I rarely wear T-shirts for the same reason I rarely take selfies: I’m rarely happy with how they look. Nonetheless, I have three of these shirts tucked away in a drawer. Maybe, just maybe, I could have a reason to wear them again someday.
The Village Green Marching Society, starting in the late 1970s and through most of the ’80s, entertained folks around Okanogan County and even into British Columbia by making music, or some semblance thereof, for small-town festivals and parades. Our motley crew were primarily people who’d played in high school and/or college marching bands, including some music teachers. They wanted to relive those glory days.
There were others: an elderly violinist who played from the bed of a small pickup (thus proceeding backwards along every parade route); a drum major who beat time with a plumber’s helper and protected her anonymity by wearing a Lone Ranger-style mask; folks who’d never learned to play an instrument but participated in a raucous kazoo section; youngsters who were drafted to carry our elegant, homemade banner, or rode on their father’s shoulders; a dog who sported a colorful bandana … pretty much whoever wanted to join in.
We were nominally good at marching in step because we had a U.S. Forest Service district ranger who beat the bass drum with federal authority. Our routines were complex. Three sharp blasts from the drum major’s whistle and band members would take off in all directions, improvising whatever step seemed to work in the moment: a little Charleston, a little can-can, maybe a do-si-do.
I played flute and piccolo; my husband played baritone horn. The band had a wide-ranging repertoire. Favorites were “I Love To Go A-wandering,” “Yankee Doodle Dandy,” and “The Stripper.” During the latter, one of the kazoo players would unleash a cascade of bubbles from an ornate bubble blower.
Ultimately, we were victims of our popularity. When we found ourselves scheduled to play every weekend one summer, sometimes even twice a weekend, we burned out. The back of our T-shirts promised: “We’ll be Bach.” Probably not. But I have the shirts, just in case.
(To celebrate my 75th birthday this month, I’m posting daily stories about the stuff I’ve acquired over a lifetime and can’t let go of. I invite you to consider and possibly share the stories that make you treasure your own stuff.)