Thursday, August 14, 2008


On my last post, I gave a little background on competitive drum and bugle corps. My family has a history with drum corps going back 19 years when our son marched as a junior in college with the Denver Blue Knights. Since high school, he had wanted to try out; but it was always a financial issue with us. Not only do the students pay tuition to march, they also miss out on a summer's work that helps to pay for their regular college expenses. We finally relented by agreeing that if he could find a way to make up for lost summer wages; I would go on tour for four weeks as a cook to help offset the tuition expenses to march.

What an experience, not only for him, but for me as well. Can you imagine basically camping out and cooking for 130 very hungry teenagers three meals plus snacks a day? I did a lifetime of peeling carrots to make sticks; we would make hundreds of burritos, sloppy joes, etc.; and buy thousands of boxes of cereal, etc. And all in a traveling makeshift kitchen, plus we slept on gym floors, and took cold, group showers. Not an ideal situation for a then 50-year old mom. But we have no regrets; it was a life-altering experience for Mike.

He toured the next summer as a paid instructor; and then he was able to focus on his future. Apparently, drum corps never leaves your blood, though. After he was finally educated and settled into a teaching career with summers off, he started touring again. This time it was with the Phantom Regiment on the support staff. Basically, he drives a truck pulling a trailer all those nights on the road. But he loves it and now he is part of an organization with a world championship.

Our six-year old grandson is more impressed that Uncle Mike drives a truck then he is that Uncle Mike has a doctorate in biochemistry. But it is all connected; I don't think Mike would have succeeded to that level until having the drum corps experience.

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