WESTMINSTER — Swaying in time to the toe-tapping music, several generations of county residents gathered Sunday to pay homage to Carroll's musical history and celebrate its 155th anniversary. As the Westminster MunicipalBand played, members of past and present county bands shared storiesand memories of their adventures with the county's community bands.
"I'm enjoying this toe-tapping music so much, it's hard to stand still," said Commissioner Donald I. Dell. "It's good that modern bandsare keeping up the tradition (of music) to keep my knees limber at all these country dances."
The annual birthday party, sponsored by the Historical Society ofCarroll County, kicked off this year's theme -- Musical Heritage of Carroll County. An exhibit of old photos, music, instruments and uniforms will be displayed at the society for the next few weeks.
Two items -- a clarinet and a conducting baton owned by Roy N. Strine -- were donated by his daughter, Mabel Reese.
Strine, who directed five boys bands in the county, was a clarinet aficionado, Reese said.
"It was wonderful growing up with so much music around," she said.
"In the summer, I had so much chicken corn soup, I was filled withit. That was all they served at all the picnics and festivals the boys played at."
Visitors also learned how the Westminster MunicipalBand was the first group to play the song, "The Old Gray Mare." According to the band's oral tradition, members were called into service at the Mexican border as part of the National Guard in 1916.
Whiletraveling south by train, Frank Pinella -- who arranged the piece --gave it to Bailey Morelock, the band's director.
"(Pinella) asked(Morelock) if they would like to play this piecethat had never been played before," recounted Tom Diffendahl, band member. "So, on that train coach was the first time the piece was played."
Reminisces continued as the commissioners presented Carroll's remaining community bands -- Westminster Municipal, Alesia and William F. Myers' and Sonsbands -- with proclamations honoring contributions to the county.
"I remember when John Swaggert asked me if I'd like to play the tubain the Westminster Municipal Band," Dell said. "All I know is every time I blew that thing, the wallpaper cracked."
Commissioner JuliaGouge's memories centered on her children, both of whom played in the Alesia band.
"My daughter continued through the high school band, but she was not quite as enthusiastic as my son, who also played inthe Westminster Municipal Band, the Western Maryland Jazz Ensemble and the (Baltimore) Colts Marching Band," she said.
"I know if he was still alive today, it would be a big part of his life. He made some wonderful friends in music."
Gouge's son was killed in a heavy equipment accident in 1982.
In fact, several former band members said friendship was the most important result of their musical associations.
"Music was very important to me," said Norman Myers, a member of the Westminster Municipal Band who has played with six other local bands. "I made hundreds of friends that I wouldn't have otherwise made."