Feeling alone in a sea of new faces, I tried my best to blend in during the first few weeks of my junior year at JCHS in 1970. I was so confused by the order of things and all the extra processes involved, that when “M through Z” was called to come down for class pictures, I walked up to the photographer, gave him my name, and ended up in the 1971 Marcullus with the rest of the---sophomores? Yes, I had my school picture taken with the sophomores instead of the juniors.
Music was my common tie from Eugene to Jefferson City, so I decided to immerse myself in the band program. But as I have said, I felt like I was starting out several yards behind the other band students.
The first day in the band room, during warmups, director Jerry Hoover called for a "concert Eb scale." I had no idea where to even start playing that scale on my trumpet! I had never even heard the term "concert Eb scale!" Then, Mr. Hoover stopped the entire 180+ member band, looked at Jon Scott (class of '71) seated next to me, and said, "Show him the concert Eb scale." So much for blending in.
I opted out of marching band, not because I didn’t want to be a part of it, but because I felt completely inadequate. For one thing, there was the whole move-from-tiny-school-to-big-school thing. But I also have this thing with my leg. One leg is a bit smaller than the other due to a slight case of polio when I was a baby. (Remember, we were born prior to the Salk vaccine!) I have this limp, and that made me somewhat self-conscious when trying to march in a band I considered as close to professional as a school band could be!
But Mr. Hoover wasn’t having any of it. Where I thought I was doing him a favor, he was determined not to let me miss out on an opportunity. That would be a pattern with him for the next two years.
So, I ended up in marching band. And what memories I have from those experiences during my junior and senior years! The band trips, the early morning marching practices, Mr. Shollenberger pacing the sidelines with that ever-present grin. Some specific memories from Jazz Band and the Marching Jays will be covered in the next few installments of this blog.
My junior year was a blur. There were so many firsts, it’s hard to pin them all down. Not to mention that the passing of 39 years has crowded a lot of memories together. And I’m old…er.
There was my first high school football game. Now, how cool is it that the very first high school football game I ever saw was as a Jeff City Jay?! Then there were the Majorettes! (sigh) The first band contest, practices, school musicals, the Jayettes, and of course walking 2 miles farther between classes than I ever had to at Eugene. And then there were the Majorettes!
I picked up guitar, thanks to the inspiration of Paul Duke (class of ’71), and became involved with a folk group from First Baptist Church with Paul and Jim Ailor (class of ’71), Greg Morrow, Greg Hernandez, Donna Haldiman, and several others. It was a great time!
I was actually beginning to improve my musical skills, so I felt less inadequate. I was actually growing! And there were opportunities there at JCHS that I would never have had in a smaller school.
I slowly began to fold in to the rest of the school, and the more I became involved with music, the more I felt I belonged there at Jefferson City Senior High School. I was becoming a Jay.