By Dennis “Wemus” Grubb
THOUGHT Y’ALL MIGHT ENJOY A LITTLE STORY ABOUT ONE OF MY ALL TIME GREATEST HIGH SCHOOL ANTICS! (at least I thought so) 🤣
Well, It was already bad enough for me that the Lee High School band director was on my case big time and mad at me for missing (7) days of band marching practice during the first 6 weeks of the school year, and of all critical times, during football season. I recently had surgery on my ruptured appendix and was told by the Doctor to be careful, take it easy not strain myself, etc. I couldn’t drive to school and carpooled with a neighbor until I was finally healed. But my medical situation fell on deaf ears to the band director, who highly resembled Ichabod Crane, thus I referred to him as Dan “Ichabod Crane, Jr.” Stallings! He could care less, showed no mercy and just wanted bodies out on that marching field. When I didn’t show up, he ended up giving me a “B” on my Report Card (see attached)….the first time in 4 years I never made less than an “A” in band..but the worse was yet to come!
You See….The worst, or funniest part of this debacle relating to my “Heisman” ordeal (and depending on who’s side you’re on) was when I was thrown into the marching situation, at a moments notice, no less, during a halftime performance at a football game (against the big, bad San Angelo Bobcats), to fill in for a sickened band member.There I was…little innocent ole me, under the spell of a delightful bourbon buzz, (courtesy of my trumpet case and Jack Daniels), and without ANY knowledge as to the marching formation halftime program. It was incredibly cold that night, and band members were becoming sick and dropping like flies who had just flown thru two aerosol cans of “Raid” Flying Insect Fog Bomb.
I “moseyed’ onto the football field and began marching along with the Mighty Lee High School Rebel Band, pressing my horn on my forehead (to look like I was playing), and asking the guy next to me what yard line do I march to or turn on, etc. He was getting a bit “pissy” with me, as I was interrupting his performance, probably messing him up in front of his family, who were in the stands watching, (which I suppose was understandable)…but I didn’t care…I was in DIRE NEED OF HELP FOR MARCHING DIRECTIONS! So, he “tries reluctantly” to guide me thru the program, and then towards the end of the performance, the Mighty Rebel Band starts to FORM their infamous Marching “LEE” FORMATION…and luckily we marched and Spelled It Correctly! (FYI for all you Bulldogs out there, Midland High had a marching MHS formation too…as that was the big finale’ for bands in those good ole days).Well… I was wobbling along, not marching too well and holding my horn up, while still trying to fake the crowd out that I was playing. Actually, I DID TRY once to play a note, but I laughed and blew into it so hard that it came blaring out of my horn, sounding like someone had just eaten a huge bowl of Van Camp’s Pork n’ Beans..that really blew me away (pardon the pun). Now, more than ever, I’m laughing and totally out of control, with monster tears streaming out of my glazed, beady brown eyes, as they gleefully ran down my cheeks, so much in fact that I could hardly see, much less trying to “March Straight And Stay In Line”! Unfortunately for me, I glanced over at that poor, doomed guy marching next to me, who’s now getting even more pissed than ever (the veins on his neck began popping out, his face turned red, he was actually sweating somewhat, like a Harlot in church, and it’s cold as hell out there on that football field, like being inside the Borden Co.’s Dairy Freezer (How could he do that?). What killed me was the look on his face and profile…it had me in stitches! I couldn’t stop laughing, and I tried so hard to stop, but the more I tried, the worse it got (y’all know that feeling and have been there for sure…… you know you have)!
Other than my uncontrollable laughing, I was presuming that everything seemed to be going well (and I’m thinking, I’ve Fooled Everyone with my marching)…Hello and NOT,…..because little ole me was the Very Last Person on the last “E” of the Marching LEE….and guess what? Around the 30 Yard Line, the Marching LEE, (that was headed towards the South End Zone), all of a sudden, MAKES AN IMMEDIATE ABOUT FACE TURN AROUND and heads back North up the football field. So, here I am, still marching South (now unknowingly all by myself) and the music from the band seems to be getting hauntingly quieter. I turned around, looked back, and the Mighty Lee Rebel Band is at the 50 yard line and still headed North, playing “Dixie” and I am alone in the South End Zone. I WAS SHOCKED AND STUNNED……no one told me about the turnaround..not even the “pissy guy” who marched next to me (I guess he was just relieved the program was about to be over with and he wouldn’t have to tutor me anymore and save face in front of the humongous crowd in the stands, plus hopefully not being docked of his weekly allowance from his parents for a bad performance). I never got to ask him that, or even Thank him for that matter. We weren’t friends anyway, LOL.
