Remember When: Monday won’t be 1st time band witnessed history

Published 2:38 am Saturday, January 12, 2019

Governor Kay Ivey and other constitutional office holders will be sworn into office on January 14, 2019. Ivey became governor in April 2017 when then-Governor Robert Bentley resigned. She won the office in her own right after defeating challenger Walt Maddox.

Governor Ivey’s inaugural theme will be “Keep Alabama Growing.” The swearing in ceremony begins at 10:00 a. m. on the State Capitol steps after a prayer service at the First Baptist Church of Montgomery. The parade starts at noon. Alabama’s first woman governor, Lurleen Burns Wallace, did have a parade at her 1967 inauguration but dedicated the parade to the state’s troops stationed in Vietnam.

Through the years the Andalusia High School Marching Bulldog Band has been invited several times to participate. After it was announced last week that the band had been invited, a lot of former AHS bandsmen began posting on social media about their experiences of having marched in an Alabama Inaugural Parade. The oldest former bandsmen that commented marched in January 1959 when John Patterson became governor.

The photo attached to this column is submitted by Harvey “Pete” Donaldson who weighed in on the “Growing Up in Andalusia” FB site. This is thanks to Norma Moore Jackson who posted on her page requesting memories of the AHS Band marching.

Norma posts, “I remember the band marching in an inaugural parade in Montgomery. It was a big deal – we loaded up on that Trailways bus early in the morning. It had to be in the late 1950s as I was not in the band my last two years in high school (She was a cheerleader those years!). If you cheered, you were not in band or eligible for homecoming court. That was fine! It was the way it was and more students had opportunities to participate.”

Her classmates remember that day, too. Margo Russell recalls, “I remember marching down Dexter Avenue. It was COLD!” Janice Aucoin remembered that weather, too.

Harvey Donaldson, who found the picture in his high school mementoes wrote, “I remember attending primary election rallies on the Andalusia Court Square in the spring of 1958 for John Patterson, Jimmy Faulkner, and George Wallace. Patterson brought entertainment with him – Rebe Gosdin and the Sunny Valley Boys who performed in the courtroom. Faulkner had the Statesmen Quartet who performed on the courthouse steps out front. The Wallace rally brought someone playing on a Hammond organ. I met Bob Ingram that day. He was a 24 year-old cub reporter for the Montgomery Advertiser.”

Charles Pelham also shared this picture from January 1959. He stated, “I can identify the Band Director, Lacey Powell; Drum Major, Tommy O’Neal; and Majorettes, Margo Russell, Butch McDonald, Barbara Meredith, and Suzanne Brown.” (Readers, you might recognize this group on the mural beside the Andalusia Post Office mail drop.)

Dr. Bill Hansford posts, “I played clarinet sometimes and tuba. I am almost certain that I am the outside right tuba in this picture.”

Barbara Meredith Nichols, former majorette, posts “One of the many awesome perks of being in this great band during one of its ‘Golden Eras’ – fun times always and lots of stories to tell.”

Doug Parrish writes, “That was the only day I skipped school while a student at AHS. I did not do so alone but the others are no longer living so I will not name them. We made the mistake of leaving in my car to go to Montgomery after we were already parked in the school parking lot. We got caught and had a visit with Principal James A.  Wilson (JAW)! As I recall, we spent 5 days in after school detention.”

The next group of students who remembered marching was the parade of January 1963, George Wallace’s first inauguration. Ann Faulkner Bevino and Phyllis Russo Helms, who were majorettes state, “It was shockingly cold. Don’t know why we didn’t get frostbite, because I think we marched in our short sleeveless outfits, and we wore no jackets.’

Other students of that era who posted comments were Carol Lee Wilson Warrington, Diane Simpler Black, Larry Shaw, Betty Searcy Colquitt, Sue Franklin Taylor, Nikki Martin Bodie, Caroline Eiland Busbee, Frank Deason, Dannie Hall Bradley, Sally Bass Gilmer, Johnny Mowbray, and Jimmy Wilson.

