Interview With Madison Devlin
- Version 2.21
- [Devlin and Cheatham have each reviewed it twice. All it needs is final editing.]
- Madison Devlin, Trombone, Student Director, 1930-1931
- Dan Cheatham, Drum Major, 1957
- Date of Interview:
- November 4, 1992
- Regina Aaron
- [Cheatham reviewed the first draft for clarity and grammar in May 1993 and Madison’s June 1993 review of his own remarks. Cheatham entered Devlin’s review of v2.1 in September 1993.]
- [Madison Devlin reviewed The first draft and made additions and corrections in June 1993. Madison reviewed v2.1 in September 1993.]
- [Natalie Cohen ’34, a popular figure on campus during football season of the ’80s and early ’90s, reviewed this manuscript in September 1993 and her remarks were entered by Cheatham in October. Natalie was often seen leading Cal yells and was sometimes refered to as “Granny”.]
- [Cheatham’s gratuitous remarks merit further review for accuracy.]
- [Editorial notes are attributed thus;
- Norden H.(Dan) Cheatham NHC;
- Natalie Cohen, Nat;
- Madison Devlin MD]
Keywords: Uniforms, the customs of undergraduate life, performances at football games, bonfire rallies, Leroy Allen, Glen Haydon, Edward Stricklen, U.C. Orchestra, Brick Morse, Herman Trutner Jr., Modeste Alloo, Reg Krieger, student government, One More River, pregame, post game, concert band, Rob Rice, Earle Rogers, Charles C. Cushing, Cal Band drumbeat, Cal song arrangements, local professional dance bands, trips to Los Angeles, USC Band, California Marching Song, Abe Hankin, Don Mulford
Cheatham: We’re at Madison’s home at 210 Goodhill Road in Kentfield, California, 94904-2610.
Give us a brief self-introduction.
Devlin: Well by introduction, I presume you mean background. I went to Lowell High School in San Francisco, graduated from there and went over to Berkeley in 1925. I already played trombone so I went right into the Band. If I remember correctly, I just signed up and showed up at the next practice. But I’m not sure. I don’t recall having an audition. I just knew that there was a band and I joined it...that’s all. I played in the band all the time I was in college. As a senior, that was in 1930, I was selected by the Executive Committee...Don Rowe, the [Student] Director for 1929-30, announced at our meeting that I would be the [Student] Director for the following year.
The band had a dinner at some restaurant, it might have been Spenger’s, near the end of the school year and the announcement of the new Director was made at the dinner. I was never asked if I wanted to be Director and never knew the politics in back of the decision. It was just announced. This sounds crazy, but I never sought the job or even knew I was being considered. I just accepted it. I didn’t know how the Student Director was selected. It must have been the Band Manager and the the Executive Committee. I don’t know how the Manager and the Executive Committee were chosen.
Cheatham: This is an interesting observation in view of the post-WWII development of the Band Constitution. (See the Colescott interviews.)
When was your first awareness that there was such a thing as the University of California Band?
Devlin: I don’t know... I signed up for courses, and obviously... At that time the freshmen had to wear these goofy hats...and somewhere along the way I must have heard or been told that among other activities there was the Cal Band. As I was a musician, that of course took my interest and enjoyment.
I know one of the things that happened, in fact, even before I got there...one dance band director...you’ll get a kick out of his name, Puss Donahoo had the contract to play at the then-called Hotel Oakland. It’s now a retirement home or a rest home or something, down on 12th street in Oakland. We played every Saturday night, and that of course... I worked my way through, so that gave me some of the financial background I needed. Being a campus [dance] band, we played some on Fridays also. I played trombone. At the time, I was living at my fraternity house; I was a Tau Kappa Epsilon at 1712 Euclid Avenue. It’s now one of the religious groups. The house now is a god-awful color, kind of a puke-rose colored paint. But anyhow, I stayed there, and of course, played in the band, which was for the football games.
One thing I remember so vividly about the band, we had the darndest uniforms. We wore white canvas pants, and a heavy, heavy cape we called horse blankets. I’ll never forget one time we played the University of Nevada and it rained. So we made a great shelter out of those capes, and played under that for the remainder of the game.
Cheatham: You mentioned the freshman hats that you wore. You described them as being kind of goofy. Would you tell us more about these hats and about campus lore that went along with these hats. (I’ve heard them refered to as “Dinks”.)
Devlin: I don’t recall any particular lore. It was made of a deep blue felt that was almost shapeless. It was like a cone; you could put it on, turn the rim up and down or whatever; some frosh cut pieces out of it. It was just one of those things, and I don’t recall the wearing being rigidly enforced. Maybe at the beginning of the semester, but not later on. You were there to study. There was a lot more studying then than there is now. [Added by Maddy later: The freshman hats were blue felt with a brim and apparently you could fashion them any way you wanted. Some frosh wore them as is; most would cut pieces off the brim, crease them in some crazy way or whatever appealed to you. By the end of the year most were pretty weird looking.]
We wore a kind of moleskin trousers. They were awfully good and durable. The freshmen were required to wear them. The sophomores had jeans, seniors had cords.
Seniors also wore sombreros such as the park rangers wear [Current slang calls those “Smoky Bear Hats”. NHC] and I believe hat bands that showed their class year. I also seem to recall most seniors dressed up; that is, for the most part they wore coats and ties to appear dignified and to show that they were really something important.I don’t recall what the juniors had to wear.
By and large, that was the garb when you were on campus. And, being in the house [I.e., his fraternity house. NHC] naturally, they insisted on a lot of things because the fraternities really tried to keep a lot of these traditions, if you want to call them such, going. If it weren’t for them, I think it [Tradition] would’ve gone by the boards a lot faster. [For additional information on the dink hats, see the oral history by Ralph Edwards. NHC]
Cheatham: Let’s see if I get the picture. A young man would arrive on campus as a freshman. Being a freshman, he was obviously a newcomer and people would recognize him as such. Those that wound up in a fraternity house had the additional discipline on them from the fraternity brothers making sure that they would wear these freshman hats. The funny design, I presume, was on purpose to make the freshmen look a little goofy. The intention was to make them feel as if they were being hazed and they had to get through this hazing in order to become a full-blown male student on campus. Furthermore, there was assigned garb in the sense that, as you described, not only did they have to wear this freshman hat, but also the moleskin (a soft but heavy-napped, cotton twill fabric) pants. The properly acceptable pants would change as you moved through the classes. (Devlin: I think so.) [The Juniors and Seniors wore corduroy ( A durable cut-pile fabric, usually made of cotton, with vertical ribs) pants. Nat]
How did your fraternity brothers feel about your involvement with the band?
