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The band played on -- and still plays on, making memories in Marshall

Posted Friday, June 24, 2011, at 12:39 PM

Benjamin Fontaine, 3, finds something fascinating to examine as Marshall Municipal Band performs on the east side of the Saline County Courthouse Thursday, June 23, its fourth concert of the season. Benjamin was at the concert with his parents, Frank and Kimberly Fontaine, and his sister, Emma Jean -- all making new memories at band concerts. Below, Ellie Butterfield writes about her memories of listening to the band as a girl growing up in Marshall. The band is seeking more accounts from patrons and musicians who have enjoyed the band over the years. (Eric Crump/Democrat-News)
Guest Columnist

Growing up in Marshall I remember it being a town filled with music. But back then we didn't have television so we made our own entertainment.

My mother, Nell, was an accomplished piano player so almost every night after dinner we gathered around the upright piano and sang while Mother played the songs of those days: "Let Me Call You Sweetheart," "The Desert Song" and "Amazing Grace."

We knew all the words to those songs at a very early age.

One time there was a recording studio just down the street from the Teen Age Club. They had booths where you could play a record you thought to buy and listen to it before you made that big decision.

And they had a booth where they could record you! Imagine that!

When I was 13, my girlfriend, Nancy, and I went to the studio and for 50 cents they would make a recording for you. Guess what I chose to sing? "I'm a Big Girl Now, I Want to be Treated Like a Big Girl Now."

And then, on the recording you hear my 13-year-old voice saying, "Oh, I got all mixed up, I forgot the words." Then I composed myself, as best as a 13-year-old girl could, and continue singing.

Mother kept that recording, so I can still hear the voice of my 13-year-old self.

The band concerts I remember most of all. Every Saturday night just off the square, where the Chamber of Commerce is now, there was a pavilion, and that's where the band concerts were played.

Everyone in town came, sat on the park benches under the stars and enjoyed the music that Harold Lickey, the high school music teacher and band leader, played. It was the best music you ever heard.

Depending on the season, is what they played. We loved to listen to them especially when they played music to celebrate Independence Day. "Stars and Stripes Forever" brought us to our feet in cheers and proud of our country.

Going way back to my mother's girlhood days, she told me at the end of Jefferson Street there was a Fair Ground. It had a pavilion and a race track.

On a very special occasion Fred Waring and his Pennsylvanians performed there.

Many times the Rainbow Girls, which I was a proud member of, had Ice Cream Socials at the Band Concerts.

Mother would say, "How many cakes do I have to make this time?"

But Mother's chocolate cakes always sold first. They were the beginning of fundraisers.

Becoming a Rainbow Girl was the best thing you could ever want to be.

You had to be sponsored by several people, and your family had to be Masons or Eastern Stars, which my family was.

As my girlfriends and I got older we used to roller skate uptown around the square, after business hours. Now, these were not roller blades but roller skates you clamped on your saddle shoes and wore a key chain around your neck to tighten your skates.

Let me tell you roller skating around the square, with the historical Courthouse Flag lit up and hearing the music from the band concert, the stars shining bright above us ... it's impossible to describe. Flights of fancy into the land of my dreams.

Growing up in Marshall -- who could ask for anything more? Being a Girl Scout, going to the cabin in the woods at Indian Foothills Park, telling ghost stories, teaching Brownie Scouts how to swim in early May when the water was so cold it turned your lips blue ... but, "last one in is a rotten egg!"

There was not one rotten egg in the class.

Do remember to write down your memories for your children and grandchildren. We have a past like no others. A past full of happy memories of being loved and having good friends.

The band is still playing and making memories for you.

Editor's note: MMB is celebrating its 90th season this summer, and band officials invite patrons and current or former members to contribute to a collection of memories from the band's long history.

The Marshall Democrat-News is providing a web form as a convenient method of sharing your recollections with band officials. Each submission will be sent automatically to Director Kevin Lines and Historian Jane Huff.

Selections from the stories and memories submitted by patrons and band members will be shared with the audience at the band's concert following the annual patron-appreciation ice cream social. The ice cream social starts at 6 p.m. Thursday, July 28, on the east side of the Saline County Courthouse. The concert will follow at 7:30 p.m.


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Various members of the community, current or past residents, occasionally submit essays recalling the people, places and events of the past. We'll post them here. Also, reminisces sometimes emerge in other web forums. This will be a place those conversations can continue.
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