Posts Tagged ‘marching bands.’


May 27, 2019

L e t ‘ s D I s c u s s

Chapter 1 — Marching Bands

The man with the baton, whose picture I took a few years ago, and I have something in common. He was leading the Williamsburg Drum and Fife Corps, representing the very first U.S. Army marching musical units. They started during the American Revolutionary War. Over time woodwinds and brass were added to become the Army bands like the 30th Army Band that I led as drum major in Munich.

Richmond 162

Fife and Drum Corps, WIlliamsburg, VA

It was a very good band. After all, Army bands are made up of professional musicians. The Fort Benning Maneuver Center of Excellence Band is truly impressive right now, not only on parade, but in concert, also. Let me hastily add, the Munich band was quite good not because of me. My MOS was “percussionist.” I was good enough to know that I was outclassed by the rest of the section. However, I think I was quite proficient as a drum major, so I didn’t feel guilty about my musician status. That’s because I had been legendary band director Bob Barr’s first male Jordan Vocational High School Red Jacket Band drum major. He accepted nothing less than a student’s absolutely best effort. And, not only did I lead the band in football game halftime shows, I led it in ROTC Pass in Review parades, so I already knew how to do that. As a side note, when he learned I wanted to be a radio announcer, he introduced me to WDAK’s Ed Snyder, a savvy announcer who had a degree in broadcasting from the University of Alabama. Ed became my mentor and helped me land my first job in broadcasting at WDAK in 1948. Pardon the digression. Back to the subject, marching bands.

Then, there is the college marching band. My experience there is quite limited. In the early 1950s, I was in the Mercer University ROTC band. It was the school’s only band at the time, formed when I was there to play for ROTC parades. I played snare drum in that one. Maybe someone reading this has big time college band experiences to tell us about, bands like Georgia’s, Auburn’s, Alabama’s, Tech’s, etc. I have four great-nephews and one great- niece who played at Georgia, Alabama, and Tennessee. I don’t know if any of them will see this, though.

If I get any comments on this way too long post, I’ll continue the series. The symphony will be Chapter 2.

Most of the Stores May be Gone, but the Christmas Parade Still Draws Big Crowds in Downtown Columbus

December 10, 2012

It’s Monday, the day I  promised to  try to post something new, and I  haven’t posted anything yet. So, here goes.


I suppose I could say something about Christmas parades since Columbus,  Georgia had one Saturday.  I’ve been in a lot of them over the years, and I’ve watched a few.  I started being in them when I was in the Bob Barr Jordan High  School band back in the forties. Then, as a news anchor at different times for WRBL and WTVM, I rode in convertibles with female co-anchors, and we tossed candy into the crowds, and waved a lot, not necessarily because we wanted to, but because the stations wanted us to. Sometimes some wise guys would pick up the candy and throw it back at us. Guess I can’t blame them. They didn’t ask for  candy to be tossed to them. Eventually, we stopped tossing the candy and just waved.

It is really interesting the way thousands of folks converge on downtown Columbus and Phenix City for the parades just like they did when people did their Christmas shopping downtown.  Most of the retail stores closed or  moved to shopping centers.  One of the prominent ones that didn’t is Chancellors. Perhaps it benefited from the parade. I hope so. I like Chancellors  and still shop there. They may be considered a little pricey, but you  get good stuff, and they make sure it fits. My late mother use to buy all of my father’s suits, shoes, and top coats there, saying you pay a little more, but it looks good and it lasts and lasts.   Wonder if wives still buy most of their husband’s wearing apparel. They must, because I still see a lot of women in men’s clothing departments.


As for the parade itself, it was really long and had huge gaps between sections and lacked a main ingredient for parades, a lot of  big high school bands. If it had not been for Central  High of Phenix City, there would not have been a big high school band in  the parade.  I ran into Ledger-Enquirer editor and reporter Chuck Williams at the end of the parade, and he told me that the Muscogee County high school bands were absent because the parade fell on the day the bands audition for the state honors band.  He said he knew that because his daughter is in the Columbus High School Blue Devil Band.  And later the paper explained one of those gaps by reporting that a young girl walking by a float fell under the float and an ambulance had to be called to take her to the emergency room.

All in all, though, I would say the parade was a big success. Folks appeared to  be having a good time and were in good spirits.  People obviously still do love a parade.

As the old saying goes, sorry this is so long, but I didn’t  have time to write a short post today.

Why the Year’s Muscogee Teacher of the Year has Special Meaning for me

September 17, 2012

Hardaway High Band Director Vincent Sneed, MCSD Teacher of the Year, being congratulated after his talk to the Rotary Club of Columbus

Since the teacher who probably influenced my life the most was a high school band director, I was heartened by the featured speaker at Wednesday’s Rotary Club of Columbus meeting.  For the only time that I know of, a high school band director was named as the Muscogee County School District Teacher of the Year.

Vincent Sneed is the director of the Hardaway High School Band.  He told Rotarians that while he wants his students to apply themselves to play their instruments well, he emphasizes the importance of their caring about and serving their fellow human beings.

Sneed, who speaks a number of foreign languages, told about his many travels in the world. He said when he finally got to Africa, he visited Ethiopia. He said when he settled in his hotel room, he noticed someone slid a message under his room door. It warned him not to go out on the street because it was too dangerous. He would be  stabbed and robbed. When he ask the desk clerk about the warning, he told him not to worry about it, just don’t speak to anyone.  After he went outside, in no time at all, a man approached him and asked him for some money for food. He gave the man some money.  Others did the same thing and he gave them money, too.  One old woman who approached him said nothing, just pointed to he baby girl’s mouth and held out her hand. He gave her some money, too.

When he flew back to the United States and his plane landed in New York, he got into a taxi and the driver told him his meter was broken and the trip would cost him $75.  Sneed knew he was being scammed.  He said he reflected on how a lot of Americans really don’t know how fortunate they are, and don’t really understand people of different cultures overseas.

When he had told his students he was going to Africa, some said he shouldn’t because it was too dangerous, that people would shoot darts  at him. He said when he got back he tried to help his students better understand what Africa is like today.

When he finished his talk, the Rotarians gave him a standing ovation.

As I said, this was special because a band director greatly influenced my life.  I was in the legendary Bob Barr Jordan High Red Jacket Band.  He was a very inspiring man, who really cared about his students. He helped me get started in broadcasting. And it was also special because my son Rick played trumpet in the Hardaway Marching Band and French horn in the concert band. He also had an outstanding director and teacher. David Gregory led that band to impressive heights, including coming in first in a marching band contest in Allentown, Pennsylvania in 1976.  Hardaway represented Georgia in the bicentennial band festival that featured bands from the 13 original colonies.

Tnanks to Vincent Sneed for continuing a great tradition.