Football season is upon us and I am reminded of my own high school days.
I decided in my freshman year to join the band. I didn’t play an instrument but hey – learning an instrument couldn’t be too hard, could it?
The band-orchestra leader, Bob Cole by name, had a bassoon that the school owned, and even knew how to play it. This instrument comes in several pieces and requires a double reed and he taught me how to play it.
It came to my attention that if you were in the band, you were going to march in the football games halftime. This also required a uniform, not to mention being at school at 7:30 a.m. to practice the halftime show for that week. I don’t remember any particular comments from my parents about this awkward looking instrument, but they let me stick with it.
You simply can’t march with the thing, and here comes a confession, In the football halftime shows I merely carried a clarinet.
I don’t know why we have to have grown children of our own before we come to fully appreciate our own parents. They came to most of my football games to support me and I hold that memory very dear.
Our high school had two bassoonists and it turned out that we were the only high school bassoonists in Akron. Needless to say, when an all-city orchestra was needed, we were always invited.
On one occasion, Mr. Cole invited the orchestra director from the University of Akron to conduct a session with us. Shortly after we had begun a selection he stopped and stated that “something was wrong.” After a moment he declared “it’s the bassoons.” Ruth Anne and I were devastated. He added “I’m just not used to having them sitting in the first row.” His explanation was accepted and we played on.
Director Cole was a very clever fellow and always designed a clever halftime show. Our football team was always a very good one and we were always in the Thanksgiving Day playoffs. Our band always played, my parents were always there, and Dad would always take us out to eat after the game. It was the only time I was permitted not to have to go back to school on the band bus, but could go with my parents.
As I catch the sound of the Fayette County High School band practicing each fall, these warm memories come floating back.