This weekend was the annual band alumni reunion. The President of the Alumni Association told me that this is the second largest group they have had to return to one of the reunions; there were 37 Golden Girls, 42 Color Guard, 18 Tigerettes (the baton twirlers), and 259 band alumni for a total of 356. With the 325 current members, the total on the field will be the largest ever.
I went to the Lod Cook Alumni Center to ask some of the biggest #LSUSuperfans I have ever met what their favorite LSU memory is. Some got a twinkle in the eye and I amended the question to a memory that could be shared on a public forum. By far many told me their favorite memory was the first time they got to march the “Pre-game.”
Phedra White Abbott (89-93), Beth Kutnner Clark (88-91) and Rob Kuttner (90-93) all said that memories of their first pre-game were their fondest; also running down the hill through the crowd was a highlight.
James Lindsey Alidor came in from Houston for the reuntion. He said all you heard was the first drum beats of the cadence and then after that the noise of 92,000 (at the time) compares to the white noise you hear on a TV turned all the way up. He applied all of the practice on silent counts after that. (Pictured with him is his wife, Kayla, who said her favorite memory of LSU was making Tebow cry in Tiger Stadium.)
Claire Cagnolatti (74-77) of Dallas also said the first pre-game as a band member is one of the highlights of her time at LSU. She attended games from the time she was 13, but the first time she was about to do Pre-game she had to work to calm herself. She attended the reunion every year so her guess is that she has been on the field about 28 times. She appreciated every one; the first time she had to sit in the stands as a graduate student she admitted to a few tears.
When I asked Ed Swindell (61-64) about his favorite memory, his wife Becky sat up to listen. They met on the bus on the way to the 1963 Cotton Bowl game. When the band returned to campus, Becky’s friends were ready to go and Ed said he didn’t know what got in to him when he told them “She’s going with me”. They decided the bus ride must have been fate because they never would have met otherwise – he was in the front row of the band and she was on the back row.
Another couple who met while in band was former Color Guard Debbie Whitehouse Dupre (85-89) and her husband Keith Dupre (85-92). They met at practice on the Bernie Moore Field. They both echoed other comments on hearing just the first 1-2 drum beats and only hearing the fans after that. Debbie told me she just hoped whe was on the right beat and foot after that. This reunion was the first they have been able to make since Keith is a high school principal and usually had a conflict. This was the first time their children will be able to see them on the field so it was a special weekend. Keith was also happy to hear present band playing the middle drum cadence that he helped to write back in the mid-eighties.
When I walked up on three former Golden Girls, I didn’t know I would be meeting people I felt like I knew for years. Rae Phillips Tulle (1964), Suzanne M. Minvielle (63-65) and Janet Pounds (63-65) all agreed that walking down the hill was exciting. The crowd seemed to get even more excited when they would line up on the 20 yard line and pull off their purple capes one at a time for the crowd after being introduced as “Sixteen as the South’s Loveliest Ladies”. The dances were a little different then; they were not allowed to touch any part of their bodies except for their toes. Even after throwing off their capes, the uniforms still had skirts for modesty.
Long Time #LSUSuperFans!
The oldest member to return this year was Buddy Boudreaux. He attended LSU for two semesters before leaving for a music career. He was a member of the band in 1936. Castro Carazo who was the leader Huey Long appointed after he heard him playing at the Roosevelt in New Orleans. Buddy told me that while Carazo was an amazing band leader and wrote many of the LSU songs we still play today, he was “scared of Huey”.
If someone didn’t answer that their favorite memory was “Pre-Game”, then the second answer was the bus trips. Steve Jackson (73-77) and Mike Arthur both tried to tell me their bus was the better bus. If you are reading this you will have to tell me if “Bus 5″ or “Bus 6″ was better.
Ruby Neely’s (53-54) favorite memory also occurred on a bus trip. On one of their trips to Ole Miss, the bad broke up the freshman bon fire by marching through it! I had so much fun just picturing that!
To prove that the band members were still some of the biggest superfans, Ms. Neely told me she drives 25 miles each way by herself to watch our Tigers play with the Denver Alumni at the Krewe Crescent City BBQ. This was her first trip back for an alumni band weekend.
All-American College TV Band
While many of us remember the recently awarded Sudler Trophy, I heard many tales of the 1971 band title only awarded once (after all once you have awarded it to the best band why give it away any more?). Dr. Thomas Guillot told me the band was the best part of college and his favorite memory were his trips to the 1971 Orange Bowl and being immediately flown to San Francisco by ABE to play in the East West Shrine Bowl. They were awarded the All-American College TV Band trophy. Mike Boudreaux (67-71) remembered they did two different half time shows for the games.
If you have ever talked to a band member, you knew they had a special experience during their tenure. After talking with so many members this weekend, I became even more aware than I already was that they have a special friendship and love for each other and LSU than many other alumni.