Thursday, May 22, 2008

Do you know a Majorette?

I’ve published many ridiculous posts before – ones that made me hesitate and wonder if they were post-worthy or if readers might put me on their “fruitcake blogger” list... This is one of them and takes the prize, in my opinion. It has nothing to do with nature, but hey, it’s my blog and I have options.

If you don't know a majorette, now you do. I was a young majorette for one summer. What made me think about those days in the mid-sixties was a post I read by Laura, “What’s not to like about parades?” Parades are fun, especially if you are watching one…



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When you think of a majorette, might it be the cheerleader type? Athletic enough for high stepping and baton twirling? I do.




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They’re glamorous and love competition suits with glitter, even back in the 60's. Most of them are beautiful young ladies.




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Troupes are dedicated to performing and training for many years that sometimes takes them through college.




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The NC Tarheels marching band and majorettes. Wow. Marching bands always thrill me. Oh, I just love parades.



Back to 1966 in a southwest Baltimore low-income neighborhood called Lakeland. Other than Girl Scouts, I don't recall organized sports for girls. My friend Debbie and I were thrilled to get a flyer in our mailboxes about majorette training. We joined and practiced with a group of twenty or thirty girls for several months before parade season started. I still remember being measured for my own “real” baton.


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I’m the chubby one on the left with chipmunk teeth before braces. Debbie was thin as a rail and never marched in unison. She just couldn’t do it. Our outfits were homemade and I remember thinking how dull we looked. We saw other troupes that had glitter on theirs and some of them didn’t wear Clydesdale boots, instead they wore white Keds and boy, were they talented! We didn’t care too much because we were twirling and learned our routines to perfection until we were on parade in front of the judges' stand, of course.



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Debbie is in front of me in the rear. Always out of step. Those heavy headpieces with the plumes were usually lopsided on our heads and the boots were lined with sandpaper. While some other troupes had a live band, we had a speaker sound system that played traditional marching music, before eight-tracks and cassettes. The records skipped and so did we! We were professional baton droppers. Being in the rear of the troupe, I saw the girls running around and scrambling to retrieve their batons quickly to get back in rhythm.


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Debbie's out of step again. July 4th was a big weekend, usually sizzling hot, and I remember marching in a thunderstorm and being told to hold the baton by the rubber tip away from our bodies. We weren’t offered sliced oranges or water, either. Just kept hauling ourselves to the finish… Our parents proud and cheering us on…

What did I get from the experience? A few good memories and lots of laughs right now. It’s funny, I remember Debbie, of course, but I don’t remember the leaders or trainers at all. Nor do I remember forming any lasting friendships. The “Lakelandettes” lived for one summer and then, without good-byes, we went our separate ways.

Most memorable: SICK FEET. WATER BLISTERS THE SIZE OF SILVER DOLLARS, AND BANDAIDS. ALL SUMMER LONG.



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After the family dogs ate the rubber tips off my baton, I ordered a new one from a high school band catalog about ten years ago.


I still twirl. I love it ;-)


48 comments:

Lynne said...

Ridiculous!! NO!! This is one of your sweeter posts Mary. I wonder of Debbie ever got her life on the right foot? You looked so cute and eager.

Now, WHEN I meet you, I will expect to see your routine.
I'll love it!

Beth said...

what a nice memory. I smiled all the way through it. When I hear how much parents pay for costumes for recitals and such I wonder if the cost of the outfit contributes to the enjoyment--I don't think so. Thanks for sharing that beautiful time with us.

beckie said...

Cute, cute, cute! I can just picture you with a grin on your face marching in the parade. Memories that makes us smile...
Thanks!

mon@rch said...

O Mary . . . the things we are learning about you! Thanks for sharing and maybe we could get a video of you doing your thing!

Lisa at Greenbow said...

I would love to see you twirling your baton Mary. This reminds me that I wanted to be a twirler when I was very young. A neighbor friend had private lessons. I couldn't even touch her "real" baton. I had to use an old beater she didn't care about. ha... You on the other hand had an outfit with boots and an all important hat. WOW

Joy said...

Mary, my mom was a majorette/twirler in high school. I will post her picture tomorrow. I so enjoy your posts.

Anonymous said...

I was a majorette in 4th and fifth grade in the 70's. For our 4th of July parade, I remember that we, too, walked in "blistering heat"! I confess that we wore red sequin outfits, with knee high white boots that my feet slid around in their sweat. . . Hair up in a bun, burning my hands on the pavement doing cartwheels. . .

I just recently bought my fifth grade daughter and myself new batons, and showed her some of the moves. Brings back great memories! Thanks for sharing your story and getting me thinking again about mine.

Heather
Wayne, PA

KGMom said...

