Bedtime Books

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Today’s blog comes from a “Daily Writing Prompt”. The prompt reads: “Do you remember your favorite book from your childhood?” This prompt comes after I stumbled on a set of books that I had as a kid in a used book store.

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The Charlie Brown Dictionary was a set of 8 books that had definitions of words. I remember my parents ordered these from somewhere and every month a new volume would arrive. I loved when a new volume would arrive. They had the entire set at this book store for the bargain price of $2! How can I pass that up?!

The writing prompt also comes a week or so after the baby shower. One of the things we want for our baby is a good library of books to read. We did receive some books at the shower, some of which I recognized, and some that I didn’t. Some of the books we received were books that I had read to my boys, and I am excited to share them with our daughter, too!

As I thought about the prompt, I don’t know that I can actually recall my “favorite” book as a kid. There are, however, many that I do remember vividly. I thought it might be fun to sit and off the top of my head, write about some of the ones I remember. I am sitting down to write this blog knowing that it will be incomplete. It will be incomplete, because I know I am going to probably miss a lot of them. Here goes:

The Poky Little Puppy

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When I was growing up I think I had every one of the “Little Golden Books”. Of all of them, this is the one that immediately comes to mind when I think about my childhood. I remember buying it when my oldest was a baby and reading it to him. I really didn’t remember the story up until that point, but for me to remember it for so long, I am just guessing it was a favorite. I remember there being many Disney stories that were in the Little Golden Book collection.

Another Little Golden Book that I had, and eventually shared with my sons was a Sesame Street book.

The Monster at the End of This Book

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As a child of the 70’s, I watched a lot of PBS. Sesame Street was a show I watched faithfully. Mr. Hooper was still alive when I was watching Sesame Street! The adventures of Ernie and Bert, The Count, Big Bird, Grover, and Kermit helped me learn letters and numbers. I mentioned in a previous blog that I had an Ernie hand puppet. I also had a stuffed Grover. I liked him cause he was always so silly. Grover is the star of this book. It is such a fun book to read and I am sure that it made me laugh as a kid, as much as it made my boys laugh! I can’t wait to share this one with Ella.

Dr. Seuss Books

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I probably had every single Dr. Seuss book ever written! They were very popular with my generation. I have found that people either love or hate his books. I had a friend who just loathed when her son would pick Green Eggs and Ham to read. I could never figure out why.

I remember I was doing mornings on B95 and it was Dr. Seuss’ birthday. We had one of the contestants from American Idol (Phil Stacey) in town to do a show for us. We were talking about Dr. Seuss books with our newsman, Hal Maas earlier in the show, and he couldn’t remember half of them (which we razzed him about often). We actually had Phil Stacey read “Mr. Brown Can Moo! Can You?” on the air! The book has all kinds of silly noises, and Phil played it up on the air! It was so silly to hear him reading this, but he told us how much fun it was!

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I am sure I will be reading Ella many of his books.

Three Little Kittens

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This was one of Dante’s favorite books. I think he loved it because of the cat noises I used to make while reading it to him. I am almost positive that this was another book my mom read to me. This is a must for me to read to Ella, especially since we have two cats at home.

Like I said, I KNOW I am forgetting others that were probably read to me as a child. I am hoping that those of you who are close to my age will offer us some of YOUR favorites. By doing that, maybe you’ll refresh my memory about other books from my childhood.

Books I Read to the Boys

The books above were books I loved growing up, and read to my boys. The following books are some of my favorites that I remember reading to them at bedtime. These will all be in Ella’s library, because I love them all!

Goodnight Moon

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This book is so simple. I loved saying goodnight to all of the objects and having the kids point to them. Dante’ would always make a “Squeak” noise when we said good night to the mouse.

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This book came in very handy when trying to teach about sharing and being selfish. The moral of the story and showing how sharing with others can make everyone happy is a great lesson that even adults need to remember.

