Story Time: Marching Band Memories

[Previously posted in the Awesome Eagle Showband Has a Party group on Facebook]

Unsurprisingly, I’ve been thinking a lot about marching band lately. But other than a few bits here and there of marching through horse manure while passing parade judges, “salmonella sandwiches” out of an unrefrigerated truck at the end of the Grand Floral Parade, and rain (or really probably spit and valve oil) flooding back down my lead pipe during a “bells to the box” moment in Salem, most of my memories are just of time spent with friends.

Holding hands and skipping through a theme park (maybe Disneyland? Six Flags?) with John Dunbar and Wendy Kinyon.

Renting tandem bicycles and racing them through the streets of Victoria. I believe Mark Dorin and I were a team. (We figured out that the person on the back of a tandem bicycle needs to stay in line with the frame of the bike during a turn–whoever is steering is the one who balances. Otherwise, you’re in for a wobbly disaster.)

Several band students really appreciating the majesty of the Butchart Gardens in Victoria, BC, Canada in 1986 or 87. (Photo by Amy Westlund Zuckerman.)
Several band students really appreciating the majesty of the Butchart Gardens in Victoria, BC, Canada in 1986 or 87. (Photo by Amy Westlund Zuckerman.)

A few of us being so … inspired … by the beauty surrounding us at the Butchart Gardens that we were asked to leave for repeatedly rolling down a grassy hill when we were supposed to be off looking at flowers.

Renting little Honda scooters in Victoria and learning that Catherine Meneses Erickson could do wheelies.

A jazz band gig in Sacramento’s Old Town in which Doug Barber played an absolutely screaming set on lead trumpet while apparently blacked out from the heat or hyperventilation. Luckily, he didn’t fall off the risers. And he played awesome.

Having to stand in line so long at a Pizza Hut (one of many, faster, food joints around the giant parking lot wherever we were) to get personal pan pizzas to go that we almost missed the departure time of the tour buses.

Almost getting flattened by a city bus in Victoria. (Look both ways before you cross the street, kids! Also, don’t jaywalk in Canada.)
My freshman year, the pep band learning to play Hava Nagila for Jacob Menashe whenever he was called in off the bench. (These days Jake is an attorney in Lynnwood, Washington. He wrote our will.)

Also that year, we went to Spokane to march in a field show competition, and some people got a bit rambunctious in the hotel. I suspect future years’ bands did not travel to Spokane.

Playing in the pit orchestra for Annie, which was awesome, even though all the ringers were getting paid.

Songs we played in wind ensemble, which still stir emotions when I hear my own kids’ wind ensembles or orchestras play them. (Though I can’t always tell if the memory is from high school or U of O Band Camp in the summers or from performances I played in in college.)
And the fundraising. So much fundraising. Pepperoni sticks and candy bars and fruit cake and Christmas trees. And, oddly as seen from today’s perspective, newspapers for recycling. We collected so much newspaper to pile in to the semi truck trailer parked in the CHS parking lot that the hydraulic legs in the front of the trailer punched through the asphalt.

So while the field shows and parades and trophies generated great pride and feelings of accomplishment, the whole band experience and the friendships and camaraderie arguably did the most out of anything in high school at shaping me into who I am today.