Dr. Dick Bundy introduces a man who needed no introduction to Marching Blue Band members from the early 70s: Dr. Ned C. Deihl, Deihl is the Director who designed The Floating LIONS. To his left is wife Janette.
By CURT HARLER
A half-century ago, Dr. O. Richard Bundy was marching with a trombone. He became the assistant in the Marching Blue Band. Later, he became Director. This year, he came up with a wonderful idea: invite back to an informal reunion all of those who marched in the 1967-1973 era.
The event drew a slew of alums on June 18. Some attended as part of the 50th We Are… Class Reunion Weekend. Others just showed up to see old friends, to swap stories and memories. All were treated to big-screen videos of the 1968-72 Blue Band on the field. Everyone pointed to themselves in the block. Due to the age of the films (yes, it was film back in the day, now converted to DVD), there was no sound. But, darn, we all looked good and hit our marks!
Trombone players Tom Little, foreground; Alan Wood in blue sweater; and Dr. Bundy in suit coat admire the performance trombones available to today’s Blue Band members. Musicians also are assigned practice horns. Back in the day, it was BYO instrument. Today, even the mouthpieces on both the lower and upper brass are uniform.
Recent grads should note that the women in the photos here are spouses…back then there were no women in the Marching Blue Band. In fact, 120 male musicians took the field to perform in front of sell-out crowds of 50,000 fans at Beaver Stadium. The Blue Band did an on-field heart transplant (to “The Beat Goes On”) and even “kicked” a football as part of a drill. There were Gator Bowl, Orange Bowl and Cotton Bowl trips. There were stories of Dr. Jim Dunlop threatening to shave, with a dry razor, anyone who showed up with facial hair or hair that touched their collar.
John Rumancik, clarinet, reminisces about his era in the Blue Band. In the background, video of a 1971 Marching Blue Band’s halftime show plays.
In addition to the camaraderie of the event, attendees were treated to a full tour of the Blue Band Building. We saw the beautiful suites of performance and practice instruments available to today’s Blue Band. We got a look behind the scenes at the offices and locker rooms. We were regaled by Dr. Bundy with the history of the Blue Band and saw the original cornet owned by George H. Deike. That instrument was hanging on Deike’s dorm room in 1899 when it was noticed by a ROTC officer who asked him to play at drills…the original on-field performances by Penn State musicians. The rest, as they say, is history. Those who marched 50-55 years ago were gratified to recount their roles in that history and to know the legacy is being passed along a half-century after they came out of the tunnel.
Sadly, there were no chocolate chip cookies distributed on reunion day at the Blue Band Building. Otherwise it was a wonderful event. Cheers to Dr. Bundy and to the alums who participated.
The Marching Blue Band is now housed is a great facility, the O. Richard Bundy Blue Band Building. Over the years, the Blue Band sheltered big instruments in a semi-trailer. Practices were on open fields…rain or shine, snow or missed dining hall hours.