The Montgomery Advertiser reported, “A worse day could not have been selected. George C. Wallace’s first (1963) inauguration was the coldest on record. The temperature did not rise above 17 degrees. While the weather was not as frigid for the 1975 ceremony, both Governor Wallace and First Lady Cornelia donned thermal underwear to ward off the chill of the overcast day!” Thanks to Al Pelham for that information from the State of Alabama Archives website.

Sally Bass Gilmer, who was a tenth grader in the 1967 inaugural parade, vividly remembers the day the weather being bitterly cold, so cold she became ill afterward with high fever and was sick for days missing several weeks from school. “I may have had on ear muffs and mittens. Mrs. Arlene Nettles, my homeroom teacher, kept wondering when I was returning to school. It is one of my worst memories from high school. The band was to leave from the ‘5 Points’ area on the western edge of downtown Montgomery, a predominantly residential neighborhood. We had to wait, wait, wait until it was our turn to begin marching toward the fountain and up the hill on Dexter Avenue, a long way, three miles maybe.”

Jimmy Wilson remembers the band riding the Trailways buses to Montgomery while Larry Shaw said it was Greyhound! Wilson said it was cold and windy. “Neighbors in homes where we were lined up invited us into their homes to keep warm, 10 or 15 students at the time. They served us hot chocolate as we hovered around gas heaters and fireplaces. The family that took me and my fellow bandsmen in had aquariums in every room. The father was a fish expert who worked with the State Game and Fish Department. He had piranha fish who chewed up chicken when they fed the fish in the aquarium! That was memorable!”

Wilson, a trumpet player, an 11th grader at the time, also remembers the bus driver’s name – “Slim!”  “Our band director was Jim Nettles. The band uniforms at the time were gray pants with maroon jackets and brass buttons.”

Shaw, a 10th grade cymbal player, states, “All of the valved instruments were frozen up! One can imagine how cold the cymbals were!”

Johnny Mowbray, a 10th grade trombone player, remembers the ten-cent Krystal burgers that they ate that day!

Nancy Mills Robbins, clarinet player, and Paula Sue Cook Duebelt, flute player, remember having to wear their pajamas under their band uniforms. The band hats with the white plumes, they still recall. Crouching on neighbors’ porches out of the wind to keep warm and waiting for the parade to begin stands out in their memories of that 1963 January day.

Judy Bullard Clark, a clarinet player, says she also marched in the inaugural parade honoring Governor Lurleen Burns Wallace in January 1967.

Lynn Warren Holmes in the Color Guard marched with the Andy High Band in January 1971 in the second George Wallace  inauguration.

Nina Kelley Reynolds and Ben Albritton posted on social media that they marched in January 1979 at the inauguration of Fob James.

Teresa Hoisington Donaldson and Wynne Wilson Glenn remember marching in January 1987 as 10th graders when Guy Hunt was inaugurated. They were 10th graders and Jim Nettles was band director. Glenn, a trumpet player, returned in January 1991 as a college sophomore to march at the Guy Hunt second inauguration with the “University of Alabama Million Dollar Band” as her son, Hampton Glenn, a college senior in the drumline and former AHS bandsman, will do on Monday, January 14, 2019 with the Kay Ivey inauguration. Her youngest son, Tucker Glenn, a 9th grader, will also march with the AHS Bulldog Band, Benny Shellhouse being the present band director.

Other Covington County bands may have participated in other inaugural parades of Folsom, Jr., Siegelman, Riley, and Bentley, but I do not have any information about that thus far.

Thanks to television, I believe I will forgo the uncertain winter weather situation. Learning about all of the “cold” parades of the past was enough to keep me at “home sweet home” this bicentennial year!   

Thanks in part to local Representative Mike Jones, Jr., a world of memories that last a lifetime will be made by those high school and college band students participating. Then one day, they will all have treasured memories that none can erase and Remember When!

Sue Bass Wilson, AHS Class of 1965, is a local real estate broker and long-time member of the Covington Historical Society. She can be reached at