Cabinet Card, 6 1/2" x 4 1/4".Watson, Cincinnati imprint.
Alexander Oscar Babel played piano at the Solo Saloon on Congress Street in Houston, Texas, where he married Emma Rumpel in 1880. When he went on the road, the cowboy pianist was joined by a cowgirl cornetist, Miss Mattie Babel. Her identity is not clear, but the most likely candidate is Oscar’s wife, Emma. A. O. Babel, the “Cowboy Pianist,” was billed as a musical phenomenon who marveled audiences throughout the United States during the 1880s and 1890s. Many of the details of his life were shrouded by a sensationalized account published about 1890 by Dick Publishing House in New York. The dime novel-like book titled Life of A. O. Babel: The Original and Famous Texas Cowboy Pianist portrayed a young man who had worked as a cowboy as well as a scout who could speak nine Indian languages and who had served as an interpreter and guide for the United States military. His feats included ferreting out desperadoes in Mexico and bringing them back to justice. Supposedly, Babel suffered a terrible fall from a horse, resulting in one broken arm and one badly sprained arm, and during a lengthy convalescence, he discovered that he had developed a miraculous talent for the piano.