A Bandwagon for Bands
Thank you for writing such a wonderful article about marching bands (“Marching to Different Drummers,” October 2010). I am a middle-school band director in Illinois who was forwarded your article from the Texas band director message board. Reading your article brought back memories of trips, contests and the family bond that marching band creates. The article was so well balanced between the big school and the small school. Thanks for putting such a positive outlook on what so many kids do.
Steve Nendza, Band director, Hille, Foster and Kerkstra schools, Oak Forest, Illinois
My husband and I were members of the Mexia High School Black Cat Band in 1956-57. We count our band days among our fondest memories—a marching contest in Killeen in a freezing rain, playing in the stands at football games, marching in parades, riding the bus to different towns, learning new routines, getting new uniforms our senior year, band (letter) jackets (could anything be finer?) stopping at a restaurant on special trips (and most of us weren’t accustomed to eating in restaurants regularly in the ’50s), trying out for regional band, practicing our cornet and French horn, and for my husband and me, the special honor of being chosen king and queen of the band. Thanks for a great article.
Janice Fisher, Pedernales Electric Cooperative
I had a 33-year career as a public school band director and was privileged to be the junior high and assistant band director in two of the programs mentioned (Rockdale and Stephenville) and in the exact time frames mentioned, so I got to go on the Mexico City tour. One of my former students, an ex-Marine, once told me that Marine boot camp wasn’t as tough as some of our summer marching rehearsals! Thank you for recognizing the fabulous kids we got to work with, their hard work, and the value of what they do.
Jim Perry, United Cooperative Services
Band is an exceptional program that prepares high school students for the future unlike any other. My first step from a standing position is still with the left foot, counting as I walk, listening to a tune in my head. My children do not fully realize it, but they will achieve more for having been in band. They, too, will find themselves someday starting their walk with the left foot, counting as they walk, and will likely crack a smile and say to themselves: “I am such a band nerd.”
Ron Thrower, Pedernales Electric Cooperative
I’m out here in North Carolina after growing up in Levelland and playing in the LHS band—great years. Your description of band activities was right on target. My oldest son has been a die-hard marching band member here in North Carolina through high school, and now he’s in the 300-member Appalachian State University band. They’re going to Spain in December and will travel to the (University of) Florida game. He LOVES marching band. Thanks for a great article. P.S.: I’m not a subscriber, but received the article by mail from my mom, who gets the magazine. I rushed to find the story online to send my son at ASU.
George R. Wheeler, Greensboro, N.C.
I enjoyed the article, however, I was disappointed no mention was made of my hometown of Plainview where our band, the Powerhouse of the Plains, went 72 consecutive years of winning all first division ratings through 2009, which is thought to be a record. (They received a second division rating in 2010, which broke the streak.)
Carl G. Bonds, HILCO Electric Cooperative
We appreciated your story but wonder about the choice of the adjective “gawky” to describe the shoes of a band uniform. We never thought of the white shoes worn by many band members as being “awkward or clumsy,” as Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary defines “gawky.”
Barry Cheshier, Central Texas Electric Cooperative
I found the article about the Sunset Limited by Eileen Mattei (“Still Riding the Rails,” October 2010) interesting because my dad and I worked at Southern Pacific in Houston in the 1950s. He was a hammer smith (like a blacksmith) forging locomotive driving rods, and I worked repairing locomotives. This was just after I finished high school. Once, I worked refurbishing the Sunset Limited’s locomotive and helped with the transition from steam to diesel locomotives. After a few years, I went into the Army and learned a different trade—testing missiles—and then I worked in the aerospace industry, which means I’ve seen firsthand the transition from steam to diesel and electric locomotives to missiles, the Apollo spacecraft and the space station. What a ride.
Kenneth Davis, Bartlett Electric Cooperative
After seeing the chocolate cat cookie recipe (October 2010), I shared it with a friend in Thornton, Iowa, who does a lot of baking. (I don’t!) She made the cookies right away for her 5-year-old son, and they were a big hit with him and all the neighborhood kids! She has already promised to make another batch for his kindergarten class for the Halloween party, along with the graveyard bone cookies. Thanks for the great recipes!
P. S.: I am attaching a photo of Jakaab enjoying Halloween cookies made by his mother, Deb Helm of Thornton, Iowa.
Molly Boettger, Pedernales Electric Cooperative
Careful with That Official Snack
Tortilla chips and salsa taste great, but we should teach our children (and ourselves) to eat the official snack of the Lone Star State only in small amounts in light of the obesity epidemic in Texas and the United States (“Who Knew?” October 2010). Let’s remember we have other wonderful snacks such as our delightful pecans and other tasty nuts and our delicious Texas-grown oranges and berries. We can still have our chips and dips, but our main snacks should consist of fresh fruits, vegetables and nuts. With health costs soaring, this is one easy way to keep these costs down.
Evelyn Velchoff, United Cooperative Services