Devlin: They wanted all the pledges to have some activity and do something that would make the fraternity...let’s say...more prominent if not that year, possibly later. [I.e., they the wanted prestige of having as many of their members as possible involved in campus activities. NHC] When I joined the Band, they were happy about it. In fact, I not only went in the band, I went in the symphony orchestra too. But, that’s another story, we’ll get to that later, I’m sure.
At that time, they weren’t into all these stunts and formations: we just played music. When we went into a football game, we marched out the North Tunnel, went on to the field, and then went over and sat [in the stands].
Cheatham: Other than performance at athletic events, what was the role the band played on campus?
Devlin: I don’t recall the Band having a major role in campus life. It played for football games. I do remember a couple of times we played for a major track meet or something. I don’t recall any baseball games. But, the rallies...the Pajamarino Rally was the big rally held in the Greek Theatre Thursday (sic) night before the Big Game with Stanford [There is some confusion here. The Pajamarino was held in midseason. Rallies were always held on Friday nights. Nat], Freshman Rally, and the football games, that was about it.
The Rally Committee and Big C Society ran the show [Meaning the Rallies and the Rooting Section at the games. NHC]. I remember that, when some student in the Theatre would get rowdy, they would roll him down over the heads of the students to the fire.
Cheatham: In the post-WWII years the custom was to “roll” somebody “up” hand-to-hand over the heads of the rooters and dump them off over the back of the rooting section. This was discouraged because it was dangerous, but it did remove a disruptive influence from the rooting section. You could “roll” a rooter, “up” or “down”, in those days, the late 1940’s and 50’s anyway, because the rooting section was jam- packed, shoulder to shoulder. Passing a rooter overhead from one person to another was easy.
Madison says they rolled them “down”. Here is my interpretation of that. Discipline in the rooting section was maintained by the Rally Committee. They couldn’t be everywhere but their seats were in the lower middle section of the rooting section. My guess is that rowdy students were rolled “down” by the other rooters into the waiting hands of the Rally Committee who took care of the problem. I am sure it was similar in the Greek Theatre.
Devlin: As far as the football games, the main thing we did was play. We played [marched] onto the field, when we got in the stands. We played a few pieces before the game started, during the time outs and when Cal scored. There were no half-time stunts. We just sat and played.
Cheatham: Would you describe for us the lore that went along with the bonfire rallies at the Greek Theater.
Devlin: Well, I can’t describe any particular one, but the Band went up and played for Pajamarino Rallies. They were on the stage. I remember at least my senior year...I recall that because I remember the wild pajamas I had on. [I think the Band played at all three rallies; the Freshman Rally, then the Pajamarino Rally and the finally the Big Game Rally. Nat]
The Band was a minor part of Pajamarino Rally. We didn’t march in or do anything special. We just arrived with our instruments, sat on the stage of the Greek Theatre and played Cal Songs when the Rally Committee told us to.
At least during those years, the name Pajamarino was given only to the rally on the Thursday (should read Friday) night before the Big Game. For the most part the students didn’t wear pj’s.[Yes, they did - just the men. Nat.] Neither did the Band. There was no marching in by classes. They just arrived and took seats. [Yes they did march in by classes. Nat]*
Cheatham: I can remember some Pajamarino rallies in the late 1940’s when I was a water boy for the Cal Band in which many Bandsmen would show up in pajamas but, as with yourself, I can’t quite remember whether the students did or not.
Any other recollections on rallies?
Devlin: The bonfire rallies were run by the Rally Committee with the Student Body President and maybe some of the Big C Society, because I know they got the freshmen to go out and bring in more wood to keep the fire going, and took care of any hassles that developed; these were big, burly football players, and they were not in pajamas. I definitely recall at least...
One Pajamarino Rally I remember, of course, is when I conducted the band on the stage. The others, I was just there, I guess. My recollection of those is blurred, because, well, it was inconsequential...I was just there.
Cheatham: Madison told me off-tape that he has no recollection of the individual classes marching into the Greek Theatre by their class year. I mention this because in his interview, Ralph Edwards (Yell Leader for the Class of 1935), describes each class marching into the Greek Theatre with much pomp and ceremony. [Added latter by Maddy: It could well be that they marched in by classes. Remember, I was working in shows and for NBC in San Francisco and didn’t attend any of these festivities.] [Yes they did march in by class. Nat]
For the next few minutes, let’s talk about some people in the band. What are your recollections of someone named Leroy Allen?
Devlin: Leroy Allen apparently had a lot to do with the actual formation of the Band. According to the Golden Book [A standard reference book on Cal history. NHC], he was there in 1911 as Chief Musician, and...later on, he was the one who put the band together and kept it together. In those early years apparently the band was a very minor thing.
I don’t know but I suspect that it was not until after World War I that the Cal Band was formed separate from the ROTC band. You could look into some of the old Blue and Golds from say, 1910 to 1920. There might some mention of a band other than the ROTC band formed around 1919, right after the War. That’s a guess.
Here’s an afterthought that might help. Construction of the new Cal stadium was completed in the early 20’s. I think the first game played there was in 1922. It was one of the first big ones built because of the increased interest in college football. The name Andy Smith was a big drawing card and the games with is Wonder Team were sell-outs.
Years later when they saw how the people went for college football, George Halas and other smart business men thought the public would go for commercial football, hence the Green Bay Packers and all the other professional teams. This is just a supposition but I’ll bet that was when the Cal Band was formed as separate from the ROTC.
Cheatham: Madison is referring to the creation of the “ASUC” Band in 19(23?) as contrasted to the ROTC Band which which already had a long presence on campus going all the way back to the Cadet Corps of the turn of the century. I suspect the title “Chief Musician” was associated with the ROTC Band.
