Recollections of the TCU “Show Window”
Presenting 100 years of the Horned Frog Band
Recollections of the TCU “Show Window”
Presenting 100 years of the Horned Frog Band
Parents Weekend was an extra special time, and the band had worked especially hard perfecting its routine. In 1963 I was a member of the “famed” Spinning Tubas, always a focal point during any performance. That day the air was filled with electricity from the pride of parents and students alike, and when the band made its power entry, the tuba players seemed to overemphasize the reared-back swing that had made them so popular.
Crowds cheering, drums beating, hearts pounding – a feeling never to be forgotten. And never would I forget it. Somehow, I had failed to tighten the screws that held the bell of the tuba to its body, and during that overemphasized entry swing, the bell came loose and fell over my head. I could see nothing but my feet. Instant panic: Cut and run, or continue? I decided to continue, and I completed that entire performance, bell over head, never missing a turn, step or segue, thanks to the intense practice and demand for perfection instilled by “Prof” Jacobsen. The crowd gave me a standing ovation. Prof just shook his head.
Winston Polley ’66
Bill Collins’ ’74 Christmas card in the early 1970s featured him trumpeting about the band. He writes that sometimes as many at 70,000 fans filled stadiums when they traveled to away games. “To me,” he wrote, “it was a battle of the bands with a football game as a warm up act. It was a great collegiate atmosphere every week – two football teams and two bands. I loved every minute (and minuet), and I appreciate the people who convinced me to come to TCU: Prof Jacobsen, Phil and Merlin Jenkins. I made the right choice.”
Someone always seemed to want our band hats. Our “Victory” march at Rice in 1956 took us safely through the end-zone tunnel, even though people in the near stands were grabbing at hats. Fearful that the back rank could be blindsided, I went to the rear of the band, marching backward to keep an eye out for Owls. Unfortunately, a blocking sled was in the tunnel; the forward-marching band members saw it and went around, but I, with my backward march, toppled over, defenseless. Alas, the only hat lost that day was mine.
Bill Morgan ’58 (MME ’60)
One particular game stands out. Hurricane Gilbert ripped through the Gulf of Mexico in early September 1988 and produced torrential downpours. Many football games, including A&M, were cancelled that weekend. TCU’s was not. The team played, and the band was there. When we marched at halftime the field was in two to three inches of water. It was raining so hard that the stadium stairs became mini-waterfalls. What I remember most was the ovation we received. The crowd was thrilled we were there and let us know it. Go Frogs!
Andrew Rhodes ’89
There are many wonderful memories: SWC champions twice; the Bluebonnet Bowl; the band on national TV (in the 1950s halftime shows were on TV). One embarrassing thing — our drum major (whom I will not name) came strutting out for fanfare and slipped on the muddy field and fell on his bottom. I think it was at an A&M game, the worst place for it to happen. I also remember a tornado and rain so bad in 1957 that the refs couldn’t see a winning touchdown. The films later showed a touchdown.
Roger Martin ’59
In 1991 the band performed at halftime of a Cowboys game early in the school year. It was a mandatory performance – if you missed it, you failed the class. The buses were leaving for Texas Stadium on Sunday at 8 a.m., which is exactly when I woke up. I didn’t have a car or a ride, so I called a taxi. Then it hit me that my drums were locked in a closet in Daniel-Meyer Coliseum. So Mom started calling all kinds of people and miraculously, on a Sunday morning, calling from Kansas, she found someone who could open up DMC to get my drums. I got to the game in plenty of time, but my taxi bill was like $100 and I forgot the carrier that holds my drums. At halftime, I marched with the band but had to carry my drums with my hands. I never played them.
