‘Old Glory’ brings 4th music


News staff writer

July 1, 2006

The Old Glory Marching Band isn’t worried about keep the beat — just their balance — during the annual Fourth of July Parade in Hood River.

“We’re all old and we were once glorious so that’s how we came up with the name,” said Eric Ohlson, organizer.

Most of the musicians involved in the group have dusted off instruments that were shelved for years. And hardly anyone knows how to march with precision — and the few individuals that do can’t remember how.

Being part of Old Glory isn’t for the fainthearted — or even a few of the stouthearted.

Hood River County School Supt. Pat Evenson-Brady dropped out after the first of two rehearsals. She said it was difficult enough just managing her clarinet after 44 years — let alone keeping step at the same time.

“I don’t have enough muscles anymore to keep my mouth in shape for even 20 minutes — it’s just been too long,” she said. “And I didn’t think it would be fair to march along and not play.”

Jerry Keith is undaunted by the prospect of packing his tuba at 10 a.m. on Tuesday from the intersection of 12th Street and Pacific Avenue to Jackson Park. But then Keith was once a member of the 1st Marine Division Field Band and spent plenty of time on the tarmac for graduations at Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego, Calif.

“As a precision unit I’m sure we’re not going to impress anybody but, hey, there’ll be a band,” said Keith.

His greatest fear is that Gorge winds will fill the bell of his tuba and make it difficult to stay upright.

“Oh well, no matter what happens it will be fun. I loved marching when I was in high school, college and the Marines,” said Keith.

He and most of the Old Glory members perform regularly with Gorge Winds Concert Band and/or the Columbia Gorge Sinfonietta. So, they haven’t had any difficulty learning their sole piece: El Capitan by Philip Sousa, the “March King.”

Ohlson gained volunteers for the band by sending out a few e-mails to friends. He also placed a few advertisements, and spread the word to known musicians.

“I’ve been going to parades for a long time and marching bands were always the highlight for me — so I thought we needed one,” he said.

Once Ohlson had enlisted the talents of a few good men and women, he gained a T-shirt donation from Don Nunamaker Realty.

So, Old Glory will have a uniform on Tuesday that is appropriate for the occasion —shirts in the colors of red, white and blue. Ohlson has been impressed with the harmony of the band — but maybe not so much with their one attempt at marching.

“We shall see what we shall see,” he said. “I think people are just getting a kick out of taking their instruments out and playing them again.”

Ohlson’s strategy to get the band on track is simple. He will rely on the five drummers to keep a steady cadence — and just trust everyone else to keep moving forward.

“I will blow a whistle to get us going and stop if we need to stop. But we’re in the front of the parade so I don’t think we’ll need to stop,” he said.

According to Ohlson, the placement of the band in the parade lineup is both good and bad. Good because most of the musicians will need a few minutes to “rest their lips” before joining Gorge Winds in Jackson Park. Bad since several horses will be trotting just ahead of them.

z And that might mean some high-stepping for a group that is having trouble just walking in a straight line.

In fact, during Tuesday’s marching drill, one of the musicians commented that maybe the band should be renamed the “Drunken Sailors.”

And then the notes from Keith’s tuba found favor with Cleo, the dog of snare drummer Tamara Shannon. Keith’s new faithful companion followed him for the rest of the evening. He is hopeful the parade won’t turn into a Pied Piper type of event — especially if he is already dealing with any type of a breeze.

Ohlson invites any and all Mid-Columbia musicians to join Old Glory. He said the whole idea is to have fun and perhaps inspire a few smiles from the crowd. He will gladly give more details to anyone who calls 490-0343.

”We don’t play enough, but we play enough for the time we have. This is all about having fun, we know the music and we’ll just wing it and see what happens,” said Olson.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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