Devlin: When I joined the band in 1925, I remember Allen came to the rehearsals two or three times. I talked to him once or twice. He was a very nice, very quiet-spoken man, but I think he realized he was no longer connected with the band or with the university. Just what his actual role was from the end of the war [WWI] I have no idea. He just faded out of the picture.
I would say Allen was 5’7”, rather stocky, quiet, a real gentleman, not an extrovert at all. If you asked him a question, he would answer and that’s about all. He was a polite man, but very self-contained.
[Added later by Maddy: Again, referring to the Golden Book of California p. 244, L.W. Allen, (Leroy Allen) is listed as “Chief Musician 1911-1912 and 1912-1913”. As I have already said, I only met Allen a couple of times when he attended either a game or rehearsal. He was a private person and, by 1925, had ceased having contact with the band.
Note that Robert Gordon Sproul, later President of the University, is listed as Drum Major, 1912-1913.
In the same column you will find “1917-1918 Herman Trutner, Jr., Glen Haydon, Assistant Director.” This is the only place Trutner shows as conductor of the Cal Band.]
Cheatham: Tell us about Glen Haydon?
Devlin: Before we go into Glen Haydon, we need to describe the Music Department as it was at that time. There were actually three main people: Modeste Alloo, Glen Haydon, and a Mrs. Brown. Mrs. Brown was a lecturer in music history. She was an elderly lady and I wasn’t too impressed with her.
There was one other too. Edward Stricklen was also in the Music Department, and taught counterpoint. We got to be pretty good friends. He was a crusty old codger, today we’d call him a curmudgeon, a confirmed bachelor and pretty much of a woman hater. He lived alone in an apartment off College Avenue near Broadway. Stricklen was heavy and shuffled rather than walked. He always wore a light tan suit and a cap. Sandy hair with a pasty complexion and lousy teeth stained with nicotine for he always had a cigarette drooping from his mouth. He had a good sense of humor and was sharp. Somewhere along the line he must have had good musical training. For a short time he was a member of the Bohemian Club and wrote the music for the 1911 Grove Play “The Green Knight” which he also conducted. As I get it, he joined the Club shortly before he wrote the music and, shortly after the performance that year, he resigned. I checked in the Club archives and there is practically nothing about him in the records.
I had a car and on Saturdays we used to drive out to Walnut Creek or Orinda for lunch and just shoot the breeze. He was pretty much a loner.
The Caldecott Tunnel was years away and I don’t remember any other tunnel out to Walnut Creek. I remember the road was a narrow, twisty road over the hill above the Claremont Hotel. I played with Puss Danohoo at the Orinda Country Club after we left the Hotel Oakland and we had to drive that road every Saturday night.
The Music Department classes were given in two locations: one was on College Avenue in back of the campus, a shack where I believe Cowell Hospital is now. The other was in the church down at Ellsworth and Bancroft. The church still stands. That’s where Prof. Alloo gave his classes in Solfeggio.
Cheatham: Tell us what Solfeggio is?
Devlin: It’s learning choral music using the syllables: Do Re Mi Fa So La Ti (or Si) Do. That was one of the required courses for a music major. Incidentally, it’s marvelous to know. In fact, just a few weeks ago, I was doing something I seldom do; I was singing some parts while...I’m playing in a bell choir...I’m playing the bass bells and it was a piece that I knew, but I didn’t know the words. So I was just going “Do Re Mi Fa So...” just singing the fool thing; first time in 50 years I’d even thought about solfeggio. That’s solfeggio. Modeste Alloo was a fine instructor.
Earlier you said you wanted to know about the University Orchestra. It rehearsed on Monday evenings in Hearst Gymnasium. I think it was a credit class. At any rate, Alloo conducted it. Not all the orchestra members were actually students for we had a lot of professionals that played with us just for the practice. It was good, but I don’t recall our ever giving a concert. Again, maybe I wasn’t there for the concerts for I was playing in San Francisco professionally.
Cheatham: Tell us more.
Devlin: Glen Haydon gave the harmony and arranging courses in the shack on College Avenue. He was quite tall, reddish hair cut short and a moustache. I don’t know if he had any military background or not. He was very strict, and I recall...now this is a crazy thing...I remember his thesis for his doctorate was on the evolution of the six-four chord. Why I remember that, I have no idea, but I do.
Mrs. Brown...she was all right, but I thought kind of stuffy. When she talked about opera, she’d roll her eyes and get dramatic. She never appealed to me.
There was another one who had nothing to do with the Band, but with Cal musical activities...that was Brick Morse. [Clinton R. Brick Morse 96, composed Hail to California. He also lettered in Football. NHC] Now, Brick Morse had just...I don’t know what had happened, but he was in the doghouse with the university. And so, he had had the Cal Collegians, I think they were called. But he went out on his own. A choral group, yes. But, that was taken away from him. Incidentally, something happened to Brick, and he was always on crutches. He had a very terrible accident, and the last years of his life he was on crutches. He had a broken heart over the fact that he was taken away from the Collegians. He formed the Brick Morse Collegians in an off-campus setting, and they were more or less in competition with the regular Cal choral group. In fact, I believe the Cal choral group was under the auspices of an Eugene Blanchard (that’s in the book here [The Blue and Gold. NHC], opposite the band)...
Cheatham: I vaguely remember someone telling me that the Collegians under Brick Morse were a very rowdy group that did a lot of drinking. I’m guessing that because of this rowdiness that the University had to do something to control it, and that may be how he lost his influence with the group. This would be easy to research in the Bancroft Library.
This is a bit out of chronological order, but tell us about Herman Trutner, Jr.
Devlin: That Jr. on Trutner is kind of ridiculous, because Herman at this time was 50 or 60 years old. He was director of the Oakland Park Municipal Band that played every Sunday at Lake Merritt for years. In fact he did this well up into the 1960’s. But he was long gone from Cal by the time I was there.
He also directed the Ahmes Shrine Temple Band, the Scottish Rite Temple in Oakland, on the lake. Later on he came over and directed the band at the Bohemian Club. He had a long history with bands, but was only connected with the UC band for a short time.
