Well, our band rehearsals were something else. We had this teacher who was the top marching band director in that area. He had been an ace band director at three universities and a top trumpet player. His name was Wilson and he would say, “I want you to work on number four in the book, ‘On the Mall,’ and I want to hear crisp section work. I don’t want to hear anyone faking it. If you come to a section you don’t know, don’t fake it, ‘cause I can hear it.” All of us knew that if you don’t know the notes you fake it—if you’re a good musician you can get by with it, but not with Wilson. He knew every note of every march that was ever published—and he could hear them all.
Old Shep, you know—I knew everything we did by heart. I knew every move, I knew every note, every fingering, and one day we were out at rehearsal—that terrible day. We’d finished musical rehearsal, which was great. I always enjoyed the musical side of it. But then Stinky Davis took over and he would line us all up way down at the south end of the field and he would start lecturing us. “I want to see a lot of knee movement. Pull in your guts, Schwartz. I don’t want to see any guts hang out!”
He was one of the few drum majors I ever heard of, who had the power to drop people from the band—if they weren’t doin’ it. He really was an officer, and that’s why we hated him. We got high school credit for being in the band and he could flunk you. I remember the time he dropped Billy Singleton and they had a fantastic fistfight right out on the field. Billy was a trumpet player and one day he came out to the field about fifteen minutes late. Stinky stopped the band and here comes Singleton walking over with his trumpet. Stinky just stood and waited. Singleton moved into his position on the line. Stinky didn’t say a word, he just moved his thumb like an umpire—out! Singleton lowered his trumpet. Stinky went—out! Billy walked up to the front and said, “Make me!” Stinky did. After Stinky got through with him, I don’t think Singleton could even play the trumpet for a couple of months. That was the end of Singleton in the band.
So there was a tension all the time when Stinky was out in front. He had an ego that started at about twenty feet above the ground and worked up. Unbelievable ego. And that’s what it took! And he was fantastically self-disciplined. Outside of school he used to rehearse twirling maybe ten hours a day. That’s all he did. Had no friends. He would just sort of materialize, like one time he showed up wearing a monocle. Can you imagine the kind of guts it took for a guy in an Indiana school to wear a monocle! That’s what Stinky did. Fantastic!
And then comes that terrible day. It is a Thursday like any other Thursday. Except that it is hotter than blazes.
ARTSY ETCETERAS INTRO
Many collectors have, hung on walls, tiny stuff displayed in an authentic type case–the kind in which typesetters stored individual lead letters made for plucking and arranging into words and paragraphs to be printed. Mine has varied nick nacks and other artsys, including spiral encounters (especially, see the unusually small chambered nautilus shell, upper left corner). Guitar rosette element with “eb” initials. Tiny caliper and level for who-knows-what. Pre-Columbian heads and a whole little standing figure.
And, nearly centered, a beautiful, pre-Columbian Mexican, reddish-brown, elegantly stylized, bird-shaped whistle with four sound holes, its well-rounded stomach with its tail feathers sticking up. It features a multi-note twitter. Only 1-3/8″ from mouth hole to tail, it has two holes (underneath, not shown) for threading a string that can be put around the neck for carrying as a necklace–which I do on occasion, making me feel a bit as though I’m at-one with the original pre-Columbian owner.
Let them stand as a simile for all of the foregoing artsys
and for the following end-of-the-line miscellany descriptions.