The Kissing Hand

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This one was voted one of the Teacher’s Top 100 Picture Books for Children. I read this to both boys especially as it got closer to when they were going to preschool. It’s really a great book to help children deal with the “separation” issue of going to school. Our book came with all these little red heart stickers and I think Dante’ used to put them on his backpack or pencil box.

The Going To Bed Book

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Sandra Boynton has so many great books for kids! I loved reading this one every night. It was so fun and her characters are just so cute! This is just one of MANY of her books that I loved.

I’m Thankful Each Day

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Probably one of my top 5 books to read! One of my favorite bible verses is I Thessalonians 5:18 which reads: “In every thing give thanks”. Raising children, we want them to be thankful! We tell them to say “please” and “thank you”. What I love about this book is that you see this little boy who is full of gratitude. He is thankful for big things in his life, as well as the small things. He is so grateful – and happy! It is a must for Ella’s bookshelf!

Snowmen At Night

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I love this book for so many reasons. Remember when you were a kid and you’d make your snowman? Then the next day you’d come out and he’d look a little different? It always made me wonder what he’s been up to! That’s exactly what this book is about. What do snowmen do at night?! This book is just so much fun to read and the illustrations are a hoot, too!

This book was a favorite of both my sons! Caralyn Buehner wrote a few sequels to this too (Snowmen At Christmas, Snowmen At Play, Snowmen At Work, Snowmen All Year)! My goal is to have all of these in Ella’s library.

Reading Dads Rock!

Reading is SO important! The great stories that are found in books will fuel a child’s imagination for years and years! A parent reading to their child is one of the greatest things in the world. It is quality time together. It is bonding time. It is something that I cannot wait to do with our daughter. Bring on the bedtime stories!!

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“Let It Go!”

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With the upcoming birth of our daughter, my wife will often quiz me on Disney Princesses. This will be my first daughter and princesses are kind of a big deal! When Sam is getting ready for work she will often listen to her Disney Pandora channel. When a song comes on, she will ask, “What’s this one from?” Sometimes, I get it right, and sometimes I get it wrong. I have titled this blog “Let It Go” because it ties in with Disney Princesses and the apology I am about to make.

Remember Dana Carvey’s “Grumpy Old Man” character on SNL?

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I’m not sure I have been quite as obnoxious as that character, but I know that I have gone against so many of the things I have posted in the past few months. I guess this proves three things (1) I am human (2) practicing what you preach can be difficult and (3) I need to always remind myself to “Let it go”.

I know for a fact that I have been in a “mood”, because I haven’t blogged as often as I have wanted to. My mind has been preoccupied with BS that I cannot control. I’ve never been able to really meditate or do “mindfulness” stuff, maybe because I can never seem to find a place and a time where there are no distractions. I wish I could, that might help.

So today’s blog is an apology, mainly to my wife, who knew things were bugging me and made me aware of it. It is an apology to my friends, who I have called and vented and ranted and raved to. It is an apology to you, because I am not a hypocrite, and need to practice what I preach. It is also an apology to myself, because I should never have let myself get to this place. I know better.

Time is precious, as I have stated in past blogs, so why spend so much time wasting it on worthless bullshit? I guess I have spent so much of my life doing it, that it is a hard habit to break. I have come a LONG way, but I was reminded this week that it doesn’t just go away, I still have to keep working on it. I’m an old dog, and this is a new trick. I must constantly be aware of the techniques I have learned to cope with certain situations and certain people. I must consistently practice them, not only for my own sense of well-being, but for those around me.

So I have gone back to my many notes and have compiled a mini-list of ways to “Let It Go”. They include:

Stop Talking About It

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Complaining is almost a natural response to being upset. Talking about it constantly isn’t going to help me (or anyone). Complaining basically stimulates my mind to keep thinking about it. Many times, as I have learned in hindsight, complaining can make a small issue, bigger than it is. Hey, sometimes you gotta vent and get things off your chest, but I guess the key to it is to vent and move on. Once it’s talked about, be done with it.