Trutner was Director of Music for the Oakland Public Schools until around 1940-1942. Somewhere in there he retired from that position, but still led the Ahmes Shrine Band until his death. But, according to the Golden Book, he was at Cal in 1917 and 1918 with Glen Haydon as his assistant.
Cheatham: There’s someone else we need to talk about, and that’s Modeste Alloo.
Devlin: There’s one of the most interesting men I have ever met. Alloo was short, about 5’5” and stocky with a barrel of energy. Almost bald, he had piercing eyes that bore right through you. He was almost always in motion...the type that wears you out watching him. He had a good sense of humor and, as long as you performed well, everything was all right.
I don’t know how the University got hold of him. He was a Belgian. Previous to coming to the University he played trombone in the Boston Symphony Orchestra. He gave an advanced brass class and was very particular [about] who signed up for it. We had a group that was a doozer. Among those in the class was Reg Krieger and Dan Gilson. I’m sure that Reg Krieger’s name will come up time and again. Reg helped direct the Alumni Band when it first started. Reg and I were very close friends and we started teaching in San Francisco the same year,1935, he teaching at Poly where he went to high school, and I teaching at Lowell where I went. We had the bands and orchestras there. And also, Reg, Tom Chapman, Dan Gilson, they all played in the Hal Dreiske Orchestra, the best dance orchestra on campus.
Reg was in this brass group and I remember two others, George Melvin and Jim Hogan. Later George Melvin taught music in San Francisco at George Washington High School,and Hogan went down to Modesto.
We played all sorts of difficult music written especially for brass instruments. You never heard anything like it. I remember one time with, I believe it was George Melvin, playing the euphonium. The euphonium is a glorified baritone horn. He was playing it, and he got the part wrong. Alloo stopped the playing and grabbed the horn from George. When Modeste played the part with the group, he made a beautiful clinker on the horn. He put it down, grinned, and said, “By golly, that was a good one.” That was typical of Modeste Alloo.
Cheatham: Now you said that he played a clinker...
Devlin: Oh, just a wrong note that was so far out it was horrible.
I can say this now because he’s gone. Alloo was quite a ladies man. In fact, that’s why I think he was asked to leave the University. I know when we took our final examinations in solfeggio, and that’s something else we had down there at the church, he would take all of us, one by one, into a private room for our examination. And when he would take the girls, he would have that “gleam” in his eye.
I had an experience with Alloo many years later. I was on sabbatical with my wife and two kids traveling in a trailer. We got down to Miami, and he had gone to the University of Miami. So, I thought I’d phone him. I got the phone number out of the phone book, got the music department and was told, “I’m sorry, but he’s very busy...”
“...well, would you please tell him...would you give him my name anyhow, can you do that?”
She said, “Well, all right.” There was a pause, and then all of a sudden: “Madison, Madison, Madison.” When the girl had gone to him, he immediately dropped everything and came to the phone. Well, as a result, he invited me to a concert that night at the university. There was a lineup for tickets to the concert you wouldn’t believe. Helen Traubel from the Metropolitan Opera was performing. He gave me a ticket for an aisle seat. Alloo conducted the first part of the concert, then came out in the audience and sat with me. Afterwards, we went out to a bar and had a couple of drinks.
He invited me to his house the next day. I went and found he had lost his first wife, but had married again. He pulled out his trombone and played for me. With triumph in his voice he said, “I still play! I still play!” I photographed him in his shorts playing under a tree in his backyard. I remember I took a picture. We had a delightful time. The next year I tried to get him as a guest up at the Bohemian Grove. Reg Krieger, Dan Gilson and I, were all playing in the symphony orchestra at the Bohemian Club. We tried but didn’t get permission. We would have underwritten the thing and that would have been something that the whole Grove would have loved.
Cheatham: I think these little anecdotes are fascinating. Are there any additional things you wish to share with us with regards to Modeste?
Devlin: One of the classes that he gave...you know, you’re really digging through my mind...he gave a class in conducting. Obviously, I was in that class. He was an excellent conductor and a fine musician. Very exuberant and excitable. As for the band itself, at the band rehearsals, sometimes Alloo would be there, and sometimes Glen Hayden. Glen was fine but kind of remote; you never really got to know the man. He was an excellent musician. He played clarinet while Modeste, of course, played the brass instruments, mainly trombone and euphonium. They would help us when we were conducting the band at the rehearsals if there was anything wrong there, or to give us techniques, little tips on how we could improve our techniques on the concert area of the band. Of course, when it came to straight marches with the Band, there was never any help needed there.
Cheatham: Let’s go back for just a moment to the concert that you went to in Florida. Would you give us some insight into that performance?
Devlin: The concert at the University of Miami was evidently one of the highlights of that particular concert season. Helen Traubel was a famous soprano from the Metropolitan Opera and the guest artist at that particular concert. I was impressed for I had heard about her, but I’m not an opera buff. I won’t swear to it, but I think she had her own conductor with her, which a lot of artists do. Modeste just conducted the first two or three numbers, that’s all, then he came and sat with me...a beautiful aisle seat.
Cheatham: These have been very insightful anecdotes to the Department of Music. Would you explain to us the relationship between the Cal Band and the Department of Music?
Devlin: At that stage, I wasn’t interested in politics. In fact, I wasn’t even aware of a lot of things. However, the Cal Band was really autonomous. It was not...the Music Department did not oversee the Cal Band. It was merely there, if I recall, in an advisory capacity. But Glen and Modeste were both very welcome, very interested, and helped all they could. But their help was as advisors. They did not direct or say that it shall be this or that. I think, and this I’m not sure, we had our own advisory committee in the Band. And, we ran it, especially when it came to the football games. For example, I remember one time Cal had an athletic director named McKenzie or something of that sort. One game was a sellout. After we had marched onto the field and were going to our seats, I was told that the band was not going to be in its usual place in the stands, it was going to be in seats around the 50-yard line, but on the field, not in the stands. I raised the roof about that, and I don’t recall whether I won or he won. He wanted to sell another 100 or so prime seats.
