Interview With Bill Fay
- Version 3.3
- Bill Fay, Senior Manager 1947
- Dan Cheatham, Drum Major, 1957
- Date of Interview:
- November 26, 1991
- Susie Thomas
- [Minor revisions for clarity and grammar by Dan Cheatham. Inserted by Tim Castro on 3/29/92, 6/30/92, 7/17/92 and 8/21/92]
- [Revisions for fact, clarity and grammar by Bill Fay. Inserted by Tim Castro on 7/1/92]
- [Revisions for fact, clarity and grammar by Paul Bostwick, Student Director, 1957. Inserted by Tim Castro on 7/19/92]
- [Following editorial notes are attributed as thus:
- Bill Fay - BF
- Norden H. (Dan) Cheatham - NHC
- Tim Castro - TC
- Paul Bostwick - PB]
Keywords: Uniforms, Campus Life/1930’s, 1933 Rose Bowl, Chris Tellefsen, Charles Cushing, Baton Society, Jon/Albert Elkus, 1936 Bay Bridge Opening (Performance), 1939 World’s Fair at Treasure Island (Performance), WW II, Band Audition, Room 5 Eshleman Hall, Bonfire Rallies, Big Game Week in the 1940’s, Drum Beat (High Step Cadence), Card Stunts, Post Game, Post-War Band, Bob Desky, Dan Cheatham, Bill Ellsworth, Pappy Waldorf, Straw Hat Bands (Origins), Bob Sproul, Ernie Nagel, Field Rehearsals, Music Rehearsals (Under Cushing), Charter Day, William Denney, James Berdahl, Igor Stravinsky, Band in ASUC Structure. Lie Down Stunt, Stage Show, “Take It Away.”
955 Mendocino Avenue, Berkeley
Was in the Band 1942-43, 46-48 (Trombone) Senior Manager - 1947-48, his senior year (before that he was junior manager)
Dan: When was your first vivid recollection of the Cal Band?
Bill: My first recollection of the Cal Band was in 1935, when I was a student at Garfield Junior High School Berkeley [Now called Martin Luther King, Junior High School. - BF], and my brother Ed entered Cal and joined the Cal Band as a trumpet player. And one of Ed’s friends was Arnold Wulfraat who played trombone, and my first experience with the Cal Band was watching the Band during the football in season in 1935. Arnold Wulfraat was a trombone in the front row and I was quite impressed by him. I’d never played any instrument, and at Garfield Junior High, Mr. Minzyk was recruiting for the Garfield Band, and he said “I’d like you to play flute Bill, I need a flute in the Band.” I said, “No, I’d rather play trombone, like my brother’s friend Arnold Wulfraat because he’s in the front row of the Cal Band and I was impressed by that.” And Mr. Minzyk said “Well, I don’t need a trombone player right now, I’ll start you out but you can’t play in the band until I have a vacancy for you.” So that was how I started to play the trombone. He gave me lessons and after six months or a year, there was a vacancy in the Garfield Band and I began to play. So I’ve played trombone since 1935, and this is 1991 - that’s almost 60 years that I’ve played the trombone.
Dan: That’s very interesting Bill. What I’d like to hear from you now is what are your recollections of what that Band looked like at that point and what it did?
Bill: Arnold Wulfraat used to come down to our house and he and my brother would practice together - Ed on the trumpet and Arnold on the trombone. They’d practice some of the marches and things that they played in the Band for the coming Saturday football game. So I went to some of the games, even in those days the Cal Band came out of the North Tunnel at the beginning of the game. The uniforms were white pants with a blue and gold stripe on the seam, and they had blue coats with a white leather Sam Browne belt, military style cap which I think was blue and white with a gold band. I especially enjoyed the trombones because the right guide was always a trombone player. The trombones marched in the front row, and the right guide was the one who set the pace and the players would try to keep in line with him. [Mr. Berdahl’s interview also talks about the importance of the right guide. - NHC] Professor Cushing was the leader of the band already in ’35. He was quite a young professor with a black beard, very military looking, academic looking. He never wore a uniform. He wore a blue coat, sometimes gray slacks or something but never wore a band uniform the way that Bob Briggs does now.
Dan: Bill, I’d like to come back to Charles Cushing later. (Off tape, Bill reminded me that Cushing’s nickname was “Cush the Bush” because of his goatee.) For the moment, I’d like to explore what knowledge you might have of the earliest days of the band, particularly the transition from the ROTC band to the ASUC band. Do you have insight or knowledge of the campus politics of the time, student politics of the time and the historical aspects of the change to the ASUC. Now I realize you weren’t a bandsman in those days, but I hope you might have some recollections of it, and can help establish as much as possible, the origins of the ASUC Band.
Bill: As I understood it, the original Band was an ROTC band of the ROTC unit starting in 1891 just 100 years ago, and it was a military band which played for the military drills and ROTC parades and such things and also I imagine for athletic contests, but I don’t know that for sure. I think it was in the 1920’s that the Band came under the ASUC and was separated from the ROTC, probably in the 1920’s, and became an activity of the Associated Students, University of California, the ASUC. I think it was sometime in the 1920’s - I don’t know that date for sure. In front of Dan are two copies of the Blue and Gold, 1921 & 1925, and I believe that the Band was still ROTC Band. We’ll look in the Blue and Gold and find out.
Dan: Bill, what I’m looking for is any recollections you might have with regard to the student politics. There must have been some reason why it switched from ROTC to ASUC, and perhaps you might have heard some anecdotes along these lines. If you don’t have this information, we’ll move on to something else. (Bill says he doesn’t have any insight.)
Bill, would you take a few moments to tell us about your family connections with the University.
Bill: My family goes a long way back in the University. My mother came here in 1894 when her Dad came to be Chairman of the Latin department in 1894. My dad came as a young professor of French in 1914, and thought a good way to secure his future in University would be to court the daughter of the Chairman of the Latin department, which he did. My parents were married in 1916 at St. Mark’s church and moved here to this house on Mendocino in 1922, just a year before the North Berkeley fire. Their old house was on Hilgard just above Euclid and it was burned to the ground in the ’23 fire, but they moved here the year before in anticipation of my birth. The family was getting larger and they needed a larger house, and so they came here in 1922. I was born in 1923.
Dan: Do you have any recollections of attending any campus events as a family, thus sealing your bond with the University which eventually (and we’ll get to this later) got to your playing in the Cal Band?
Bill: We always went to events at the University. I can remember especially having dinner at the Faculty Club with my grandmother who was a widow since 1930 and often she would take us to dinner at the Faculty Club. At that time there was a women’s dining room on the North Side of the Faculty Club where the long porch is, and we’d have dinner there and walk across the 1910 Bridge, which was a gift of my mother’s class. She graduated in 1910. And on Charter Day, I remember as a little boy going to Charter Day. President Herbert Hoover had just gone out of office but came representing Stanford University. And we were walking down from the Greek Theater back toward the Campanile, and my aunt was said “there goes HH, there goes HH.” Herbert Hoover was walking just in front of us going down from the Greek Theater. I was quite impressed to see a former president of the United States walking along. I don’t remember whether the Band or the orchestra played. Later, when I was a student myself, sometimes the Band would play and sometimes the orchestra. If they needed another trombone, they would often call me from the Band to come and play in the orchestra, and I played several times in the orchestra when they needed extra trombones for commencement or Charter Day or different things like that. Mr. Wm. Denney was director of the orchestra, and Cushing was director of the Band. Charles C. Cushing was the first permanent director, I think, of the ASUC Band. Charles C. Cushing, “CCC” or “Cush the Bush,” was the nickname that we gave him.
Dan: Let’s talk a bit about the time your brother was in the Band and his adventures.
Bill: My brother Ed entered Cal in 1935, and played in the Band all four years as a trumpet player. He was quite heavy, quite stout. They went to the Rose Bowl I think in ’38. Ed was very heavy, and the parade is a real man killer. The Rose Parade goes up Colorado Avenue, and they said “Who are those three men playing the trumpet in the Cal Band?” It was my brother Ed, cause he was very fat. He found the parade very tiresome, because he was terribly overweight, even at that time. Ed was very active in the Band, and the Band politics. He helped to put on the show, “Take It Away,” in ’38 with Jim Berdahl and Don Johnson who were the two who produced it. The purpose was to raise money to send the Band to Portland for the Oregon game. This was a stage show in the Campus Theater on Bancroft Way. [This was a movie theater and is now the home of the campus Development Office. - NHC] The Band sold tickets and they themselves were the actors. It was kind of a variety show. My brother Ed was in charge of ticket sales and promotion of the show. Unfortunately, they didn’t raise enough money to send the band to Portland, which was the purpose of the play. But they were able to use the money to help with uniforms and other Cal Band expenses. [The 1938 Blue and Gold says, “To add to their funds, the Band presented an original musical comedy, `Take It Away’, on November 5 and 6. The show, although not highly successful in dramatic technique, contained several versatile musical numbers. With proceeds of this function, the Band purchased a Glockenspiel, or small portable xylophone.” For additional information, see the Abe Hankin interview. - NHC] My brother Ed was a Sophomore Manager and then a Junior Manager, and he was not elected Senior Manager. His good friend Bart Keene was the other Junior Manager, and Bart Keene was chosen to be Senior Manager. My brother Ed was honored with the Bell trophy for the most valuable member of the Cal Band. Since he didn’t make Senior Manager they gave him the Bell Trophy. I have a picture of him holding that trophy in 1939, when he was a senior and he was given the Bell trophy, which is still in use I understand. I’m not sure, my brother may have been the first to receive the Bell trophy. I’ll get a picture of it and show it to Dan. [Edward A. Fay received the Bell Award in 1939. He was the eighth recipient of this award. - NHC]
Dan: The Bell trophy is still awarded. Back to the business of the trip to Portland. There was one other individual who was active and involved in the Band in those days. Do you remember Chris Tellefsen? Do you have any recollections?
Bill: I remember as a teenager hanging around the band room with my brother Ed when I was still in high school and he was in college. Chris Tellefsen was in charge of the uniform room. He was kind of an unofficial grandfather for the Cal Band. He used to tell stories about the gold rush days up in the Klondike in Alaska when he had been a gold miner in his youth. He would regale the bandsmen with the stories about the exploits and the adventures up there in the gold rush country. My brother Ed was very fond of Chris Tellefsen. He used to come home and tell us some of the stories that Chris had told. I’m sure that I met him during the late 1930’s when my brother Ed was in the Band. Actually I was in junior high still at that time.
