I now had a year at JCSHS on my resume. I was a Jay.
The summer between my junior and senior year was busy. Jerry Hoover, band director, had pushed me to do more musically; to at least try; to learn more; to stretch my musical boundaries. I’m still not sure what he saw or heard in me, but for some reason he made it his business to help me achieve more.
So, that summer, he had me taking trumpet lessons from Mike Matheny (brother of renowned jazz guitarist, Pat Matheny, and an incredible musician in his own right). At the same time, Mr. Hoover had me teaching trumpet to an incoming freshman. I was learning. I was stretching.
He had arranged a “scholarship” for me to attend Lakewood Music Camp that summer. Wow. Talk about guerrilla training! We had approximately 6 hours of music rehearsal each day. I was learning jazz styles, symphonic styles, and also picking up some very useful tips in some of the greatest stunts ever pulled in the name of mischief by young teenaged boys in a summer camp environment. I learned from the best.
Before long, it was time for early morning marching band rehearsals. I had done most of the previous season as part of the marching band my junior year, and I was never more proud in my life. Not only because of the legendary band, of which I was honored to be a part, but because I was a part of something much bigger. I was a Jay, and as such I felt a part of every good thing that came out of the school system.
I can still feel the cold early fall wind on my face as I drove my ’66 Volkswagen Beetle to school to get there before 6:30 every morning, my head hanging out the window like a Retriever because the windshield was still frosted over. (Anyone who has ever owned one of those old bugs can tell you that the heaters never worked in the first 30 minutes of driving.)
I can still see King Shollenberger, hands in his pockets to ward off the brisk morning air, walking along the top of the ridge above the parking lot that served as our practice field, smiling as usual, and encouraging us, sometimes with a wink to me personally that said, “Aren’t you glad you decided to march?”
All the while, Mr. Hoover gave directions through his ever-present megaphone, and guided us through formations and step-two drills. I swear, I will not be surprised if “knee-lift and swagger!” are my dying words.
During my “Integration Period” late in my junior year into my senior year, I was introduced to more musical styles than I knew existed. It was during this time that I became aware of a burning desire to learn more musical styles. If a song had a trumpet, I wanted to be able to play it. If it had lots of guitar, I needed to learn the chords. If it had trumpet and guitar, well…that was heaven. Then came “Chicago”, and “Blood, Sweat, & Tears”, and “Chase”. I was OD’ing on music!
I mean, think about it…has there ever been a time when music was in such transition as 1971-1972? There was Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young, and John Denver. There was The Who with “Won’t Get Fooled Again”, but also in the same Top 100 was Perry Como’s “It’s Impossible”. There was Rod Stewart’s “Maggie May” in the same Top 40 as Tom Jones’ “She’s a Lady”. The Billboard Top 100 was occupied by both Rare Earth’s “I Just Wanna Celebrate” and the Carpenters’ “Rainy Days and Mondays” simultaneously.
I was growing musically, maturing as a person, and discovering who I was amidst a climate of an unpopular war and a generation dedicating itself to changing things.
School started and I could not wait. I knew who Jefferson City Senior High School was now in the world of high school sports. I had learned who Pete Atkins was and what he had built there. It was my senior year and Stan Horn was to be our starting quarterback. It was my senior year and I knew what a Concert Eb scale was. I was no longer scared. And I no longer felt alone.