Dustin Ater ’95
Back in the late ’40s, early ’50s, the small band had only male members. On trips, if a band member couldn’t go, a substitute carried the instrument to fill out the band, whether he could play or not. I was asked to be a sousaphone substitute for a band trip to Austin. All one needed to substitute was some marching ability and be able to practice formations to be used at the game. Of course, they took away the mouthpiece to be sure the horn wasn’t blown improperly. We went by train to Austin. TCU won an upset victory over the Longhorns, and the band at the end of the game began wildly marching down the field playing the fight song, accompanied by many school supporters. I looked up and saw that the letter covers over the five sousaphones spelled FGORS, and I wasn’t the one out of place. But everybody was deliriously happy and all thought it was funny.
By the way, a band substitute in those days got free transportation, a meal or two and $12.50 spending money.
Harrison L. Townes ’52
Back in the late 1940s, the band was made up largely of veterans of WWII who were impossible to control. One year, arriving back on campus after the Fat Stock Show parade, the band guys somehow acquired a big white horse. Then they proceeded to ride the horse through the old Ad Building, marching behind it and jamming Onward Christian Soldiers.
Another year the football team and band went by train to Kansas City for the Kansas University game. As the game started, so did a real bad rain storm. Part of the band’s show was to spell out HELLO. The drum major took the band down behind the stadium during the second quarter and changed the show slightly. First they spelled O HELL, then the O ran to the other end of the formation, spelling HELLO.
Jim “Prof” Jacobsen
One year the Showgirls were doing a swing band number, and at one point during the song, the entire clarinet section broke out into high kicks. That year happened to be a battle for “section of the week” (which the clarinets never won) so on our t-shirts — “Top ten reasons why clarinets should be the section of the week” — we wrote, “No one hears us, they just see our high kicks.” It was our chance to draw attention to ourselves from being just a curve on the back of the field.
Christi Thomas ’03
My first of many fond memories of The Show Window of TCU is basic training as a freshman, 1957. Asian flu was epidemic. The infirmary was filled, Howdy Week cancelled, the campus shut down — except basic training. Inoculated, auditioned and deemed ready, we formed squads. Eight to the five, double commands, 100 degrees! It meshed when Prof had us play the fight song a bazillion times … rah, rah, TCU! rah, rah, TCU! … marching eight to the five with double commands. A genius! Prof had a wrap-up party in his backyard. He and Woody Woodard dazzled us playing virtuoso harmonica. To close, Prof said, “The Frogs may not win the game, but The Show Window of TCU never loses the halftime.” We never did.
Don Lacy ’61, president, 1960-60
Bobby J. Stigler ’50 (right) of North Richland Hills, on bass drum above, took his first ride in a Pullman as a member of the band. He recalls when they arrived at the station they would parade to the game. At his left is Walter Echols ’54 of Fort Worth.
I was in TCU preparatory ballet with teacher David Preston from 1960-68. Therefore, I am an alum of sorts. My daughter, Leslie Ayres, is a senior at TCU now. I thought you might like to hear from one of those Alice E. Carlson Elementary School students who loved to go to the cloak room to sneak a peek at the band practicing across the street. They were loud and wonderful to the ears of a young child.
Pam Steinert Ayres
The Cotton Bowl game of 1959 against the Air Force Academy was a game I will never forget. The game was a tremendous defensive battle and ended in a 0-0 tie. One of my most cherished memories of the game, however, was not about the game at all. The Air Force Academy had brought some falcons with them to perform at half-time. The falcons were supposed to fly above the stadium and on command, attack a piece of meat that was on a string being swung around the head of an airman stationed at mid-field. The announcers told the audience how highly trained these birds were, and how they would always attack on command. I am sure the command for attack was given, but the birds never responded. Finally, the TCU band took the field and presented our usual outstanding performance. After the game, the bird handlers took to the field again and called the falcons. I could see one of them perched on the top of the State Fair auditorium. To my knowledge, the birds made their future home in Dallas.