Put It In Perspective

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“What’s the most likely thing that can happen?” When you ask yourself that, you can see possible outcomes and even realize that you can get through it. We tend to think of the “worst case scenarios” and go there without ever considering the other perspectives. It’s hard to remember that you often think about would “could” or “might” happen instead of what actually will happen. A great practice I was told to try was to ask, “How much is this going to matter tomorrow?” “How much will this matter in a year?”

Let Go of Control

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The old saying holds true here: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, And wisdom to know the difference.” If life has taught us anything, it is that we cannot control the behaviors of others or the random events in life. What we CAN control is how we react or respond to those things! This is my biggest challenge. It is extremely difficult for me to use the “Gray Rock” method. I mean, I’m Italian, I talk with my hands! It goes against all that I have ever known, but I know that it’s the way to react to certain individuals.

Recognize the “Crazy”

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How appropriate is Mickey Mouse here? Disney! It all ties in! LOL!

With some people, you simply have to remind yourself of WHO you are dealing with! I have to remind myself that they probably suffer from some sort of mental illness. Perhaps it’s Narcissistic Personality Disorder or Bi-Polar Disorder (the signs are there for both). This person is like an angry teen who needs control over everything. When they do not get their way, there is a meltdown. “You need to treat them like an immature child” I was told. So true.

Understand that these people need “you to be the enemy”. This only makes them look better to those who don’t know your side of the story. They will elaborate and create stories to make you look bad. It’s what they do. It’s part of the mental illness. You can’t control this, and I have already talked about the things you can’t control. If you can recognize the “crazy”, it will help you to deal with the craziness that comes with interactions with them.

I love Maya Angelou’s advice, “The first time someone shows you who they are, believe them.” Recognize who they are!

Set Boundaries and End the Drama

In some cases, communication has to happen with certain people. When vocal communication gets hostile, whether on the phone or in person, the conversation needs to end. If this happens regularly, then communications need to be done through text or e-mail. This will avoid (1) one person interrupting (2) yelling and raising voices and (3) the need to say sarcastic or under the breath comments or insults. This will (1) allow for a “paper trail” of the communication (2) no contact communication and (3) allows for short and concise communication.

Set the boundaries and stick with them. Don’t let others take advantage of you, use you, or guilt you into doing things or thinking things. Be the constant!

Closing thought

Someone sent me a Facebook message recently that said “you can’t let the behavior of others steal your joy. But if you do, it’s your choice. Focus on being the best and happiest that you can be – that’s where your energy should go. Set the best example you can and spend time and energy on people who lift you higher.” There is a lot of truth in that.

So in the words of Elsa, “Let it go!”

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Guest Blogger: My Baby Brother

Introduction:

A week or so ago, I posted a blog stating that I was toying with the idea of inviting someone to be a guest blogger.  Without hesitation, my younger brother Christopher said he would love to write one.  Let me say that he is WAY more qualified to write than I am.  He has published a book and has been writing short stories and other things for as long as I can remember. 

I saw his email this morning as I was getting ready to take the boys home.  I had to open it and read it.  I stood in my kitchen laughing as I read it.  My wife was still asleep, and I thought for sure that I was going to wake her up.  My son, looked at me and asked “what’s so funny, dad?”  I looked at him and said, “Just something Uncle Chris sent me…”

At this time, I’d like to introduce you to my brother, Christopher. I hope that you laugh as much as I did….

What the heck are they laughing at?  By Christopher Louis

Growing up my brother and I were crazy and rambunctious kids.  There is no denying that we gave our parents a run for their money.  If we weren’t pushing their patience by staying up long past our bed time or begging them to buy us the newest Star Wars figure, we were beating the snot out of each other or purposely egging the other on to do something totally stupid.  While we were not angels, we also weren’t devils.  We just loved to have fun, laugh, and have a good time.  We wanted to make each day an adventure.  Sure, it got us in trouble sometimes, but it was almost always good natured.

