Bowl games have always been an exciting part of college football; but from this woman’s point of view, they are a little ho-hum now with the football championship playoff games taking center stage. Still the “our best against your best” of bowl games and parades give college players a trip and a reward for a season of hard work and bands a new stage, a place to strut their stuff. And we have to mention the money that is involved for the colleges.
For those of you who missed it, I am choosing to repost information from a piece I wrote about a trip in 1959, the year I made a trip with the Sylacauga High School Band to Miami, Florida, to the Orange Bowl for the Silver Anniversary in a match-up between Oklahoma and Syracuse. Oklahoma, led by famed coach Bud Wilkinson, won that game 21-6. Syracuse went undefeated the very next year and won a national title.
The local band raised $7,000 for the trip, a large part from selling bars of band candy, chocolate or caramel for $1 a bar. John Mungall was chairman of that drive. To this day, I cannot turn down a kid at my door selling candy for a school fund-raiser. An active Band Boosters Club led by Calvin Stewart assisted with the many details involved in such a trip.
The King Orange Jamboree Parade, which is no longer held, was held on December 31. The parade route down Biscayne Boulevard was long and arduous, and the heat was excessive for the heavy, new, wool band uniforms that the SHS band proudly wore. Although the parade began in late afternoon and continued into the evening, the weather was hot and humid, and throngs of people crowded the streets which, after a while, seemed long and endless. Muscles began to tighten and cramp as dehydration became a reality. The New Year’s Eve party which band members had so looked forward to after the Parade became less and less appealing as majorettes and band members fainted from heat exhaustion.
I loved the crowded noisy atmosphere of the football stadium and the sickening sweet smell of orange blossom perfume that was sprayed from the air from a small plane on New Year’s Day. The game was played at 1PM EST. Berline Stadium, named after a Miami Department Store, has since been demolished and is now the site of the Miami Marlins baseball field. The Orange Bowl Game is now played at Hard Rock Stadium.
It was a great group of kids that made that trip and got to visit sites like Cypress Gardens, Silver Springs, Daytona, St. Augustine, Clewiston, and Gainesville. It was a great band led by one of the greats of all times, Professor Lewis Simpkins. The Wooten siblings, Nan (clarinet, class of 1960) and her brother Joe (trombone, class of 1962) are both deceased now, Nan passing just this past year. She and I were roommates. There were other sibling combinations including four sets of twins: Travis and Sue Wesson, Anne and Bill Williams, Robbie and James Shurette, and Mack and Jack Atkinson. The Calloway sisters, Jane, Judy, and Jean, were in the sibling mix; and lots of parents of these and other kids had worked hard and made sacrifices for students to attend. It was a pride thing, being in the band, and it was pretty much drilled into young people that representing your school and your town was an honor. It still is!
Sports events were cheaper in 1959 when tickets to the Orange Bowl game were listed at $6.25 and $4.00. In the earlier days of the parade there were big time Grand Marshalls like Jackie Gleason and Bob Hope, but later, after sixty two years, the committee decided poor attendance for the event could not warrant the expense of putting it all together, and the parade ended.
Learning is much more than computers and books, and so much learning happened on that holiday trip in 1959, and not so long ago at that. Happy New Year!