Dan: Bill, these first hand recollections of yours of this period are really quite valuable because we have little or no materials on this period of the Band. Before we move on toward coming up to date, would you take a few more moments to ad lib on any other thoughts that come to your mind about this period.
Bill: I don’t know just when Charles Cushing became director of the Band, but he was already the director in 1935 when my brother entered the Band because Cushing had tryouts for prospective bandsmen, and my brother Ed had to come and play the trumpet for Mr. Cushing in ’35 to be admitted as a freshman in the Band, so I know that he joined the Band before that. I have another memory of Professor Cushing. His wife Charlotte Cerf was a French major and one of my father’s doctoral candidates in the French department. She was one of dad’s students. It was quite interesting when she married Professor Cushing. Her name was Charlotte Cerf, initials “CC.” Then she married Cushing, so she became “CCC,” which were also Professor Cushing’s initials. They were married probably in the early ’30’s. I think he was already married in ’35 when we first knew him with the Cal Band. But we knew him earlier as the fiancee of my dad’s graduate student, Charlotte Cerf in the French department. I believe she was the daughter of a department store owner in San Francisco. I don’t know if it was The White House, or one of those big department stores, O’Conner Moffitt or The White House or the Emporium. But I think her father was in business in San Francisco, a wealthy family and she was a very lovely woman, a very lovely young woman.
[The Executive Committee of the Band (Senior Manager, Student Director, Drum Major, and Rep.-at-Large plus Mr. Cushing) met once every month or so, to discuss plans, policy, etc. for the Band. Ordinarily the Exec Com would meet at the Band Room (5 Eshleman Hall) or 175 Men’s Gym (our rehearsal room), but once or twice a year we would be invited to the Cushings’ house on Summer Street in North Berkeley, for our meeting. Mrs. Cushing would prepare elegant hors d’oeuvres for us to eat, and Mr. Cushing served martini/cocktails. The martinis were quite strong, and I can remember feeling rather light-headed before the meeting was over. The Exec Com Meetings featured good fellowship among the Band Leadership, as well as attending to details of Band business. The meetings were always very enjoyable, jokes and fun abounded. - BF]
Alumni reunions, the night before the Big Game, the Band would always go to the San Francisco hotels for the different alumni reunions, and my brother would come home and tell us about those. Sometimes they would split it into two bands and they would go in chartered buses to cover all the reunions in one evening. It was a great party time, some of the alumni would insist on buying drinks for the Band and not all of them came back fully sober after that evening.
Herbert R. Fairchild was the Senior Manager in 1935. I remember his name. My brother got interested in Band politics very early. He became a Sophomore Manager in ’36 and Junior Manager in ’37. Another name that I remember at that time was Dick Lowe who was the student conductor in ’37 or ’38. Dick Lowe worked with Jim Berdahl and Don Johnson on the Cal Band show “Take it Away” at the Campus Theater. Another Band officer I remember was Abe Hanken, [The correct spelling is Hankin. - TC] who was Junior Manager the year after my brother and I think he went on to be Senior Manager in ’39 or ’40.
Dan: Do you recollect a band organization called the “Baton Society,” and what can you tell us about that?
Bill: The Baton Society was an honor society for members of the Cal Band who had a certain grade point average, and it made a significant contribution to the life of the Band. We did have smokers. [A “smoker” is a general term for a formal dinner banquet. The “college boys” would get dressed up and act like “adults.” After dessert, they would relax and smoke cigars while the program was coming to an end. - NHC] Sometimes on the third floor of Stephens Union where there was a large banquet room on the top floor of the old Stephens Union. Sometimes we’d have it at one of the fraternity houses. My brother had been in the Baton Society during his time in the Band and I was a member when I was in Band. I remember we had a smoker in the Baton Society, and we would smoke cigars and drink beer and just a general party time. We had a pin we wore on our lapel which was a little blue and gold “C” with a tiny baton across the “C.” The baton of course being the conductor’s baton which he uses to conduct the music. We wore coats and ties to the smoker, it was kind of an informal social evening. Maybe we played cards, or if there was a pool table in the fraternity house or the place where we met, people could play pool or different games. Just a social evening, drinking beer, smoking cigars or cigarettes, which isn’t done today.
I attended the Spring Concert at the Men’s Gymnasium, now called Harmon Arena. Apparently, Mr. Cushing was brand new as the band director in 1935 according to the 1935 Blue and Gold so perhaps that was his first year. They always played very classical music, pieces for symphonic band, and it was really a beautiful concert. The men’s gym was very well filled, maybe four or five thousand people would come to hear that concert. Seeing the marching band when I was in junior high school at football games, and my brother would tell of the basketball games where a smaller group would play, a pep band for the basketball games in the ’30’s. I don’t remember if it was 55 people, but I know it was a much smaller band than they used on the football field for the football games. As I remember in the fall Band was an activity, and in the Spring it was a University course. We didn’t get any academic credit for participation in the marching band. We did get academic credit for the concert band in the Spring. That’s my memory of it during the years that I was in the Band, and I suspect it was the same in the ’30’s when my brother was in the Band.
Dan: The 1936 Blue and Gold mentions that the Band went to the State Fair in Sacramento. Do you have any recollections of that?
Bill: I remember in the late 1930’s when my brother was in the Band, they would have chartered buses that would take them to play at the State Fair during the 1930’s. They would usually march around the fairgrounds a little bit, and perhaps give a concert at the grandstand or some other public place on the fairgrounds. This did not continue into the 1940’s when I myself was in the Band.
Dan: Tell us about Band trips to Los Angeles and the Big Game.
Bill: Chris Tellefsen always went along on these trips to Los Angeles and he helped to make arrangements for the chartered buses and so on, which would meet the train at Union Station and the Band would be taken to the Figueroa hotel and be assigned their rooms. If the game was at UCLA, the Band would go on Thursday night and attend a University meeting on the Westwood campus on Friday, and play in the Homecoming parade of UCLA on Friday evening, and then play for the game on Saturday. If the game was with USC, the Band would make the trip on Friday night and arrive in time for a rehearsal at Bovard field on the USC campus before the game in the Coliseum. Then the Band would stay Saturday night at the Figueroa hotel and have a chance for partying in Los Angeles, and the train would return Sunday night.
Dan: The Drum Major in 1936 was Ernest O. Nagel. Do you have any recollections of him?
Bill: Ernie Nagel, when he was Drum Major in 1936, he was very tall, very handsome, very military looking. He was a good friend of my brother Ed. Yeah, very tall! The student conductor in those days was called “captain” rather than student conductor, and I suspect this was a holdover from the days when it was an ROTC Band, and they had military designation. Apparently somewhere between the 30’s and 40’s they changed the designation of the student conductor to call him the student director rather than the captain of the Band.
Dan: The 1936 Blue and Gold says the University Symphony was directed by Albert I. Elkus. Could you tell us anything about Albert Elkus to lay the ground work for later on when we talk about his son Jonathan?
Bill: Albert Elkus was professor of music during the 1930’s, and director of the orchestra. He was a full professor and colleague of my father. I remember he was a very dignified man. Very short and very stocky, very distinguished musician, Albert Elkus, and he was director of the symphony orchestra. [A large lecture room in the current music building, Morrison Hall, is named for Albert Elkus. - NHC]
Dan: During the same general period, 1936, ’37, ’38, and even ’39 there were some major public events at which the Band appeared at. Could you give us any insight as to any of those?
Bill: One of those public events was the opening of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge I believe in 1936. The Cal Band was invited to come and participate. They marched out onto the bridge and played a short concert at the dedication of the bridge in 1936. My brother was quite impressed with being able to take part in this. It was a very great day, and the Cal Band was really honored to take part in the opening of the Bay Bridge. 1939 was the World’s Fair at Treasure Island. It started in February 1939 until November and then again in 1940, it ran from spring until the fall. The Cal Band played in the opening day and my brother was a part of that in February 1939. The Band gave a concert and paraded up and down the fairgrounds for the opening of the Fair. Later on during the Fair other college bands and high school bands from all over the state were invited to come and spend the day. The Berkeley High School Band played at the Fair one day I remember. We had chartered buses, both for the Cal Band when they went to play at the World’s Fair, and then again when I was in the Berkeley High band we had chartered buses, so there was no problem with going on public transportation. Special buses were ordered to take the Band to those events. I don’t remember much about the lunches. Maybe we were left on our own to buy lunch at the various stands that were available on the fairgrounds.
Dan: What are your personal recollections of the Fair itself? Were you awed by it? Were you wowed by it? Did you have any particularly unusual adventures that you remember even to this day?
Bill: The Fair was very impressive. This was called the “Celebration of the Pacific,” and all of the Pacific nations, Japan, China, the Philippines, had exhibits there. A very great international flavor. There was also a place called the Gayway, which was the entertainment zone. There were roller coaster rides and Ferris wheels and different kinds of entertainment. One of the most famous with the young boys was the Sally Rand Nude Ranch, where girls played volleyball very scantily clad, and supposedly only adults could be admitted. I remember going in high school with my fried Glen Heltne who was quite a large, husky looking guy. He wore a hat, coat and necktie and got in to see the Nude Ranch. I was rather small for my age and had to wait outside while Glen went into Sally Rand’s. Glen Heltne was my classmate at Berkeley High.
Dan: There is one more name during this period just before the 1940’s that we should talk about. Did you know Jim Berdahl.
Bill: Jim Berdahl was the student conductor of the Band, or maybe he was called the captain of the Band, during 1937 or ’38 when my brother was a junior and a senior in the Band. Berdahl was a good friend of my brother’s. They still keep in touch with each other, sending Christmas cards and greetings from time to time. Berdahl was a music major, and went on of course to have a long association with the Cal Band, but it started during his student years.
Dan: What can you tell us about the subsequent career of your brother? What did he go on to after he graduated?
Bill: My brother graduated in mathematics in 1939, and then did graduate study for two years at Harvard, and then a year at the University of Rochester, and went into the Army in 1942 or ’43 for World War II. After the War, he came back and went to work for the Navy at the China Lake Naval Weapons Center up on the Mojave Desert about 60 miles north of the Mojave. He spent his whole career there as a statistician working for the math department of the Naval Weapons Center. Ed is now retired at China Lake, and I’m sorry to say not in good health. He has bad emphysema, and is pretty much house bound. He really loved his years in the Cal Band and his association with Jim Berdahl, Mr. Cushing, and Arnold Wulfraat, the trombone player that I mentioned was the one who first inspired me to play the trombone. My brother Ed did some research for the Navy during his years at China Lake, and they gave him a year off to go to the University of Florida to complete doctoral studies using his research material that he had done for the Navy, so he earned a Ph.D. I believe in 1962 from the University of Florida. He then returned to China Lake, and retired from there around 1980 or so. He retired from the Navy and continues to live there. He was a civil servant, he was never a Navy personnel, but he was a civil servant mathematician working for the Navy Department at China Lake.