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As with any siblings there are lots of growing pains as you discover new interests, new friends, and truly come into your own and the relationship between you and your sibling changes. Sometimes for the good, and sometimes not so good. Despite our many differences, there has always been one thing that could bring us together – laughter. Laughter has helped us to remember and rebuild our bonds. When friends ask about my brother, I love to share how we can have the other laughing within seconds simply by sending a photo (usually of William Shatner), copying a movie quote (Airplane is always a good bet) or sharing an inside family joke (usually something our dear Grandpa mispronounced).

I admit there was a time when I swore I had to be adopted because I could not understand the joy that Keith, my dad, and my grandparents found in watching Sanford and Son.  However, the same could be said for him in my guilty pleasure of watching Dynasty.  While I am sure neither of us would relish the idea of sitting down and watching either of those shows together, there are still so many movies, TV shows, and old radio shows that provide us with so much laughter and delight.  I thought I would share a few of them with you now.

Your Money or Your Life!

Mugger: Your money or your life.

(Long, awkward pause)

Mugger: Look bud, I said your money or your life.

Jack: I’m thinking it over!

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The first to share is one of the greatest comedians of all time – Jack Benny.  I am forever thankful for my dad introducing us to the joys of old radio shows.  While we both love many others (Fibber McGee and Molly, Burns and Allen, or Suspense), The Jack Benny Program is our favorite.  Whether Jack is giving sales clerk (Mel Blanc) the worst time possible by constantly exchanging show laces (he can’t decide between plastic tips or metal tips), or constantly insisting he’s 39 years old (which can’t be confirmed because there is a hole in his birth certificate from erasing it too many times) it is comedy gold.  Plus, both of us can totally tell you what LSMFT means or what the six delicious flavors of Jell-O were.  (For those not in the know, those are both from sponsors of the Jack Benny Program – Lucky Strike Cigarettes and Jell-O).

(Keith Note:  Lucky Strike Means Fine Tobacco!  Strawberry, cherry, raspberry, orange, lemon, and lime!)

“Some days, you just can’t get rid of a bomb!”

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The 60’s Batman TV show is a treasure trove of comedy genius.  Adam West’s portrayal of the Dark Knight is played so straight and even that it is impossible to not start laughing at the utter absurdity!  Don’t get me wrong – I love it, but it is odd to think how anyone couldn’t see that Batman and Bruce Wayne were one and the same.

(Keith Note:  I pointed out to my brother how he hits the nail on the head here!  It really is absurd!  Proof of the absurdity – and how Commissioner Gordon must be clueless – can be seen as Adam West has a conversation with himself as both Bruce and Batman in the following video clip!)

Of course, the many guest stars paraded through as villains brought much of the laughter.  There was Cesar Romero as the Joker with white paint over his mustache, Frank Gorshin jumping all over the set as the Riddler, Victor Buono running around as King Tut, and Vincent Price as Egghead making more egg puns that you can imagine. Of course, part of the fun is trying to count how many times Robin says “Holy ____” in an episode.  My favorite will always be “Holy Hole-in-a-Doughnut, Batman!”

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(Keith Note: Oh, and I had to add the above picture because of the sub-title of this section!)

“What’s the matter, Colonel Sandurz?  Chicken?”

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There are truly so many wonderful Mel Brooks movies and while I am not as into Blazing Saddles as Keith is, we can’t deny the laughter that comes from watching his films. I’m choosing Spaceballs for this blog. Plus – what’s not to love about this amazing spoof of Star Wars, a movie Keith and I both loved and played and recreated more times than I could count with many, many action figures.