The band was pretty much autonomous. We had a room in Eshleman Hall. [He is probably referring to a small storage room they had somewhere in the student union. Room 5 Eshleman wasn’t completed until after Maddy graduated. NHC] I remember we had two double racks, one above the other, where we hung our uniforms including the white duck pants that I detested. Anyhow, that was our uniform--white duck pants, coat and the Horse Blanket. [Added by Maddy later: Before the football games I think we formed just outside the stadium and marched in. Not until we came out of the tunnel did we start to play and I think it was “Lights Out” every time. Possibly we marched to the end of the field, reversed to the center of the field, and turned into the stands and sat just below the card section. See the 1931 Blue & Gold p. 249 for a photo of the band marching on the field before some game.
The Band had no role in the card stunts performed during half time. We just sat in our seats and played a few Cal songs between stunts and for the remainder of the period before the game resumed. We did not go on the field to march or do anything to entertain the crowd.
At the end of the game we usually just left the stands and walked out through the tunnel. No playing, formation or anything else. The band didn’t mean much in those days. [After the game, they always played “All Hail” in front of our rooting section. Nat]
As far as marching stunts went, there were none. We would assemble outside the stadium and just before the football game, we would march in through the North Tunnel playing, march onto the field, and then get in front of the stands, stop playing, and go in our seats.
Cheatham: There’s one song I’d like to ask you about. In your day, did you play the song One More River?
Devlin: You know, I remember many of the Cal songs we played, but that one...I know the song, and I remember hearing it, but I don’t recall the band actually playing it. To be frank, I don’t recall our having the music for it. [One More River was always played when the Junior class marched into the Greek Theatre for a rally. I don’t remember it being played in the North Tunnel. Nat] [I first heard it as a Cal Band water boy in 1946. By then they were no longer entering bonfire rallies by class. The song was played by the Band as it exited the North Tunnel after a football game. There was no post game concert on the football field as there is today. The Band as well as the rooters were pushing their way trough the tunnel to get outside the balcony where Coach Pappy Waldorf was come out and speak. While the Band was pushing its way through the tunnel it played One More River over and over again. That wonderful trombone part echoed through the tunnel. I guess the symbology was that “this game is over and there is another one next week”. It must have taken them ten minutes or more to get through the tunnel. Just before they emerged they switched to the song One Balled Riley. I don’t know the significance of that except that it is a bawdy song. In later years, perhaps in the late 60s, this medley was arranged in written music. For one thing, there is no longer the crowd in the tunnel that there used to be. The Band can march straight out with no delays. The written medley is short and last just as long as it takes to exit the tunnel. NHC]
Cheatham: So, to recap then, the role that the band played at the football games was one of making a pregame entry while playing Lights Out March, doing a counter march in the south end zone, doing a right turn toward the Cal fans, and from there the role reverted to being rooters to support the team by playing songs during the football game.
Devlin: We went into the stadium by way of the North Tunnel playing. Then we made a left turn and finished whatever we were playing, and then we would just stop and get in the stands.
Cheatham: So my scenario is wrong. You didn’t “troop the field” but only got to midfield and then did a left turn to the Cal rooting section and went directly to your seats.
Devlin: The most we might have done was to march to the end of the field, reverse direction, and go into the stands. No stunts.
If I remember rightly, we sat down at the bottom of the stands, just back of the walkway [i.e., the yell leaders’ ramp. NHC] ...the first few rows, either in the center of the rooting section or to one side, and I seem to recall being in the center, but I won’t swear to it. We were in the bottom of the center. We weren’t within the rooting section because that would louse up the card stunts. We were at the bottom. And, we stayed there the entire game. Unless I’m wrong, when the game was over, we got up...I don’t remember our marching out, because I remember that on the way out in one game, going through the tunnel, three or four of the Bandsmen lost their caps...some of the rooters grabbed them. But, I don’t think we marched out; I think we were through when the game was over. We were just like any other person at the game. We got out on our own. By and large, we stayed more or less together going out, but only because it was handy...we just left at the same time, and we were through for the day when we did that. [ [This suggests that the playing of One More River came at a later time. NHC]
We must have rehearsed somewhere, probably on Saturday mornings. We must have gotten lined up outside the stadium so that the trombones would be in the first row, and so forth. But as far as doing a lot of rehearsing, marching around the field...no. I think we had a drum major...of course we had a drum major because I believe Earle Rogers was Drum Major when I was Student Director of the band. But, we must have had some rehearsals, probably in Eshleman Hall, but so help me, I don’t recall.
See, that’s open for the band. [Referring to the Blue and Gold from 1931. On page 249 is a picture looking across at the rooting section which is dressed in white shirts. The band is on the field with a drum major in front, and Maddy is referring to the section where there are some open seats reserved for the Band at the bottom of the rooting section.]
Did the band have a role during the halftime?
Devlin: No. We didn’t get out on the field. We just stayed in the stands. It’s not like the 49er games where they have entertainment. No, I think by and large it was dull during halftime. Nothing planned.
Cheatham: During this time both Modeste Alloo and Glen Haydon were on the scene. How did they share their individual activities regarding the Band?
Devlin: At the band rehearsals, Glen might have been there watching and correcting any glaring defects either on the part of the conductor or someone who was having problems with his part, but it was purely advisory. The faculty stayed out of it as much as possible, really.
Cheatham: What I’m driving at is...it doesn’t seem to me that both people were necessary. So, somehow they must have had some agreement between the two of them or agreement between the two of them and the Band regarding their individual roles.
Devlin: Well, Glen was the one there most of the time. I don’t recall Alloo being there much. Other than the brass, I don’t think band music particularly appealed to Modeste. He was more of an orchestra man. He had an orchestra that rehearsed in Hearst Gym on Monday nights...the symphony orchestra. And, it was good. Alloo conducted that. In fact, several professors came and played just for the practice. But, Modeste did not have a great deal to do with the Band, other than perhaps for individual members who were in his regular music classes who wanted help or something. Glen played clarinet. They kind of helped out where help was needed. But it was not a case of taking charge. They only helped if they were asked to or saw some problem. Purely advisory...they stood away from the band.
Cheatham: This suggests to me that the Band didn’t have a formal adult Director as we know it today until Charles Cushing came along in 19??. Even then Cushing’s interest was in the musical sound of the Band and less so in its daily management. This attitude must have strengthened the nature of the student management of the Band. From what I’ve heard in other interviews and from observations during my water boy/marching years, I suggest that Mr. Berdahl was the first adult director to exercise leadership interest in the Band by working closely with the student officers on the day-to- day administration of the Band.
