|When Life Hands You Lemons
LL: This is Harold Trompette, your Laughter Loaf correspondent and I am in Honeysuckle Grove, West Virginia, where I am about to conduct one of the most inspiring interviews of my career. I have with me, Mr. Harmon E. Makin, the very first band director in the history of Chawplug County. What took so long to get an instrumental music program going around here?
HEM: Well, I'll tell ya. The schools was all too small. Why they barely made enough boys to play eleven-man football. As it was, if'n more than two got hurt, they would have to call off games until at least two of 'em got healed up. With size like that, how you think we gonna get enough to field a decent legion? Beside that, six of the girls is all taken up with bein' yell leaders.
LL: So, has the population grown?
HEM: Heck no! We done consolidated the schools into one. We are now the Goat Fork Consolidated High School. The combined size give us more bodies to deal with.
LL: So now how many do you have in each class-a couple of hundred?
HEM: Naw, but we're workin' on it. This year we'll graduate a record number of seniors.
LL: How many is that?
HEM: Thirty-six. If'n we could just git some industry or sumpin' to come into the area with some jobs, I'm sure that the women folk would feel a whole lot more friendly towards their men and the population would skyrocket.
LL: How did you go about stirring up interest in a marching band?
HEM: Weren't hard at all. Lots of kids wanted in. Trouble is they're poor. They can't just run right out and buy them expensive and shiny horns.
LL: Did you launch the proverbial band fundraisers?
HEM: I just said they is poor. Can't waste their cash on some overpriced candy bar. We conducted a countywide search for used instruments. Done purty good too-five silver flutes, four clarinets, three peck horns, two saxophones, and a bass drum with both the heads broke. The Army/Navy surplus did have a left over World War II bugle, but we turned that down. It couldn't play all the notes.
LL: That's not enough for a decent size band. Where did you go from there?
HEM: Yes sir, you're right. We had to get creative. The VFW bought us three trumpets so's we'd have something' to carry the tune. Down in the basement of one of the old schools, we found a great big tuba that worked pretty good after a bath in WD-40 and Roundup.
Now, I know, that still ain't enough, but at least we gots the top, the bottom and the tune all covered. That's when I got my stroke.
LL: You became ill right in the middle of this?
HEM: Naw, silly. I mean my stroke of good fortune. These people is into good serious folk music. Their daddies play at home. To get up to a decent size unit, we added eight banjos, five dobros, and sixteen Jew's harps. It may be unconventional, but it's a thrilling sight to see those twangers come double timing' it over the hill on the forty yard line and a-cranking' out "I'll Fly Away" or "Foggy Mountain Breakdown."
Them young'uns worked real hard and we got invited to travel all the way up to Beckley to perform in front of their crowd. They got real cement bleachers and everthin'.
LL: Isn't that wonderful. This proves that there are still some good kids left in this overstressed land of ours. I'll let you do the sign off, sir.
HEM: Thankee fer havin' me. Our community thanks you. I'm Harmon E. Makin, director of the Goat Fork Consolidated High School Marching Water Moccasins.