From the Archives: Harmonica Week in Los Angeles

June 27, 1935: Mayor Frank Shaw with Manuel Martinez, left, and Herman Bower, in photo to promote Ha
June 27, 1935: Mayor Frank Shaw with Manuel Martinez, left, and Herman Bower in a photo to promote Harmonica week in Los Angeles.
(Los Angeles Times Archive / UCLA)

The city of Los Angeles designated July 3-10, 1935, as first annual Harmonica Week. To promote the event, Mayor Frank Shaw posed for photographers with the first two harmonica-playing youngsters to register.

The June 28, 1935, Los Angeles Times reported:

Those familiar faces about the City Hall paused outside Mayor Shaw's official chambers yesterday. There was music in the air.

"No, it can't be the mayor, he has a sore lip today," said one of a curious throng.

But the mayor made it clear that he can play the harmonica as he officiated at ceremonies in his office opening the first annual Los Angeles Harmonica Week registration.

Contests will begin next Wednesday and continue until July 10, inclusive, with Mayor Shaw as sponsor in conjunction with music stores of the city that will give free lessons to purchasers of "mouth organs."

First to register for the preliminary contests at city playgrounds, ending in a grand finale on the stage of a local theater, were Herman Bower, 11 years of age, and Manuel Martinez, 13, who played selections for the mayor.

Kenneth Milton, who organized and conducted the 70-piece Philadelphia Sesquicentennial Harmonica Band, presented Mayor Shaw with a chromatic harmonica that he played before Queen Marie of Romania during her visit to America.

Milton's services as instructor for the free lessons have been assured by more than 20 music stores that brought him here from Philadelphia.

Outside of a brief mention of Milton in the June 30, 1935, Los Angeles Times, I could not locate any followup information on Harmonica Week in 1935 or following years.

June 27, 1935: From left, Mayor Frank Shaw, Harmonica teacher Kenneth Milton, Manuel Martinez, and H
June 27, 1935: From left, Mayor Frank Shaw, harmonica teacher Kenneth Milton, Manuel Martinez and Herman Bower promote Harmonica Week in Los Angeles. Los Angeles Times Archive / UCLA

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