Thanksgiving week at last! It seems like it has taken so long to get here this year! To me, this weekend signals the core of the holiday season, Halloween being just a sweet warm-up! As we enjoy the holiday, let's be thankful for what we have, even in these tough financial times.
One of the highlights of my Thanksgiving Day is watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade from New York on television. I am not sure that I want to be standing in Herald Square in the cold but the parade really looks nice from the easy chair in my living room. Here comes Snoopy! Look out Woodstock! Of course, my favorite part of the parade is the marching bands. Playing brass and woodwind instruments in the cold can sometimes be a challenge. For example, brass instruments valves get stiff and sticky so you have to be sure that you have cleaned out the valve chambers and applied a fresh coat of valve oil. You can hit some really sour notes if a valve sticks in the cold. We used to worry about mouthpieces sticking to our lips in cold weather too. I have rarely seen that happen, fortunately it is pretty easy to warm up a mouthpiece when that happens, not as much mass in a mouthpiece as a flagpole. Remember that old trick of getting someone to put their tongue on a metal flagpole when it is freezing.
My high school band was just getting started back in the days when I was a member and we never got the coveted invitation to come to NYC and be a part of the parade.
In fact, somehow, bands and football never interrupted my Thanksgiving routine but broadcasting did many times. When you work for a 24/7 station, there are times when you have to work on holidays and I did my share. Radio even caused me to spend Thanksgiving in one of the least likely places you might think of when thinking of Thanksgiving, Hawaii.
The year was 1977 and I was the chief engineer for WIS Radio the flagship station of the University of South Carolina Gamecock Radio network. One of my responsibilities was managing the technical side of the network’s operation and that meant that I travelled with the broadcast team to all the football games. That year, our final game was scheduled for the Saturday after Thanksgiving in the Aloha Bowl in Honolulu. We flew out to Hawaii the previous Sunday and spent the entire week on Waikiki Beach. They treated us to a Hawaiian Thanksgiving, a luau complete with pork and poi. But there was not a turkey in sight! Didn’t seem the same somehow, I was missing home and the traditional meal.
The day of the game was sunny, clear and warm. I was sitting in the press box at the stadium talking long distance to the board operator in Master Control at WIS back in Columbia. It was 10 in the morning in the Pacific and 4 pm in South Carolina. The temperature was 74 degrees and jokingly, I asked the board operator what the weather was like back home. He told me it was sleeting and 20 degrees. All of a sudden being away from home on Thanksgiving Day was not such a bad thing. Oh MY!