Dr. Bill Auvenshine ’59
During the late ’50s, the football team worked out on three practice fields on the hill to the South and West of the (current) Field House. After practice, we would walk down the hill to the old locker room underneath the West Stands. Often, we would see the band still practicing on the field in the floor of the stadium; like us, getting ready for the game on Saturday. Many times, tired, some of us would sit down in the end zone and watch them work out. They worked just as hard as we did! I remember the Drum Major, Ruben Fechner. It was a treat to watch him, leaning over backwards, prancing downfield pumping his baton up and down, and popping his legs straight out in front of him as he moved gracefully downfield. Many times, we would ask Coach Abe to abbreviate his halftime chalk talk so we could go out early and watch the band perform. They were great. I’m not sure we ever told the band members how much we appreciated their efforts and enjoyed watching them. When Ruben got all dressed up in his tall hat and uniform and took off down the field, it was a sight to behold. I remember one game in particular when Coach Abe grumbled something like, “You guys are more interested in seeing what Ruben is going to do than winning this football game!” He then quickly ended his halftime talk and sent us back to the field so we could watch.
Walter Ince ’59
Some of my fondest memories are the pre-game festivities – marching into the stadium with the fans cheering all around, the sounds of the drum line reverberating, the smell of the roasted corn in the end zone. At those moments the entire Frog family is united and buzzing with the excitement and anticipation of the game. It make you stand a little taller and be proud to be a Horned Frog.
Christi Thomas ’03, Houston
Wilma Hoyler Curis ’57 (left) writes: “One of my fondest memories was the day I was presented as Band Sweetheart in 1954. Our band president, John Morrison, who was blind, presented me with a beautiful bouquet of roses. He took his band hat off when he kissed me, and held it behind my back. My hat fell into his hat. I opened my eyes when he said “OH!” and saw my hat on his head. We couldn’t have planned it better if we had rehearsed it!”
My favorite memory was the train trip to the LSU game. We wore our jumpsuits (purple Frog band). We were told that the Tiger fans would not be very receptive to the visiting fans and the band. We were shocked when fans gave our band a standing ovation and loud applause. I remember many wonderful trips, wonderful friends like Eddie Durham and Carol Orton Wiseman. Also Curtis, Ray, Tiny and Winston Polly.
Jeanie Morris Lewis ’64
I remember transferring from TCJC with my best friend Lori Leander (Stodghill) and visiting Prof Jacobsen to sign up for band. He assured us we would have a hundred new friends within days and he was absolutely correct! I continued on in band my senior year and was the oldest person to pledge Tau Beta, ever, I guess! Mrs. J made me an honorary lifetime member after I made it through pledging! I continued to march with the band for several more football seasons when bodies were needed to fill in. Eventually, I met my husband and I remember while we were dating , we ran into Prof and Mrs. J at the Burgandy Tree Resturant and Prof told my now husband that he wanted to meet the person who had taken me away from marching with the band as a fill-in! My fondest memories of TCU are of the Band and the wonderful times we had. Now, as a geriatric mom of a senior in Cleburne High School (Christian) who also has enjoyed band for 6 years. and a 14-year-old (Michael-Murray) both who play Baritones TC .I hope to send the TCU Froggie Marching Band yet two more people to initiate in the nest few years! The tradition continues! Thank-you Prof and all my wonderful friends from band for the great memories! Rah-Rah TCU!
Karen Murray Forrest ’74
The ugliest shoes I ever owned were my band shoes. They were white monstrosities with fat heels and large bulbous toes. My shoes caused soggy socks in Summer band yet produced ice cube toes in late fall. My seniorfriends had similar hateful relationships with their marching shoes, so when the last game of the season came around we were anxious to be rid of them. Late one night, we gathered in a back parking lot, squirted our shoes with copious amounts of lighter fluid and started a small but happy fire. A trumpet played taps. The shoes, which also turned out to be flammable with proper encouragement, burned into a black goopy mess while we toasted the days ahead – and better shoes.
Amanda Armstrong Gladden ’92
I was a new band member when we got new uniforms. We were so proud. I remember the band trips to “out of town’ games; train and busses. They were such fun. I don’t think we had “Frog Fountain’ back then, but I know we took pride in a job well done under Lour Gillis and Jim Jacobsen, with Ruben Fechner out front.
