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Richie and Me, part 2



One rainy afternoon, Richie and I were playing cards on the floor in the living room.  Richie got up and told me to lie there as if I were dead. Richie’s maternal grandmother, Mrs. Zula Gantt, lived with the Hartleys.

She was a sweet lady and we always had fun kidding her. Richie left the room and came back with his daddy’s 22 rifle.  He also had a firecracker which he lit, threw in the hall and closed the door.

Here came sweet Mom-Mee, those hard lace-up shoe heels clopping down the hall. She opened the door and asked Richie what he had done. He told her he had caught me dealing off of the bottom of the deck and he had shot me.

Mom-Mee said, “You have done no such thing, I smell the firecracker, put that gun down, Carter, you get up and y’all get out of here now!”  All in one sentence! That prank on Mom-Mee didn’t go so well.  We had to go find something to do in the rain.

Trying to acclimate myself to a new school, its studies and its events, I asked a lot of questions. An event that bubbled to the top was suggested by Richie and (Jolly) Cholly Snow.

The two best trumpet players in GHS band history told me I had to get in the band because, in addition to doing a fun thing for the school, the band went to all of the away football games. That was enough of an incentive for me.

I had never played an instrument, did not know how to play and instrument and could not read music.  My mother, a wonderful pianist and organist, gave up on teaching me piano in the summer of the fourth grade.

I told Richie and Cholly I couldn’t play an instrument. They said tell him you can play the drums, anybody can play the drums. They took me to see Mr. Hanks, the band director.  He asked what instrument I played.  “The drums”, I said confidently.

Mr. Hanks asked which one, snare or bass? Then he said, “Doesn’t matter, we need a bass drummer, you’re it.” First time out Mr. Hanks said, “Count to the music”, he did sort of a repetitive tomahawk chop and said, “Don’t get fancy.”

I counted to the music, surely didn’t get fancy and survived. The GHS band, which numbered over 100, was good and received accolades from every school that we visited. Mr. Hanks’ music selections were great, lots of college fight songs and movie themes, and we enjoyed the changing formations.

We were really excited when he taught us how to move out of the marching formation into the letters “GHS” on the field.

The summer band practices were hot but it was fun being with all of the band members especially so with my being a new student and band member.

On one of those hot mornings, Coach Whetstone, our great state championship football coach, spoke to the band and thanked us for our hard work. He said we worked as hard as the football team and the football players appreciated our support.

In the summer between the seventh and eighth grades Mr. Hanks asked me to play a snare drum.  Again, I was a lost pup in the wilderness. Richie and Cholly came to my rescue with some ideas and I began to figure it out.

Still being a little shy, I didn’t play as needed. At our first game of the season, Joy Hartley yelled at me, “Come on Carter, beat that drum.” And I did, after which it was an enjoyable full speed ahead. A grandson has a drum set and I can still knock out a few routines.

In the ninth grade, I was disappointed to be back on the bass drum along with LLoyd Eggers but it was what the band needed. Lloyd had played the bass drum for years and was a good leader.

Over the past several years, Richie and Cholly, who stayed in the band until we graduated, and I have talked about how much fun being in the band in Greenville was, even the summer practices, the after school practices and most of all the bus trips to and from away games.

The band bus had to be more fun than the football bus especially after we lost an away game. After the ninth grade, like some do, I quit the band to play varsity football.

Coach Allen cornered me one day at school and told me “You are a big ol’ boy and the football team needs you.”  Almost sixty years later, Richie and Cholly have kidded me about my lack of football ability and how much fun we three would have had on the band bus together. Sixty years later! (to be cont.)

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