Some of my favorite quotes include:

  • No sir, I didn’t see you playing with your dolls again.
  • How many Assholes we got on this ship, anyhow?
  • Keep firing Assholes!
  • We ain’t found shit!
  • Why are you always preparing? You’re always preparing. Just go!
  • Smoke if you got ‘em.
  • So the combination is 1-2-3-4-5. That’s the stupidest combination I’ve ever heard in my life. That’s the kinda thing an idiot would have on his luggage.

(Keith Note: Love the bumper sticker – “We Brake for Nobody!”)

“Kiddie Car, June Bride, Rookie, Phantom Fox, Blarney Stone, and Clunker”

AKA – The North Avenue Irregulars.  We loved this movie!  It was one of those great Disney gens of the 1970’s that we found and just loved as kids.  I remember how excited we were watching our dad record our own copy of the movie from one VCR to the other.  I also remember the exact spot where it cut out for a moment.  Oh, those good old days of VHS tapes…

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Anyway, who would think that kids would love a movie about a group of church ladies who work to take down an illegal gambling ring? But we did! It had so many big stars of the era; Edward Herrmann, Barbara Harris, Karen Valentine, Cloris Leachman, Michael Constantine, Ruth Buzzi, and Dena Dietrich (famous for playing Mother Nature in Chiffon Margarine commercials).  Each character was different and came with their own burdens and personal issues but came together to bring down the bad guys. As with many 70s movie, it includes its own car chase / demolition derby.

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One of my favorite scenes includes three of the ladies “going undercover” to place a bet and they are all wearing trench coats and sunglasses.  One has a tape recorder hidden inside her coat and just as she is about to place her bet, she is advised to start recording.  She accidentally presses “play” instead of “record” and the song “Roll Out the Barrel” starts blaring from her coat.

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(Keith Note:  My Favorite quotes:  “It’s her money.  Get two” and “Butt out, lady!”)

“Help!  Help!  The Alcalde has all my money!”

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George Hamilton playing dual roles!  Enough said!

Zorro the Gay Blade is one of those movies that just makes me smile and laugh. While George is hilarious as Don Diego and his twin brother Ramon (aka Bunny Wigglesworth), Brenda Vaccaro and Ron Leibman as Florinda and Esteban are so over the top and crazy you can’t wait for them to come back on the screen.

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Some of my favorite lines:

  • You naughty, evil Alcalde! I’m going to do . . . such . . . terrible things . . . to you!
  • Two bits, four bits, six bits, a peso. All for Zorro, stand up and say so!
  • Thank goodness for small favors!
  • Know me? Sink me! We were once womb-mates!
  • There is no shame in being poor! Only in dressing poorly!

(Keith note:  It’s funny that Chris mentions this movie.  Look for a full write up on it from me in early September for the “Costume Drama Blogathon”!)

“Jim never has a second cup of coffee at home …”

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Airplane! One of the great comedies of the 1980s. There is something about spoofs that if not done correctly are painful to watch. This is not one of them. I think Keith and I have quoted this movie since our first viewing and haven’t stopped yet. There are just so many great lines that I could do an entire post on this movie alone!

Some of my favorite lines:

  • It’s a big pretty white plane with red stripes, curtains in the windows, wheels. It looks like a big Tylenol.
  • Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit sniffing glue.
  • Surely you can’t be serious? I am serious, and don’t call me Shirley.
  • Joey, do you like movies about Gladiators?
  • A hospital, what is it? It’s a big building with patients in it, but that’s not important right now.
  • Get me someone who won’t crack under pressure. How about Mr. Rogers?
  • I haven’t felt this bad since I saw that Ronald Reagan movie.

There are many, many more movies and TV shows I could have included here, but I decided to focus on just a few for now, but as I near my wrap up, how can I not share the one photo that I think we’ve shared back and forth more times than I can possibly imagine? I mean, I even mentioned the person’s name at the beginning of this blog. Without further ado, I present the one image guaranteed to make both of us laugh.

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You can totally hear him right now, can’t you??  The king of the dramatic pause – William Shatner.  There are no more words necessary – this image is all you need.