Martha Sue Michener Foster ’58
My fondest memory of the TCU Band is not a memory but a person. As Band Director, Jim “Prof” Jacobsen taught the Band members many things- discipline, responsibility and pride in their work. He also told us to “show off” and have fun while on the field. Most of all, as a man, he taught us to believe in ourselves when we were down and life was tough. He believed in us when we did not believe in ourselves. I will always appreciate what he and Mrs. “J” (Wyn Jacobsen) did for the Band and for me personally.
Mark Sakovich ’78
Lloyd Scurlock ’53 (MTS ’00) took home the Best Costume award this fall when slipped into his 1950s era band jumpsuit for the Clark Weekend Sock Hop.
My being part of the Band was a fluke! I arrived on campus in June ’43, when so many males had left for the service. Leon Breeden, bless him, was desperate for warm bodies to make up a band for football season, and sent out a call for anyone who could march and had rhythm! This vocal student volunteered, was accepted, and found herself playing a tenor drum! So much fun, marching, doing formations, traveling! Wonderful memories for a soprano tenor drum player!
Dorothy Houk ’45
The Frog Band trip to Houston, a near miss. I woke up with a start hearing the noisy band buses outside Shirley dorm – most embarrassing house call of my life! Thankfully, Don had persuaded Prof to stop by just for me. By Don’s senior year, he was Band President, and I was Band Sweetheart. The Band Banquet became our engagement party! “President Don” is now “Dr. Don”, serving a church in Lynchburg, VA. Married 21 years, our Frog Family includes drums, two French horn (daughter beginning), trumpet, flute, and two trombones (teenage sons). Happy 100th TCU Bands!
Carol ’83 and Don C. Wilson ’82
The year was 1942. I played sax in the Paschal High School Band. Because the boys had gone to war (WWII), the TCU band was small. Since we had the same color uniforms, we were invited to play with the TCU band at all the football games. We really enjoyed being part of a college band and seeing all the games free.
Dr. Jimmy Burnett ’47, Fort Worth
I remember having to go into “Prof’s” office and tell him I accidently destroyed the school’s brand new E-flat descant trumpet by jumping off the bleachers (to celebrate, in those days, a rare TCU football touchdown) and landing on it with all my weight. Prof, by the way, was understanding and the gentleman he has always been. I, however, was labled “Feet” forever more. And of course, I remember all the band trips!
Kerry Hughes ’81, New York
As a Freshman in 1947 I made my first trip with the band, by train, to the TCU-KU game in Kansas City. We marched from the station to a hotel (two miles or more) to our fast cadence led by drummer Tommy Gwinn. At the hotel we had a ballroom reserved where we had planned to change from our coveralls to uniforms. But it came a pouring rain, so we stayed in coveralls and whatever rain gear we could find. With drum major Woody Woodard we worked out a substitute half-time formation in the ballroom. At half-time (sans instruments) we formed the letters R A I N, gave a yell: “R-A-I-N — OH Hell!” and walked off the field.
Ernie Repass ’51, MME ’55
In the fall of 1951, TCU was scheduled to play USC in Los Angeles. It was not a scheduled band trip to the games. Buford Latimer and another member of the band, whose name I can’t remember, went to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram office and asked to see Mr. Amon Carter. They told him they thought the band should go to California to help cheer the Frogs since they were far from home. He called Pete Wright, the athletic director, and verbally twisted his arm into making the trip possible: “You want that new wing on the stadium, don’t you?” he said. Lewis Gillis, the band director, quickly whipped us into a short half-time show, we got special train cars to California. We had a great trip with pep rallies at every stop, but the Horned Frogs lost the game. The band had a ball.