So, here I am again…standing all alone in the South end zone with my trumpet , ALL my band mates made the “About Face” move and marched North, (and from where I was standing during that brief lackluster moment, it looked like they were all headed towards Lamesa), I had to obviously Catch Up! I took a long, deep breath, put my trumpet under my arm (carrying it like I did as a brutal running back at Alamo Jr. High… #43 in your program and #1 in your heart), and made a mad dash across the Midland Memorial Stadium football field, zig zagging, cutting, weaving along the way, like I was avoiding tackles from the San Jacinto Mustangs team . Unfortunately for me, I stopped at mid-field (and here’s where the debacle really began to unfold)…I made the ill fated Heisman Trophy Pose,at The 50 Yard Line (in front of the screaming home crowd, who apparently had been cheering me on)…after which I then “cat scatted” and finally caught up with the Mighty Lee High Rebel Band, as they finished the botched show and all went back into our seating area in the stands!Quick Side Note:Y’all remember those stadium stands with their wooden seats, that ungraciously provided plenty of splinters, that always pierced thru your pants or shorts, and poked you in the fanny…some took days to fester and come out? Yeah Those!
Needless to say, this debacle became a Life Changing Moment for me! I was confronted the next Monday morning in the office of the highly immoral Lee band director, Dan “Ichabod Crane” Stallings, who hysterically yelled, screamed, cussed at me (I learned a couple new dirty words from him), stomped his feet, jumping up and down and rolling on his office floor, like a crazed Oral Roberts follower (all which now seems like his version and forerunner to modern day Break Dancing)! I was told I was on, (which seemed like “secret probation”) within the band and would be suffering the consequences at the end of that semester. Little did I know what a shocking revelation I was in store for. When I received my 6 week report card, I was given an “F” in Band! Can you imagine the nerve of Dan Ichabod Crane Stallngs. doing that? My mother had to sign my Report Card and at first, she was shocked. She then thought it was an “A”, thinking maybe that Dan Ichabod Crane Stallings had somehow got distracted while filling out everyone’s report cards and had failed to complete his hand printing of the letter “F”, making it an Unfinished “A”. Well, that was highly wishful thinking, huh Mom? Now, like my former marching buddy, she was pissed! He had been my band director for (4) years, going back to Alamo Jr.High and I had ALWAYS made straight “A”‘s, up to this point, even though I never highly pursued being a #1 First Chair Player, as I was also playing football and basketball (THAT’S GONNA BE ANOTHER STORY COMING SOON).
Anyway, it goes to show that “the camera never lies”, as the band’s marching performance on that cold Friday night had apparently been Filmed, and I was caught Flying Fast and Fleet Footed across the Football Field (too many “F’s” in these words, which I presume spurned the “F” on my report card…..but, it was what it was. I never knew what happened to that filmed marching program (video wasn’t invented yet) AND I WOULD PAY BIG BUCKS TO HAVE A COPY OF IT! However, the damage was done. So, to end it all, I Flipped Off band director Dan Ichabod Crane Stallings, quit the band and took a Speech Class that someone had suggested I do, because they thought I could Talk And BS a Lot! FYI…I made an “A” in that class, so whoever suggested me taking that was correct…..and if memory serves me correct, it was my destiny ordained Big Brother, Billy Wayne Godwin! Luckily for me he was at school that day, because he chose only to go to school on days the cafeteria served Swiss Steak and Fried Chicken..I think on Tuesdays and Thursdays, as we Baptist didn’t eat fish on Friday!
They say that there is “sometimes” a Silver Lining at the end of a Debacle, and in this case, it became true for me. I was slowly being outgrown and out sized by my football and basketball buddies, so my athletic sports days were coming to a dreadful and heartbreaking end. I quit the Mighty Lee High School Band, and like finding a Pot O’ Gold at the end of a Rainbow (with help from a Leprechaun, about my size, who had made a wrong turn somewhere between El Paso and Pecos while trying to get back to Shamrock), I found New Life playing in Another Band.….my very first Great, Rock N’ Roll Band...THE MYSTICS! We performed everywhere, made records, were on TV, became the #1 Texas Rock n’ Roll Band in 1963 and had lots of girls at our disposal…so much in fact, all my Sports Buddies wanted me to teach them how to play guitar so they could get more girls, LOL…(talk about a turnaround…even more so than the “Marching LEE” leaving me in the End Zone). So, Life Was Good for Baby Wemus , and I have never looked back. On the other hand, old Band Director Dan “Ichabod Crane, Jr.” Stallings got a Lee female band student pregnant at a West Texas band camp, was fired from his job, had to leave town and his beautiful wife (which none of us could ever figure out how he was able to “snag” her), divorced his skinny old self, massive Adam’s Apple and all. Thus, paybacks can be hell, and in this case, he got his. AND FOR THIS,I GAVE HIM AN “F” ON HIS REPORT CARD!END OF STORY (and you can’t make this up…..I drank the Midland Water🥁