When football season was over and the spring semester started, I’m pretty sure that many members of the band wound up playing in the university concert band, and I suspect that’s where Modeste certainly made his mark.
Devlin: In the fall, everything [referring to the Band] was football, really. And the Band was there to spruce up the football games. At that time, they didn’t have the Straw Hat Band. In the spring there was one concert and only one. That was the University of California Band acting as a concert band. A lot of the students who played in the fall did not play in the spring. Musicians interested in concert music rather than football games, would play in the Band for the spring concert which was held in the Greek Theatre. I don’t know if we rehearsed every week or not, because this was not a credit class. The Band itself was all voluntary, the whole thing. Football, no. You got no credit for it. Orchestra, yes. The Monday night...the symphony orchestra was a course. But Band, no. I don’t recall there being any credit on it. No, I’m sure there wasn’t any. I don’t recall a bit of that. It was a case of volunteers, and the more trained musicians or those wanting to go into music as a profession would be there for the concert, for the spring affairs of the band.
Cheatham: Who conducted the concert band rehearsals?
Devlin: Modeste Alloo was there, but again as an advisory capacity. This was a student affair...a student-run proposition. I believe, if I remember rightly, there were one or two who joined me in deciding what we were going to play for our concert. But, unless I’m way off the bean, I conducted the band at all the rehearsals and performances. I don’t recall Alloo being there very much. Frankly, I only recall the concert I conducted. Don’t hold me for any of the concerts in previous years before I was a senior.
Cheatham: So in your year as Student Director, the spring Concert Band performance was student initiated and student executed with only a minimum role by Modeste and the Music Department - and that was by your request.
Devlin: The minimum role played by the Music Department was not by my request. It was just the way things were done in those days. I thin both the students in the Band and the members of the faculty just accepted the situation.
Cheatham: Would you tell us about the concert you conducted?
Devlin: I don’t even recall what we played or when. I think it was in April. We had, if I remember right, a nice day and a fair crowd. Obviously, I was more concerned with the musical quality of the performance. I can’t tell you a bloomin’ thing about what we played, but we had a couple of overtures and...I don’t think we played symphonies. It was a light concert. It was all right. It was fair...I think if you rated the band it would be the quality today of a good high school band. It was not a top-rated band, but a good band.
Cheatham: While you were a student there was a Bandsman named Bob Rice. Would you tell us about him?
Devlin: Bob Rice; I believe he played trumpet. Bob was a hard worker. He later became principal of a high school in Geyserville. I haven’t seen Bob in many years. Very nice chap, and very willing to work and help out wherever needed. I think he went to Berkeley High and lived at home. He wasn’t the drum major when I was there; Earle Rogers was. He was tall, about 6-foot 3 or 4. [See separate oral history on Bob Rice. NHC]
Cheatham: Since we’re on to Earle Rogers, why don’t you tell us more about him.
Devlin: I don’t recall too much. He had a wonderful sense of humor, and a big goof ball laugh. I don’t know where he came from, but he was a good drum major. He played something, I don’t remember what. He was a good one to have out in front of the band, because he could strut well, and did a good job as a drum major.
Cheatham: There’s another student in your day I’d like to hear about and that’s Charles C. Cushing.
Devlin: Charles C. Cushing was an introvert. No question about it. I think he was Student Director of the band in ’27 and ’28. I was on sabbatical because I ran out of money and had a chance to work full-time in one of the theaters in San Francisco. Charles Cushing was a student conductor. Many years later he became part of the faculty. In fact...and this we haven’t got into yet...I arranged a lot of the Cal songs. Later on when Cushing was on the faculty he rearranged them...real modern arrangements. I don’t know what arrangements they use today. Cushing was a very quiet man...very slender. I don’t know how he did as the Director.
Cheatham: Charles Cushing wrote the Cal Band drumbeat (now refered to as the high step cadence), but we’re not really sure just when that happened. What do you know about this?
Devlin: The only roll off we had...and if I remember rightly, we used this after we got through the tunnel...[sings]. There was nothing special. Yes, I know Cal has that special drum cadence, but I believe Cushing wrote it after he came back as a member of the music faculty. And he probably wrote that about the same time he rearranged all the Cal songs. That was not in the late 20’s...think how far back we are!
Cushing went from a student at Cal to France, I believe on a music scholarship. After some years he returned as a member of the UC faculty. That’s when he made the arrangements of the Cal songs and the Cal drumbeat...when he was on the faculty.
Cheatham: The tune that Madison just sang was the musical introduction to Big C, which was still played at least up into the 1950’s and early 60’s. We refer to that introduction as the Rump-De-Dump Fanfare because it almost sounds like that. Bandsmen of that era will know exactly what I am talking about. [Tim Castro: Here’s where you enter your insight.]
Before we move on, are there any other recollections you might have about Charles Cushing?
Devlin: This is my own opinion, and I have nothing to substantiate it. Cushing was a good student of Glen Hayden. I wouldn’t be surprised if Glen didn’t suggest or urge the Band to have Cushing as the Student Director his senior year, which was 1927-28. I’m only guessing when I say that, but as far as his rearranging the songs and creating the fanfare, that came much later, and I’m certain that was when he was a member of the Music Department.
Cheatham: Let’s hear a little more about the arranging you did for the Cal Band.
Devlin: I don’t recall too much about it, other than we had the Cal songs and I didn’t think too much of the arrangements. I was taking Glen Hayden’s class in arranging. And so, I arranged...oh, I don’t recall which ones...about five or six of the songs...Stanford Jonah, Palms of Victory and maybe two or three others. They probably used them until Cushing returned from his graduate years in France and realized how rotten they were, and made more modern arrangements.
Cheatham: Well, even though you had distinguished service with the Cal Band, you were also very active in other things during your student years. Perhaps you could put that in perspective for us.