Morris Repass, Woodland Hills, CA. ’52, ’64
I am a 1954 TCU grad. I played a trumpet in the band for three years. Don Gillis was the director then. We did not have a large marching band and I was not a music major, nor did I lay claim to a great talent as a musician. But I had a good time! Probably my most lasting memories were playing in the Los Angeles Coliseum when the Frogs played USC and Frank Gifford and that same year the 1952 Cotton Bowl against Kentucky’s Babe Parilli and Bear Bryant. The team gave a good account of itself. We thought we won the halftime performances. The train trip to California was rather a surprise to all. We were contacted Wednesday a.m. to get over to the practice field for a quick rehearsal. This was unusual because it was a road game and we were not scheduled to go and had the week off. At the practice, we were informed that we were going to California. The conventional wisdom was that Amon Carter had come forth with the money for the tickets. We were on our own as far as food was concerned. There was a lot of borrowing from whomever would make a loan. We boarded the train on Thursday and arrived in Los Angeles early Saturday a.m. Many did a hasty tour of Hollywood before we were to report to the Coliseum. All made it on time. To say we were impressed is an understatement as the Los Angeles Coliseum was huge and so was the crowd. After the game, it was back to the train and Fort Worth. We arrived in town sometime on Monday, all exhausted and broke with most wondering how the loans were going to be paid off. But what a great trip! The only other trip out of Texas we took while I was there was to Little Rock, Arkansas and that was on a bus. God Bless the memory of Amon Carter!
Jim Haynes ’54
Andy Patterson ’48, K. Miller ’56 and Morris Repass ’52, at Grauman’s Chinese Theater in 1951. Morris writes: “In the fall of 1951 TCU was scheduled to play USC in Los Angeles. It was not a scheduled band trip to the games. Buford Latimer ’52 and another member of the band, whose name I can’t remember, went to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram office and asked to see Mr. Amon Carter. They told him they thought the band should go to California to help cheer the Frogs since they were far from home. He called Pete Wright, the athletic director, and verbally twisted his arm into making the trip possible: ‘You want that new wing on the stadium, don’t you?’ he said. Lewis Gillis, the band director, quickly whipped us into a short half-time show, we got special train cars to California. We had a great trip with pep rallies at every stop, but the Horned Frogs lost the game. The band had a ball.”
I was in TCU Preparatory Ballet with teacher David Preston from 1960 -1968. Therefore I am an alum of sorts. My daughter Leslie Ayres is a senior at TCU now. I thought you might like to hear from one of those Alice E. Carlson elementary students who loved to go to the cloak room to sneek a peek at the band practicing across the street. They were loud and wonderful to the ears of a young child.
Pam Steinert Ayers, Wichita Falls
Beverly Kelsey ’75, (left) of Alexandria, Va., above with Prof Jacobsen, recalls falling as she tried to cross a storm drain on the way back to the band room. She twisted her ankle and her cymbals crashed to the ground. She wrote: It was funny, painful, and embarrassing. I couldn’t stop crying and laughing. My brother, Buck, had to help me back to Waits Dorm. To this day I’m not sure if the cymbals slid down into the drain, or if someone rescued them.
Being in the band was what made my whole TCU experience shine. The people were incredible. We were all family and best friends to each other. In August of 1980, we marched every day in the 100-plus degree heat and came back for more. I loved it when Stadium Drive flooded and we messed up our white uniform pants. We also made pretty beautiful music sometimes. There’s nothing like seeing the band now, and reliving those memories of the years I was a part of it.
Karen Moreland Farnell ’85
My favorite memories: “Prof” Jacobsen singing “Old Man River” being very close to LBJ at the 1968 commencement. The concert band stopping in the middle “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes” and singing one verse. Going to Arkansas games and being in the middle of 30,000 plus of their fans, all of whom seemed drunk and angry. Going to almost every away game and seeming to be the only TCU supporters in a seas of the opponents fans.
