May 20, 2020

A Blast from the Past

Timothy Birdnow

Yesterday we had a nice little treat. I had just sat down to supper when I heard what sounded like a marching band!  Fearing I was experiencing symptoms of a brain tumor, I stuck my head outside for a look.

Sure enough, there was a small brass band marching up the street!

They were in no particular hurry, pausing often to play a tune then moving on. When they got in front of my house they stopped, because all of my neighbors were out on their porches and it was probably the biggest audience they had - at least on the block. We got a couple of songs out of them.

They were the Red and Black Brass Band,  and they have been serenading citizens in the city since the lockdown began.

Now, I'm not all that into marching bands, or neighborhood togetherness for that matter, but this put a smile on my face. The local kids were absolutely thrilled, running up and down the sidewalk. This made a much bigger impact than I would have thought; it made people feel like there is a world out there. It was reminiscent of a time when marching bands paraded down small town streets to celebrate Memorial Day, or the Fourth of July. It was, well, a throwback to an earlier era, one where community mattered, where people connected on a personal level and not by machine, where the hatreds of politics and class were less of an issue. It was a feeling of HOME, a home that has been away for some time.

This sense of community was the essence of Americana at one time. We all belonged to social groups and clubs; Boy Scouts, Elks Lodges, VFW Lodges, Masons, what have you. The sense of community used to be one of America's great strengths. Churches mattered. While there were always the occasional outcast most people felt a sense of belonging.

Our modern era has waged a war on that. There has been a conscious effort by some to dismantle the old sense of community because it was seen as inherently unfair to some who were not included (often by choice, but they chose not to belong because they hated the "good country people" involved with their flag waving and bonhomie.) Technology helped spur this along too; the automobile, the radio, television, computers all moved people out of their communities. We were assured this was good, but in reality people became increasingly isolated. Certainly nobody can dispute that depression and mental illness has risen asymptotically along with the decline in community. And the old institutions, the Lyons Clubs and Eastern Stars and Knights of Columbus etc. were systematically dismantled. Now they are all shells of their former selves.

I didn't know it at the time, but that was why I had a goofy grin on my face while the Red and Black were playing; this was an old fashioned thing, a return to that tradition of neighborhoods and patriotism and fellowship.

Thank you so very much Red and Black Brass!  We needed you at this moment in time and you stepped up!  You reminded us what it means to be American!

Anybody wishing to donate can go to their Facebook page.

Posted by: Timothy Birdnow at 08:20 AM | Comments (2) | Add Comment
Post contains 547 words, total size 3 kb.

1 About friggin' time for parades to begin again, sez this old geezer! And you cannot have a parade without at least one brass band. In my youth I marched in more than one (though only one at a time, I hasten to add).

Posted by: Dana Mathewson at May 21, 2020 10:00 PM (TCAra)

2 Brass is where it's at for marching bands!  As you say, Dana, it's high time!  And these guys just chose to do it to raise everyone's spirits; they really deserve our thanks.

Posted by: Timothy Birdnow at May 22, 2020 07:06 AM (giVQ+)

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