Tuesday, November 15, 2011

40 Years, Give or Take: Senior Year, Part II

My senior year was a blur of activity.  Football games, marching band contests, jazz band contests, and—well yeah, school work.  But what a time it was to be a Jeff City Jay! 

Musically, when we entered our senior year at JCSHS, Paul McCartney had launched a successful solo career apart from The Beatles, and “Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey” was number one the first week of September in 1971.  By October, Don McLean’s epic “American Pie” took over the number one slot.  Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together” followed in December.  America’s “Horse With No Name” came next, and Roberta Flack provided the ultimate makeout song our senior year in 1972, with “First Time Ever I Saw Your Face”. 

Going into our senior year, at the theaters we were watching “Billy Jack”, “Dirty Harry”, “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory”, “Play Misty For Me” (the screen debut of  Roberta Flack’s “First Time Ever I Saw Your Face”), and “Summer of ‘42”.  By 1972, and the last few months of our time at JCSHS, we saw the now-classic “Godfather”.  There was John Wayne’s “The Cowboys”, and Ryan O’Neal and Barbra Streisand in “What’s Up, Doc?”  We saw Liza Minnelli in “Cabaret”, and Woody Allen’s “Play It Again, Sam”.

And there were memorable moments in the halls and classrooms at JCSHS.  These are some of my bullet point memories, in no particular order, from my senior year, 1971-1972. (Your bullet points may vary.)

  • Talent show with Jeff Devereaux’s dance team – I played trumpet in the band that played “Shaft” for the dancers, and it was reported in the Red & Black as “backed up by some members of the Jazz Band.”  I gave Jeff grief over that, but all was forgotten when Jocelyn King gave me a kiss when the winners were announced.  In fact, a LOT was forgotten with that kiss from Jocelyn King!
  • Winning the Traveling Trophy at the SMSU (now MSU) marching band contest in Springfield, MO. – It was a trophy the approximate size of Jerry Hoover himself, and if you won it 3 times in a row, you got to keep it.  We kept it that year.
  •  The Aida 8 Trumpets – These were the Herald Trumpets that began each half-time show with fanfares from trumpets with long bells and banners tied to them.  (“The Aida 8 Are Great!”)
  • Carl Burkel asking me why I never tried out for Chorale – During a graded audition, he heard me sing and sat for a moment with his mouth open, then asked me that.  Singing was just something I did, like in church for most of my life, and I never thought much about it.  To this day, I consider that one of the biggest compliments I have ever received.
  • Paul Adams and I doing a Vaudeville act for the band’s entrance in the school festival fundraiser – The band put on a sort of Vaudeville nightclub show, with the Jazz Band as the “house band”, the Majorettes  (?) as dancers, and Paul wrote a comedy duo for he and me, based on old Vaudeville comedy with purposely bad jokes like “I was born in Chicago.”  “Before the fire?”  “No, in back of a barn.”  Then Nancy Basinger would do a Barrump-Ching on the drums after each really bad punchline.   For one joke, I was supposed to say “Do you have a fairy godmother?”  And Paul would answer, “No but I got an uncle I’m not too sure about.”  Barrump-Ching.  However, during one of the shows, we stumbled, lost our timing, and I forgot the line.  Paul looked at me and said, “Ya know, I have a fairy godmother.”  Well at that point, timing was lost, the line was lost and there was nowhere to go.  I looked at him and said, “Really?”  And he said “Yes.”  Barrump-Ching.   Side note: while trying to drum up business for the band room’s entry in the festival, Paul and I stood outside with our Vaudeville costumes on, chewing on cigars (real ones, and I was sick as a dog by the end of the evening), and Paul was trying to coax in a couple of kids, about 9 or 10.  Paul said, “We’ve got magic, comedy, and dancing girls!”  This kid looks at Paul and says, “Do they strip?”
  • Mobile, Alabama Jazz Band Contest (Spring Hill Junior College, Mobile) – That was just an incredible time, actually beginning after graduation, and from which a good portion of the 1971-1972 Jazz Band album “What’s Goin’ On?” was recorded.  One of the amazing moments was Pat Coil winning the outstanding soloist award.  In addition to everything he did with keyboards, during a free-form improv number, he improvised on Tuba and Fender Rhodes---at the same time.  In harmony. 
  • New Orleans – The Jazz Band’s first stop on the way to that Mobile, AL contest.  Standout moments included playing in Jackson Square in the middle of the day, being seen there by Gregory Hines and invited to their show (Hines, Hines, and Dad) that night at the Roosevelt Hotel as their guests; playing at Preservation Hall with saxophonist Al Beletto at midnight.
  • Buzz Watts class –  On the first day of his class he said to us, “…and don’t ever argue with me.  You will always lose.”  I raised my hand, and said, “Why?”  He never liked me much after that.
  • Miss Bish typing class – I had my first encounter with technology: an IBM Selectric typewriter
  • English class with Mrs. Brakke – Lana Enloe sat in front of me, and after her PE class, she would have baby powder in her hair.  I liked English class. 
  • Carousel Musical – I was in the pit orchestra, and rehearsals were just stupid fun.  That was my first introduction to Pringles.  Neatly stacked potato chips in a tube.  How cool was that?
  • Laura Burkhardt actually spoke to me.
 These are just a few of the bullet points from 1971-1972 at JCSHS.  This is a snapshot of my senior year.    It was a great time of growth for me, and a year of experiences I would never forget.  Obviously.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Cataloging Christmas