Jack Smith ’71, Fort Worth
There are many, many wonderful memories in my four years (’55-59): SWC Champions twice; Bluebonnet Bowl; Taking a TCU special train to the University of Arkansas and Texas Tech; Band on national TV (in the 50’s half-time shows were on TV. One embarrassing thing – our drum major (who I will not name) came strutting out for fanfare and slipped on the muddy field and fell on his bottom. I think it was at an A&M game, the worst place for it to happen. I also remember tornado and rain so bad that one of the refs couldn’t see a winning touch down. The films later showed a touchdown. This was in 1957.
Roger Martin ’59
Dr. Arthur “Skip” Dolt ’89 of Atlanta, Ga., and the members of the “Trombone Triad” — Tom Laney ’90, Keith Flynn ’89 — with music Professor of trombone Frank N. Brown — at a game against the Longhorns in 1988. Skip writes: “It is with particular fondness that I recall my affiliation with the “Trombone Triad,” a group whose self-proclaimed slogan was ‘most per capita decibel output of any musicians in the Southwest Conference.’ “
During the four years I was drum major, the hours I spent with Prof. in his home planning the half time shows was very special. I also enjoyed the week prior to the opening of school when just the band was on campus learning the basics.
John Tatum ’62, Missouri City
My best memories of the ’60s were the trips we took on away games to the high schools on Friday nights on the way to the Saturday TCU games. We performed at halftime of the host high school games on Friday nights and then usually stayed with high school band members’ families that night. Besides being fun and a good last dress rehearsal, the locals always showed great appreciation for our being there, and the hosts were always gracious and went out of their way to make us feel at home. We usually got a home cooked meal not only before bedtime, but the next morning at breakfast as well. It broke up some long trips (on crowded buses) and gave us a welcome break from our normal routines.
Larry Collette ’68
My favorite memories: Hurrying to be on time to that small rehearsal in the Fine Arts Building… “Falling out” to the north (I think) sidewalk and marching to the parade field (replace by Hall dorm_… learning to march with smartly lifted knees “eight to the five”… Learning a new “Diamond Jim” Jacobsen routing almost every week… Leslie Ross making sure I was ready to march: tie right, uniform braid on right, shoes absolutely white… The bus trips… The train trip to the TCU-Rice game and initiation complete with egg-shaving cream shampoo… Our band “Mother” Wyneth Jacobsen: Lovely woman and loved by all… these are just a few of my favorites. For this small town country girl (only child), being in the TCU Band was to suddenly be “adopted” into a large family loved music, TCU and each other. It was a wonderful place to grow up. Unforgettable in every way!
Patricia Faye Buchanan Keeler ’60, Tucson, Ariz.
I was in the TCU Band from 1969 till 1973, was an original Band Deb and worked in the Band Office for a while. Prof was my guardian angel as I was quite alone parent-wise. I had a lot of fun in the band. Some of my favorite times were marching to the stadium to the tune of “Hey Jude” when the trombone players would literally jam! Then there were the recruiting trips to the coast and New Orleans during spring break. We earned money by having “egg sales” – going from one house asking for a donation of eggs, and the next house, asking to buy the eggs! On one of those trips, the guys stuck a Playboy centerfold in Prof’s score. It was so funny when he opened that page in the middle of the song!! One thing, though, that I will NEVER forget – we were playing A & M, and the Vigies were carrying a sign that read “The Corps has Worms” with a big apple and worm sticking out of it. The band was on the field getting ready to perform when the entire Aggie side of the stadium emptied out onto the field to fight for their name. I think I saw my life flash in front of me! Funny thing, several years later, I returned to school to get a vet. tech. license and two of my professors were A & M students at that game!!! Talk about a small world.
Jill Schrader Currie,’74, Grandview
Genevieve Bennetts Zelaya ’01 said she’ll, “never forget the days of “Corn Dog- Fries, the chaotic run in and high mark time, the Jacobson turnaround, Deep in the Heart of Texas and ‘the only song we know’ “! One her fondest memories was when TCU played in the Sun Bowl against USC and ended up beating USC, her father’s Alma Mater. Zelaya is now the assistant band director at Briarhill Middle School in Highland Village.