Devlin: I was working my way through school. Although the expense isn’t what it is today by any means, there were two times when I took leaves of absence. One, I think was in 1927-28. I was playing professionally. I had been playing in dance bands, but it wasn’t enough. So one year I took a leave and went over to San Francisco and played at the then-called Granada Theater with such people as Henry Busse and Frank Jenks. Paul Ash had just left. I worked there for a year. So, I just didn’t have the time to give in a lot of the backstage things that makes a band or any organization work. Then, I took another leave...that’s why although I started college in ’25, I didn’t graduate until ’31--that’s six years. I took another leave. I was fortunate for I apparently had a pretty good reputation as a trombone player. I worked at the Fox and Warfield Theaters subbing. At that time, all the theater musicians could only play six days a week and had to take a day off. Well, the Fox orchestra had three trombones and the Warfield’s two, so I had five days regularly. For some time, while I was finishing my courses at Cal, I arranged my program so I had morning classes, and I could play afternoons and nights. It made a rough day, but at least I got through school and got my degree in Music.
Henry Busse, Paul Whiteman’s trumpet player was the guest conductor at the Granada. Quite a character in himself. He made a reputation with the Paul Whiteman band playing a piece called Hot lips. Today playing it would be a joke but it was big stuff in those days. Imaging making a reputation playing one piece differently.
The Fox Theatre is long gone. That’s now the big Fox Plaza. That’s where Walt Rosner had the big concert orchestra.
Cheatham: Did the Cal Band take any trips to away football games while you were in it?
Devlin: Yes, the band went down to L.A. for...I’ll never forget that USC game because the final score...are you ready for this?...was 74-0. That’s the one where...they even stopped the game. Instead of a 15 minute last quarter, they made it about 12 minutes because it was so one-sided. Incidentally, one of the players on USC’s team was Cotton Warburton. He was quite a celebrity, a quarterback, I think. After college he went to work at one of the movie studios as a film editor.
Cheatham: Well, we just finished a break for lunch, so I’m not sure where we were, but I’d like to hear more about your trip to the USC football game in Los Angeles.
Devlin: The year must have been the year I was the conductor, which was the Fall of 1930, because I graduated in 1931. They had a bandleader at USC who was a real promoter. He not only had quite a salary out of the thing, but he did a lot of things; personal endorsements and the like.
We went down on the Southern Pacific Railroad train called the “Daylight”. I guess we went to the Berkeley Station at the foot of University Avenue [Now a restaurant called the China Station. NHC], got on the train. In Los Angeles we stayed at the Biltmore. I think that was on Friday night. We were on the train all day, stayed overnight, and then, if I remember rightly, came home the next day. Down on Friday, home on Sunday. And that was 74-0, USC’s favor.
We had a bunch of squares. We had fun on the train, but as far as rowdy? No. The Cal Band was a low-key affair. It was not a bunch of rock-and-rollers or swingers at all. Oh, there were a couple. I’m sure that 3 or 4 had booze with them, remember this was prohibition. It was a mild group. Went to bed, got up the next morning, got ready, and went over to the stadium. Did our stuff, went back, and the next day we were home. It was extremely low-key. [What a contrast to the rowdyism we have heard about in other years. NHC]
Cheatham: Let’s talk some more about some specific Bandsmen. Would you tell us about Reg Krieger?
Devlin: Yes, Reg I knew very well. First met Reg when I went to Cal. Reg was playing with Hal Dreiske and his band, along with Tom Chapman and Dan Gilson. Later, Reg taught music in Dunsmuir and then went to Hayward. It was through Reg, really, that I came back to San Francisco. We had both gotten married. Reg was married a year or two before we were. Ina was Reg’s wife’s name...[end of tape].
Cheatham: You were telling us of your memories of Reg Krieger
Devlin: Reg played in the Hal Dreiske band, one of the best campus bands around at that time. Anyhow, we both graduated from Cal. He went to Dunsmuir, taught there, then went to Hayward, and then San Francisco. He was a couple of years ahead of me. When I graduated and took my fifth year at Cal, I went down to Ventura and taught there for three years. We [Dixie and I] got married in June ’34, Dixie’s parents lived in North Berkeley and we went to their house for the Christmas break.
Reg and I got together and he said “I’m going over to San Francisco to take the examination for teachers.”
And I said, “what examination?”
“Well, for the first time, they have a big examination for all of those who want to teach in San Francisco, and I’m going over to take it. Why don’t you come over and take it...”
“What for? Who wants to teach in San Francisco?” Anyhow, I went over and took the examination. I didn’t study for it; there were a couple of hundred people taking it. There were all sorts of questions and I zipped through the tests and left. I really wasn’t much interested in returning to San Francisco.
About three weeks later, I got a notice that I was number two on the music list, number three on English, and number five on history. Well, I knew I was going to leave Ventura, because they had a system that you taught there three years and had to leave. They didn’t want permanent teachers...teachers with tenure. Bang! One day while teaching a class a runner came from the principal’s office and said, “There’s a phone call for you.” Well, you know, when you get such a call at school you think, “Who died?” It turned out to be Mr. Stevens, the principal at Lowell phoning. I had been quite friendly with him when I was in his Spanish classes.
After asking how things were with me, he finally got to the point and said, “By the way; I see that you’re on the list for music teachers. Would you like to come to Lowell and teach?” I said, “Will you still be there?” He said yes. “What would I do?” He said, “You would have the bands and orchestras.” And, I said, “Of course, if you’re going to be there.”
He said, “Fine. Just don’t do anything, and I’ll take care of things.” Pretty soon I get an invitation to teach in San Francisco. I accepted and got hold of Stevens. He said, “Don’t worry, when they write just answer.” Soon I got a letter stating I’ll be assigned to a secondary school in music. Then, finally, I get a letter saying I’m going to be assigned to Lowell. That fall (1935) I discovered that Reg had been number one on music, and he had gotten the same invitation to go to Poly, the high school from which he had graduated.
Lowell was great. Many of the teachers I had had were still there and made me feel at home. You couldn’t ask for better support. A few years later though, I had the opportunity to go to City College at a higher salary. By that time I had a family started so I moved. Looking back, I wish I had stayed at Lowell. Stevens was hurt and asked who should take my place? I said, “Get Reg Krieger.” Reg was at Poly and very unhappy. He didn’t get the cooperation that I got. I had wonderful cooperation at Lowell. So, he went over there, and that was that.
