September Morning

September mornings, sitting on the glider, drinking coffee with a touch of cinnamon, chill in the air, and from the high school about a mile away, the distant sound of the Ram Band practicing the half-time show for the upcoming football game.  Mmmm… now, that’s something to savor!

Will you walk with me down memory lane again?

From 1977 to 1981 I was a member of that grand organization.   Esprit de corps!  You’d better believe it.  What pride we all felt out on that football field hearing the announcement, “And now, your marching Ram Band, under the direction of Mr. John Bealmear.”  He was already a legend by the time I entered high school.  A drill sergeant of epic proportions.  You feared him, you loved him, you did all you could to earn his respect.  You stood at attention, you marched in a straight line, you didn’t forget your spats on a road trip!  (Oh wait… seems like Gary did that once.)  If you did, you made sure your parents got them to you before half-time!

That man took huge groups of students all over America and Mexico.  The PHS band marched in the big parades, performed at the big stadiums and amusement parks across this great land… and won awards all along the way.  Even the rival crowds at out-of-town games couldn’t help themselves, giving standing ovations to the Portales band, time after time.  It was an honor to be part of it all.

I was a twirler in a sequined suit, freezing at the football games.  And later, being the drum major for that band was a thrill of my high school days.  I held hands for the first time with the love of my life at the Johnson Space Center on one of those band trips.  He was the best looking thing squealing out high notes on those trumpet solos at the 50 yard line.  By the time we were seniors marching at Disneyland and Dodger’s Stadium, I knew we’d be together forever.  We still talk about those glory days all the time.  Selling Texas Manor fruit cakes, shampoo, fruit cakes, magazines, fruit cakes, a few more fruit cakes.  We will always speak of John Bealmear with great admiration.  We probably owe our romance to the days in his band… no doubt, we do!

Love this time of year… when I can sit out on my glider in the mornings, feeling the cool autumn air, listening to the band practicing the half-time show.


14 Responses to “September Morning”

  1. bette says:

    Love the tribute to such a leader!!!! Love all the encouragement that you give my Tyler!!!

  2. Mary Poynor says:

    I wouldn’t leave the stands at half time. Listening the band would bring emotions of pride in me. Especially the national anthem. Nothing shows patriotism than the sound of band belting out our national anthem!

  3. Sandy says:

    Do you remember when we used to play the Battle Hymn of the Republic? Not only at the halftime show, but that incredible arrangement at graduation every year. Wow! Brings chills!

  4. Sheryl Borden says:

    I’ll also never forget the band playing Battle Hymn of the Republic at Mr. Bealmear’s funeral. Everyone had tears in their eyes, but the kids never missed a beat. I still think of that every time I hear that song.

  5. Sandy says:

    Yes.. that was amazing. A perfect tribute!

  6. Sharon Pennington Rountree says:

    I was in Mr. Bealmear’s band from 1962 until 1966. I remember how proud I was when he asked me to march in the PHS Band. (I was in the PJHS Band at the time.) He was the greatest man even back then. I will always look back at my years in the Portales High School band and smile.

  7. Rudy Galindo says:

    I must say that conducting Battle Hymn of the Republic at his funeral was one of the greatest honors of my life. Yes, he was a great man with whom I had the privilege of directing the Portales High School RAM Band. May Almighty God bless John and Barbara Bealmear.

  8. Kim Mann says:

    I live close to a high school now. It’s just a couple of blocks away. I love this time of year because I can hear them practicing each evening, and it reminds me of those days in the band with Mr. Bealmear. When I hear the drum cadences start, it makes me want to line up!!

  9. Robin Green says:

    There is nothing like a band. It gives the thrill of music performed TOGETHER. So exciting and fun.

  10. Kim Wells says:

    Oh Sandy, What a beautiful tribute to Mr. Bealmer! He surely instilled in us a sense of pride and accomplishment. I look back and so appreciate all he gave us even though maybe I didn’t realize it so much at the time. I have to agree with everyone here…I surely look back and remember my years in the Portales High School band with pride and a smile.

  11. Barbara George says:

    Yes, I too remember those days. John & I were great friends who disagree once in awhile; but, we always agreed to disagreed if it occasionally came to that. I remember listening to the band practice from the gym where I was teaching. I ALWAYS bought a fruitcake–every year without fail. I also remember being in the teacher’s lounge and enjoying chatting with Mr. Bealmear. We always chatted about movies. He is the one that insisted I watch “Mad Max”. He didn’t enjoy “Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome” as he did “Mad Max”.
    He was tremendously proud of his son when he began his photography career and brought the catalogs with the beautiful jewelry shots that he had taken for all the teachers to see.
    I admired him every bit as much as his students did and also was in awe of him. I, too, had tears in my eyes and heart as “his” band played Battle Hymn of the Republic at his funeral. I think of him every time I hear it.

    Thanks for jogging my memory of some very special times in my life.

    Barbara George

  12. Beautiful writing. I was in the band from ’73 to ’76. Flute. You wrote a beautiful tribute to Mr. Bealmer. Yes, we did love and fear him. And we played and marched well.

  13. MARY (McCLAIN) VILLANUEVA says:

    John Bealmer was an inspiration to us all. I will always cherish the days that I was in band with him and the legacy that he has left. He was an awe inspiring man that even when he was tough on us, you knew in your heart he was right. Every year he brought the band together as a family. And after all these years I still feel that those that were in band are a family. Even now there is no way to truly describe the sense of dedication and drive that John Bealmer instilled in us. A friend from band and I were talking and being is band is just undescibable. We agreed that if you werent in band especially under John Bealmer’s direction you will never “get it”. Those on the outside will never understand what it was like to be a part of the band. I remember my freshman year fearing him yet loving the spirit and drive he instilled in me. I thank him for that everyday. I truly understood that music = life because of him. I remember going through the halls on game day…..oh the chaos that brought but the spirit it brought…amazing. I was in band from 1986 to 1990 and was the last freshman class to have the honor of being taught by this great man. After his passing and the first game of the new season, Portales vs. Clovis, we received one of the largest standing ovations. We marched out on the feild doing only the first part to our show and the next song was “The Yellow Rose of Texas”. Mr. Bealmer’s favorite in honor and memory of him. There was not a dry eye in the stands or on the field as we played. I will never forget that time. Our new director, Mr. Flores, honored Mr. Bealmer and allowed us to continue on with the traditions that he instilled in us maybe partly because the mear mention of changing things caused a huge uprising and would have been anarchy. I didnt know about the reunion band in the Heritage Day parade last year but when I heard it, from blocks away, just like under his direction, I knew something grand was coming, when the reunion band passed tears filled my eyes and the memories of the glory days with Mr. B came flooding back. I dont think I stopped talking about that reunion band for a few weeks. We as a community, as a school and as band members were blessed to have had the opportunity to have expereinced and learned from the greatest band director of them all John Bealmer and his legacy continues to live on.

  14. Paula Criss says:

    Sandy, I loved this. Some of my best memories of Lisa’s high school days were the band trips and half-times!

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