Monday, January 2, 2012

Family Adventures: The Tournament of Roses Parade, 1959

During our recent DC visit, we overlapped briefly with My Aunt who was visiting from Omaha. We hadn't seen her since our wedding ten years ago and she had not yet met our daughter. One of the highlights of that visit was listening to her and My Dad reminisce (largely at my request) about their high school marching band's trip to the Rose Bowl in 1959.

Image via LA Readers

The small town of Columbus, Nebraska had one of the best marching bands in the state in the late '50s. The ambitious and demanding director first applied to participate in the Tournament of Roses Parade in 1957 but was turned down. Determination brought a successful application for the '59 parade and this town of 13,000 managed to raise $18,000 for the band to go - not a small amount of money in 1959. They were one of only four non-California bands to march in the parade that year.

On Tuesday afternoon, we all watched a DVD conversion of a home-movie documentation of that Pasadena trip 53 years ago, which also included performances at Disneyland and on an aircraft carrier. As much as I enjoyed seeing all of the old cars, clothes and hairstyles, the real fun for me was watching My Dad and My Aunt as they recognized the faces, most not seen by either in many years.

Though he couldn't have known it at the time, the Rose Bowl adventure was a major turning point in My Dad's life. As was the case for many of his companions, it was his first trip to California. When he got back to Nebraska, a guidance counselor asked how he'd liked it and had he heard of a school called Stanford. My Dad applied and was accepted. Stanford led to the Peace Corps. In the Peace Corps, he met My Mom. Before the Rose Bowl trip, he fully expected to go to college in-state and the rest of his life path would likely have been very different.

Moral of the story: support the music programs at your local school. When they're holding fundraisers for band and choir trips, don't be stingy. One never knows where such experiences might lead.

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