As I shivered in Ohio Stadium last Saturday watching TBDBITL doing a Michael Jackson halftime show replete with an actual moonwalk marching routine, my mind returned to my NBHS band days in the mid-1970s. No, not because that NBHS band had stellar musical qualities or marching talents like TBDBITL, but because we had so much fun.
For me, all of the NBHS football home games were spent in the north end of the bleachers with my marching band buddies. After we marched to the football field from the high school and proudly performed the pregame Tiger fight song and the National Anthem, we sat together in the bleachers. I can’t remember the outcome of one game or one marching band halftime routine during that era, but I do remember lots of bleacher antics like thrown buckeyes, food in the stands, and chatting with non-band friends who stood below and yelled up into the bleachers. Sitting and laughing together was the highlight of every school week.
At halftime, we performed one of the shows we had been practicing since band camp. One of the funniest memories from a halftime show was one band member’s band pants falling off while marching. Luckily, we wore shorts beneath the wool band pants.
Of course, the best quarter of every football game was the third quarter after our halftime performance. We were dismissed to wander freely around the football field. As hungry teenagers, our first stop was always the concession stand. Then we could chat with our non-band friends on the sidelines before reassembling in the bleachers at the start of the fourth quarter.
Far better than a NBHS home game was an away game because bus rides were involved. Instruments were piled on one bus with a few open seats reserved behind them for the seniors. Underclassmen always wondered what the seniors did on the bus and I can’t answer that because I quit band after my junior year. I’m sure there were some band romances on the bus. In the words of Sargeant Shultz on Hogan’s Heroes, “I know nothing.”
I do know that the band underclassmen spent the long bus ride singing songs and telling jokes. And many of those bus rides were very long during that era because NBHS had Danbury Lakeside High School in its conference and we also played many distant teams such as Antwerp, Hilltop, and Ayersville. (Apparently, gas was cheaper in those days!) The biggest highlight of any band trip was a stop at a fast food restaurant. Even McDonald’s was exciting because we didn’t have one in North Baltimore yet.
Nearly 40 years after my first NBHS Marching Band performance, I am amazed at how many of my adult friends were my marching band friends. Sure, we weren’t a very good band, but yes, that group consisted of many great people and those Friday night lights bonded us for a lifetime of friendship.