’53 BHS grad recalls being a ‘band kid’

Barbara Miller Jacobson will be returning to her hometown soon for the 50th reunion of her high school class. She’s done many things and been many interesting places since graduating from Brady High School in 1953. Married to retired Air Force pilot and now practicing attorney, A.D. Jacobson, whose father, A.L., grew up in East Sweden, Mrs. Jacobson and her husband have reared two children and all of them reside in San Antonio. Her parents, Tom Hill and Scott Miller, are deceased, but she has a brother, Bruce Miller, who also attended BHS. Barbara has been a busy lady since leaving Brady. After a BA and M. Ed at the University of Arizona, she later received her Ph. D. from the University of Texas at Austin. “I was a school counselor for 17 years, retiring in 1970 to establish a private counseling practice which I still do,” she said. Mrs. Jacobson is a faculty member of the William Glasser Institute, teaching and counseling and presenting school management seminars. She has taught in many states plus Korea, Singapore and Australia. She was an adjunct professor at Mississippi College and taught graduate courses in education at Schreiner College at Kerrville. Barbara’s son, Dana, a law partner with his father, has a daughter, Rachel, who is the president of the band at Earl Rudder Middle School in San Antonio. “The school’s band director invited me to be the speaker at the end of the year (May 23) awards banquet, and I thought you might enjoy reminiscing a little,” she wrote to the Standard-Herald. Here is her speech to those at the banquet: I am honored to be your speaker tonight. I have been listening to your band ever since the eighth graders’ first concert when you were in the sixth grade. In October of that year my granddaughter asked my husband and me to attend her band concert. I have to admit that I was thinking, “How can they play a concert after just six weeks of school'” I was expecting something like “Mary Had a Little Lamb” and “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.” I was amazed and thrilled to hear you play real band music. Since then, I have really looked forward to the concerts, and again have been amazed at the quality of the music. I especially remember two boys who played a very difficult piece for marimba with band accompanying. Your concert earlier this week was, once again, an outstanding performance. The seventh grade rendition of “Havendance”, and the eighth grade’s “Stars and Stripes Forever”, gave me goose bumps. Before most of your parents and your band directors were born, I began playing in a band as a sixth grader. As best I can remember, we did start with “Mary Had a Little Lamb”, and “Twinkle, Twinkle…” There were so few of us that junior high and high school students played in the same band. Over the next seven years my principle memories of school are of the band. We wore itchy wool uniforms’bright gold, white shoes and shirts and men’s black neckties. None of us knew how to tie a necktie, so we had our fathers tie them once at the beginning of the year, and we would slip them over our heads. Heaven forbid we should ask the director to tie our ties! Imagine yourself marching in “Battle Flowers” on a perfect 90′ San Antonio day in bright gold itchy pants. When I was in the eighth grade, a new band director came to town’kind of like Professor Harold Hill in “Music Man.” He walked around town talking to businessmen and parents, convincing them that what Brady, Texas, needed was a first-class school band. He somehow even convinced the school board to buy French horns and baritones, flutes and new bass horns, oboes, bassoons, and two bass clarinets. Then he went from home to home asking parents to let their kids learn to play an instrument. In August, we all reported to the band hall, an old World War II barracks building behind the auto repair shop building, and began to learn how to be a band. The band director was so confident that he had cards printed up that said, “‘Fessor Douglas Fry, director of the Famed Brady Bulldog Band.” When the first football game came around, the whole town turned out, including the mayor. The mayor was an interesting man. He had been a war hero, and later became president of Texas A&M University. Many years later he had a middle school in San Antonio named for him. The mayor’s name was Earl Rudder. Back to my story. At halftime the band marched out and shocked the hometown crowd by doing dance steps while playing, “I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles.” The band was an object of interest after that, with people wondering what we would do next. Behind his back, people referred to the director as “Bubbles” Fry. In the spring we went to UIL competition for the first time and while we didn’t win sweepstakes, we did get a Division I in marching. The judges liked “I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles!” Over the next four years we grew and improved to the level of sweepstakes in UIL. We even got new uniforms after a couple of years’snappy grey and gold jackets. We got rid of the itchy gold pants. They gave us itchy black pants. What did I gain from being a “band kid'” I learned perseverance. ‘Fessor Fry was a pastor’s son, and back then, nobody got mad if a teacher quoted scripture, so he had a motto for us: Micah 6:8. It says …and what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and “to practice your horn 30 minutes a day.” I’m not sure that last part is really scripture. I gained a skill level on the clarinet and oboe that earned me a scholarship to Trinity University. I experienced working with a large group of kids to produce something beautiful. I made friends who are my friends to this day. I built up memories of trips and accomplishments, and just pure fun. I hope that you will all stay with band. You will never be sorry. Just a postscript to this story. A few weeks back I had a message on my voice mail when we got home from a trip. It was from that same band director, Doug Fry, whom I have not seen since I graduated. You never know. You may hear from Mr. Schmidt when he is 86. Thank you for inviting me to share this special evening with you.

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