more than 50 years ago, Masonic Band plays On!
* The band of volunteers performs everything from
popular" at monthly concerts.
By: Betty Jean Miller, St. Petersburg Times Staff Writer
St. Petersburg - There was the usual cacophony of musical instruments tuning
up - trills and scales and pieces of tunes mixed with the chatter of the
musicians. Guests ambled in to sit in the rows of chairs and add to the
The occasion was an institution of more than 50 years; the monthly Sunday
afternoon concert of the Masonic Band. Formerly called the Selama Grotto Band,
its members have been performing at the Masonic Home since the early 30's.
Some of their early music is dated back to 1934.
member Dave Smith performs on the trombone
Time was when the volunteer band, founded by Frank Pickerd, played outside the
Masonic Home in a band shell built and dedicated by Grand Master A. Wayne
Conner in 1949. It was "hot" playing in the summer heat and often
"freezing" in the winter, and of course the wind would blow the sheet music
off the music stands. The way the band shell was positioned, (facing north)
the clarinet players always had the setting-sun in their eyes. When the new
Masonic Home was built, the aging band shell was then torn down and the group
began rehearsing and performing their public concerts in air-conditioned
comfort inside the boardroom. According to conductor Les Schlafman the move
inside was a great improvement for both the players and the audience.
Masonic Home Band was formerly the Selama Grotto Band
Grotto Band performs here in the Festival of States Parade
In 1992, Selama Grotto was no longer able to sponsor the band and the name was
changed to "The Masonic Band" in appreciation of their new location to both
practice and perform. To be a member of the band does not require membership
in any Masonic body. Interested musicians, who enjoy playing, are welcomed.
The band personnel is made up of professional and amateur musicians and some
are even school music teachers. Over the years many young players have
perfected their skills playing with the band. Some have gone on to become
professional musicians. The most recent, Becky Snyder, has been accepted into
the United States Air Force Band.
Masonic Home Band performs under the old band-shell at the Florida Masonic
This is not just a band. This is a fraternity of musicians. Some of
them may play together four or five times a week, just for the love of music.
The same holds true of the members of the Masonic Home Band. The volunteers
play for the love of music. Says conductor Schlafman, "We just get together
conductor Les Schlafman cuts his 70th birthday cake. The band surprises
him with a party in the Masonic Home Cafeteria.
When You Come - The Masonic Band concerts are free and open to the public at
the Masonic Home of Florida, 3201 1st Street, N.E. on the second Sunday of
each month starting at 4:00 p.m. Plenty of parking is available.