You weren't out of step--nor was your friend Debbie--you were just marching to the beat of your own drummer. And thankfully, you still do!

Susan Gets Native said...

Oh Good Lord. The Evil Past rears her ugly head.
I was a cheerleader. I was a baton twirler. I was on the flag corp. I was in the marching band. I still have my boots and all of my uniforms.
*Crap. I feel an embarrassing post coming on*

Q said...

Dear Mary,
I love getting to know you!
I never learned to twirl. Am I too old to learn?
I was wondering what was next for me to do. Will you teach me? I can come for birds, licks and twirls.
Thanks for the fun and the memories. I drove a 1961 Falcon just like the one in your picture!
Happy Memorial Day weekend.
Enjoy the start of summer.
Sherry

Anonymous said...

Great post Mary! My grandmother was the head marjorette for her high school. That is one of her fondest memories.

Angie

Alyssa said...

Mary you always have such neat posts. I really enjoyed your twirlling (?) memories and the pictures. It's so funny that your friend never was in step. I always think of majorettes as being athelets - anyone who can walk and toss a spinning baton in the air and then catch it, is great in my book!! You gave me a great start to my holiday weekend!!
Have a relaxing holiday Mary.

JeanMac said...

Gosh, you brought back memories for me. My sister and I were majorettes in the 50's!

Jayne said...

OH, I am so jealous! Hey, you know that's how the Sweet Potato Queens got started? They were all so wishing they were the baton twirlers in those cool boots and so they created their own, shall we say, more mature version of said twirlers. :c) I'd love to see you twirl Mar!

Peg Silloway said...

Thanks for opening the memory vault, Mary. I envied the twirlers and practiced but never got the hang of making that baton spin so fast it was a blur. And throwing it up and catching it as it came down? Ha! Wonderful post. Part of the charm is your pure WYSIWYG approach to blogging. Please don't ever change that - we'd miss so many great articles. Go Mary!

egretsnest said...

Very cool. I didn't twirl a baton but in High School, I did twirl tall flags. I was a banner girl in our marching band but when we did field shows, we had to twirl flags with the flag girls. It was fun but hard for little 5'3" me. Thanks for bringing back those memories!

Toni said...

What a fun post Mary. Thanks for sharing. My son is a music band instructor and his wife teaches the color guard. For awhile bands got away from the batons but they are making a comeback. Fun fun fun seeing your photos.

RuthieJ said...

What a fun post Mare. I had a friend in high school who could twirl a mean baton! I was always envious of her. I wasn't cute enough or popular enough to be a cheerleader, but I was a pretty fair pom-pom girl for a couple years! My mom was proud and took home movies of all my performances! Brings back some fun memories :-)

cjs said...

You've been on my fruitcake list since day one, but I read those more often, so you're good. Very cute story . . I remember when my sisters twirled.

NCmountainwoman said...

I'll bet you anything that when Debbie's mother was watching the parade, she turned to her friends and said, "Look at that. Every one of those girls is out of step except my little Debbie."

Cheryl said...

Lovely Mary......It is always nice to get a little insight of those who posts we read.
I enjoyed this post, it left me with a smile.

Sherry at the Zoo said...

In the 70's I twirled a rifle with the band. I still have it, and I still get it out every once in awhile and spin it. LOVE this post!

possumlady said...

Such great memories and photos! I can just imagine you twirling down a hot Bawlmore street in the summer.

I was part of our high school's danceline--The Broncettes (our mascot was the bronco) and we danced and kicked like the Rockettes during all the halftimes.

Man was I in good shape. Could do the splits with both right leg and left leg forward. One of our stretching exercises was to stand against a wall and have someone grab your leg and lift it and do these bouncy stretches to your head. My legs could stretch beyond my head and touch the wall behind my head!! Yes, thanks for the memories.

beth said...

Mary, I do think this is one of my favorite posts EVER! Forget the birds - bring on the majorettes!

Awesome and entertaining and just more proof of how wise God was when He created you. And the internet.

Robin (Bumblebee) said...

I absolutely LOVE this! What a blast from the past. Thanks for sharing.

Robin at Bumblebee

Pete said...

always struck me as very american.

do you reckon this story will inspire yours?

http://uk.news.yahoo.com/afp/20080523/ten-entertainment-film-festival-cannes-a-c3b52a1.html

Debbie said...

Mary, what a wonderful post and perfect for Memorial Day Weekend. I remember marching in several parades as a Girl Scout.

I always wanted to twirl...what a thrill that must be.

I just love the photos.

Iris said...

Excellent story, Mary! My sister was a majorette. She and her best friend would practice twirling their batons in the yard all summer. They seemed so glamorous and a bit like magicians they way they wrangled those metal wands. I'm much younger than my sister, and by the time I was old enough for a shot at being a majorette, it was the early '80s and I had turned goth. There was no room in our high school band for goth majorettes, alas. Although I think that would've been really cool.

gretchen said...