(Keith Note:  Ricardo Montalban should have won an Academy Award for his performance in this film.  He is brilliant!  My brother once got me a Khan figure to put on my desk for Christmas!)

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Laughter.  It has been a delight revisiting these few memories as they have helped spur so many more that could fill numerous more blog posts.  Thank you for joining me on this guest post, I hope it brought you some laughter as well. I will end with one final image that encompasses a big part of our childhood: Keith and me playing with our Star Wars figures.  The fun and adventures we created beyond the films!

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(Keith Note:  My brother could not have picked a more awful picture of me – ok, maybe he could have.  What makes me laugh about this picture is that he has Star Wars figures, and I have that Fisher Price motorcycle dude (who we called “Ginge”)!  I am also appalled that I am wearing black socks in this picture!  The picture, however, is a wonderful time capsule, though.  Besides the toys of the 70’s and 80’s, you will notice ugly shag carpeting, HUGE books called phone books (where we used to look up phone numbers), a stack of newspapers (where we got news before the internet), and one of the first video game systems – the Atari 2600!

It’s always fun to see what others remember and what you forgot.  The North Avenue Irregulars was something I had forgot about!  I am so glad he mentioned it.  In speaking to my brother after reading this, he stated that writing this blog for me, brought about many other things that he “could have” wrote about.  I am encouraging him to keep notes on those things and return for another “guest” spot.  Thanks, Chris!  I love you!)

 

 

I’m With the Band ….

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Autumn/Fall is my favorite season. There is something about the cool crisp air and fall colors that I absolutely love. With fall comes sweatshirt weather, bonfires, and high school football games. Those high school football games remind me of marching band and the annual homecoming.

“Homecoming” is defined as “an annual tradition where people, towns, high schools, and colleges come together (usually in the fall) to welcome back former residents or alumni”. Over the past couple weeks, I have enjoyed seeing many of my Facebook friends posting Homecoming pictures. Many of them are pictures of their sons or daughters all dressed up for the dance while some pictures are from Homecoming parades. Some of the pictures were posted by former classmates who are now teaching at my old high school, and they brought back some great memories.

Prior to high school, our junior high band marched in the homecoming parades and played a song or two. I don’t ever recall staying for the homecoming game afterward. I don’t ever recall walking in the parade while I was in elementary school either, though that seems to be the thing nowadays. At my son’s parade last year, every single elementary school in the district had some sort of representation or float of some kind.

Our ninth grade band had something like 70-100 members if my memory serves me correct. Because of that fact, we stayed a separate entity. We were the Varsity Band and the 10th-12th graders were in the Concert/Marching Band. As Freshmen, we also marched in the parade as a “bonus” band. It was just a taste of what was to come as we entered 10th grade.

1985-1986 – Marching Band Season 1

Prior to school starting, we were given our music for the year’s Marching Band season. The music consisted of the four songs for our halftime show, music for the pregame, music that would be used for pep assemblies, and music that we might play in the stands or in a parade. The instructions were clear “Memorize these songs!” To be honest, this scared the hell out of me. I was never good at memorizing anything, but after playing along with the cassette tape that was available, I had most of it ready by band camp.

I will spare you the obligatory “this one time at band camp” line and just say that band camp was 1) hard work 2) hot and 3) a blast. We had all gotten the “charts” of what the pregame and halftime show were supposed to look like. It was neat to look at, but as a sophomore who had never charted a show, I had no idea what it meant. Basically, the chart shows where you are at one point in the song on one page and where you are going on the pages that follow. You might start on the 30 yard line, but in 12 measures, you are going to march in step to the 45 yard line and take your place there. Then over the course of another 24 measures, you are going to make your way over to the 25 yard line while marching side step (horn facing the stands) and playing the melody.

