1980 Mexico City band trip memories rekindled
Bill Cooke

Neighbor Grover sez that war doesn’t really determine who is right, but who is left.

Anna Dumcum brought me a copy of the October edition of Texas Co-Op Power, a magazine published by Texas electric cooperatives containing articles of interest to members.

Among the articles was a feature entitled “Marching to Different Drummers,” about high school bands across the state.

Very interesting, coming on the heels of the first reunion of the Rockdale High School Big Blue Band From Tigerland.

The story notes that an estimated 140,000 young people from more than 850 Texas high schools perform in their school bands on Friday nights. Football is King in Texas, and the tradition wouldn’t be the same without the halftime spectacle of the colorful bands.

The article points out the band size variations, from Class 5A A llen High School’s approximately 650 members, including a drill team, to numerous Class A bands, and others, with 20 or fewer members.

Big Blue Band donned sombreros for 1980 halftime show promoting their Mexico City trip. This photo is also in the RHS yearbook. Reporter 1980/Bill Cooke Big Blue Band donned sombreros for 1980 halftime show promoting their Mexico City trip. This photo is also in the RHS yearbook. Reporter 1980/Bill Cooke Rockdale’s Big Blue Band is mentioned in one section of the article devoted to the fact that “band members go places.” It pointed out that getting to travel is a band tradition and a nice recruiting tool. An excerpt:

“Alumni of the Rockdale band still talk about their 1980 trip to Mexico City, which amounted to the first airplane flight and visit to a foreign country for most of the students.

“All 140 students in the band made the five-day trip, during which they per formed many times, including at a large soccer stadium, said Don Thoede, the retired band director.

One of the students on that trip was Connie Edelman Ahlefeld, who wrote in an e-mail: “I remember all the hard work we did as a group to earn money: car hopping at Sonic for tips, selling stuff door to door, washing cars, etc. And, I think that’s why high school bands are so great—one of the best ways to learn teamwork.”

Oldest son Kyle was a member of the drum corps (tim-toms, thank you) and wife Peg was one of many adult chaperones who made that trip to help Thoede with the considerable task of herding 140 teenagers hither and yon to their assignments as well as seeing, hopefully, that they got a reasonable amount of rest.

The trip was a colossal success from any point of view, an undertaking only the bravest of band directors could possibly agree to take on.

The Reporter’s Mike Brown, now its editor, had joined this newspaper staff only six years before that trip. Good friends of both Thoede and his assistant at the time, Jim Perry, Mike made the trip as the band’s official videographer.

Mike also chronicled the event for The Reporter, and at the trip’s end, in somewhat of a state of exhaustion (wasn’t most everybody exhausted?), he wrote one of his finest feature stories about how proudly and honorably our youth represented their school and town.

This magazine article, written by Associate Editor Charles Boisseau, served to remind me that we should repeat Mike’s Reporter coverage. That band trip was no small achievement. It was, in fact, an incredible feat.

Son Kyle put his RHS band experience to good use, trying out and making the Southwest Texas State (now Texas State) marching band after graduating here in 1982. The college band experience enabled him to make many new friends quickly on campus.

And at the Big Blue Band that recently filled The Ranch, he and many others relived their Mexico City experiences with themselves and with Thoede and Perry.

Click here for digital edition
2010-10-21 digital edition

Copyright 2009-2018 Rockdale Reporter, All Rights Reserved.

Special Sections

Special Sections