Dan: Tell me of your personal activities up to the time you became a freshman at Cal.
Bill: I should mention that my brother graduated from Cal in May of 1939, and my father who had been a professor of French took a sabbatical leave for 1939 and 1940. We went to Europe planning to spend the year in France, and my sister and I were enrolled in boarding school in Fontainebleu. We spent the summer of ’39 touring Holland, Belgium, France and Switzerland in our family Buick. We took the Buick with us on the steamer from New York to Rotterdam. The war broke out on September 1st of ’39. We were at that time in Brussels, where my father was attending the International Congress of Linguists. Since the war started, we thought we better come back to the United States rather than stay in Europe, so we canceled the plans for boarding school in Fontainebleu. My brother canceled his plans for graduate study at Trinity College, Cambridge, and he was able to get a steamer fairly quickly and transferred his graduate studies to Harvard. From 1939, ’40 and ’41 he was a graduate student at Harvard getting his masters degree there. My mother and father and sister and I had to wait about six weeks before we could get a ship home from Belgium because the shipping was so crowded at the beginning of the war, many refugees were fleeing from Germany. It took six weeks to get passage. We finally sailed about the middle of October from Antwerp to New York. It was very scary going across The English Channel. The first few nights, the ship had to anchor every night because of the fear of German submarines. The ship anchored and turned the lights off. After we got away from English/British waters the ship used full flood lights at night shining on the Dutch flag and the Holland/America smoke stack to show that we were a neutral vessel. We landed in New York around the 1st of November and settled in Belmont, Massachusetts, a suburb of Cambridge. My father did his research study at the Widener library at Harvard instead of at the Sorbonne in Paris like he had planned. My sister and I went to high school in Belmont, Massachusetts. I played in the Belmont high school band that year. In the spring of 1940, the Belmont high school band was invited to play at the New York World’s Fair, so I had the distinction of visiting both World’s Fairs, San Francisco and New York, in both 1939 and 1940! We returned to Berkeley in the summer of 1940, and my dad took up his studies again at Cal, his teaching at Cal. I finished Berkeley High School in December 1941. The Berkeley School had two classes in those days, the Christmas class finished in December and the Spring class in June. I was in the December class, and our graduation was to have been in January ’42 at the end of the semester. Because of Pearl Harbor they decided to move up the graduation so we could graduate before Christmas. So we hastily arranged a graduation ceremony at the Oaks [movie] theater on Solano [Ave.] [in Albany - PB] in December a week or two after Pearl Harbor, so the men in the class could go on to college right away in January, or many right into the Army or Navy. I chose to enter Cal in January 1942.
Dan: I want to get into your specific activities in the Cal Band and your specific undergraduate activities in a while but for the next moment or two let’s explore your service in the military.
Bill: As I said, I entered Cal in January 1942, right after the beginning of the World War. By the fall of 1942, they started the Enlisted Reserve Corps, and they told students if we would sign up for this Enlisted Reserve Corps, we would have a chance to finish our college degree and have a good shot at a commission. So hundreds of male students signed up in the enlisted reserve corps in the fall of 1942. In March of 1943 the enlisted reserve corps was all put on active duty in the infantry, and there went our dreams of finishing college and getting our commission. A hundred of us, actually three hundred students were put into the Army in three days. We boarded trains at the Third and Townsend station in San Francisco on a Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. I was one of those three groups of a hundred. Dean Stone, the Dean of Men, came over to the station each day and shook hands with all of us as we got onto the train to ride to Monterey to the induction center, where we were issued our uniforms and equipment. From Monterey I was sent to Camp Robinson, Arkansas, an infantry training camp. About a hundred of us from Cal were sent for basic training in Arkansas. We were put into a training company along with several hundred other draftees, and the drill sergeant kept saying “You college jokers! You college jokers, fall in line!” They treated us with a special interest because we were college students, and sometimes we caught some bad details [i.e. “Duty Assignments” like “K.P.” - Kitchen Police. - NHC] which they were giving to us because of being college students. After basic training, I had a chance to apply for specialized training in the ASTP (Army Specialized Training Program), and I was sent to the University of Wisconsin to study Italian because I had been a French major at Cal during my year and a half on the campus. So I was sent to the University of Wisconsin to study Italian, theoretically to go over to Italy and work with the military government. This was a 9 month course at the University of Wisconsin, and some forty or fifty of us were there. Some in Italian, some in German, some in different foreign studies. Unfortunately Congress abolished the ASTP after seven months. We didn’t know enough Italian to go to Italy, so we were sent to Atlanta, Georgia to the Atlanta Ordnance Depot, where there were Italian prisoners of war who had been captured in the Africa Desert Campaign. We were assigned as interpreters to the Italian prisoners to teach them auto mechanics. The Italian prisoners then performed mechanical work in the Ordnance Department replacing American soldiers for overseas duty. I was one of those interpreters. We learned the name for carburetor, and spare tire, and all the different parts of a car, and we interpreted the mechanics from the English mechanical teachers putting into Italian to train the Italian prisoners to do this mechanical work. From the Atlanta Ordnance Depot, I had a chance to apply for officer candidate school, and was sent to Aberdeen, Maryland to the Ordnance Officer Candidate School where I received a commission as a second lieutenant in the Ordnance Department, and was then sent to the Philippines. By this time it was 1945, and the war in Europe was just ending. By the time I arrived in Manila Bay, General MacArthur was sailing into Tokyo Bay for the signing of the surrender on the Battleship Missouri. I spent a year in the Philippines as an Ordnance Lieutenant. I would sign property issuance slips in the morning, and in the afternoon my jeep driver and I would go down to the depot and get the spare parts that we had ordered for the trucks and jeeps and tanks and guns and things that we were taking care of in the Ordnance Department. We were in Manila and also two other places on the northern part of the island. I came back from the Army in the summer of 1946 after a year in the Philippines and entered the University as a junior student in the Fall of 1946. My brother also spent about three and a half years in the Army. He served overseas in the European theater in an Ordnance watchmakers company repairing watches and binoculars and so forth in the Ordnance Department. He then became a teacher in a clerks and typist school in Frankfurt, and that’s where he finished the war and came back to California, also in 1946 when he was discharged from the Army.
Dan: Would you tell us about the events leading up to your actually joining and becoming a member of the Band?
Bill: I entered Cal as a freshman in January 1942, and of course wanted to get into the Band right away, so I found that the first requirement was to have a try-out with Professor Cushing. So I made an appointment with him and came for the try-out, I think it was on a Saturday morning, in the old music building which was a brown shingle building on the north side of the creek right across from where the Alumni House stands today. [Now called “Dwinelle Annex.” - NHC] Mr. Cushing’s office was upstairs and I came upstairs with my ancient trombone, this was the 1908 Buescher-Grand which I bought in junior high school. It was a old 1908 trombone with a large 12“ bell, it had a very large bell. Buescher was a band instrument company in the Mid-West, and the Buescher Grand was their deluxe trombone, but it only cost $52, I bought it second-hand in 1936. I brought it to Mr. Cushing’s office for the try-out, and he gave me some sight-reading, some samples of the Symphonic Band music that we’d be playing during the Spring semester. I had no idea what music he’d put out in front of me, and I played the best that I could. I don’t think it was too good, but he must have needed a third trombone player because he admitted me to the Band. The Symphonic Band was smaller than the football band, probably 60-75 pieces, and he assigned me to be a third trombone player. I think there were two firsts, two seconds, and two third trombone players. I became a member of the Band. We practiced twice a week, Tuesday and Thursday, from 4:30 to 6:00. We met I think, in room 175, the Men’s Gym which was a band rehearsal hall on the main floor of the Men’s Gym [across the hall and to the north of the basketball arena - NHC] . We had rehearsals twice a week and by April we were ready for the Spring Concert which was held on Sunday afternoon in the Men’s Gymnasium. A week or two later we were taken by buses to Davis for Picnic Day and repeated the concert there for the audience at the Davis Picnic Day. Already I began to experience the fellowship and friendship of the Cal Band, camaraderie among the other bandsmen. Of course they were all men in those days. We had a good fellowship and a good camaraderie. I enjoyed the Band.
Dan: All this happened in the “off season.” Tell us now what it was like to have a football band rehearsal - where did you do it, who was the drum major, some of the mechanics, and what went on in a football band rehearsal.
Bill: The football band started with the opening of the fall semester, probably the end of August. We also rehearsed twice a week, Tuesday and Thursday afternoon from 4:30 to 6:00. Usually these were playing rehearsals in room 175 in the men’s gym, except the week before the football game we would have one marching rehearsal, usually up at the stadium. The stadium would be open to us, and the sophomore and junior managers would bring a PA system for the Student Director and Drum Major to use directing and rehearsing the stunt. The stunts were much simpler in those days than what they do today. We would spell out C-A-L, or if were playing Santa Clara, we would spell out an S-C. One time, California played Navy and we made the shape of ship, we marched in the form of a ship going down the field looking like a naval vessel for the Cal-Navy game. I don’t remember who was the drum major in the fall of 1942, but I was already a sophomore manager. I’d had a Spring semester and eight weeks of summer school, so they let me apply for sophomore manager. Herb Towler was also one of the sophomore managers. There were either three or four sophomore managers. I remember Gordon Goff was the senior manager. I forget who the junior managers were in the fall of 1942. We made the trip to UCLA or USC, whichever game was played at the Coliseum that year. We went by special train, a rooters train. The Cal Band having a sleeping car, as the rooters sitting up in chair cars. We stayed at the Figueroa hotel near the Coliseum on Figueroa Street in Los Angeles. Chris Tellefsen always went along on these trips, and he helped to orient the new band members and make sure the uniforms and everything were in proper shape. He was the one who made the arrangements with the hotel because he knew the manager very well, and Chris was always a part of our Band trips. A real friend, and a father or grandfather to all of us in the Cal Band.
Dan: Tell us something about the uniforms you were wearing and some of the mechanics of the rehearsal. I’m sure you didn’t have stunt sheets in those days so somehow the drum major had to tell you where to go. I have recollections for example, that the drum major would grab you by the shoulder and place you in a certain place and say “This is where you should stand.”