Following a rain-soaked season finale loss to Texas A&M at Kyle Field in 1988, my band uniform mildewed after lying in the trunk of my vehicle for two days. To my surprise, I wasn’t the only person whose uniform had ruined.
Derik Moore ’92, Grandview
I have many great memories of road trips and the building of life-long friendships. However, one particular game stands out. Hurricane Gilbert ripped through the Gulf of Mexico in early September 1988 and produced torrential downpours as it worked its way across Texas. Many football games, including A&M, were cancelled that weekend. TCU did not. The team played and the band was there. When we marched as half-time the field was literally in 2-3 inches of water. It was raining so hard that the stairs of the stadium became mini-waterfalls. What I remember most was the ovation we received at the half. The crowd was thrilled we were there and let us know it. Go Frogs!
Andrew Rhodes ’89, Grand Prairie
Back in the late 40s, and early 50s, the band had only male members and were small in numbers. One football band trips, if a band member couldn’t go, a substitute was needed to carry an instrument fill out the band, whether he could play or not. I was asked to be a sousaphone substitute for a band trip to Austin. All one needed to substitute was some marching ability and be able to practice formations to be used at the game. Of course, they took away the mouthpiece to be sure the horn wasn’t blown improperly. We went by train to Austin. TCU won an upset football victory over the Longhorns and the band at the end of the game began wildly marching down the field playing the Fight Song, along with many school supporters. I happened to luck up and saw that the letter covers over the five sousaphones spelled FGORS, and I wasn’t the one out of place. But everybody was deliriously happy and all thought it was funny. By the way, a band substitute in those days got free transportation, a meal or two and $12.50 spending money.
Harrison L. Townes ’52, Tulsa, Okla.
As a class of ’78 grad, I was in the marching band during the worst four football seasons in TCU history. Since watching the game was usually painful, it was up to us to add some excitement. My friend Andy and I did a running game broadcast in the trombone section, including an improved scoring system that rewarded the Frogs a TD any time they crossed the 50 yard line. The Frogs still lost with the new system (though more competitive), and we learned we shouldn’t go into broadcasting. Thanks for the memories.
Rob Nester ’78, Austin
Showgirls were a part of the band during much of its TCU history. Our rehearsals were full of marching endlessly looking right or left in straight files during hot summer band practice. The good news was that we were allowed to move in our dorms early – the stairs were empty; moving was easier.
Mary Mirenda Wendt ’84 (MS ’86), Sylvania, Ohio
It all comes back to me – the games, the parades – the hot sun, the snow – working hard all week to learn a new show. The great friendship for a lifetime, touch football by the Band Hall. SW Conference football games – the showgirls – Kappa Kappa Pis and Tau Beta Sigma – and the best and fondest memory of all “Prof” and Mrs. Jacobsesn – the band kept me going despite pre-med.
Peter Sakovich M.D. ’78, Colleyville
In 1980, my freshman year, Prof designed a show that included and elephant eating a peanut – a rather partisan statement about the Regan/Carter election. We were impartial, though. We also marched in a donkey formation. In 1981, Curt Wilson became the interim director and we made a commercial. We played Fort Worth Nation…That’s my bank” at least 100 times.
Debbie Morgan ’84, Tuscon, Ariz.
I transferred to TCU from a small school in Ohio and the band was an instant family of friends. There are a lot of things I remember about my years in the band, but topping the list would be travelling to other parts of the state and country for games. There were not too many female sousaphone players in those days, so my band-mates could pick on me, but not anyone else… they kept an eye out for me. Seeing other schools/stadiums and different parts of the United States (even if most of it was still in Texas!) was a lot of fun, especially since we took great pride in representing our school. The other fond memory would be that moment during early practices in the band room when everything musically would come together and just knock you ears off!
