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180205 February 5, 2018


Band Bus Trip!
Terry Barnes
LHS ‘66

    I think that one of the most amazing bus trip stories is one that involved many members of LHS.  In late December of 1963 the Lee High School Marching Band met at the school before daylight on a cold and icy day.  My memory was that there were three buses, chartered Greyhound or Trailways I think, to carry us all as well as a vehicle pulling a horse trailer that carried our mascot, Traveller.  We were heading for Miami, Florida, and the Orange Bowl Parade, which I remember as being held on New Year’s Eve 1963, and to attend the football game played on New Year’s Day 1964.

    This all comes from my almost 70 year old memory of an event that occurred 54 years ago so any corrections or additions to my account would be greatly appreciated.

    My recollection of this trip is that the prime mover in making it happen was Sylvia (1964) and Roger (1965) Becks’ father.  I believe that us bandmembers started hearing about the possibility of such a trip in the spring of 1963 when I was a 9th grader and band member at LHS.  I can only imagine in hindsight the tremendous amount of planning and negotiating with LHS administration, the school board, concerned parents, etc. that must have gone on.

    What didn’t require hindsight was fundraising because us bandmembers were in the thick of that.  I suspect that substantial funds were raised from sources that we bandmembers weren’t aware of but we were tasked to sell a 33 1/3 record of the band playing various tunes.  Some folks showed up in the band practice room one day during band period and it was explained that they were getting a preliminary recording to check for proper microphone position, sound levels and so forth.  Well, under the direction of Mr. James B. Foley, the band played its collective heart out and that “preliminary” recording turned into the final recording (I’m sure that was the plan all along) and thence into the vinyl 33 1/3 record.  There was a $50 prize for the bandmember who sold the most records.  I went at it with a vengeance in the Lakewood subdivision area in the NW part of town and won that prize.  I suspect some of you out there might still have a copy of the record.  Yep, just checked, there’s one for sale on Ebay!  Search Ebay for “Lee High School Band Album”.

    Somehow, someway it all came together resulting in that early morning, pre-daylight gathering at the school to load up and head for Miami, Florida to march in the Orange Bowl Parade and attend the 1964 Orange Bowl.  Saying we met to “load up” is a bit of an oversimplification.  We had instruments ranging from flutes to sousaphones, suitcases, personal items, chaperones, etc.  Well it didn’t get off to a good start….as we headed south on US Highway 431 the roads going down the back side of Monte Sano were iced over.  The buses were unloaded and we all walked down the highway until the roads were clear enough that the road was safe to drive on.  The aforementioned 70 year old memory believes that poor Traveller was badly hurt, or maybe even died, when the horse trailer/tow vehicle combo slid off the icy road.

    Anyway, off we went, heading for Miami.  It was certainly not a one day trip but I don’t remember where we spent the night.  It might have been around Ocala, Florida.  I also don’t remember where we had our meals as we made our way south.  Just the logistical hoopla for the meals sounds like a nightmare task.  I don’t remember if there was a requirement for each band member to bring some cash for meals or if it was funded as part of the trip.

    We stayed in a hotel on Biscayne Boulevard in Miami I believe.  Biscayne Boulevard was the main portion of the parade route.  We marched in the parade and went to the Orange Bowl game the next day.  These were the days of just a few bowl games (Rose, Cotton, Sugar, Orange) and the parades were extravagant events.  Times have changed with bowl games galore and I think the only remaining parade of any substance is the Rose Bowl Parade.  On New Year’s Day, we watched from field level in an end zone corner sitting in folding chairs as Auburn played Nebraska and came up on the short end of a 13-7 score.

    Mission accomplished we all loaded up again and headed north and I do remember that we spent the night in Jacksonville, Florida.  Meanwhile, back in Huntsville, a fairly significant snowstorm had occurred and it seems that it may have affected out return timing.  It might have been that we had to spend two nights in Jacksonville because of the snow situation in Huntsville.

    I thought that someone would respond to the “bus story” request with something about this trip.  When I didn’t see something show up I knew had to send something in.  It was really an extraordinary undertaking on many levels.  There are surely a number of side stories about the trip that are out there as well which would be fun to hear about.  I lose track of the grade track/sequence at Lee during those times but I think that the band members that made the trip were all 64, 65, or 66ers.  Did the class of ’67 attend LHS as 9th graders?  In any event most of the folks on that trip were part of our “special” group.  Just another piece of our history that makes the 64-65-66 crew a special part of the LHS Fami-Lee.

        Memphis, TN - Okay Peanut Gallery, I have a pending problem on which I am working. Once again I am about to run out of storage space for Lee's Traveller. Already this week I had to do some magic with some photos before I could display them, and I am working hard to find a solution to the storage problem. 

    The problem is, I may not have good internet access in the upcoming week so I will just have to do the best I can with what I can. It may be no more than a few paragraphs next week, but I will find a solution as soon as possible.

    I missed an email from Spencer Thompson last week and have included it in this issue. 

The Twist

Let's Dance
Tommy Towery
LHS '64

    Continuing my Friday night saga, I will pick up where I was about to reveal what was to soon replace my Friday night skate sessions. As odd as it may seem to you readers, I cannot put a date on when I started preferring to go to dances rather than to Carter’s Skateland on Friday nights. That said; here are some of my dance memories.

    I always regretted that by the time I did get interested in dancing The Bop was already past its popularity. I really would have learned to do that dance, and now there are several “Bop Clubs” that still have parties and enjoy the moves.