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You can imagine the amount of rehearsal time that something like this has to take. I can recall our band director asking us to do it over and over and over again. “Pick it up from measure 8″….”Keith was out of step, let’s do it again” … “The flutes need to be louder here”…. “Good! Let’s try it all the way through from the top – one more time!” Slowly, but surely, the show came together. It wasn’t until we saw a video of the show from one of the football games that I really came to know how cool the show looked on the field.

I’ll never forget the songs from the show. It opened with “Artistry in Rhythm”, which was Stan Kenton’s theme song. We were all lined up facing the visitor stands. Ronnie, the junior drum major faced us, while John, the head drum major was on the podium, waiting for us to turn around on the first note. We all stood with our heads down and as Ronnie counted to eight, we slowly raised our heads, brought our instruments to our lips and as he said “eight” we stepped off turning toward the home stands with the dramatic opening of the tune. Not sure how I remember that, but I can recall it like it was yesterday! It was a pretty tough song with some pretty high notes. Cathy played this amazing trumpet solo on the song and nailed it every show. She was one of two trumpet players who I admired in our band. As a young player, I hoped one day I could play as well as them.

Next, we played the Louis Prima song “Sing, Sing, Sing”, which of course was a big hit for the Benny Goodman band. I think of all the songs we played for marching band, it was my favorite. We had a solid percussion section and they really held this one together. This song had a bit for everybody. The melody was carried by the brass, the woodwinds, and the low brass even got to shine in this one. What I remember most about this song was that at the end of the song, the band formed a G-Clef on the field while the drums and majorettes formed a musical note. It truly was a very cool thing.

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Our third song was called Rock ‘n Roll Fever, which was a medley of songs like Heartbreak Hotel, At the Hop, and others. Carmelle was our first chair trumpet. She was the section leader. She had a pretty amazing solo in this number (as did Chad and Scott). She could nail high notes and they were clear as a bell. I remember I had only heard the solos on the cassette tape prior to us all getting together on the field. To hear Cathy and Carmelle knock those solos out of the park every time, truly stuck with me.

What I didn’t really care for was the fact that there was a dance that was created to go along with this song. We all stayed in the formation we ended with at the end of Sing, Sing, Sing and we did this dance. As silly as I felt doing it, the crowd seemed to like it a lot. We did a dance to at least one song every year I was in marching band…sadly. Maybe I just wish we had continued to do some more moving around on the field, but I kinda hated the dance numbers.

The final number of our show was “I’ll Be There”, which was a HUGE hit for the Jackson 5. It was the perfect show closer. It was a very soft and pretty arrangement and the movement of the band matched it perfectly. As the song ended, we all marched off the field to head back to the “band bleachers” to continue to root for our Football Team – The Abes (who were coached by the best – Jim Benefield. My Senior year – he helped coach them to an undefeated season!).

