our destination.

We pulled Carousel Melodies’ truck and trailer onto the grounds, right along side the church pavilion. By now, many of you know that inside the trailer is a band organ constructed by my husband and named “Shirl Belle,” after you-know-who. We were invited by Deb Stackhouse to entertain for the Christian Ladies League. After researching the history behind many of the old songs played by the band organ, we have originated a rather

Those in attendance.

Those in attendance.

unique “show” featuring more than music. As the band plays on and we’re dressed appropriately for the era the band organ represents, we lead sing-alongs, talk of the period in history and display memorabilia of that time. We get everyone to join in a John Philip Sousa’s march and pay respect to our country as the song, “God

We're lined up to parade to a Sousa march.

We’re lined up to parade to a Sousa march.

Bless America” ends the program.

My Victorian boots always draw many comments, as does the baton my

The boots I wore as a majorette and the Victorian boots I wear today.

The boots I wore as a majorette and the Victorian boots I wear today.

husband made me to use as I lead the marching. All this is done in fun and this particular group of ladies and gentlemen enjoyed every moment of the event, willingly singing and marching. My husband always reminds everyone that I was a majorette in high school. However, what twirling routines of the baton, I once knew, are nearly forgotten, as are the pair of boots I wore those many years ago.

” Shirl Belle,” the band organ, plays the original songs that in the early 1900’s were heard in skating rinks and as most people remember them, on merry-go-rounds. These songs have been scanned and preserved for people to enjoy today. The music is called “happy music” and proves to

Let the show begin! Burl and I at the Band Organ.

Let the show begin! Burl and I at the Band Organ.

be just that. When the band organ starts playing, people invariably smile and forget troubling times. It took my husband, Burl, who has always loved pipe organs, nine years to built the organ, a replica of a Wurlitzer Military Band organ, and he still continues to hand-construct more pipes. When organs of this type became popular they replaced live bands at many events. Shirl Belle has a mechanical, hand-carved band leader, is sturdily

This is George, the band organ conductor.

This is George, the band organ conductor.

built, and it truly does play on and on, and on. And, we are the ones who travel from town to town, sometimes out of state, so others can enjoy it, too. (And we get to see the smiling faces, hear their expressions of joyfulness, and their memories of riding the merry-go-round.) 

Do you have a favorite event you travel to see and hear? I’d love to hear from you.

10 thoughts on ““And The Band Played On!”

  1. Picture Rocks is a lovely name for a town! We traveled through a town named Normalville this weekend. I thought that was pretty funny and that I wouldn’t be able to live there since I’m not normal. lol. I’m amazed that you still have your majorette boots! How fun! Did you wear them over the weekend? Sounds like you had fun. I love the photo of the rocks!

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    • We proved that it’s possible to have fun, no matter what direction you go. You went in one direction, we went in the other. What a wonderful country we live in. Hope others get a chance to go. We’re running out of summer. Thanks for writing, Janine.

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  2. The Bloomsburg Fair was the place to go for music…The Osmonds…The Letterman. And each Sunday we would listen to Casey’s top 40 on the way to visit relatives. Our daughter’s favorite place is “Ringing Rocks” about 20 minutes from our home. You take along a hammer and strike the field of stones to make sounds like bells. And my favorite place was LLHS for the band concerts…the band also made the football games exciting. Shiryl…you have a wonderful heart that can’t help but spill out the happiness and the joy that you feel to others.

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    • It’s truly remarkable what I’m learning since starting to write shirlandyou. Karen, you are always so full of good additional information. I have yet to strike field stones that sound like bells, but, we seldom miss the Bloomsburg Fair. Obviously, you love music as well as we do. Thanks for writing.

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  3. Shirley! You drove right past my childhood home & where my parents still live in Picture Rocks! My brothers & I swam “at the Rocks” growing up in “PR” and we answered the questions of many travelers pulling their cars over to ask us about the town name. I’ve been spending the weekends there to care for my 90 yr. old father while mom is in the hospital. My Aunt June still lives on the big farm just past the Tivoli church, which was moved across the street out of a frequent flood plain area. My grandfather ( a lifelong farmer and carpenter that helped to build many area homes & the Crestmont Inn in Eagles Mere) said the church only survived being flooded several times because the floor joists were made of hickory trees. Locals pronounce the name as “Tie-vol-ah” we were told as kids it was a Native American word- not the Italian “Tiv-o-lee”. but may be we were gullible and mis-informed, I don’t know..

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    • What a surprise to hear from someone who grew up in Picture Rocks. It is fun learning more about you, your brothers and father and hearing from someone who knows about the two wonderful country towns. God bless you, Cindy. You have certainly been a blessing to us. Thanks for writing.

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  4. wow! i was glad to see this post 🙂 have driven through picture rocks a number of times over the years, the last time being the forth of july this year….and it was this last time through that i mentioned to my husband i wondered how picture rocks got it’s name LOL
    and now i know 🙂
    thank you!

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  5. The show that you put on the with band wagon organ sure sounds like fun and good entertainment. Maybe you can record it one day, and post it to you tube. I would love to see it. You and Burl sure find some interesting and unique ways to have fun. I’m sure that all of the folks at the church enjoyed your performance very much. It is so nice that you do things like this together. I love the pictures in your blog.

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  6. Hi Colleen: I like your suggestion of using you tube to post our “show.” We’ll have to think about that. I surely do look forward to your comments, thanks for the encouragement.

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