Bill: I recall for the marching rehearsals we would meet first in the rehearsal hall. The drum major would outline the stunt on the blackboard, showing where the different positions would be. Then as Dan said, as we got to the stadium, he would say “Trombones, line up along the 40 yard line” and “Trumpets on the 50,” showing where the different ones would be. If we were performing a ship or were performing spelling a letter, he would assign us where to go. Of course we were playing music when we went into the different formations.
Dan: I want to go back to 1937 for a moment. The Blue and Gold [1937 Blue and Gold, page 233. - NHC] that year mentions a special stunt that the Band did. Can you describe it to us as told to you by your brother.
Bill: The 1937 Big Game was played at Berkeley. Cal of course hoped to win and regain the Axe. So the half time stunt that the Band worked out, as my brother told me and the Blue and Gold describes it, the Bandsmen lay down their instruments and hats in the form of an axe and then they spelled out the letters “We want the Axe now.” They spelled out the letters, and it was the first time they had ever done such a complicated stunt as spelling out so many different words. I don’t remember who won the game though! The Blue and Gold would tell!
Dan: Could you describe to us the uniforms you wore the first two years you were in Band?
Bill: The Band uniform in 1942 was a medium blue coat and pants with a dark blue stripe down the pants and I think a gold stripe on the bottom of the sleeve, gold buttons, and a brown leather Sam Browne belt, blue necktie, and the hat was yellow with a “C” on the top of it and a blue band with gold ribbon and a white visor. We wore white shoes. I’m looking at a picture of myself in the spring of 1942. I think these were fairly new uniforms, because when my brother was in the Band in the late 30’s, he graduated in ’39, they had white pants and blue coats and Sam Browne belts. So I think these were probably new in ’40 or ’41.
Dan: Do you recognize the name Marv Colton? Can you tell us about him?
Bill: Marv was the senior manager as I recall. Gordon Goff must have been the manager in the spring of that year when I was a freshman. Now that I’m a sophomore, in the fall of ’42 Marv Colton was the manager. A little short man, heavy set from Southern California. Very good organizer. I don’t remember any jokes about him.
Dan: Do you recognize the name Al Marin?
Bill: Alcide Marin was a member of the Band in the fall of ’42. He was a music major, and he stayed around Berkeley. I’ve seen him recently - he was at the Spring Concert this last spring up in the Hertz Hall of Music.
Dick Auslen was in the band that year. He must have been a sophomore or junior. He came back after the war in 1946, and he was senior manager.
Alfred Solomon was in the band. He, like me, was the son of a French professor.
Ben Scribner was in that band, a tuba player. He came back after the war and was drum major in 1947, the year that I was senior manager. [That was the first year that Dan Cheatham was waterboy for the Band. - NHC]
Dan: Bill, one of the things the current bandsmen don’t have any first-hand memory of is 5 Eshleman, which was a long time home of the Cal Band prior to moving to its current quarters. Do you have any anecdotes, insights, recollections, with regard to this former band room.
Bill: The band room in room 5 of Eshleman Hall was in the basement of the old Eshleman Hall. It was in the south end of the building. It had windows on three sides, one faced on the lower Eshleman court, the south window faced on Strawberry Creek, and the west window looked toward the heating plant [Now called the “Bike Bureau” Building. It is currently used by the Campus Police as the place to register bicycles. Yes, this building was used long ago for the generation of steam that was piped throughout the campus buildings to supply the steam heating radiators in each room. Centralized steam heating was once state-of-the-art. - NHC], I guess, the University heating plant which also was the Pelican building. You came into this room and everything was concrete. It was the basement, so it was built of poured concrete. Very noisy, concrete floors, walls, ceiling. Loud echoes. About twenty feet into the room was a ping pong table, and usually a ping pong game going on there. Each side of the table where the players stand, the wood had been knocked out by people hitting their paddles against it when they were angry. They just knocked the plywood into a little groove there from angry beating of the table. In the corner of the band room as you came in the door and turn to the left was an old wooden desk and chair and old fashioned telephone up on the wall which was used to connect us to the ASUC switchboard. About thirty feet into the room, rows of lockers began and there were four or five rows of lockers, double high, each about four or five feet high, a lower row and an upper row. Each bandsman had a locker to keep his uniform and instrument in it. Along the north wall which backed up against the uniform room, were very large lockers which would hold a sousaphone. At the very back of the band room on the far right behind these very large sousaphone lockers was the men’s room, which was a completely tiled bathroom with toilets, urinals and showers and sometimes we would take showers there after the game and so forth. I remember Mr. Cushing giving tryouts in the locker room for the football band in the fall. We’d hear him in there trying out players. Also the drummers would go back there and practice their drum beats in the echoing, tiled bathroom at the back of 5 Eshleman Hall. [This is identical to Room 5 Eshleman Hall in 1954, except that there were no showers. The shower room was now used for music storage. - PB (paraphrased by Tim Castro)]
Dan: Do you have any other recollections of room 5?
Bill: It was very sparsely furnished other than the desk and chair for the band manager to sit at when he was using the telephone or doing paperwork, and the ping-pong table. There were one or two old leather couches which looked like they may have been discarded from a fraternity house. Those were about the only chairs to sit on. Oh, there was a bridge table, and very often a bridge game was going on. When my brother was in the Band from ’35 to ’39 there was a continual bridge game going on in the band room, and people would play bridge and Ed would have to go to class, and someone would take his place and take over his hand. It was called “Band Room Bridge,” the very roughest kind of a bridge game. They didn’t follow all of the niceties of Culbertson. On the walls were sometimes Berkeley Police Department signs, that had been brought home from Big Game Rallies. Other times people would bring home “No Parking” signs, a “Street Closed” sign or “Danger Do Not Enter.” And quite a few of these signs were around the Band Room as souvenirs of the trips that the Band had taken. These decorated some of the walls.
[Sometimes we were rather a disrespectful crew, gathering street signs, and making fun of the police. A favorite joke, when we saw a policeman, was to yell, “Hey Bill, what does your father do for a living?” And another bandsman would reply, “Nothing, he’s a cop--ha ha ha!” Another favorite joke [When a policeman was within hearing - NHC] was “What are pennies made of?” and the reply was “Copper!!” [In reference to a common nickname for a policeman - NHC] - BF]
Dan: For the record, in the ’48 Blue and Gold, on page 207, is a photograph showing some of those signs. In the upper left hand corner is Bob Desky playing the trumpet. On the very left playing the trombone is Bill Fay. Bill thinks that the person playing the clarinet in the middle is Jim Hokanson.
Could you tell us a little bit about the bonfire rallies in the Greek Theater during this period before you went off to the War.
Bill: Before each home football game, at least the more principal games, there would be a rally in the Greek Theater on Thursday or Friday night prior to the game. Always there was a bonfire, and the cry would be “Freshman More Wood!” [Dan remembers it as, “Hey Freshman! More wood!” In those days the bonfire had railroad ties stacked, log-cabin style, in a rough circle, 10-15 feet high. All sorts of combustibles were tossed inside. It made a long-burning fire. Today’s fire is made from shipping pallets. They are a lighter fuel and the fire doesn’t burn as long. - NHC] The freshmen were required to bring more wood and throw it on the fire to keep it going. One of these rallies, usually for USC or UCLA game, was called the “pajamarino rally” and people would put their pajamas on over their clothes and everybody came in pajamas. I don’t know the history of this, but it goes way back. Even the Blue and Gold’s from the 1920’s show pajamarino rallies taking place, so I know it’s a very old custom to wear pajamas. At the rallies, the football team would be introduced and we’d cheer for each member of the team. The yell leaders would lead yells...“Coach Stub Allison, rah, rah, rah...rah, rah, rah, Coach Stub Allison, Yeah.” [During Pappy Waldorf’s time, there was a special coach’s yell that was given in the third quarter. It went, “Coach... Coach Pappy... Coach Pappy Waldorf... Rah!... Rah, Rah!... Coach Pappy Waldorf... Rah, Rah, Rah!” (Notice that it is a variation on the split- six yell.) - NHC] The Cal Band would play fight songs, and the students would fill the upper part of the Greek Theater and sing Cal songs and join in the yells and the cheers for the players and for the coaches. Big crowds came to the rallies, they were very well attended. Greek Theater might have a thousand or two thousand people in it at some of these rallies. Stub Allison was the football coach during the late 30’s. He took the Rose Bowl team in 1938. He was still the coach in the fall of ’42 when I was a sophomore manager, and then he must have been fired or retired after that. During the War years of ’43 to ’46, Frank Wickhorst who had been a Navy instructor of the V-12 program was the coach. He was still the coach in the fall of ’46. It was a very bad season, and Frank Wickhorst was run out of town at the end of that season.
Dan: Today’s Band doesn’t do much with regard to street marching. How was it in your Band?
Bill: Yes, the University used to have a parade during Homecoming time, either UCLA or Stanford game. It was held on Friday afternoon, the day before the game. The Cal Band would lead a parade down Shattuck Avenue starting at Shattuck and Vine all the way down to Shattuck and University and then up University Avenue to the campus. Behind the Band would be various floats and different parade entries. The fraternities would build floats, sometimes rather vulgar [Using anti-Stanford themes. - NHC], with bathtubs on them or toilet bowls, and people taking a bath. The sorority floats were rather attractive with flowers and nice decorations, and the girls wearing pretty dresses. The City of Berkeley really turned out in good support of these parades, and there was a very good feeling of cooperation between the City and the University in those days. People really supported the University. People gave a lot of enthusiasm and interest in these parades and what was happening up on the Berkeley campus.
The Band didn’t march as fast as they do now. [I think Bill is referring to the present “tunnel flow” wherein the Band enters the field from the North Tunnel at an extremely fast pace (240 beats/minute).-NHC] We went maybe about 160 beats to the minute. 180 would be the very fastest that we went. I think they go faster than that now. Of course a military band marches at 120 beats to the minute, we never went as slow as that. It was kind of a shuffling step, when you’re walking 160 or 180 beats to the minute you’re taking small steps and very short ones. It does wear out the soles of the shoes. We wore white shoes in the Band, and these were often very cheap white, not canvas, but very cheap leather shoes and not very comfortable. I remember my white shoes I used to wear, I had kind of a liquid chalky polish I would put on them before the game to make them nice, but next week they would have to be polished all over again because the white chalk polish wore off.
Dan: Today’s Band has a number of different drum beats that go with the slower pace of 120. [As an interlude to the faster tempo “High Step.”] In fact I think they have 4, 5 or 6 different drum beats. In your day I recollect there was only one drum beat. Does that mean you would march the whole parade at that tempo and that one drum beat?
