Saturday, June 09, 2007

I Gave My Trombone Some Lip ...

An unusual event transpired in the early 1950s at a football game played in the South Park High School Greenie stadium in Beaumont. For any who may not know, I should explain that Greenies are what we were. If you attended Beaumont High School, you were a Royal Purple. Then there were the French High Buffalos, the Charlton-Pollard Bulldogs, the Hebert Panthers, and also the parochial St. Anthony Bulldogs.

Anyway, back to the unusual event. The Greenies were playing the Port Arthur Thomas Jefferson High School Yellow Jackets. The Yellow Jackets generally were regarded as one of the best teams in the state. Their school enrollment was huge. Playing football against them was almost like playing a junior college. Our much smaller team expected to be pretty sore and bruised after a Yellow Jacket game.

I played trombone in the Greenie band. That meant I could enjoy the entire football season without fear of injury. On this particular Friday night, our turn came to march out onto the field to perform our halftime show. Everything went fine until the unexpected happened. I stepped into a divot. Divots were made when crashing football players dug up pieces of turf. Football shoes with cleats were notorious for creating a playing field filled with divots.

So what’s the big deal about stepping into one of these divots? Well I was playing my trombone when the misstep occurred. When my foot stumbled through the divot, the mouthpiece of my trombone banged into my mouth. I started bleeding, teeth and lips. Wearing a white uniform with green trim definitely is not a time to have a profusely bleeding mouth.

Trombone players have to learn early on how to watch their steps while marching. The first lesson I learned about this was during my first parade on Pearl Street in downtown Beaumont. Men on horseback led the parade. The Greenie Band was next. Usually trombonists march on the front row of a band so that there will be plenty of room for their slides to operate. There is a thing about marching behind horses in a parade that is hard to explain. Did you know that horses poop during parades? Not once, not twice but several times. The trombone section not only has to hold their trombones up while playing but also march without stepping in horse leftovers. So we trombonists learned how to play and at the same time watch where were stepping.

Now, with all of the experience gained from marching in parades, I should have seen the divot on the football field that night. But I didn’t. Now I had blood coming from my mouth and it would not stop bleeding. I marched off the field and went over my Mr. Louis Stumpf, the band director. He sent me down to the field house to find a first-aid kit. Inside the field house were all of our muddy football players sitting around.

The trainer came over and started working on my busted lip. Here I was in the dressing room with the football team. I was the only one in there wearing a band uniform. Some of the players yelled out comments such as, “Hey, a little blood doesn’t scare you does it band boy?” or “Did you get blood on your purse?”

So there you have the unusual event. The Greenies lost a hard-fought football game with a tough Yellow Jacket team. The only injury on either side that night was a trombone player who received a chipped tooth and a busted lip when he stepped into a divot while marching at halftime.

Stranger things have happened but those are stories for another day …

Winston Hamby
The Beaumont Enterprise


Blogger Unknown  said...

Who knew that band was a contact sport?

Tue Jun 12, 07:01:00 AM 2007  

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