I blame this post on two people: Julie Glover, who posted about high school marching band, which triggered my nostalia, and my cousin, who posted on Facebook last night that the big rivalry game ended with our high school winning 25-22 in the last three seconds of the game. That must have been a nailbiter!
I blame my cousin more, because now I have my high school fight song stuck in my head. Who knew it would come back to me so clearly after all these years?
The rivalry between the two high schools was a city-wide, week-long event. It was all in good fun, because everyone had family and friends at both schools. Spirit Week let us dress like goofballs, especially on Mixup the Rangers Day and Nerd Day. My friends and I were creative.
Marching band was not my thing. Heck, I couldn’t even read music when I started high school. (To be honest, I still can’t). That didn’t stop the Lee Brigadiers Drum and Bugle Corps from allowing me to join after a rather pitiful tryout on a soprano bugle on which I played the first four notes of a song called “Doughboy.” Great. Now, I have that song stuck in my head.
I learned how to play the tenor bugle (there is an entire range of bugles, in case you were wondering) in 9th grade and then played a French horn bugle (which looked nothing like a true French horn and was a dream to play) for the next two years. I even learned how to play and march. With the help from a new music director, we all learned to play our different parts pretty darn well. We went from being rather pathetic musically to “Hey, you don’t suck anymore!” as one friend put it. As a field officer my senior year, I didn’t have to play an instrument. I’m sure my family was more relieved than I was that they didn’t have to listen to me practice.
Our uniforms were heavy wool short skirts and military jackets, black hats (field officers wore white), and black boots. At the beginning of the football season, we roasted in those jackets. Sometimes we got to wear custom-made gray shirts instead. By the end of the season, we would freeze our bottoms off in the skirts. Two or three layers of pantyhose helped a little, and we got to bring blankets (as long as they matched our uniforms).
We went to Corpus Christie once and San Antonio (Fiesta!) twice for band competitions. Since we were the only drum and bugle corps to show up, we did pretty well. 😛
Port Arthur had a drum and bugle corps, but we only saw them when our football teams played against each other. They were growing smaller in my last two years of high school and didn’t perform at halftime. In our wisdom at the time, we figured they didn’t want to embarrass themselves. We had a creative name for them, and I’m sure I know what they called us.
We were a large group (about 200 girls on the field). We marched with high knees and 8 steps for every 5 yards. Some of our more complicated songs included the National Anthem (at attention, of course), the Texas State song (also at attention), the Aggie War Hymn (with counter marches), and many others that I don’t want to list because then I’ll have those stuck in my head, too. Too late. I hear “This Land is Your Land” now.
The rival game my last year was fun. Our director gave us seniors a little freedom to take pictures when we were on the sidelines. It was also a more friendly rivalry than it had been in previous years. We shared their campus with a split schedule for nearly a year because the main building on our campus had burned down the previous spring. We appreciated their welcoming and supportive attitude.
All these pictures are from my senior scrapbook. The scrapbooker in me now cringes at the way I treated my photos then. But at least I have these (who knows where the negatives are), so I won’t complain.
Sadly, the Corps was disbanded after 70 years. It had gotten too small to be sustainable. My high school has a drill team now. It saddens me that fewer girls have the opportunity to be involved. I have many fond memories with my friends on the practice field, in the Brig Hall, on bus rides, and on trips.
One of my fondest memories is circling up and singing the Corps Song in the Brig Hall, arm-in-arm and hands clasped together, after every game or performance. By my senior year, I always got choked up. At the farewell celebration, over a thousand Brigadiers from all seven decades were on the football field. It was the weekend after 9/11 and the airlines were still grounded. Otherwise, there would have been many more in attendance. Many of us sang that song for the last time and cried. That’s a song I don’t mind having stuck in my head tonight.
I found only one video on YouTube. I’d hoped someone had converted old videos to digital, so you could see a halftime performance. This is the year after I graduated when the Brigadiers were invited to the Orange Bowl Parade. Start at 17 seconds to skip the float ahead of the group, or don’t skip it and see the child actor who was big on the Cosby Show. Either way, you can have “This Land is Your Land” stuck in your head.
I’d love to hear about your stories about your high school football activities. Did your high school have one rival or many? Did you have Spirit Week? Were you a Lee Brigadier or a Sterling Star–or connected to one? Do you have a fond football game memory?