Bill: We marched the whole parade at 160 or 180 steps to the minute. They were short steps so that the people behind us could keep up, but it was a very snappy band. All our stunts at the half time and the marching before and after the game was always done at this fast stepping pace. The Cal Band marched faster than any of the other bands. Stanford, USC, UCLA, they didn’t march as fast as we did. It was quite a tradition in the Cal Band that we marched at a fast cadence.
Dan: That’s amazing because you should hear the kids today moan and groan about being worn out and too tired to march the full distance between the stadium and the Band Room at that pace. That must mean you guys were supermen in those days. We did it too and I’d like to think we were. In my day when I was a marching member, I recollect the emotional and uplifting effect that the drum beat would have on us because we too only had the single drum beat. It was “our” Drum Beat and we were proud of it. Did your band experience anything similar?
Bill: Yes. The drum beat really inspired the Band. Da da da daa, da da daa, etc.... Dan said that Charles Cushing was the one who originated this drum beat and it was the only drum beat that we used. We only had that one drum beat, and once the drum beat started, everyone was enthusiastic and we marched right off all together at the same beat. It was a real thrill to march in the Cal Band.
Dan: With the faster tempo of the Cal Band, what influence did this have when you were appearing in parades with other bands?
Bill: Using the fast drum beat kind of gave us a special esprit de corps, and we were proud of our drum beat. If we were in a parade with other bands that used 120 cadence we were glad to show them up, that we could go faster than they did and we played better than they did. There was a real feeling that the Cal Band was the best. We would go 160 or 180, and we were proud of this. If it confused the other bands, too bad for them.
Dan: In my day the drum section would make a special effort whenever they were in hearing distance of another band to sort of close off their ears to the other tempo and they would play extra loud and take pride in trying to force the other band to break its step. That was a source of pride for our band.
I’d like to take a few moments to talk about the rooting section during the game before the time you went off to the war.
Bill: The rooting section in 1942 was segregated. The men’s rooting section was about maybe about from the 40 yard line to the 40 yard line. The women sat from the 40 yard line down to the 30 yard line on either side. But the men’s rooting section was the principal rooting section. On the benches was marked the letter “C” in blue many feet high so that when you sat across from the stadium you could see this “C” outlined in the middle of the men’s rooting section. The rooters all wore caps in those days, and they were reversible. One side was blue and one side was gold. [Also, everybody wore white shirts. - NHC] If you sat in the center section where it was blue, you wore the blue side out of your cap. If you were sitting around it for the background of the “C” you wore the yellow side out. When the rooters came to the game they found a stack of cards at each place, maybe 6 or 8 colored cards, blue, yellow, red, orange, green. Also a mimeograph sheet with numbers on it telling what number card you would hold up at face level for each of the stunts. The yell leader would call out “number 1” and you would all hold up your number 1 card, which would maybe show a picture of an $C for Southern Cal. One of the most complicated stunts that we worked out was to show the half time score. This had to be done very carefully - so it would show “Cal 14, USC 10”. This would work out ahead of time so people would hold up the right color card to spell “Cal 14, USC 10” at the half time. We would also have pictures of Oski which would be held up in different color cards. Pictures of a Stanford Indian, for UCLA a little baby bruin. These colored cards would be very colorful, and there would be maybe 10 or 12 different numbers called out and the picture would change each time a different number was called, you’d hold up a different card according to the mimeographed sheet in front of you telling what card to hold for each number. At the end of the card stunts, everyone would throw the cards up into the air and a great whirlwind of cards, all the cards spinning up in the air over and over and over, and it was very beautiful to see all these colored cards whirling in the air as people sailed them into air at the end of the card stunt. [Rally Committee really hates this because the cards would get ruined and because they were hard to collect and reuse on the following Saturday. - NHC] The stunts would last maybe about no more than 5 or 6 minutes. This went on during the same time as the bands were performing down on the field. Usually the visiting band would have the first 10 minutes and the Cal Band the second 10 minutes of the half time, and the card stunts went on simultaneously with the band performances. They weren’t always coordinated, the card stunts weren’t necessarily related to what the band was doing on the field. [The benches were wooden and you could thumbtack the cards and the instruction sheet onto the seats so they would be in place when the rooters got there. Now the seats are metal and they have to tape a paper bag containing the cards and instructions to the seats. The rooting sections faced each other across the 50 yard line and yelled insults at each other. Often the opposing rooting section would do card stunts too. - NHC]
Dan: Tell me about Clifton’s cafeteria.
Bill: Clifton’s cafeteria was a downtown restaurant in Los Angeles where California Alumni would always have a luncheon prior the USC or UCLA game, and the Cal Band would always come and play for the luncheon before going to the stadium for the game. It was a very elaborate restaurant with all kinds of palm trees and different potted trees around the dining room. There were waterfalls coming down one of the walls, and the place was just packed with California Alumni having lunch before the game. The Band would come marching in there, we would march in from the buses which were parked on the street. We would form up on the sidewalk and march in playing the Lights Out March, Our Sturdy Golden Bear. We would play two or three songs. Some yell leaders would be there and they would lead some Cal yells. We never ate lunch there, the Cal Band didn’t get lunch, but we would play to entertain the people who were having their lunch. I think the Band had a sack lunch probably the day of the game and probably ate it on the bus going to the Coliseum.
Dan: In my day, I recollect that the Band would stop at Pershing Square and form up in front of the Biltmore Hotel and play a song or two and then march the two or three blocks to Clifton’s. In our case we actually got to eat there. They gave us free lunch in exchange for drawing a crowd in.
During the period before you went to the War, would you describe what it was like when the game was over. Describe the sequence of events after a football game.
Bill: After the game was over, the yell leaders would shout “Stick around for ‘All Hail’”, and we’d always sing “All Hail” in the stands before going down to the field. The rooters and the Band together would do “All Hail”. Then immediately the Band would form up at the foot of the rooting section on the field, and if Cal was the winning team, the Band would march across the field to the opposing side and everyone streamed onto the field in those days, there were no security guards to keep people off, the whole audience would go down to the field. When I was in high school and junior high I would run behind the Band across the field and follow them over to the other side. We’d walk across and serenade the losing team. If Cal lost the game, the visiting team and visiting band, if there was a visiting band, would march across to the Cal side and we’d stay in the stand and they would serenade us. We’d have a little concert. After the two or three songs of this serenade, the Band would form up and march out of the stadium toward the north tunnel playing; as we got close to the tunnel we’d play “One More River”. (Bill Fay now sings One More River.)
“One More River”
The ships go sailing down the bay, There’s one more river to cross; We may not meet for many a day, There’s one more river to cross. One more river, And that’s the River Jordan One more river, There’s one more river to cross.
The animals came two by two There’s one more river to cross; The elephants and kangaroos, There’s one more river to cross. One more river, And that’s the River Jordan One more river, There’s one more river to cross.
[The references are mixed here--The Israelites crossing the Red Sea and the Jordan River; and Noah leading the animals into the Ark. For Cal, “One more river” means one more football game to go. The Band always switches from “One More River” to “One Balled Reilly” about halfway through the Tunnel--I don’t know how this tradition started, but they still do it today!! - BF]
The trombones really slurred that one part, and about half way into the tunnel we would change from One More River to One Balled Reilly. (He sings this now.) We’d do One Balled Reilly coming out of the tunnel and as soon as we got out of the tunnel we’d form under the windows of the training room outside [on] the north side of the stadium and the coach would come out and speak to the crowd. Stub Allison and later Frank Wickhorst, and later after the War when Pappy Waldorf came he would do this. If Cal had won the game, he would give a wonderful victory cheer, and the cheerleaders would yell “Coach Stub Allison, rah, rah, rah, let’s give Coach Stub Allison a big 12 cheer”. We’d give him 12 rahs. If Cal had won, he’d introduce two or three players that really had a great day, like Vic Bottari in 1938 All American, some of the other great players would come out on the balcony and they would speak to us. Vic Bottari was a one of the great Cal players of all time. He was a half back in 1938 on the Rose Bowl team. “Vallejo Vic” was his nickname, because he came from the town of Vallejo just at the end of the Carquinez Bridge. He was one of the most popular players. I think his number was 98. [When the team won, “Pappy” would bring out one or two players. If the team lost, “Pappy” would come out alone and face the rooters, taking full blame for the loss. - NHC]
Going back to Room 5, past Bowles Hall and there was a road right opposite Bowles Hall between the Faculty Club and Senior Mens Hall on the left, and the Physics building, LeConte Hall, on the right, and we’d go right down that street below Bowles Hall north of Cowell Hospital, to the Eshleman Court and down to Room 5 at Eshleman Hall. Not quite such a long trip as they do now going down Bancroft Way.
Dan: So now we’re back to the period of time when you went off to war. You’ve already described some of your adventures during the War, but can you tell us about the actual event of your getting notified that you had to go. What events do you recollect?
Bill: About the 15th of March, 1943, the government decided to end the Enlisted Reserve Program, which several hundred students had signed up for. The government decided to put an end to this and put us into active duty because the War in Africa was ending and they were getting ready to start the invasion of Italy and more soldiers were needed. So we were put into active duty. The Daily Californian about the 15th of March listed 300 students by name, those that were to go on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of the third week in March. One hundred students each day saw their names in the Daily Cal and knew it was time to go. We had to report to Third and Townsend station in San Francisco to board the troop train for Monterey. Dean Stone as I think mentioned came and said good-bye to all the students on the train before it pulled out for the Presidio in Monterey. It was about six or eight weeks into the spring semester so we didn’t get any credit at all for that term because we had just had the first mid-term period, so we didn’t get any credit for the spring semester.
Dan: OK, now we’re at the point, where you’re coming back to campus after this recess of several years. What were your first reactions to the campus during this period?
Bill: I came back to the campus in the fall of 1946 after being away three and half years in the Army. First of all, it was very good to be back. We were happy the War was over. Many, many veterans were on the campus by this time. Almost everybody who was in the Army or Navy was discharged by now, and there were many more men on campus than there had been during the War. Most of the men were V-12 or the few ROTCs that stayed on the campus. Very few civilian men. But in the fall of ’46, a great rush of veterans. Most of us had the GI bill which gave us $75 a month plus paying our tuition and books and such, so it was a really good deal for the veterans that we had most of our expenses paid. The campus was very lively, very enthusiastic, very glad to have the war over. Of course the war had ended earlier, the war ended in September 1945, but it took a long time for men to be mustered out of the service and probably the fall of ’46 was the first real post-war class to begin to come back to college. The campus was very crowded, 28,000 students in 1946. Great enthusiasm. I remember I still had my Army uniform, so I’d wear khakis or green pants or dress pinks. As an officer I had dress greens and dress pinks and the khakis for summer wear, these were the clothes that I wore, very often khaki shirts that I had left over from my Army uniforms. A lot of students were wearing their old Army clothes. Fatigue jacket. [The thought of a pink army uniform sounds silly, but actually it was an off-color tan with a slight “blush” to it. The V-12 Program was a special Navy program based at International House. - NHC]
Dan: During the period you were gone, there was a shortage of people to play in the Band. Do you have any recollections or insight as to how the Band survived during that period?