    Now, we move ahead to fall of 1960, and my dance story really begins. This was the time I had just returned from my trip to the Boy Scout National Jamboree and shortly thereafter moved to McCullough Avenue, which transferred me into the Lee Jr. High school district. I remember how happy I was to get to go to Lee, because it was where most of my skating friends went to school. It was the time when I really started going to boy-girl parties - and not to dance. These were social events where almost all the participants went stag and not as couples. Although the main draws of those parties to me were the kissing games, the time was also filled with the tunes of 45rpm records played on portable record players, and I spent my time more as a watcher than a participant in the activities, especially when the tempo was fast and the genre was rock-and-roll. I was not a complete wallflower, mind you, and enjoyed dancing to the slow songs like “Smoke Get’s in Your Eyes” and other songs by the Platters and similar groups.

    Let’s jump forward a few more months and we get to the first real dance I ever attended and what was also my first real date. It happened on Valentine's Day of 1961.  I was 14 at the time; and my date was 12, almost 13.   The dance went rather well, except that at the time, neither I nor my date knew how to dance to hardly any of the songs played that night. I think it was more being shy and feeling out of place since I was 14 and this was a high school dance – and not even my high school. My date, Ginger, and I spent most of the time sitting and making busy talk or not talking at all.  I do not even remember if there was a real band there or if it was a record hop. If there was a band, I do not have a clue who they were. To me this was a formal dance (coat and tie even) and so I thought I had to know how to do a real "named" dance and not just move around the floor with my date in my arms. When we did try to dance to the slow songs, all that I knew how to do was the two-step, and I spent most of the time on the floor saying "one-two-one, one-two-one" to myself as I counted the steps needed for the dance. All the dancing was done at arm's length and our bodies never touched.  I do not remember dancing to a single fast song that night.

    Thinking back, I think it was more an issue of being bashful than not knowing how to dance, because I remember the first dance moves I ever really learned was how to do the Twist. Chubby Checker's 1960 cover version of the song originally released in early 1959 by Hank Ballard and the Midnighters gave birth to the Twist dance craze. His single became a hit, reaching number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 on September 19, 1960, where it stayed for one week, and setting a record as the only song to reach number 1 in two different hit parade runs when it resurfaced and topped the popular hit parade again for two weeks starting on January 13, 1962. I, like many of my friends, learned to do the Twist by watching Dick Clark’s American Bandstand every day after school. Though I learned to Twist, I think it was not until the release of "Let's Twist Again” that I started doing the dance in public. Chubby Checker’s song was one of the biggest hit singles of 1961, reaching No.8 on the U.S. Billboard pop chart in August.

    By August I was about to start the tenth grade at the emerging Lee High School, and my teenage hormones were raging. I had turned 15 the summer before and the parties, sadly to say, had transformed from “kissing games” to couples going steady and featured more music and dancing instead.
Today I wish I had started my journal earlier and could recall the timing of the next phase of my transition from skating to dancing. One of my problems is that my brother Don was three years older than me and started bringing home record albums which I began listening to long before I actually started buying them myself. It gave me a three year head start over many of my friends on what kind of music I liked. I know I danced around the house, alone, a long time before I ever danced in public.

    I think I need more time to think about this so next week I will try to add a few more dance memories, even if they are not in the correct chronological order.



Time Capsule Opened

Shirley Jones Moore

LHS '66

(Printed in Lee'sTraveller back in March 14, 2005)

    This year is the bicentennial for the city of Huntsville. During the Sesquicentennial all first and second graders in Huntsville signed a page to be buried in the time capsule. All of the artifacts from the time capsule are on display at the Weeden House in downtown Huntsville. Andrea Gray Roberson and I went to view the list of names. I am forwarding you the picture I took of our class. I am going to go back and get a picture of the other page. Thought you might be interested in this event.

January 30, 2005
By Dahleen Glanton
Tribune national correspondent.

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — It had been 50 years since James Taylor saw the time capsule buried on the grounds of the Madison County Courthouse. And as he stood there recently watching it being dug up, it felt to him like an old friend was being resurrected.

He kept wondering whether the memorabilia he and others entrusted to the metal box had withstood the elements of time. Would the letters and newspapers be yellow and crumbled? The city, now home of the Marshall Space Flight Center, had changed so much in the past half-century; were they even digging in the right place?

"When we buried the capsule, it was like a death. We weren't able to even imagine life at the resurrection. But we have experienced marvelous growth here," said Taylor, 83, who was chairman of the city's sesquicentennial committee in 1955. "When the capsule is opened, and should there be any water in it, I will really cry."

Unfortunately, water had seeped into the rusty steel vault. And even what in the 1950s was a state-of-the art plastic-like bag developed by scientists working on rocket technology at Redstone Arsenal wasn't sturdy enough to keep many of the documents dry. Archivists now are sorting through the items--including a reel of the sesquicentennial events, a list of 1st-graders, a city history book and letters from two World War II Medal of Honor winners--to determine what can be displayed next month as part of the city's 200th anniversary celebration.

For centuries people have sought to leave a record of their existence. The notion of preserving a place in time dates to the ancient Egyptians, who built pyramids to house the dead and left a record of their lives some 5,000 years ago.


From Our Mailbox 


Subject:    Recent Stories

Spencer Thompson

Fire Department Chaplain

LHS '64

    Great job (on the skating story). I worked with Mike Thompson for over 30 years I never met a better person than Mike. His nickname at the fire dept was "snack time."

    Thanks to George Vail for his story I was stationed at Gunter when I was in the Air Force.

    I took a bus trip from huntsville to Nashville he was going in the marines and I was going in the Air Force. Upon discharge I rode the bus from Denver to Huntsville. Later my wife used to do bus trips for our church.


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