Friday, March 30, 2007

Yard Markers, Bananas, and Baloney ...

When the South Beaumont Lions’ Club agreed to send the old South Park High School Band to Chicago, we were elated. The year was 1953, and the occasion was the Lions’ International Convention.

I was 17 and had just graduated from South Park. The school administrators agreed that the graduated seniors could accompany the band to Chicago even though we were officially no longer in high school. In others words the band that played together stayed together through the summer.

The offer from the Lions’ Club was that they would send the band to Chicago if we would raise one-half of the money needed for the trip. The Lions would pick up the other one-half. The total cost at the time was $3,000 to charter three Greyhound buses for the roundtrip. This meant that the band had to raise $1,500. Mr. Harold Ramsey and Mr. Louis Stumpf were the band directors. They headed up our fund-raising activities.

The first fund-raising project was that of selling address markers door-to-door. These markers were made up of small blocks of concrete with the appropriate numerals affixed. You could set your marker out by the street. At night, the numerals would reflect the headlights of vehicles passing by. The markers sold for $1.50. The band earned fifty-cents from each marker sold. A concrete company on Washington Blvd. made the products.

Since my family had moved in 1952 over to Voth Road (now Concord Road) on the north side of town, I had a very lucrative territory in the relatively new Minglewood Addition. I started out knocking doors and explaining the band project to the neighborhood. People were very receptive. I sold markers to 50% of the people I approached.

A few of the people questioned my knocking doors in the Beaumont Independent School District to raise money for the South Park band. I explained to those folks that I was their neighbor and had friends in all the high schools of both districts. Guess I was walking a thin line being a Greenie and living in Purple Land.

One afternoon I knocked on a door. A lady’s voice from the back part of the house asked, “Is that you, Winston?” I was somewhat surprised that she knew who I was because I didn’t know who lived there. Anyway I replied, “Yes, it is.” The lady said, “Well, just come on inside. I’ll be there in a minute.” So, I stepped inside. Soon, this lady came walking into the living room wearing a bathrobe with a towel wrapped around her hair.

She looked up at me and let out a little, “Oh!” She ran back out of the living room. From the back of the house she asked, “Who are you and what do you want?” I told her that I was Winston and that I was selling yard markers for a school project. She started laughing and came back into the living room, this time wearing a dress. She explained that her cousin had just called and said he was coming over to the house. His name also happened to be Winston. She thought that I was her cousin and invited me to enter. How many people are there named Winston? Not very many.

Our next fund-raiser was selling bananas door-to-door for 15 cents per pound. We didn’t have the bananas yet. We were just taking orders. Seems that several of my would-be customers wanted to see what the bananas were going to look like. So I began carrying a banana around with me explaining, “They are going to look like this banana.”

You know what? Between the yard markers and the bananas, we raised enough money to make the trip. It was a blast.

Winston Hamby
The Beaumont Enterprise


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