Other Random Marching Band Memories

  • Marching in a parade is always a cool thing. Marching in a parade through Disney, kind of tops them all! You’d stop in specific spots at times and play a song, then get back into ranks and march a bit more. Mickey, Goofy, Pluto and all the characters would be around dancing to your songs. Such fun times and great memories.
  • The Hall Football Hall of Fame Parade. We did this once … once! It had to be the longest parade EVER! I remember we were marching and we’d see a floating balloon in front of us start to come down. We’d be thinking “the end is near – we are almost done” and that damn balloon would jump back up in the air and mock us! By the end of the parade, our legs felt like jelly and our lips were basically dead.
  • Senior year I got to play a solo in the half time show. We did the George Gershwin song Rhapsody in Blue. One of my lifelong friends, Margaret, and I got to play solos. She stood on one side of me and we did a “question and answer” type solo. I played, she answered. The solo was quite easy for me, and nothing as complicated as the solos that were played by Cathy and Carmelle in my first year of marching band, but it was still a solo. It was exciting! I knew it and I had it memorized, but I was always nervous each time I had to play that thing in front of the crowd. It’s funny to think about that now, as I am quite comfortable being in front of a crowd (because of the radio work I did for so long). I guess, when you think about it, both scenarios are “performing” in front of a group, but with band – there are always the possibilities of playing a wrong note!
  • Doggin’ Around. We had this fun, bouncy and jazzy number called Doggin’ Around. I might be wrong, but I want to say it was a Count Basie song. Anyway, it was a damn fun song to play and I thought it would be fun to conduct it. Some of us were taking a conducting class and I asked the band director if I could conduct it at one of the games. I must have pestered him enough because he said yes. We played the song during our post game show. (This was done when the home team won a game – and we won EVERY game that year!) I knew that song inside and out. I knew where every brass sting was, I knew where the tuba line was important, and I knew where every crescendo and decrescendo was! I counted it off and the band played – how they were able to follow me, I am not sure. I was moving my hips all over the place in time with the song. I was dancing along while conducting. It was crazy. When I saw a video of it, I was embarrassed at just how silly I looked, but again, the crowd seemed to love it, and I was having fun.
  • The Washington and Lee Swing. The Lincoln School Song. I can still play this by memory! This is one of those “If I had a dollar for every time I played this song…” songs. It was a parade favorite, it was played at pep assemblies, it was played during pre-game, post-game, when the football team entered the field, and every single time the team scored! While in school, I think we kind of got sick of it … but now, when I hear it, I am reminded of some of the best days of my life!
  • The Star Spangled Banner. You hear the National Anthem before each and every sporting event. With high school events, it is no different. One thing I always remember is that whenever our band director conducted it, he played it pretty quickly. I think one time he said, “there’s no need to drag it out – we wanna get the game started”. Whenever I hear a band play it slow and drag it out … I always think about how fast we used to play it.
  • The Italian Number. We Got The Beat was a hit for The Go Go’s in 1980. I’m not sure when the LHS Band started playing it, but it basically became a tradition. It was a standard “must play” song every year. It is also another song that I can play by memory. In marching band, you play while at attention – feet together, back strait, horn level to the ground. With this song, all bets were off. You danced, you swayed, you “got down”, and had fun! It was a celebratory song that was a “staple” to every post game show. It was often called “We Gotta Da Beat” or “that Italian number”. I’m not sure if it is still a tradition at LHS, but deep down, I hope it is.

Times have changed

When I go to a high school football game today I get excited to watch the band! I walk in with the expectation of seeing lots of movement and hearing the full, loud sounds of the band. Recently, I have been somewhat disappointed. It seems that today, you need to have an entire pit full of xylophones, bells, and in some cases, electric guitars! I understand that these are all musical instruments, but I’m old school and I don’t think they belong.

At one recent performance, it took the band 3 minutes just to get all the stuff down in front of the gridiron for the show. To me, this is a waste of performance time. When that clock started to tick away the halftime break, we were entering the field, and within a minute, we were playing! I digress. Bottom line, I DO love to watch a marching band and it takes me back to a time in my life where I had a lot of fun.

Thanks to YouTube, there are many great college marching band shows available to view online. Recently the LSU Marching Band got a lot of attention doing a halftime show with a bunch of TV themes. OSU has also gained attention with some of their great shows as well. I am always amazed at the things these bands are able to do on the field. Kudos to the creators of these shows, they entertain in SO many ways!

After I graduated in 1988, we created an Alumni Band. Keeping with the Homecoming theme, it was a chance for band alumni to come back and march in the Homecoming parade again. We pulled out the school song one more time and played it with every ounce of school spirit we had. We were able to order a new piece of music to play in the parade as well. After our band director retired, the tradition of the alumni band returning began to fade. Part of the fun was rehearsing again with him and laughing like old times.

It’s been some time since the alumni band last played for Homecoming. Who knows if the interest is still there and whether or not the new band director would be open to welcoming us back. I do know this – Each and every fall I will always be reminded of those chilly days of fall where I’d suit up in my band uniform and march on to the field to play that school song loud and proud! I will remember with a smile how very special it was to be in the marching band!

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