Thursday, September 22, 2011

Equinoctial Hodgepodge

I am old and getting older every day, and I can’t remember whether I showed you these photographs before. It may have something to do with today’s being the autumnal equinox, but then again, it may not. If I did show the photographs to you before, please be advised that I am about to show them to you again.

Here are 17 members of the Class of 1958 of Mansfield High School, Mansfield, Texas, at the class’s 50th-year reunion in 2008. Forty-some of us received our diplomas together on a May evening 53 years ago, but some have died and some, like me, weren’t able to attend the reunion. I can name every single person in the photograph. If you click on the photograph, though, you can see them better -- Linda Lee Harrison and Johnny Paul Howard and Roland Cope and Ona Faye Russell Roberts and Patsy Joan Hudson and Glenda Vincent Franks and Johnie Mac Day and Darrell Rayburn and Judith Crawford and John Galloway. and Alene Bratcher (standing) and Patsy Darlene Rawdon and Barbara Ann Pigg and Carol Daugherty and Brenda Sue Harrison and Sally Bratton and Jimmie Sue Raines (seated).

(Click photo to enlarge it)

And here, from either the fall of 1954 or the spring of 1955, is the Mansfield High School Tiger Marching Band, a motley crew if there ever was one. I can’t even begin to name everyone in this photo, but I do remember many of them.

(Click photo to enlarge it, then click on the enlargement to enlarge the enlargement)

At the left is the band’s founder and first director, Miss Sally Pearce of Rochester, New York. Trumpet was her major instrument, but she had come to Texas to get her master’s degree at TCU in Fort Worth and write a thesis about The History of the Double Bass Viol (which she also played). She organized the band the year I was in seventh grade and stayed with us for three years (I was in ninth grade when the photo was taken). She was succeeded by a Mr. Thomas McDonald of Arkansas who also became the choir director at the local Methodist Church where I was organist. After two years with Mr. McDonald, the band’s director during my senior year was Mr. Richard Weir, who would get so angry on the practice field that he would curse out loud and kick people’s behinds. I don’t suppose he could do that today.

In my junior year, the band finally acquired brand-new uniforms to replace those ancient black ones, which not only had looked like police uniforms but also were already quite well-worn by the time we acquired them. Our new uniforms were a sight to behold: gold jackets, black trousers with gold stripes down the sides, and tall black hats with white plumes and silver chain chinstraps.

Unfortunately, we looked better than we sounded. Mansfield’s band in those early days had about 45 members, and during our halftime shows at the Friday night football games, if even a few band members were absent no one in the visitors’ stands could tell what our formations were supposed to be. Everyone in the home stands always knew what our field formations were supposed to be, because we could make only two: A big M for Mansfield and a football with laces down the middle.

The saxophone section in the lower right of the photo were all members of the class of 1958, as were the three people behind them. In front are Diane Phillips and Marshall Tyson and Bruce Hornell, and behind them are Johnie Mac Day (he’s also in the reunion photo in the middle of the back row, wearing a red shirt), Jerry Willis and another Judith, Judith Glaze. It pains me to have to tell you that Marshall, Bruce, and Judith are all dead now. Bruce was the first member of our class to shuffle off this mortal coil. A Methodist minister, he drowned during a flood while trying to help rescue people.

I can’t quite make out the sousaphone player behind Judith, but standing next to him is none other than your correspondent at age 14.

One other person in the reunion photograph is in the band photo as well. John Galloway, the tall fellow third from right in the back row of the reunion photo, is near the left end of the middle row in the band photo.

All my memories are a far cry from this band, the JSU (Jacksonvile State University) Marching Southerners (12:44), in which two of my children marched during their college years. The clip is from 2010.

To conclude our time together, let us all sing "Marching to Pretoria"....

Now go make an egg stand on its end.


  1. Though you referred to the Mansfield High School Class of 58 in June 2008, you haven't published the photos before. How quickly our lives pass by. Like a carousel that accelerates as we tick off the years. Though I have fulfilled many dreams there are others that I guess I will never realise. Perhaps most human beings have that feeling as they stare at their mortality.

  2. like york pud i feel like a candle in the wind and that my flame will go out before my legacy is completed or if ever started

  3. How wonderful that you have all these glorious photographs and an excellent memory to recall and cherish the good times, Bob. Speaking as someone with only one photograph of me as a child and only transient memories, I know how very precious and blessed that gift is. My mam died at 93 and at the end of her life, her memory and powers of recall were still razor sharp. May you continue to be able to entertain us with these lovely reflections on the past and show us photographs of the handsome, super-cool dude that you were in your youth. And that's not to say that you're not a handsome super-cool dude; some men are like fine wines - they get better as they mature. :-D

    By the way, I may not be able to remember what I had for breakfast, but I do know something about diallel gravitational lines and the secrets of how to stand an egg on end at the autumnal equinox ;-) I'm off to balance my eggs now and think of you in your uniform, Bob. xx

  4. An interesting insight into past and present American culture. I assume the crowd from the opposite stand had rushed round to join you to get the correct view of various formations.

    Now, if you just point out which are your two children...

  5. I am impressed that you were a church organist while still in high school. Way kewl!

  6. It feels good to receive comments again.

    York. Pud., Esq., in a philosophical mood, are we?

    Putz/David, york pud never said no such of a thang....

    Elizabeth, in spite of your kind remarks, I have never been handsome or super-cool, although I will allow as how those qualities are probably more in the eye of the beholder than the beheld. I miss your blog and hope it gets unbroken soon.

  7. Shooting Parrots, at a football game the crowd would have been on both sides, but this was an exhibition at the close of a marching band competition, during which all the spectators usually sit on one side of the field.

    My two children were long gone in 2010, but the band looks and sounds just the same. Interesting side note: my son's former roommate is now that band's director.

    Pat, I became church organist practically by default when old, white-haired Miss Cora Galloway, who had been organist since the Martin Van Buren administration, decided to retire. I was already playing piano for the opening exercises of the Intermediate & High School Sunday School class, where almost every week tall, thin Miss Bonnie Stone, our spinster/teacher, led the group in singing "O, Say But I'm Glad" because it was her favorite song. I was probably one of the youngest organists in the Central Texas Conference of the Methodist Church at the time. Thank you for noticing.

  8. Dearest Bob, thank you for your being so sweet and lovely.I'm in tears again, now; I have been the recipient of so much kindness during this last fortnight and yet again the message that has come over to me, resoundingly clear, is to treasure every moment that we have on this earth.I'm healing slowly and have posted something today. It is faltering, but I'll get there...

    Just don't tell me anything funny -it hurts too much when I laugh!

    You don't make cushions for sore places, by any chance, do you?

    :-D XXX