Chautauqua Serenade

Violinist Ruth Bowers on Tour 1910 - 1912

Lyceum: Lyceum tours operated during the winter and spring, and during 1910 and 1911, Ruth participated in three of them. From January to March 1910 she traveled through the midwestern United States with the Ramos Spanish Orchestra, reaching Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Wyoming. In November and December 1910 Ruth joined Elma B. Smith on a lyceum tour in Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas. She remained with Elma for the winter 1911 lyceum, journeying to cities on both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts as well as into British Columbia, Canada, as far from home as Nanaimo on Vancouver Island.
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The Spanish Orchestra in Nebraska

Ramos Spanish Orchestra: Ruth’s determination to have a career as a violinist attained success in January 1910, when at age 22 she obtained the position of first violinist with the Ramos Spanish Orchestra. Franasco Ramos, its director, was by all accounts a brilliant musician. Unfortunately he had a temperamental personality and did not get along with the other members of the orchestra. Ruth and the other ladies of the orchestra learned how to perform well under difficult circumstances while asserting their rights against the unreasonable demands of their director. Ruth performed with talented musicians in front of large enthusiastic audiences in over sixty concerts in five states during her tour with the Spanish Orchestra.
Photo: Taken in Nebraska near the end of the tour after Ramos was relieved of his duties. Ruth stands in the upper right corner.

Elma B. Smith

Elma B. Smith, fall 1910: Between performances there was time for adventure, as Ruth wrote home: "We had one of the most thrilling rides over the vast plains of Oklahoma in an automobile for twelve miles. I never heard of an auto going over and thru such places as we did; over fields and prairie lands where there was no sign of a road, up hills where by a slip of the wheel we would have gone smashing down a precipice, got lost out in a desolate spot where we couldn’t see a house for miles and it was so still, you could almost hear your heart beat. But the climax was when we went right thru a creek in the machine and missed quicksand by a few feet. Without doubt it was one of the most exciting rides I ever took."
Photo: Elma B. Smith is seated; standing left, Agnes Ambrose, pianist; middle, Ruth; right, Bessie Andrus, vocalist.

Siwash Rock postcard

Elma B. Smith, winter 1911: Part way into this tour, in the middle of South Dakota, Ruth was suddenly promoted to the position of manager when Elma accepted an offer to perform as a vaudeville star in New York. Ruth expressed her initial misgivings about this change in a letter: "If you hear of four girls getting stranded on the Pacific coast please send a relief check at once for absolutely I don’t know any more about money affairs than a rabbit—but I’m into it and will have to do the best I can." Despite the added responsibilities, Ruth maintained the highest performance standards; the Marysville WA newspaper reported: "Miss Ruth Bowers is a master on the violin. She was encored time after time and never failed to please everyone."
Postcard: Ruth sent this postcard home of Siwash Rock on the coast of Vancouver BC, before the days of the seawall around Stanley Park.

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