Wendy Warner Lepish ’79
1952: Freshman year … Lew Gillis era … Drum Major Frank Kasko … 50 OUTSTANDING musicians–small in no way but number … all male except for the GORGEOUS majorettes (as a freshman, I couldn’t help but notice them!) … John Morrison, a blind Sousaphone player, marching too, but the rest of us stumbling over yard lines often enough that no one notices him … but we played! … shuffling in from the end zone playing the Fight Song at MM=220 … segueing at the 50-yard line into concert formation to blow “Lover”, “University Drive”, and other great Gillis jazz arrangements into the stands … entertaining … well accepted … then shuffling off the sidelines in time, hopefully, to avoid Abe Martin’s baleful scowl if we were overtime. … 1955: Senior year … Prof Jacobsen’s era (the modern one) begins … women are marching … the Drum Major is taller than his signal baton … “8 to 5” … lift those knees! … “Tea For Two” … moving diamonds … structured, creative shows designed with careful attention to detail … espirit d’corps … equally rich … equally satisfying. … Two eras … the best of both worlds.
Jim Smith ’56
When I attended Riverside Junior High School in Fort Worth, I had a band director named Charles Hoffman who had gotten his degree at TCU. He told us about the time that the Frogs were playing for the national championship, I believe, in the Rose Bowl. It was 1935, and the quarterback was Davey O’Brien. The game was nationally broadcast on one of the major radio networks back then. The TCU band decided to make a controversial break with the tradition of playing military marches a la John Philip Sousa. The kids in the band, including Hoffman, were then into “swing” and “jazz,” and the band shocked the entire nation by playing upbeat, pop music at halftime! Some Sousa devotees were, of course, absolutely livid. But the people in the stadium and the listeners on radio loved it! From then on, as I understand it, bands began to play more current music at halftime and in parades, music you could move to. If this story is true, it would be great for some student at TCU to research it and come up with the real story. It’s a great legacy. Speaking of legacies, my daughter, Jessica, is a second generation French Horn player, first chair in the 320-strong Schaumburg High School Marching Saxons and principal French Horn player for the Schaumburg Youth Symphony Orchestra. I wish she would consider TCU, but she wants to go to college close to home. Maybe she’ll be wearing purple although it will be Northwestern purple.
W. Paul Pearce ’69 (MA), Schaumburg, Ill.
My best band memory was when that year the University of Arkansas came to play us at Carter Stadium. During the TCU half-time show we started off by swinging our horns left and right and shouting “TCU!” Well my music went flying back about three rows as we marched off I had to fake all the music but made it with a smile…..and our show was great. Someone in the band behind me picked up my music to my surprise. Thank you.
Don Burkhart ’55, Las Vegas, Nev.
The first time we rehearsed on stage at Ed [Landreth] during summer band of my freshman year, I couldn’t believe the HUGE sound! I have many fond memories and great friendships from my band days that I truly will treasure for a lifetime.
Holly Grosklos ’91 ’93, Fort Worth
Although the MANY long, hot and thorough practices are nightmares of Frog Band Alums, it was the “behind the scenes” happenings that are the most memorable. From the torado siren interrupting Wind Symphony rehearsal in 1995 to holiday quintets with Tony Storere at Seminary Mall, off-the-record events were the best. After practice walks with Jared Parker kept me in trouble, but full of fond happiness. Wisdom talks with Lynne Guess-Brandt informed me about college life, really. Then there were the bus trips – good thing this is censored! We all became adults on those trips!
Karen Pfeifer Mullins ’96
My senior year was the year that TCU played USC in the Sun Bowl. Being from California, I had friends there that day in USC’s band. We stood on the sidelines as they played their show, they were bigger and louder (but not better) than we were. When they left, the two other drum majors and I led our band to the field. It sounded like the stadium had erupted, and all I could see was a sea of purple and white. All I could think was “we’re finally here.” It was an amazing feeling, a great experience.
Amy Sutherland ’99