Bill: Well, I’ve been told that the campus was quite austere during the years 1943 to 1946 when most of the men students were away in the service except for those who were assigned to study at Cal in the Navy V-12 program, or OCS [Officers Candidate School - NHC] program or different officer training programs. [These were accelerated college education programs resulting in a degree and a commission. - NHC] Those people in the military programs were very severely regimented. My brother-in-law went through college in two and a half years. Straight around the clock, twelve months a year, he got his degree in two and a half years and went right to the Pacific as an Ensign in the Navy. Most of the men who were on campus were in this kind of program. The Band, I think, barely survived because there were very few civilian men on campus. One of my friends said that he was the senior manager, the drum major and the student director, all three, during one of those war years because there weren’t very many men on campus. So I think Professor Cushing must have been delighted when the War was over in 1946 and he could really recruit a full size band again, and he could really get out a great band. I should say that the Cal Band is unique among college bands in that it’s student organized. It’s always been a student run organization ever since the 1920’s. The students elect their own officers, they elect an Executive Committee, and the Executive Committee then appoints the senior manager, the drum major and the student director. I think the junior and sophomore managers and librarians, secretaries, are elected by the members of the Band.
Dan: So now we’re at the point where you’ve returned. Your memories must have turned to the Cal Band and to reentering and carrying on as it was before you left for the War.
Bill: I was very glad to get back to the Cal Band and see old friends that I hadn’t seen for three or four years. Having been a sophomore manager when I was called into the military service in 1943, I was now qualified to be a junior manager. Dave Wenrich and I were the two junior managers in 1946/47 year. Dick Auslen was the senior manager, I’d known him before the War. He also was away for military service and had come back again and was the senior manager.
Dan: Well, somehow you guys had to re-institute the Band. Do you have any anecdotes to tell about that?
Bill: Two classes of people came into the Band in ’46, those of us that who had been in the Band for a year or two before the war and on the other hand those who were incoming freshman who had just finished high school. So there was really two groups of people in the Band, the returning veterans and the brand new recruits. The Band advertised for people to come tryout and to join up, and we had plenty of people. We put out a full band in 1946. I think we had 120 or 140 in the 1946 band. We found the same uniforms we had worn in 1942, this was the last year they were used. We bought new uniforms before the ’47 season. They had mustard colored pants, and President Sproul joked about the mustard color of the pants. They were not very popular, blue coats and mustard pants. But in ’46 we had the old 1942 uniforms which were blue with a leather Sam Browne belt. Dick Auslen, senior manager, the band officers in ’46 were Russ Green the drum major, and LeRoy Klekamp the student director. All three of these had been in the Band before the War, and those of us who were former bandsmen really took it upon ourselves to train the new bandsmen to show them how to march and teach them some of the Cal Band traditions, some of the songs that we sang on bus trips that we always sang on the bus. One of my favorite songs was about Tiny Thornhill [The song “Cardinals Be Damned” always substitutes the name of the current Stanford coach in the first line of the first verse. - NHC], the coach at Stanford.
Dan: You were in a position to pass on some of the traditions that were broken. Some of the names of the songs for example were the “Cardinals be Damned”, the “One Balled Reilly”. Those are the only ones that I’m willing to put on tape. So time has come now for you to perform for the first time in the post war band. Do you have any thoughts or recollections on those early performances?
Bill: We worked hard on our stunts. The Executive Committee usually planned the stunts and they would figure what we would do at half time and then they would give it to us at the Tuesday and Thursday rehearsal. We’d actually practice the marching of the stunt at the Thursday rehearsal and again on Saturday morning before going up to the stadium. Generally there was a feeling of pleasure and joy, it was great to be back at college again, we had all these new young guys that were very enthusiastic freshman. Most of them had played in their high school bands in Willows, Sacramento, Fresno, Los Banos, Reedley, all the different little towns that sent people to Cal. In those days it was easier to get into Cal. Anyone with a “B” average in high school was admitted to the University of California. We had many people from very small high schools, but they all had experience in their high school bands. They brought their enthusiasm with them, and we tried to be contagious with the Cal Band tradition and the Cal Band enthusiasm. It was really a great year in 1946, a great year in the Band, great spirit.
Dan: I’m going to ask you about a couple names here. Could you give a few paragraphs on who these people were. These are people who later went on to be very important to the Band.
What are your first recollections and any anecdotes or insights on Bob Desky?
Bill: Bob Desky was one of the people I first remember in the fall of 1946. He was probably a freshman or sophomore that year, coming from Lowell High School in San Francisco, and a very prominent San Francisco family. Desky was very loud, very jolly, he loved to tell jokes. One of the jokes that he told proved that he was very thrifty with pennies, and so we used to say “Don’t take any wooden nickels, Desky”, and so he got the nickname of Wooden Nickel Desky because he was very tight with his money. He was a real good spirit, and really got into the enthusiasm. He loved to sing, and make jokes. Just an all around good fellow in the Band.
Dan: The next person I want to ask you about is Bill Ellsworth.
Bill: Bill Ellsworth was a saxophone player from Compton, down in Southern California. He really had an awful lot of enthusiasm. Anything that the Band was doing, Bill Ellsworth was there. If they asked for a small group to sign up to play for a basketball game or a hockey game down at the Iceland ice rink, Bill Ellsworth was always there. He loved to take part in everything, he was really the bandsman par excellence. Bill Ellsworth had a real enthusiasm and real spirit of the Cal Band. He again was a freshman or sophomore in ’46. I forget whether they entered that year or the year before. Bill Ellsworth was the one who really picked up Cal Band traditions, and was very enthusiastic for all of the life. He loved the parties, he loved to go get a beer after the basketball game or when we finished a band trip he always wanted to party and just celebrate the joy of existence. A very happy fellow, Bill Ellsworth. [For the historical record: Bill Fay confirms that Bill Ellsworth was not doing his saxophone-playing/soft shoe dance during the years that Fay was in the Band. - NHC]
Dan: Now we’re at the time where you become senior manager of the Band. Would you give us your recollections of your assumptions of these duties?
Bill: The senior manager was appointed by the Executive Committee, which consisted of Professor Cushing, the outgoing senior manager, the outgoing drum major and the outgoing student director, and the rep-at-large. These five people were the Executive Committee and they appointed me to be senior manager for the ’47/48 year. I was very pleased with this. Two compensations were given to the senior manager. I was paid $25 a semester by the ASUC for my expenses and was given two complimentary tickets for each football game which I could give to my family or whoever I wanted to. As senior manager I had to help the librarian make sure the rehearsal hall was set up for our playing rehearsal in 175 Men’s Gym. I’d get there ahead of time and put out the chairs and music stands and the librarian would put out the music. I think Huntley Johnson [Now a Dentist across the street from Alta Bates Hospital in the “Huntmont Building”. Huntley and Jerry Patmont, M.D., Cal Team Physician, were partners in constructing that building on the site of Huntley’s family home. - NHC] was the librarian during my senior year. I also had to make announcements at the end of rehearsal. Professor Cushing would say “Bill, do you have any announcements?” and as senior manager, the band would sing “God damn our manager, God damn our manager, God damn his hide,” [To the tune of “God Save The Queen.” - NHC] and I’d be going up to the podium to make the announcements for the week, details about the coming football game. I remember particularly the day we were getting on the train to go to Los Angeles for the USC game. I’d already posted in the band room the list of assignments on the rooter train, who would be sharing each compartment of the train. We had open section sleeping cars, so everyone had either an upper or lower berth. There was one compartment of three berths and a private compartment at each end, each car had a private compartment. I assigned myself one of these compartments with Bob Barton, who was a special buddy of mine and we had the compartment at the end of the train. I made these announcements, that everyone be down at the University Avenue station at 6:00, because the train leaves promptly at 6:30. Everyone had to get themselves down there either by bus or streetcar or have their friends drive them down and drop them off. Mr. Cushing smiled through all of this as I made the announcements. The people laughing and joking, just the excitement of the trip coming was a real feeling of excitement. Previously I had made arrangements with the Pulman Company to have three sleeping cars on the train. I did this all by telephone. Arranged for charter buses to be on hand in Los Angeles to meet the train and take us to the hotel, and to take us out UCLA if it was a UCLA University meeting that we played for the day before the game. And buses to take us to the appropriate hotels for the luncheon meeting before the game and so on. The Figueroa hotel, which was run by a friend of Chris Tellefsen. Chris was friend of the manager and helped with a lot of these arrangements. I might also say that Chris Tellefsen also was in charge of caps and gowns for ASUC, and in the big storeroom next to room 5, we stored the band uniforms and also the caps and gowns were stored there. [The ASUC rented caps and gowns to graduating Seniors to use for the graduation ceremony. There was one massive ceremony held in the stadium. - NHC] Chris’ special job was to be the cap and gown manager and the uniform manager, and so he was very much involved with the Band and went on all of the trips with us and always took part in the drinking parties. If we had a drinking party at a bar in the evening, Chris was often a part of this and just a great friend to all of us. The Figueroa hotel was on Figueroa Boulevard, which is a main north-south street from downtown Los Angeles going south toward the USC campus and the Coliseum, and the Figueroa hotel was on the Boulevard a few blocks away.
Dan: How did you guys treat the hotel, what was your behavior like?
Bill: The bandsmen had parties in their room in the evening, and I think the hotel was not any better for wear when we left. Probably the manager and housekeeping staff were glad to see us go. We would hang out the windows and shout to the girls walking by on the street down below. Just pretty much rowdy boys, a lot of us as I had said were war veterans and we’d traveled around the world and had a lot of experiences and thought we were pretty great and didn’t mind showing off and having a loud, good time.
Dan: Do you have any additional recollections of events regarding the rooters train?
