I’ve written before about my fond memories of playing trombone in the Oxford High School marching band, and the collegiate atmosphere at an Oxford game. Some of the best times of my childhood were in that band.
You want to know what a big deal the band was at Oxford? We traveled to away games and marching competitions in four leased and custom-painted motor coaches. You know, like Greyhound buses? Reclining upholstered seats? Onboard restrooms? They were resplendent in black and gold, trimmed with yellow jacket logos, and the OXFORD HIGH SCHOOL BAND down each side was about 15 feet long.
(Unfortunately, the year after I left, insurance costs for such finally exceeded what even an enthusiastically supportive band boosters’ organization could muster, and the band was busted down to school buses. Still, get your brain around the band in motor coaches and the football team in ol’ yeller.)
I recently asked some of my old bandmates on Facebook if any of them had any audio or video from those days. Back way before everyone had a camcorder, one of our trumpet player’s fathers carried a VHS camera rig to every event. I was hoping for some of that, and scored! My friend Karin had about an hour and a half of footage from 1987.
So she mailed me her video cassette for me to attempt a pull to the computer. Now we’re talking about trying a digital copy of a 22-year-old analog-to-analog transfer, and a cassette that hasn’t been played since Lord knows when, so my expectations were modest. Really, I didn’t expect it to work—but it did!
Unfortunately it’s of the year after I moved, so I’m not in any of the footage. But the vibe is definitely there, and while the quality is spotty, it’s much better than it might have been. There are halftime shows, marching competitions, pep rallies, and plenty of candid moments. What a blast.
Here is the OHS band playing “Champions,” the Oxford fight song that my old band director wrote, in the fall of 1987. Turn it up; the audio is pretty good, and it’s a marvelously evocative piece of music: