AUTUMN – The Season of Black Socks by Beverly Prine won honorable mention at High Desert Blogging’s writing contest in September 2013.
According to Merriam Webster, autumn means the season between summer and winter. In my book, the months of September, October and November mean marching band season,! Over the past five years, I have been a band booster with the local high school. The band, in my case, is the Oak Hills High School Bulldog Brigade. Volunteering to help has its own rewards, but my experience with the band has returned to me much more than I feel I have given. During the autumn months, the band performs at football games, parades, field competitions, and other special events. It is an intense three months, but it is the best three months of the school-year, for many students, and boosters!
Autumn weather in Southern California is usually a continuation of the summer heat. It is not like other places, such as my home-town in Northern California, where the leaves change colors and the fog lies low on the hills in the morning. The few trees in the High-Desert change colors, but quickly then fall off the tree. The local High-Desert folks have a saying about the weather, “There’s two kinds: hot and windy.” Once in a while, there will be an early fall cold-snap, but it does not last for long.
September, the first month of autumn, is considered the start of football season, whereas October is when the first field competition is held. By the time the first football game comes around, the band is ready to victoriously perform The Star Spangled Banner at the start of the game, and a portion of the field show during half-time. They had already survived an intense two-weeks of band-camp in July, in preparation for marching band season. The marching band uniforms had also been taken care of. The weather was High-desert hot, and the band room was filled with both students and parents. The goal was to find the best fit for each student for the black “monkey-suit” and jacket, hat, known as a shako, gloves and shoes. The uniform was uncomfortable to wear in the summer-time, but it kept the band-members warm in the cool autumn nights and wintery days to follow. There would be many hours sitting in the stadiums across the High-Desert and the Southland in those uniforms.
Field competition days for marching bands look like this on a band-family calendar in the fall: “Call-time – TBA. Reserve the entire day. DON’T FORGET BLACK SOCKS!” As a veteran band booster, I now understand this translates to: “Go to the band room on Saturday morning at 6:00am, take your kid and make sure he has socks (black), snacks (red licorice), and instrument. Bring a flashlight because it will be dark when you return to the school.” In the fall, when the daylight hours are shortened, these Saturdays start at dark and often end after dark for band-members and their families. Volunteers are asked to ride the bus to chaperone, and also to keep in contact with the other boosters, like those hauling the equipment in the band trailer. Sometimes the band buses and the equipment trailer get separated, never lost, only temporarily delayed due to road construction or incorrect driving directions. It is always a good plan to utilize the buddy-system and have at least two parents on the bus.
Marching band season is a time when friendships are formed, not only among the students, but also with other band boosters. Boosters divide the many duties, assigning one parent as the first-aid person, one for hair and make-up for pageantry, and one for uniform malfunctions, and extra BLACK SOCKS!
At one particular field competition, on a warm Saturday in October, there was a BLACK SOCK incident. The band was staged at the edge of the field-entrance, next in line to perform. The band director noticed one band-member did not have BLACK SOCKS, but navy-blue. I was the closest parent in proximity, so he asked me to take care of this. The extra BLACK SOCKS had already been locked away in the trailer for safe-keeping, and the trailer was parked down a hill about a quarter mile away. Time was of the essence, so I ran to the trailer and unlocked it, grabbed the bag with extra BLACK SOCKS, and ran back up the hill to the offending band-member. When I returned, red-faced and out of breath, the swap-out was made, and the band went on. I am quite certain I looked rather foolish after the mad-dash for BLACK SOCKS, but it was all for the band. On that day, BLACK SOCKS became a first-aid item, keeping them right next to the band-aids!
This is just one small glimpse of of being a band booster and what autumn means to me. There are so many other ways in which I have been privileged to help. I always count it an honor and pleasure to support the band students and the music program. Marching band season is my favorite time of year, which is why I love autumn!
A little about me:
I was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, in a town called Lafayette. I moved to Southern California in 1983 and have been here ever since. I enjoy life here, and although it would be nice to spend time in a cabin in the snow-topped mountains, I really cannot imagine living anywhere else but here. One of my passions is running, and I love discovering new routes. I often run out on the ridge between Summit Valley and Crestline. Recently I ran my first 10k (6.2 miles) in East Highland. It was a picture-perfect day, and it was great to meet new people at the event. Another passion I have is writing and creating stories. My grandmother was a newspaper reporter, among her many other talents. Her story is one I am forever working on. I’m glad to have the opportunity to “guest-blog” for High Desert Bloggers, and I look forward to more blogging in 2014!
Contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org