Bill: If the game was at USC, the Band would make the trip down on Friday night and arrive Saturday morning in time to have a rehearsal at Bovard field and play at the game. Saturday night and Sunday were free until 5:00 Sunday afternoon when we were to meet back at Union Station for the return to Berkeley. I remember the bandsmen gathering there, and some of us got there early and had a drink or two in the bar before getting on the train. As we got on the train and looked out of the window, there was Professor Cushing with Igor Stravinsky, who was a friend of Cushing’s and lived in Westwood. Cushing had gone to visit him for the Saturday night after the game, and Stravinsky brought Cushing back to Union Station to put him on the train. We were much impressed to see the great composer with our band leader before the train started back to Berkeley.
Dan: Back to the subject of rowdyism for just a moment. I seem to recollect that there was a particularly rowdy member by the name of Bill Fay. There was one particular event which was famous in your life to the point that you used to carry around a newspaper clipping in your wallet for a long time. Can you tell us about that?
Bill: The clipping was from the Oakland Tribune, and the headline was:
“UC Band Leader Forfeits Bail”, Berkeley, California. UC Band Leader William M. Fay, son of Professor Percival B. Fay, of 955 Mendocino Avenue, was arrested Saturday night following impromptu student rallies on the corner of Piedmont Avenue and Channing Way. Fay was involved in a so called jeep piloting and musical combination. He was arrested driving a jeep with 14 Bear enthusiasts, and Fay was driving the jeep with one hand and playing a trombone with the other. He was cited by a police officer for reckless driving and told to return to the police station. When Fay failed to heed to the policemen’s instructions a warrant was issued for his arrest.
That was the extent of the newspaper article. The following Monday night, I was at dinner at my fraternity house and a policeman came in and asked the President “Is William Fay here?”, and he pointed me out sitting at the table, and he said “I have a warrant for his arrest”. The Deke brothers quickly said “Can we chip together any bail or help you to get out of this?” The officer said “That won’t be necessary, but he does need to come with me down to the police station.” So I went with him to the police station and signed a bail certificate for $25 bail, and they said “You’ll hear later from Judge Oliver Youngs.” As it turned out my next door neighbor in Berkeley was William Jenkins, Vice President of the Bank of America and a good friend of Judge Oliver Youngs. Mr. Jenkins intervened for me and made a phone call to Judge Youngs who agreed that if I forfeited the $25 bail, the case would be dropped. I was happy that this was the end of it. My parents were much embarrassed, especially my father who often ate at the faculty club and some of his colleagues said “I saw your son William’s name in the newspaper the other day.” My mother was worried about this too, because I had already interviewed with Bishop Block about becoming a candidate for the Episcopal ministry. She said “If Bishop Block sees this, do you think he’ll allow you to go on with your preparation for the ministry?” Fortunately, I don’t think the Bishop ever saw it!
Dan: You mentioned the fraternity house and you used the word “Deke”. For those readers of this interview who aren’t aware of it, could you tell us what this stood for and what it was all about.
Bill: I belonged to a college fraternity called Delta Kappa Epsilon, which was nicknamed the “Deke” house for our Greek letters, Delta-Kappa-Epsilon. The house was located at the corner of Piedmont Avenue and Bancroft Way, right opposite from International House, and it’s still there to this day. I still belong to the fraternity and went to a fraternity luncheon in San Francisco just last Monday, of alumni of Cal, Stanford and other Bay Area chapters of the fraternity, so I’m still active in that fraternity.
Dan: Tell us what it was like to rehearse under Professor Cushing.
Bill: Mr. Cushing was described by one of the Bay Area sports papers as a “bearded, old line musician.” This was after the first Rose Bowl game that Cal went to in 1949, and the Cal Band was somewhat shown up by the great Northwestern band from a Big Ten University. I think this was the beginning of Mr. Cushing’s downfall as leader of the Cal Band. He was an excellent musician and a very serious conductor. In the symphonic band he was very careful and precise in our rehearsals, that we got all the fine points of the music. A real musician. He wasn’t very much for marching bands and stunts and things, and this was left pretty much up to the student leadership. Bob Briggs takes much more involvement in the marching and field activities than Mr. Cushing ever did.
Dan: You forgot to mention when you talked about coming out of the stadium and going back down to the band room, you told us about playing “One More River” but you didn’t tell us about the “Stanford Waltz”. Can you tell us about that now?
Bill: After we came out of the stadium and were starting back to the band room, we did the “Stanford Waltz”. We’d play “Come Join the Band” at waltz time...(Bill sings) “Come join the band, da da da daaa, and give a cheer for Stanford red, throughout the land, our Banner’s waving overhead, da da da daaa”. And we’d play this in 3/4 time, and we’d waltz it. We didn’t march our regular 160 step to the minute for the Stanford Waltz. [The whole block band would do an impromptu waltz while playing the tune - NHC] And we loved making fun of the Stanford Band by doing this, the Stanford Waltz. [The gag here is that we were playing Stanford’s Fight Song in waltz time. It was always fun to play it in the stands when the Stanford rooters could hear it. - NHC]
Dan: While we’re on the subject, can you tell us anything about your impressions of the Stanford Band in those days?
Bill: The Stanford Band in those days wasn’t as zany as they are today. They didn’t march with the precision and excellence that we thought that the Cal Band had, but they were fairly military. They weren’t really outstanding in any way, nor as crazy as they are today. Just a second class college band is what we’d call the Stanford Band in those days.
Dan: They did march with a military style and a uniform that was similar enough to ours. That was the standard college marching band at that time.
You’re holding something in your hand that I’d like you to describe. Tell us the importance of it to the University of California Marching Band.
Bill: This is a brochure for Lokoya Boys Camp which was a private boys camp up in the Napa redwood [region], 11 miles northwest of the City of Napa. My brother and I both attended this camp as campers during the early 1930’s, and then my brother was a counselor during the years he was in college. And after 4 years as a camper I also went back as a counselor for 4 more years, 1941, ’42 and again in ’47, ’48. In 1947, Dick Auslen had just finished his year as senior manager of the band, and I was coming in as the new senior manager. Anna Cheatham was the camp nurse, and her young son Danny was at camp that summer, probably about 12 or 11 years old. Dick Auslen and I being bandsmen brought a lot of Cal enthusiasm to camp. We sang Cal the songs and taught the campers to sing most of the California fight songs. In the fall I invited Dan if he’d like to be a water boy. In those days we had junior, senior high school age water boys who carried water for the band to drink during the performance and they also helped with the equipment, like the yard markers for the rehearsal field and helping to carry equipment we needed for the stunts, any props and so on. So Danny was signed up as a water boy in the fall of 1947, and this was I think maybe his first association with band, a long and distinguished association which goes on to this day.
Dan: Yes, that was the beginning of it all. I have you to thank for it, Bill.
Would you tell us about Frank Wickhorst?
Bill: Frank Wickhorst was one of the physical education instructors sent to Cal by the Navy during the years of the V-12 program, 1943 to ’44, ’45, when the Navy trained the naval officers in Callaghan Hall. International House was taken over as quarters for navy personnel during their pre- officer training, and Wickhorst was one of their physical education instructors. After Stub Allison had a losing season or two and was relieved as football coach, Wickhorst became the Cal football coach, probably 1943 to ’46. The ’46 year was a disastrous season. I think Cal only won one or two football games in ’46, and the alumni and faculty demanded Wickhorst’s removal. Pappy Waldorf was recruited from Northwestern University, and he came in the summer of 1947 and took over the Cal football team. As I recall Wickhorst had such a bad season in ’46 that the students became more and more disgusted with him, and after one very bad loss the students began tearing up the wooden bleachers in the stadium and placing them on the floor of the stadium for a bonfire because they were so angry. It was just a terrible student riot. The students were completely out of control, and just destroying the property. This I think was just a symbol of the anger that everyone felt about a bad football season. Later of course there was a meeting of the student body and the faculty and Wickhorst was forced to resign as football coach.
Dan: Once or twice in the past here, Bill has referred to the V-12 program. Just for the record, that was a specially created program by the navy to train incoming officers, and it had a very big presence and influence on the campus during a portion of the war years. Also I’d like to comment, Bill mentioned the scene at the train station in Los Angeles where they were sitting and having a few drinks prior to leaving, coming north. I would like to point out that because of the returning veterans, there was a large percentage of the student body that were of legal drinking age, not to mention I’m sure a lot of other guys that managed to have fake IDs. But those were very special years and a subject for a separate commentary and interview. Also, I’d like to add to the commentary that in those days Intercollegiate Athletics was in fact owned and run by the Associated Students, which meant that the hiring and firing of the coaches was a matter of what was then called the Executive Committee of the Associated Students, which was the governing body of the A.S.U.C., that governing body now being referred to as the student senate. [It was a rowdy meeting with angry rooters demanding that Wickhorst be fired. The Daily Cal covered the meeting. I doubt if there has been as contemptuous a firing of an athletic coach. I’ve often wondered about his subsequent career. - NHC]
What are your recollections of the Big Game of 1947.
Bill: The 1947 Big Game was of course my last game as Senior Manager. It was a fairly even game, back and forth between Cal and Stanford. In the last five minutes or so, Stanford was still ahead, and Cal made a wonderful play with a long touchdown pass in the closing minutes and won the game I think 18-14. The Band always plays “Our Sturdy Golden Bear” whenever Cal makes a touchdown, and I was so enthusiastic that as a Senior Manager I took my pencil out of my pocket and jumped up on the podium and conducted “Our Sturdy Golden Bear”. I had seen Dick Auslen do this the year before when he was Senior Manager, and I thought this a privilege of the Senior Manager, to conduct the Band one time. So I enjoyed conducting “Our Sturdy Golden Bear” as Cal won the 1947 Big Game.
Dan: Bill, wasn’t this also associated with your misadventure with the jeep? Perhaps you could describe to us the spirit in the air in Berkeley during special moments throughout the football season, such as the Big Game.
Bill: There was great excitement though the whole week before the Big Game. The Band would go during class time through Wheeler Hall, the library, we’d parade down the top of the library tables playing Cal fight songs while students were trying to do their studies during Big Game week. Friday night of course after the parade on Shattuck Avenue, we went to San Francisco, and the Band played at various alumni reunions. We were offered a drink here and there by some of the generous alumni. And it was after this trip to the alumni reunions, that I took the 14 bandsmen on my jeep. Bob Desky was among them, Bob Barton and others. And there were student rallies going on all over the fraternity district. There was a big bonfire going on at Piedmont and Channing, and that’s where the policeman stopped me coming along with the 14 musicians and playing my trombone and driving the jeep with the other hand. That was the night, actually it was the Friday night before the Big Game, after the alumni reunions, and before the Big Game on Saturday. [In those days “Fraternity Row” extended, house after house, along Piedmont Ave. from Cowell Hospital (Soon to become the Haas School of Business) to Dwight Way. This was Pappy’s first season and the Bears were going to the Rose Bowl. - NHC]
Dan: My recollections living in Berkeley at that time and being a Cal fan, even at my tender age, was that after an important win, the City was one big massive group of rowdy students. Students would gather up whatever wood they could find, garden fences and things like that, and pile them up and make bonfires in the street intersections. It is interesting to note in hindsight that the next time these sorts of events happened with any regularity and any importance was during the free speech and Sproul Plaza riots, the difference being that in the ’40’s it was campus oriented to raise cheer and good feelings toward the athletic events, whereas the latter events had little to do with the university but were oriented toward the politics of the era, such as the Vietnam War and so forth.