We got together quite often and in 1937 Reg asked, “How would you like to come to the Bohemian Club?” I said, “What’s that?” At that time, I didn’t know about the Club. “Well, I’m playing there, and so are Tom Chapman, Dan Gilson...” and others I had known from Cal. They needed a new trombone player. So it was through Reg that I joined the Bohemian Club. We were together all the years he was at Lowell and I was at the City College.
Reg was an outdoorsman, a sportsman. He had a place up in Lake Almanor, where he went every summer...fishing. That’s the story on Reg. He played trumpet in the orchestra, and we were very good friends all those many years.
Cheatham: What can you tell me about his involvement with the Alumni Band?
Devlin: I don’t know how he got involved in the Alumni Band, but he was involved. I know, because the one time I went over to play with the group, he was conducting it.
Cheatham: This is another connection between the Bohemian Club and the Cal Band. Tell us about that.
Devlin: The California Marching Song came directly from the Bohemian Club’s 1927 Grove Play “St. Francis of Assisi.” The music was the march that ended the second act, I believe titled March of the Warriors. W.B. Garthwaite ’18, known in the Club as Jimmie, wrote the words to the Cal song. Charles Hart, the composer, was not a graduate of Cal.
Cheatham: We have an oral history interview with someone that you know by the name of Abe Hankin.
Devlin: I was quite surprised when you mentioned Abe Hankin. Abe Hankin was a student at Lowell when I arrived there. I imagine that Abe must have graduated about 1936. Awfully nice chap. Jolly. Played tuba. Other than being there at the school, I remember one incident well because it was such an unusual one. Somehow, I don’t recall just how, he and I were walking down Haight Street, I believe it was on Halloween. Perhaps the band had played for something, I’m not sure. ...the Lowell Band. We were walking down there, and there were a lot of rowdy kids. Somebody picked on one fellow and he picked on the wrong one because this fellow swung and knocked him cold on the ground and ran. We saw it, but we just walked on because we didn’t want to get involved. Why I should remember that, I don’t know, but I remember it was Abe that I was walking down Haight Street with. Cheatham: There’s another Bandsman that we have an oral history with that you know and that’s Don Mulford. We have an oral history interview with him.
Devlin: Yes, I know Don. He played trombone and had a dance band that played up at Hoberg’s Resort [In Lake County. NHC] in the summertime. He turned out to be Governor Dukemejian’s protocol officer or some darned thing. But where I see Don now and then is at the Bohemian Club because he’s a member there. We’re friendly, though it’s just a case of seeing each other once in a while and that’s that. But as far as any real close connection, no.
Cheatham: I’m wondering if you might have any recollections about band politics in your days.
Devlin: Well, I know obviously there are politics in everything. I was not involved in band politics because I was too busy making a living and finishing my education. And I remember...must have been April 1930...we had a final dinner for the band...again, it was not straight-laced and planned ahead of time, it was just an informal dinner. Don Rowe was the student director that year [1929-30]. The new Student Director for the next year was to be announced at the dinner. I went there wondering who’s it going to be as I would be there the next year. And I was surprised as anybody when Don Rowe announced that I would be the director the next year. I had never been asked if I wanted it or if I could do it or anything, but obviously when it was announced, I was surprised and pleased, and accepted. But, as far as politics, I wasn’t interested...too many other things more important to me. I’m sorry to say this, but the Band was not that important in my life, because I had too many other things: finishing up school...making a living. At that time, I was playing at NBC Thursday and Friday nights, and I always worked on Saturdays and Sundays either in a dance band or other group so the Band was...as I say, I’m embarrassed almost to say it now...the Band was very much a secondary part of my life.
Cheatham: I think we’ve about picked your brain clean and we’re reaching the end of this interview, but before we close it off, I’d like to ask you to ad lib any recollections you may have of your days in the university in general and anything else that might come to your mind that I forgot to ask.
Devlin: Well, it is tough to figure out. I’m glad I went to Cal. I’m a loyal alumnus; however, I’m not an avid, rabid fan. In fact, I think I’ve only been to two or three football games all these years. I feel that the university was one phase of my life. And, I’m not the kind that goes back and...everything revolves around the University. I feel that I’ve gone on to other things, and as those had petered out or I lost interest, I’d drop those and get onto something else.
I certainly feel as if I’ve...shall I say...justified my existence on this earth cause I was involved with the Scouts for about 12 years and the Diabetic Youth Foundation for 25 years, and a few other things. In fact, I’m still on two boards of directors here in Marin. As far as Cal’s concerned, I’m grateful for the good education she gave me. I’m sorry to see the university is...I’d say going to hell in a hand basket. As it was then, you went there to get an education. Now, I don’t know what half those characters are there for.
Also...this will really throw you...I graduated in ’31. Our son Bill graduated in ’61. Our granddaughter, Leslie, graduated from Santa Cruz in ’91. Also Dixie, my wife, graduated, and Bill’s wife Sarah graduated from California. But as far as being raving maniacs about the university and having our lives revolve around it, I’m sorry...we do other things instead.
Cheatham: How would say your experience with the Cal Band prepared you for your subsequent career?
Devlin: Being with the Cal Band certainly helped. I was a music major and when I started teaching school I had more confidence than I might have otherwise have had. Being Student Director of the Cal Band and my professional experience didn’t hurt in getting a job I am sure. I’m grateful for those years.
Cheatham: Well, I can certainly attest that you’ve helped us a great deal with this history project because some of the anecdotes you’ve told us are going to fill in a lot of the blank spaces. I would like to thank you for the time that you’ve spent with me today, and wish you the best of luck.
ADD I mentioned Ed Cykler. He must have been manager or something around 1926. I notice he is listed in the 1988 California Alumni Association Directory as Dr. Edmund Albert Cykler living in Oregon (p. 137) If he is still alive, he undoubtedly can give you further information on the background of the band. Look him up in the records in the Alumni Office on Bancroft Way.
Another man you should get in touch with is Cliff Moore. He was also in the class of 1931 and sometimes led the band when I couldn’t get off work (playing at NBC in the City). He’s listed in the 1988 Alumni Directory as living in Sun City (p. 445).
Interview with Madison Devlin