Posts Tagged ‘reading_buccaneers’

The eve before Thanksgiving. I’m sitting here in my family room with the fireplace a blaze…it’s still snowing outside albeit much less than earlier in the day. Delaware got its share of slush…the usual for this part of the eastern corridor. Tomorrow I will enjoy the company of friends–the turkey is ready for the oven, stuffing is ready to be baked, dessert is all done (bread pudding with whisky sauce–note the spelling of “whisky,” it is important), and cranberry relish is all chilled. There’s not much left to do except relax…FOR ONCE!

While rummaging through Facebook I came across a posting of a video that made me think just a little outside the box and allowed me to find a way to tie a bunch of different thoughts together into one topic:  traditions. As a band director it is a word that I tend to loathe. A dear friend once said that  “if you do something two years in a row it is suddenly a ‘tradition.'” Well said George, well said. Thanksgiving traditions–we all do it. Just re-read the above list of all the food I’ve prepared and there you have it.  (Please note the absence of pumpkin pie…um, gross. Apple is fine, but pumpkin…blech.) Families gather together all across the country and do “traditional” things. Once upon a time, not all that long ago, I would gather with George and part of his family out at a local Delaware golf course sometime during the 4-days. Regardless of weather or temps, we HAD to play golf!  It was a TRADITION!

But this time of year there are more traditions that cross my mind. It is the end of the season for the UDMB and the last home game is filled with traditions: seniors turn their capes around, seniors perform a senior show, the drum line marches the graduating members OUT the pregame gate–the way they first entered as Rookies, and the list goes on and on.  The band has a traditional song–it’s OUR song:  “In My Life.” It holds meaning to every member that can never be conveyed to someone who has never participated in the UDMB. Sure the outside world thinks they “get it,” but not in totality. The UMASS Minuteman Marching Band has “My Way.” These traditions are worth keeping and holding dear because they bridge the generational gap in a way that is indescribable.

Tonight I came across a video that made me think about all of this.  Every corps has their song. Star of Indiana had “When You Wish Upon A Star.” Santa Clara Vanguard: “Send In The Clowns.” The Cavaliers: “Somewhere Over The Rainbow.” And many more.  Any member of any drum corps will tell you that when they hear the melody of their corps song it stops them in their tracks and their hearts skip a beat.  Some call it tradition…I call it love.

Tomorrow the Madison Scouts will perform in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade…yet another tradition. The video I saw this evening was of the group playing “You’ll Never Walk Alone”–their song.  (click and enjoy.  For those on Facebook this one is even better.  )  Within seconds of watching/listening all I could do was think of this coming Saturday evening when I will spend a few hours with some very dear friends at the Reading Buccaneer Banquet. I still have yet to wrap my head around being inducted into the corps Hall of Fame…perhaps I will Saturday night. I do not know if the corps song will be sung…I hope it will be. Our song is set to the melody from the movie theme of “An Affair To Remember,” and my affair (if you will) with the Reading Buccaneers from 1983 – 1990 is one I cherish more than I can ever explain. As I posted upon hearing the news, the evening will be just a tad bittersweet due to “absent friends.” …but I was lucky enough to find a video of the song being sung that captures the depth of tradition, the bittersweetness of it all, and how a simple song can mean the world to people who have shared the same experiences.

Traditions…sometimes they ARE a good thing.

his-bucsA few times over the years of posting thoughts and ideas and commentary and the occasionally rare criticism I have made the following remark:  “My humble hat is stapled to my head.”  It’s true…ok, perhaps not stapled but most assuredly Gorilla Glued on.  I am always quick to deflect congratulatory statements from others, passing them off to the band members because, in my heart, I truly believe they are the ones who deserve the kudos.  I’m merely the caretaker, the custodian, the one who guides the ship but doesn’t make it run.

Perhaps there is some flaw in this approach but I have never really liked the whole “It’s not them, it’s not them, it’s me!” thing.  The reason for this is simple:  without THEM, there is no ME.  I have learned a little over the last few years to simply say “thank you” when moments of congratulations present themselves.  It is hard for me…and only those closest to me know and understand that.  The outside world sees the demanding, dictatorial, rules with an iron fist woman who stands before a crowd of 20,000+ and sucks up the applause.  If only you knew how much truth lies in the notion: “It’s not you, it’s the position.”

And yet, every once in a while a moment comes along in a person’s life when one has to remove the humble hat and take a bow.  …bare with me, this will be challenging.

On the afternoon of November 1, 2014 I received a phone call just as the band was marching under the West grandstands and heading to the pregame entrance gates.  I looked at the number, didn’t recognize it, yet, against my better judgement, decided to take the call for reasons unknown to me.  I had only a few minutes before the pregame show needed to start and there I was answering the phone.

On the other end was Lois and Lou Tierno with the news that I was to be inducted into the 2014 Reading Buccaneer Senior Drum and Bugle Corps Hall of Fame.  I was, perhaps for the first time in my life (or at least in a very long time) rendered speechless. I’ve been removed from the corps for years…24 to be exact. My time with the organization was a scant 8 years: 5 on soprano bugle and 3 as drum major. Not really a lifetime commitment as so many other inductees have made.  But I suppose my contribution to the corps continued long after I departed by sending students to learn from them just as I did, and then those members going on to become staff members, just as I did.  In retrospect I supposed I’ve always been connected to Blue in some manner.

