Over a period of almost 20 years, in the decades between 1920 and 1930, there was a musical organization very definitely identified with C.G. Conn. That group was the Conn Ladies' Band.
The band was organized along about 1921 or 1922. That's the probable time the accompanying picture was taken.
The band had quite a succession of directors over the years. One of the first, if not THE first, was H. P. Mulholland; then followed Mel Webster, Silas Long, Charlie Weber, and Dick Bressler. It was under the latter that the band attained its greatest size, 65 members with full instrumentation, and its greatest fame. For a number of years in the '30s it played regularly in the South Bend city series, to crowds as large as 8,000. On one occasion it had Henry Filmore as a guest conductor, and at another time played under the direction of the conductor of the Royal Hawaiian Band.
Before the days of fame were many days of fun. Ruth Boyland Claussen (of Conn Deptment 45F in 1945) re-called a time when some of the members could play only one note! Willingness to be taught was the only requirement; both instruments and instruction were furnished by the company. Engagements at that period included playing for a barbecue at Bristol, a balloon ascension at Howe, a street fair at Milford, the county fair at Goshen, a centennial celebration at Buchanan, and regular concerts at Wakarusa, Bremen and Mishawaka.
In the front row, left to right, are: Mildred Easterday Steele, Hazel Kidder Smith, Lucille Reed Grove, Pearl Roberts, Marion Cornish Davidson, Josephine Butler Tillman, Grace Smith, Lucile Metzger Urbanek and Lillian Hege Lambdin. Back row: Ann Sass, Grace Bleiler Wade, Fannie Kuhn Bell, Eleanor Denslow, Ruth Boyland Claussen, Irene Sones Hacker, Edith Lord, Thelma Gruber, Elizabeth Buchanan and Geneva Boyland Staunton.
The Conn Ladies' Band played on, through fair weather and foul, until about 1938.
source: Ameri-Conn monthly publication April 1945. From the archives of the Saxquest Saxophone Museum.