The band room had burned on 28 February 1977, during my ninth grade year. On top of that, the uniforms we were wearing had been purchased in the 1950’s.
The football team got two sets of new uniforms every year. What few uniforms we had that survived the fire were falling apart. This year, the school board finally authorized the purchase of new uniforms.
The old band room had been repaired. New school instruments had been purchased (except the tubas, which were reconditioned but not done right). The new uniforms were ordered well in advance.
They were set to be delivered in time for the first football game. But, they did not show up. My mother and Joyce Jarrard stitched and sewed the old uniforms back together as best anyone could and got us into some semblance of being presentable.
The first game came and went, but no new uniforms. Then, the second and the third. Band night was the next to the last home game to be played that year.
Papa was always a little hyper and often flipped his lid when things didn't quite go his way. Sometimes this was embarrassing. Most of the time, it was cool. Usually he got his way. Papa got on the phone and yelled and threatened lawsuits.
The company put the uniforms on an Eastern Airlines jet and had them flown in. The only problem was that they did not have the breast pocket on them that had the name of the high school (Crescent High School).
My mother, Merle McClendon, and another band mother, Joyce Jarrard, had to sew all these pockets on. They worked around the clock to get these pockets sewn on the coats.
The day of the band night football game, Mom (also now known as Nana) and Joyce Jarrard worked to get everyone outfitted in the new uniforms. We marched out for the pre-game playing of the Star Spangled Banner and the crowd cheered the new uniforms.
Since we had a special show planned and, since it was band night, we had asked for a half time extension. By taking the half time extension, the Crescent football team would have to take a fifteen yard penalty after the half time. Everyone agreed to the extension so that the opposing team's (Saluda High School) band could also perform during the half time.
The Saluda High band marched out and performed perfectly. The Crescent band lined up on the side of the field and was ready to take our places as soon as the Saluda band finished their performance.
Just before time for us to take the field, the band director, Mr. Johnson, came and told us that we would not perform that night.
As it turns out, since the home team was running behind in a very close game, the head coach, Coach Clark, had decided not to allow the half time extension and not to take the fifteen yard penalty. Mr. Johnson had us take our instruments and put them up.
The Saluda Band also put away their instruments in support of us. There was no music performed during the second half of that football game, not one note. No one played the traditional “Charge". The school fight songs, On Wisconsin and Tiger Rag, were not played.
No one played “The Horse", which was banned by our school board, but we used to play it anyway whenever the opposing team’s band played it.
The Saluda band members expressed their disbelief and shock by telling the Crescent band members how crappy it was for us not to get to perform on our own band night.
Papa was upset. He grabbed "Coach Clark", the head coach, and chewed him up one side and down the other. He really let this man have it. He insulted him in every way he could and told him how he was going to contact the district and demand they fire him and all his staff the next morning.
As a merchant in the community, a prominent member of the community, and big contributor to the school's athletic program, this was a credible threat. The problem was the man he thought was Coach Clark was really Coach Crawford, an assistant coach.
My father and several other band parents “expressed their concerns” to every school board member as well as the superintendent, the principal, and everyone else they could find.
The end result was that for the next football game, which was the last home football game of that year, we got to have the whole half time for our performance. It wasn't the same. You can never get that one special moment back.
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