Nevada Day Memories

You may miss this because it was posted in the comments, so I want to bring it out to the front page so everyone can get a chance to read it. This memoir of Nevada Days past is from guest contributor Sam Broyles.

Nevada Day Memories
by Sam Broyles

As a trombonist in the Carson City Jr and Sr High School marching (and symphony) bands from 1960-1966, my Fall schedule was predetermined to be one of marching – marching in cadence, marching while playing, marching in heat and cold, marching and disturbing the residents as we tromped through the western neighborhoods near the quonset hut high school, marching up Kings Canyon until our tongues were lolling and our throats were raw and we hated John Philip Souza, marching towards the perfection demanded by the Music Director all focused on our Nevada Day performance.

As the Day approached, we occupied ourselves in assembling and cleaning our uniforms; our shakos were fluffed and our shoes were polished, buttons were checked and belt buckles and medallions were brassoed, and our uniforms were dry cleaned and shiny blue; instruments were disassembled, cleaned, polished, reassembled and tuned. And then, we practiced and practiced and practiced the music so that even though we had music holders, even the first timers would know their music so thoroughly that they would avoid the piles of horse manure (and there was a lot of it) in the midstream playing of a demanding musical and synchronized step performance.

During the time that I was a band member, the CCHS band was considered to be one of the best in Nevada and when we set off down Carson Street, more often than not leading the parade) after waiting through an icy dawn, we swaggered as befit our status. We were the only band to play the entire length of Carson Street (the route was shorter then) and we were one of the few participating bands that would perform drills as we played, crisscrossing and shifting ranks to a precise pattern, making sure the tubas didn’t collide with the drums. Although we played the oldie marches, we also introduced syncopated swing marches which were always crowd pleasers; our audience was always friendly and encouraging, and of course, one would always see familiar faces who would yell out greetings.

As the band approached the reviewing stand in front of the Supreme Court, in unison, we summoned our flagging energies, stood up straighter, concentrated on the piece we would play, and we delivered our best performance unit of the day (hopefully). Once past the reviewing stand and a few more blocks, we would stand down, case our instruments for transport back to the school to be used that afternoon at the football game, and then rush to Austin’s Market to get water or soda. We’d wander back into the crowd to view the rest of the parade, silently jeering at our annual rivals, White Pine High School in Ely, a kick-ass band. We had a special affection for Sadie Grant who danced her grinning high step down the street either in front of or behind the band and would applaud her vigorously as she dipped and bowed.

Invariably, one would see a swarm of our band members descending on a corn dog stand or a fry bread and temporarily cleaning out their wares whilst prepping ourselves for late in life cardiac events. Eventually, as the parade dragged to an end and the crowds were dispersing, we would wend our way west to the high school band room where we would leave our hats, pick up our instruments, and discuss our previous performance while refreshing our upcoming performance.

When the time came, we filed from the band room and assembled in stadium procession, and then once again marched to our reserved seating where we would cheer on the football team as it invariably lost; the sun would sink behind C Hill and the stadium was cast in shadow, turning icy cold in an instant heralding winter. We had acquitted ourselves well once again (or not), another Nevada Day was over (darn!), and most fortuitously, the band would cease marching for the year and evolve into a symphony band and perform some serious music.

I always appreciated Nevada Day for another reason besides the festivities and the public acclaim and that appreciation stems from the dual nature of the holiday, aligning as it does with Halloween. Before I was diverted into more wholesome activities such as music, I was a sugar addict and Halloween fed my habit – I looked forward all year to the end of October. The swarms of children in small town Carson City would be good citizens on Oct 30th and go out trick or treating; on October 31st, those same swarms would become municipal outlaws and once again descend upon the neighborhoods with pillow case and grocery bags; often, we would lug our haul home and then go out again for another round. My fellow users and I would be set for the next few months as we assayed our diabetic futures.

Sadly, as of the year 2000, trick-or-treating on October 30th is a thing of the past. It was always kind of a special thing to know that we were the only kids in the nation celebrating Halloween on the 30th. And that we had a second chance to go to Reno on the 31st. The draw of the three-day weekend was too much to resist, though, so the ghouls and goblins now go out tonight, October 31st, the same as the rest of the country. ~Scott

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