Display Showcases Music History

ST. MARYS — A traveling exhibit in the county has a portion located in town, featuring items from a local collection.

"New Harmonies: Celebrating American Roots Music" is a traveling exhibit from the Smithsonian Institute presented by the Auglaize County Historical Society and the Auglaize County Public District Library.

The St. Marys Community Public Library features a locally based arm of the exhibit, noting musical instruments from St. Marys resident Jeff Squire's collection, as well as pieces found in the St. Marys library.

"(Library Director) Sue Pittman called me and wanted to know if I had anything historical," Squire said. "I had collected several old woodwinds — I'm a clarinet and saxophone player."

Squire noted some of the items in the display.

"There are her books, her CDs, my instruments, my toys, my sheet music," Squire said.

He noted a few of the instruments he donated for the display, which is featured in the case near the entrance of the library.

"I have an old curved soprano sax, and old C-melody sax and some old woodwinds, like an old steel clarinet," Squire said. "I have collected some other whistles and things."

All of Squire's instruments featured in the display, he noted, are playable.

"I play them all — they all work as instruments," he said. "Everything but the steel clarinet, all the other horns I've played in public."

The C-melody sax, Squire said, is a rare instrument.

"The C-melody was a pop oddity in the '30s and '40s," he said. "There's no music for it — (the musician) can stand next to a piano player playing in the key of C and play off the pianist's music."

The exhibit opened earlier this week, and Squire noted something he saw when he dropped off his instruments for the display.

"One of the books she had pulled off was a traditional instrument book, and I happened to have some of the instruments featured on the cover," Squire said. "There was a thumb piano and a leg shaker that I have, so I ran home and picked it up."

The thumb piano, he noted, was something he picked up on a trip.

"I found that during our Rotary trip to Africa," Squire said.

When Pittman contacted him for the exhibit, Squire said he was glad to help because of his interest and involvement in music.

"I've been a big proponent of music my entire life," he said. "I've performed in something since I was in fifth-grade band. This is great to bring people's attention to how important music can be to a full and rich life. If I can make some little boy become interested in the clarinet from my collection, I've done well."

The "New Harmonies" exhibit will run through Oct. 11. It also features upcoming local events at 10:30 a.m. Sept. 22 at the Auglaize County Council on Aging and at 10:30 a.m. Sept. 27 at St. Marys Living Center.