Nebraska Center for Writers

by Ron Block

WE WERE THE LOUSIEST marching band in Nebraska, but the last person to figure that out was Mr Jenke, our band director. He kept hauling us all over the place and begging people to let us march through their towns. We always figured he was too big to be a band director anyway, about six foot seven, and his arms hung down to his knees and flew all over the place, knocking over music stands, making the sheet music fly. Once he knocked a clarinet right out of a girl's mouth. He'd count out loud and spit, too, especially during crescendos, but we couldn't help but like him sometimes because we all felt kind of sorry for him.
The main trouble with Mr Jenke was that he'd get these ideas at the last minute, just before he forced us to march out at half time or something. He'd say, Okay, trumpets, instead of turning right at measure 36, turn left for two measures and then turn right, and it'd end up looking like a pinball game. It was bad enough in concert band. Once, we did the "Warsaw Concerto," and he dragged out a PA system just before the concert without telling anyone and stuck the mike right inside the piano. He almost got sued over that one. But when it came to marching season, then he really got out of hand. He forced us to go to harvest festivals and county fairs, all that. he even forced us to go to the Frontier Days out in Cheyenne, Wyoming. We drove there all the way from Gothenburg just to make fools of ourselves.

Reprinted with permission
from The Dirty Shame Hotel
Copyright © 1998
by Ron Block
New Rivers Press

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