Walter Hollister


When the traveling medicine show came to his hometown in rural eastern Pennsylvania back in 1917, young Walter Hollister was fascinated by the rhythm bones, and he determined to have some of his own. The next time the family butchered a pig, his wish came true.


Walter Hollister was born June 10, 1909 and died August 16 1985. After 37 years as an employee of the Borough of Brooklyn, Hollister retired to Florida and lived in New Smyrna.


He was a 33rd degree Master Mason who contributed thousands of hours to the Shriner’s hospital. He was a World War II veteran of the Army Air Corps (Engineer).


Walter, known as ‘’Mr. Bones,’’ had been clacking them for nearly 70 years (except for a brief time in the 1940s when he lost his rhythm bones and used spoons instead). His daughter said he was self taught and his favorite music was Dixieland. There is a photograph of Walter playing with a band on Page 6.
He played at Mummers’ parades, Macy’s parades, mall openings and wedding receptions, and in taverns, churches, hospitals and resort hotels, and entertained President Nixon.
He appeared on Ted Mack’s Original Amateur Hour on September 13, 1964, and according to Albert Fisher who was producer of the show, he played to Won’t You Come Home Bill Bailey. [Editor Note. Albert Fisher bought the rights to the show video and donated the video to the Library of Congress. See]