Larry the Bugler, 1889
In 1889, several newspapers reported on Lawrence Grob, a citizen of Red Hook who earned the nickname “Larry the Bugler'' from his neighbors. Every morning, from his residence on Conover Street, near the Atlantic Docks, Grob used his bugle to wake Red Hook’s working class (many of whom worked in factories and on the docks). As two different newspapers reported,
Larry blew “his brass bugle every night at 9 o'clock sharply, rain or shine, and again every morning at exactly 6 o'clock... The working people who swarm in the tenements around the eating saloon get up to breakfast to the morning music, and tumble into bed at night at taps with the regularity of soldiers in camp.” Grob, himself a veteran, had first utilized his skill as a bugler enlisted in the union army during the civil war. Larry’s morning tune had become such a staple, that upon his falling ill one day, a factory worker lost his job after oversleeping. Although Larry offered to resign after the mistake, his neighbors insisted that he continue, and so Larry kept on chiming as ‘the town clock of Red Hook Point’.
New York Herald, September 19, 1889.
RED HOOK'S HUMAN CLOCK
By Bugler Groh's Notes the Community Rise and Eat their Meals.
The residents of that part of South Brooklyn known as Red Hook Point rejoice in the possession of a musical and living clock of which they are not only proud, but are also exacting.
The object of their admiration is Lawrence Groh, on No. 137 Conover street, near the Atlantic Docks, where he keeps a boarding house and dining room. Mr. Groh has a war record, having served in the regular United States artillery and also in the cavalry arm of the service as a bugler He is very fond of that ear piercing instrument, and during the nine years that he has lived on Red Hook Point the notes of his bugle have regularly resounded morning and evening for blocks in either side of his house and far out on the water till in calm weather the martial sounds mingle with the calls on Governor's Island.
Ten minutes before six o'clock each morning it has been the ex-buglers custom to stand out in his yard and sound reveille. This has been a guide and a help to the workers who are residents of that locality. With the last notes of the bugle the lights appear in the windows of the surrounding tenements and the working people prepare for the toil of the day. In the evening retreat is regularly sounded.
One morning this week Groh was sick, and for the first time in nine years Red hook Point failed to hear his bugle. About two hours later one of his neighbors, an Irish matron, came into his house and threatened to assault him because her husband had been thrown out of work on his account. He had got so used to rising by the bugle that when he didn't hear it he overslept and was tho hours late at the factory where he worked and discharged. When Mr. Groh heard that he offered to resign altogether his position of town clock, but the neighbors made such a fuss that he got up out of his sick bed the next morning to attend to his voluntary and gratuitous service.
Atlantic Dock - Larry the Bugler - Reveille for Red Hook Point - Connecticut Western News - November 6 1889
Connecticut Western News, Nov. 6, 1889
LARRY THE BUGLER.
HE SOUNDS REVEILLE FOR RED HOOK POINT.
The Neighborhood Rise and Retire by His Bugle.
A New Yorker who was picking his way carefully in the pelting rain last Monday night through the crowded tenement district at Red Hook Point, near the Atlantic Docks, in South Brooklyn, heard the shrill music of a bugle ring out suddenly at exactly 9 o'clock by the watch. The music echoed sharply for blocks around, and brought the New Yorker to a stand still at the junction of Sullivan and Conover streets. Right off are the big wharves by the river side. Right in front of him were two big rows of tenements that shelter, so the neighbors say, nearly 400 tenants. In every window a light twinkled brightly, making the building stand out conspicuous against the black background of the stormy sky. A dozen of the big cluster of lights went out together a few minutes after the bugle sounded, and then one after another the others went out abruptly until the whole row of buildings was left in darkness. The lights in other buildings around about went out similarly, leaving the New Yorker standing awhile mystified.
He walked into a liquor store at the comer and sought enlightenment.
"What's the matter with all the lights?" he asked.
"Nothin'," was the reply; "Larry's sounded 'taps,' that's all."
and he stared at the stranger full half a minute before he found his voice again. "Well, I'll be blowed!" he blurted out. "Don't know 'Larry', heigh? Your education has been neglected. You'd better go up the street right off and make his acquaintance. 'Larry's' a character, he is."
Three doors up the block at 137 Conover street stood a three-story brick building, with an eating saloon on the ground floor. Plants in pots bloomed in the windows on either side the open door. From the sidewalk the New Yorker saw three dogs and two green parrots playing at a table, at which sat a slim, wiry built man, with light curly hair and moustache, who was busy polishing a cavalry bugle. He looked about forty years old. His wife was bustling about the kitchen, cooking steaks at the stove for some stevedores who had come in to get a late meal.
"Am I Larry?" the man said in a hearty way in answer to a question.
"Yes, I'm Larry, and I'm the fellow that blew the bugle call and put out the lights. Have to do it every night. If I didn't all the women in the neighborhood would come in here and give me a good licking. They have done it before this, too."
The curly-haired man was Lawrence Grob, a veteran of the rebellion. He is 45 years old, and almost every day for the last nine years he has blown his brass bugle every night at 9 o'clock sharply, rain or shine, and again every morning at exactly 6 o'clock. He has long borne the nickname of "the town clock of Red Hook Point." The working people who swarm in the tenements around the eating saloon get up to breakfast to the morning music, and tumble into bed at night at taps with the regularity of soldiers in camp.
Larry Grob is a son of the late Dr. Martin Grob, who used to preach for years in Essex street, in this city, and the bugle that has been called his "clock" is one that he carried when he served on the frontier under "Buffalo Bill" Cody in the First United States Cavalry. He has still another bugle, that is bigger, and decked all out with red silk tassels, that he got when he enlisted in the Sixth Corps, under Gen. Sedgwick, on April 21, 1861. He left the service after fifteen years, but kept up the practice of sounding "reveille" and "taps" when he opened an eating saloon. Ever since he moved to Conover street, nearly ten years ago, the tenement dwellers have been able to dispense with timepieces at their homes, and have trusted to the music of the bugle to keep them posted on the time for retiring and rising.
In clear weather Larry sounds the call from the roof top of the house, and the bugler at Governor's Island sends back an answering call. The echo of the answer can be faintly heard on calm nights by the tenement
A fortnight ago Bugler Grob was taken sick and was unable to blow the usual reveille. When he got out again the wife of one of the workingmen in the Sullivan street row boxed his ear's in the grocery store.
"See here," she cried impetuously, "you didn't blow that bugle the other day, and my man overslept himself and lost a day's work by being two hours late at the steamer."
Bugler Grob is not the only one in the eating house that can blow a bugle musically. A tall, flaxen-haired maiden, with big, blue eyes and perfectly sound lungs in her trim body, gives the reveille and taps just as sonorously as he. She is Emile Grob, the 16-year-old daughter of the army bugler, and a pet of the Grand Army men. For several years, when her father's Grand Army post marched to Farragut's grave on Decoration Day, Emile decked in a handsome sailor suit and carrying a bugle was dragged in triumph in a military wagon at the head of the procession, and blew the impressive notes of "taps" over the famous Admiral's grave.
Every day at noon for years she made the air ring with a bugle call that summoned the workers on the docks to their midday meal at Grob's inn. Nowadays, however, Emile has given up bugle playing and has her thoughts
on more romantic things.
"I want to get married, mamma," she said, and tossed the brass instrument aside for good. So Larry now blows the call for dinner himself, and Emile is working to lay up something for that happy day she is dreaming of.
Larry has an American flag 36 feet long that covers the entire front of his house when it is hung from the roof. That flag, he says, will float proudly from the flagstaff on the roof when Emile wins a husband.