Signals. . .Wireless. . .What On Earth?. . .Brookstone. . .Orvis. . .Sharper Image. . .Hammacker—Hamhock—Hammock-Slimm----L.L. Bean.  At my house, these are the signs of the season.

The catalogs start coming in September and pick up through October.  By the middle of November I’m getting 2 and 3 a day.  It’s my own fault.

I can’t seem to resist buying something from these catalogs.  And not just silly stuff.  I mean, sure, I was sucked in by the soap dish shaped like a frog—and I don’t even use bar soap.  And who can resist the complete DVD collection of the lost episodes of “Blossom”?  Maybe a visor with the built-in spiky hair wig, and a Christmas ornament in the shape of the human brain.  But there are some good gift ideas in there, too!

So, I buy a cool electronic gadget to give as a gift.  Next thing I know, I’m on yet another catalog list.  And sure enough, when another catalog shows up, I look through it.  And then, before you can say “opt out,” UPS brings me a yard ornament shaped like Spock.  And another catalog.

I must say, though, that all those catalogs have helped me get on top of my Christmas shopping.  I used to be really bad.  One year I gave my family pictures of what I was going to get them in February.  Or March.  Now, I can actually get shopping done before the holidays are over.  And, bonus, I don’t have to go to the mall.  I haven’t been to the mall since 1989.

It’s good to get my Christmas shopping done early for a change.  I still can’t compete with one of my sisters.  I remember one year, I met her in February while she was shopping for the next Christmas, and I was shopping for the gifts that matched the pictures I gave my family the previous Christmas.

Catalogs can be good.  There are just so many of them.  And if you don’t order anything from one for say, 7 years, they send you a note with the next one saying “This could be your last catalog!”  It never is. 

But with so many catalogs, you can usually find that one unique gift for that person who is really hard to shop for.  Like last year, for example, I got my sister a fake rock that hides a spare house key.  The look on her face said it all.  She was speechless. 

This year, I got one of my other sisters something special from one of those catalogs, but I don’t want to say what it is in case she reads this.  But, I can tell you that it---well, let’s just say she won’t be needing to buy a winged cat gargoyle garden sculpture!  Plus, I signed her up for the catalog.  So, guess who’s getting extra family points this Christmas?

And for those of you who are wondering, the answer is yes.  I do keep the SkyMall catalogs when I fly.