Mary, this is why we all love you so much- what an absolutely precious post!
hugs, gretchen

Mary C said...

You sure know how to bring back childhood memories! You had me checking on google maps where you used to live, and I've been gone so long I don't recognize that part of Baltimore. My elementary school years were spent attending Beechfield Elementary, just south of Uplands Pkwy. Does that sound familiar to you? Anyway, thanks for the memories, Mary.

Rose said...

I always wanted to be a baton twirler when I was young, but never got the hang of it. I did get to be in a marching band in high school, playing alto sax, complete with the ugliest green uniforms you ever saw.
Good for you, still twirling that baton!

Larry said...

Those are cute photos Mary.-It's nice to look back into years past.What's up with that friend trying to steal your thunder?

Anonymous said...

Do they still have majorettes in high school??

maribeth said...

SAdly, in the area where I live- southeastern PA, there are very few baton corps. I was a majorette from age 10-18. Loved it. Good exercise, and built confidence and teamwork. I still get my baton out, but have forgotten many tricks at age 64. Thanks for the memory jog.

Mary said...

Maribeth, glad you enjoyed the memory. I still twirl, too! (on the driveway)

Anonymous said...

Mary, or anyone else on this post. Why have majorettes disappeared from high school bands? The new trend is flag twirling and not very good, I might add.

Mary said...

Anon, I guess the majorettes are history and replaced with big bands. It's OK. We have the memories of blistered feet ;-)

maribethp said...

And the fun of getting new uniforms, using ajax on our baton's rubber tips, and cleats on our soles.Remember making really big yarn tassells?

Mary said...

I'm laughing out loud - fond memories. Yes, we used Comet or Ajax on the rubber tips but I never wore cleats! I always wanted cleats... We made yarn tassels for fun it they were NEVER part of our dress. Darn.

How did you find my blog, Maribeth?

maribeth petery said...

Mary, I spent a lot of time after googling baton twirling. I love to see photos of the old girls from the 50s and 60s. I just stumbled on your blog.

Mary said...

Glad you enjoyed it, Maribeth. I thought this was a google search and I'm glad you found me and enjoyed the memories. Thanks.

tiffleightay said...

I've been twirling since I was 4 years old and haven't stopped yet! I am now 34 and I teach the HS majorettes at the school where I teach. The line was dwindling and I couldn't stand it, so I started recruiting from the playground. I took a few years but I've finally built a program that went from 2 girls to competitive tryouts every year. I came across this blog while I was searching for new uniforms. what a treat! Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Tiff, where are you located? Glad to hear some girls are still having the thrill of being a high school majorette.

Bobbie Dell'Acqua said...

Praise be! I've met a fellow Lakelandette! Our poor uniforms. I want to say our director was a Miss Cynthia who also ran a dance studio. Does that sound familiar? Her daughter (Paula?) became a Rockette. Who knows? If we had stuck by it maybe we coulda been contend as?

Anonymous said...

What a kick(with baton in hand!) I'm from the 50s majorette group and graduated HS in 61. My dream for all of my adult years has been to be a majorette for PortlandOregons' ONE MORE TIME AROUND MARCHING BAND...always in the Rose Festival Parade. You really need to look them up!! Largest band, possibly in the world, only past musicians and majorettes and known for 'their' song...LouisLouis! Last Christmas my son gifted me with a ipod?(one of those little things you download music to). I had him fill it with original works of all us majorettes favorites..John P Sousa, and then a bunch of rather wild and crazy modern rythmns. I've worked off 25lbs since then just walking&biking(&loosening up my joints with a couple of batons...but only after dark with streetlights overhead). My goal for this year is to apply to celebrate my 70th next spring with the OMTAMBand in Portland. Biggest issue for me is the lousy quality of these modern, skinny, lightweight batons. BOY would I ever like to find one from the 50s/60s!! Have any ideas where to purchase one? This article has been so fun to read and makes me feel like we've been friends all these years! Any info: firstorderbronzes@msn.com
Love to hear from you.....just because.
Blessings!

Anonymous said...

Ohmygoodness! I stumbled upon your post and just had to smile. I was a high school majorette (for four years, and co-captain of the varsity squad my senior year). We even twirled fire! (Now that would NEVER be allowed at high schools nowadays.) Thanks for the post. And you might have just inspired me to look in a band catalog myself to see if I can order a baton to some twirling for old times' sake!

Mary said...

So glad that all the Anons enjoyed this post. Our twirling days will remain. I twirled in the garage yesterday.

Toni Schiller said...

Oh my gosh Mary, I think I see myself in one of your photos! toni