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One more Dad story: Filming the Music Man

By on May 30, 2018 in Uncategorized with 0 Comments

Chuck McConnell marched to the music in towns all around.

By Dan McConnell

Chuck McConnell or “Mr. Mac” to his high school band students, taught music in Quincy for 17 years and had taught in other schools in Washington and Idaho; starting with his first job in Emmett, Idaho.

Dad had an immense fondness for putting on marching band programs for QHS football half-time shows, for the Wenatchee Apple Blossom Festival and Spokane’s Lilac Parade.

It was Dad’s last year of teaching and he wanted a video chronicle of his last parade in Spokane. He gave me his Super-8 camera and I went to work.

I took low shots of the band marching toward me and playing — probably 76 Trombones from The Music Man, which was one of his favorite songs and movies. I’m sure he felt a close kinship to Professor Harold Hill, who comes to Gary, Indiana — like he did in Emmett — and started a music program from scratch.

On and on I filmed from a variety of locations; down on the street, climbing scaffolding to get a great shot of what dad called the “Lincoln Turn” — when you come to a corner, instead of doing a marching turn, which is a nice effect where each band member turns 90 degrees at the appropriate place, the “Lincoln Turn” is a halt, then a mad scramble to the intersecting street with a quick line-up there.

It’s really fast, somewhat chaotic and lots of fun for the kids. I had a perfect location on the scaffolding to get all the action and the turn was made chaotically and quickly, in perfect form.

I think I climbed a tree to get a shot of another spectacular invention dad came up with, called “Meet the People.”

The band divides in half right down the middle and forms two single files that move toward the sidewalks; Dad shouts, “Meet the People!” and the kids walk into the crowd, introduce themselves and shake hands with the parade spectators…not an easy thing for young, somewhat shy high school band students, but it made a lasting positive impression on spectators and band students as well.

Dad would march with us at the side of the band and play his cornet along with the band as the students marched the long parade routes in green and gold, wool uniforms. By the end the students were exhausted and exhillerated, steamy hot with muscles and feet aching.

The camera kept running and I kept winding it up and I filmed the entire route.

We got home and I gave the camera back to dad. He opened the camera and said, “Where’s the film?”

I had taken the entire parade with an empty Super 8 camera.

As Dad used to say in quoting Robert Burns, from the poem, To a Mouse, “The best laid plans of mice and men ‘aft gang agley’.” (Often go awry.)

But, the images are alive and well in my head and heart.

Dan McConnell is a local pear orchardist and the cartoonist for The Good Life.

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