Robert Parsons Garber

Dad was born in Washington, D.C. and was Christened Robert Parsons Garber. (But no one called him Robert except the family: to everyone else, he was called "Bob.")

His parents were born in Augusta County, Virginia.
His dad taught piano in his spare time and that's where it all started.
Learning from his father, he could read notes and also had the additional talent of playing by ear.
He was playing piano in his early teens and I think music was his first love: an affair that never really ended.

He met my mother at a party: he was playing the piano, and she sat beside him and hummed or sang. He always said with a great big smile that my mother literally swept him off his feet (or off the piano bench)

I can think of more childhood memories involving Mother standing beside the piano as Dad played a new song...Mother singing or humming it and suggesting he try a different chord. She played the piano too...classical or semi-classical, plus she had a great singing voice. (Not professionally...she never sang with Dad's orchestra)

Yes..lots of sweet memories for me. I consider myself so fortunate. I never heard loud voices raised in anger, nor any display of temper. I mention this because my father must have had to deal with all sorts of personalities as an orchestra leader. He always had a warm smile or a handshake, and seemed to bring out the best in everyone he was in contact with. If a nasty situation arose, he seemed to be able to handle it without any display of temper and no feathers ruffled.
A rare sort of man? Oh, yes! One in a million!

Orchestra Leader

Having a Dad who was an orchestra leader also means some wonderful memories.
My earliest childhood recollections are listening to music.
Sometimes, the "boys in the band" rehearsed in our living room.
As a small child I can remember looking out the upstairs bedroom window
and seeing the neighbors gathered on the front lawn
with their chairs and blankets to hear the rehearsal.

In my mind, as a child,
I thought how important my Dad must be to draw so many people to our yard!

Dad's Radio Years

Dad and his orchestra in WOL Radio station's room - where they played requests.

Dad must have had fun during his "Radio" years. I dont have too much information except for some clippings I found. The dates are 1935 to the early 40's.

He was on three different radio stations with his orchestra. I noticed a few other bands that played on the same or different station's that were well known. Cab Calloway was one. (Washington DC's WMAL - 10:30 pm) Dad's "slot" for the same day was 7:30 pm on WOL and 11:00 pm on WJSV.

And the free orchestrations! Daily! Back then, the publisher's sent free orchestrations to the musician's so they could promote the new songs. It didn't take long to accumulate piles of music.

When Dad moved from Virginia to Florida, he donated 3,356 orchestrations to his local library! (That is more band music orchestration than the Library of Congress!)

Now click on the Normandie Banner and continue this journey to the SS Normandie - probably his favorite job!