Bill, I’d like to ask you, when was the first time you met Pappy Waldorf?
Bill: When Pappy Waldorf was called to be the football coach in the fall of 1947, he arrived of course during the summer and a bunch of the Cal bandsmen went down to welcome him at the University Avenue train station. I recall that we wore our straw hats. The Straw Hat Band was beginning to be organized at that time, and we went down and had a rally to welcome him. Some of the yell leaders were there, a great many students and University people. Pappy was quite impressed, I think, to see this kind of welcome for an incoming football coach. It was the beginning of a long and friendly relationship between Pappy and the Cal Band.
Dan: I remember people talking about that event. They were so glad to have this famous coach coming after Frank Wickhorst that there was quite a bit of student enthusiasm. The students created quite a scene there at the Berkeley train station. I should also add that the reason it was at the Berkeley train station was because this was still in the days when commercial air travel was not very common. The mode of transcontinental travel was by train, and Pappy came from Northwestern University.
Bill, could you give us some further insight regarding the special relationship that Pappy and the Band had developed in subsequent years.
Bill: I should explain that I only had one year with Pappy Waldorf. He came in ’47, which was my senior year. I suspect that during later years of his tenure he developed a much closer relationship with the Cal Band. I do remember the last time I saw Pappy was in the ’60s or ’70s. I’d come back to attend a game at Cal and was sitting with my friend Bob Barton. Up in the section R or S on the east side of the field and north of the rooting section, and Pappy Waldorf was sitting quite near us. We welcomed him and everyone stood up when he took his seat. He wasn’t the coach anymore by this time, but people came up and greeted him and I shook hands with him and said “What a pleasure to see you again, Mr. Waldorf. Really delighted to see you here.” And he died within a very few years after that, probably in the ’70s I think.
Dan: Back to the Straw Hat Band. Can you give us any insight into the actual origins of the Straw Hat Band?
Bill: As I mentioned I belonged to the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity, and I found a little straw hat upstairs in one of the closets in the Deke house. It had a red band on it,
and no one seemed to know who it belonged to, so I put it on and began to wear it to some of the basketball games and baseball games when we didn’t wear regular band uniforms, we just wore usual street clothes in those days for pep bands when there was just a small band turn out. And other bandsmen began to buy straw hats and also to wear them. And this was the origin of the Straw Hat Band. Probably in 1947. Of course since then it has become a very strong tradition, but it just started very informally that this was something we wore with our shirts and slacks when we played for basketball. We also played at hockey games at Iceland, and baseball games. Fran Wenrich, the wife of Dave Wenrich who was senior manager the year after me, she remembers a baseball game when we carried a bunch of beer in my jeep and took it to the game. And we had an umbrella, it was raining at the baseball game and I said “Don’t let the beer get wet!,” and Fran carefully kept the beer under the umbrella so the extra beer wouldn’t get wet while we played a pep band for the baseball game. Dave Wenrich was senior manager in ’48-’49. He and his wife, Fran, are very good friends of ours, and I’ll be seeing them next week. Fran and I share the same birthday, and we’ll be together December 11th.
[We had a joke about my straw hat: Hunt Johnson would call out “Hey Bill, how’s your old straw hat?” And I would answer back “Never been felt!” (Explanation: felt hat, not a straw hat!!). My original straw hat, from the Deke House closet, had a bright red hat band. I wore it to the Virginia Seminary in the Fall of 1948, but it finally disintegrated from old age. I later bought other straw hats in San Francisco and later at Dayton’s in Minneapolis (there were none available at any stores in South Dakota!). For many years, a straw hat was a sort of trade-mark with me, and I wore one every summer until the late 1960’s. These hats (called “sailor straws” in those days) were very popular with San Francisco business men in the 1930’s, and at the end of each summer, after Labor Day, they would sail them off the ferry boats into the Bay on their way home from San Francisco, and buy a new one for the following summer. As a young boy, I can remember several San Francisco lawyers and business men on our street, who would wear their straw hats to work every day in the summer time (this was before the bridges, when everyone rode the trains and then the ferries to San Francisco) - BF]
Dan: Would you take a few moments to explain the Band’s administrative structure and how it related to other administrative groups on campus?
Bill: ASUC, Associated Students of the University of California, was the student run organization that took care of all the student activities. Athletics was under the ASUC. Music, drama, intrafraternity council, all of these different things were part of the Associated Students. They had an executive committee, and it had representatives from different kinds of activities. The one I was associated with was the Music Council, representatives of the Band, the Glee Club, the Treble Clef, they had separate organizations for men and women in those days. The Glee Club was a men’s organization, Treble Clef was women, and there was a music council representing these three groups. I was the representative of the Band on the music council, and we would make a budget that we would need for the Band, Glee Club and Treble Clef, and then we would submit our request to the ASUC executive committee. [The year I was Senior Manager and sat on the Music Council, some of the other members were Joe Willits, Senior Manager of the Glee Club, and Mary Powell, Senior Manager of Treble Clef. Farnham Jory was on the Music Council, also a Band member. - BF] Don Lang was the president of the ASUC in 47-48, and he was the one who directed the ASUC activities that year. There was a professional ASUC advisor. Brutus Hamilton had this job for a while [Also Kenneth Priestly - BF], I don’t remember some of the others. They were professional executive directors hired by the ASUC, and they were full time employees. All the rest of it was done by students, there was only one other full time employee. The ticket office was a part of that. I think there was a ticket manager, Mrs. Gowdy, who lived down the street from us on Mendocino.
(There is a break in the tape here, can’t hear the beginning of next sentence.) Sproul and Dean Stone. Bob Sproul and my father were bachelors together living in the faculty club in the early 1910’s, before either one of them were married. They both had bachelor apartments in the faculty club. He was an usher at my dad’s wedding, and my mother and father took part in his wedding. He was a long time friend of our family. As soon as my brother and my sister and I came to Cal, Sproul recognized us and would always greet us on the campus when we met. A wonderful man, he had a hearty, booming laugh, and at University meetings he would sing “All Hail Blue and Gold” at the top of his voice standing up there in front of the Greek Theater or the Men’s Gym if the meeting was indoors, a wonderful spirit. [He also knew and would sing all the verses to “The Cardinals Be Damned.” - NHC] Twenty seven or twenty eight years as University President, the longest anyone has held that job. Dean Stone, Hurford E. Stone, was the Dean of Students during my undergraduate years. He had been a class mate of my mother in the class of 1910, they were class mates together. After the combined musical/jeep piling incident previously referred to, since I got into the paper and caused disfavor to the University, I was called to the office of Dean Stone, the Dean of Students, and as he realized that he needed to discipline me in some way, he put me under censure. A certain mark was stamped on my transcript to show that I had been punished with the university censure. Fortunately I said “This won’t mean I have to give up the Cal Band managership, will it?”, and Stone said “No, you can still continue as manager but I want Mr. Cushing to know about this, that you are under discipline.” So I finished my senior year that way, under discipline.
Dan: You’ve had a very interesting subsequent career. Perhaps you can explain to us how you are able to reconcile your student behavior with the career that you finally chose for yourself.
Bill: The Cal Band was pretty rowdy during the post-war years, because as I said a lot of us had been war veterans, we’d been overseas, we’d seen a lot of life, and we brought back a lot of enthusiasm, and pleasure and enjoying party time. We drank a lot in those days, and that’s the way that we were. And how does this reconcile with my present career, I’m an Episcopal minister, a priest of the Episcopal church? I should say that this really began during the years I was in the Army. I was away from Cal three and a half years, and it was during the military experience that I began to think of the ministry as a career. When I came back to Cal after three and a half years in the Army, I began the process of entering the ministry at the same time I was doing my junior and senior year in college. There may not seem to be much similarity between the two! I like to tell people that I felt I should offer myself to the ministry to atone for my sins during my undergraduate years. Repay my debt to society by going into the ministry, after a rah rah college life and party time, and what could be called drunken driving I guess the time I was arrested with the fourteen musicians on my jeep. I’ve always been a Christian and I felt that the Lord was calling me to be a minister in the church, but I wanted to get the pleasure out of my system, have the fun in life and enjoy it while I could. They tell a story about St. Augustine, the great church leader of the fourth century, whose attitude they said was much like the fraternity playboy. Augustine was quite a rah rah boy during his youth, used to party around, drank a lot and went out with the girls. They said his prayer was like that of a fraternity playboy - “Dear God, please make me good, but not just yet.” I suppose I felt some of that myself.
Dan: Having made that decision, to go into the ministry then, could you give us a brief synopsis of your subsequent career.
Bill: After graduating from Cal in June 1948, I entered the Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria, Virginia. I spent three years there preparing for the ministry. I was ordained by Bishop Block in Grace Cathedral in August 1951, just 40 years ago. My wife and I spent three years in the Bay Area. My first church was in Orinda. I was the first resident minister of St. Stephens Episcopal Church in Orinda. Then two years in Oakland at St. Paul’s church by Lake Merritt. I was the assistant minister there. Seventeen years in South Dakota, we worked on three different Indian reservations, with the Sioux Indians. The Episcopal church has a large Indian ministry in South Dakota. From 1971 to ’89 we returned to California and served in two small parishes in the San Joaquin Valley. First in Reedley and then at Wood Lake. These are two small towns between Fresno and Visalia. I retired from the full time ministry in 1989 and returned to Berkeley in April of that year, and have really enjoyed being back in Berkeley these last two and a half years. We attend all the home football games, we go to concerts and lectures, and really enjoy being back in the Bay Area, back where my roots are. It’s a real joy to be home again and we’re back in the same house where I was born. When my parents died in the ’70’s we inherited this house, and we rented it to tenants for fourteen years and two years ago moved back into the house, so we’re back where I started again, back in north Berkeley. What a pleasure, what a happy life it’s been, how many good memories I have.
Dan: This has been a very informative interview, Bill. Thank you very much for sharing your insight and memories with us.
Interview with Bill Fay