I do not speak much of my time with Reading–it holds a very dear and special place in my heart that is difficult to explain to those who have never been part of such an organization.  I was 19 when I joined–one heck of a cocky trumpet player who didn’t know that she didn’t know.  I was fearless.  Some might say the person I am today was “born in Blue”–a raw young kid who was shaped by so many gifted (and patient) instructors, who left before she was finished “cooking” but had the support in place to continue along the path on her own terms.  I grew up in the Bucs, that is clear.  I was “broken” there and then mended, molded and reshaped into something much more than I realized at the time.

My mentors were many: Matt Krempasky, Darrell Weyman, Chuck Runkle, Glen and Andi Brumbach, Carol O’Brien, Amy (DeLong) Snook, Robbie Robinson, Ken Sherry, Ralph Pace, Jerry Kelsey, Ron Gehris, Grant Hill, and of course, George Parks (and so many others…and the moment you begin to name any you leave out ones you should have included so my sincerest apologies for that).

I learned about family from my parents, aunts, uncles and cousins. This idea of family became more pronounced during my time with the corps. In turn it was enhanced and reinforced during my time at UMASS with George. But all those lessons and values and ethics did not crystalize until this kid simmered a bit more over the years, and began to pass on the lessons to my own “kids” at the University of Delaware.  In the end, all I ever really needed to know I learned at Reading.

I’m honored, humbled, and most grateful to be part of the 2014 Reading Buccaneer Hall of Fame.  I could share stories for hours and hours about all the joys and tears of that time in my life.  But that is for when we sit around the nursing home and not for this moment. And while it is bittersweet not to be able to share this moment with absent friends, I know they are standing on the deck of the ship we will all board one day when we will once again rule the seas, together.

Aye me Buccaneers…for we are indeed, all good men.

Here I sit on my first weekend “off” since I’m honestly not sure when and my mind started to wander through the memories of my years in the Reading Buccaneers.  1983 – 1990.  Not the best ones for the corps by any stretch of the imagination, but for me they are cherished times that I would never have wanted to play out in any other manner.   …except maybe that 2nd place in ’84 and 2nd place in ’85.  🙂

The corps was not very strong in my rookie year but what did I know, I was a rookie!  It was not Matt Krempasky who kept me going, nor, ironically enough, neither was it George N. Parks who kept the fire first burning in me.  It was a baritone player by the name of Chuck Runkle who may have taught me my greatest lesson:  always believe.  No matter what the situation is, give 100% all the time and ALWAYS BELIEVE.  You see every weekend I would arrive at Buc Field and Chuck would look at me, smile and say, “Heidi, we’re gonna win!”

We did not win of course, we placed 5th that year, but it was one heck of a hornline and one heck of recording!  I never gave up and Reading became part of who I was and will always be as long as I walk this earth….or longer, who knows.

1984 & 1985 were also difficult–we did not always believe we would win…and yet those corps were in position to win!  We did not believe it until it was too late and that’s how you lose by 0.45 and 0.65.  Those corps were great however–we just questioned ourselves too much.

1986–a good year, but the slide began.  We didn’t win in ’84 or ’85 and more and more people stopped believing.  1987–perhaps dreadful is the word that scratches the surface.  17 horns at the first winter rehearsal (I thought George was going to cry the whole way home).  He wrote a 4 page letter to every corps alumni that winter trying harder than anyone I had ever seen to get people to believe again, to come back for his final season as drum major and join him in one last epic voyage….it didn’t work.  People had stopped believing.  I do not remember where we placed that year but it was not very high.

1988 & 1989:  George had retired, I joined Darrell Weyman’s side as DM and the corps was not much better than death.  Would we fold?  Would it all end with me at the helm?  No…but it was the hardest job I’ve ever had.  To salvage a ship that is listing in the open waters is difficult by any stretch of the imagination.  Yet somehow we did and Reading survived.

1990, my final voyage: “Batman” – what a year!  We didn’t win but we were a corps who started to believe again.  I was happy to retire after that only because I knew the future looked bright so I could move on.

It took from 1990 until 2005 for the corps to completely believe again.  And that belief in who they are, what they do, and WHY they do it is very strong.  And now, to be looking at a 7th championship in row (2005-2011) is almost unfathomable to most but not to me.  For thanks to people like Chuck Runkle and George Parks, while there may be times when I question my beliefs, I will never truly ever stop believing!

Bring it home Reading—bring it home for yourselves, for those of us who wish we could still be on the sea of green with you, and for those of us who are sailing another sea on the other side.

There be a silent ship approaching that the living eye cannot see. The ship contains a crew of unmatched force, unmatched energy, & unprecedented power. The crew is more talented than any living corps. The captain of this ship dons wild red hair & a scraggly beard. His sword is a mace & he stands on the bridge at full sail. His orders are to hoist the Jolly Roger &d sail toward DCA on the winds of time.

The ghosts of our past will be “fighting” side by side w/my brothers & sisters this weekend. They be proud of ye! We’re all good men….

–heidi