Interview With Charles Richardson
- Version 3.2 (August 1999)
- Charles Richardson, Cornet, Drum Major 1926
- Dan Cheatham, Drum Major 1957
- Date of Interview:
- May 25, 1992
- Kate Rushforth
- [Cheatham reviewed the first draft for clarity and grammar again in July 1999 in preparation for sending it to Richardson’s daughter for review. Additional comments based on Richardson’s scrapbook were added in mid August 1999.]
- [Sue Richardson McCaffrey reviewed this on July 28, 1999.]
- [Editorial notes are attributed thus:
- Norden H. (Dan) Cheatham NHC]
[Charlie Richardson is now deceased (April 1993) and I sorely regret that we did not get this interview to him so he could review it. Even after all these years the sparkle in his eye and the enthusiasm in his voice were clearly evident when he talked about the Cal Band. As early as the mid-1920s, the Cal Band created that extra margin of zest for life that is still evident in the current Band. NHC]
Keywords: ROTC Band, Trip to Los Angeles, Drum Cadences, Student Committees, Modeste Alloo, Purchasing Instruments, USC Band, Stanford Band, USC Band, The Band’s 1st and 2nd Spring Concert Band, Uniforms, Charles Cushing, ROTC uniforms, Rehearsals, Saturday Morning, Field Performances, Post Game, Leroy Allen, Earle Rogers
Cheatham: This is side one of an oral history interview with Mr. Charles Richardson.
We’re at Rossmoor at 1209 Running Springs Road, apartment number two, in Walnut Creek. My name is Dan Cheatham. I was a water boy in 1947 and Drum Major in 1957. Mrs. Richardson is in the background, enjoying listening to all of this, I’m sure. [She says, “Right!”]
Give us a brief self-introduction.
Richardson: This is Charlie Richardson. I was born in San Francisco, and my folks were burned out in the earthquake of 1906, and we moved across the Bay. My first schooling was at the Pleasant Hill school, where all grades were under one teacher in one room. I was in the first grade, second, and third grade with Henrietta Fashion and the two of us went through the three grades together and then my folks sold their, what we called a farm, and we moved to Berkeley.
I went to LeConte Grammar School in Berkeley and to Willard Junior High School. And then, because I was working for a grocery store, and the store moved to Oakland and my job of delivering groceries was available to me in Oakland, I went to the Oakland High School. I also was interested in Oakland High because it had band, orchestra, and ROTC.
My father bought a horn for me very early, I don’t think I was more than five or six years old, because he thought it would build up my chest and make my lungs better. So I played a horn and my first experience in a band was at Cole (sp?) School in West Oakland.
When I went to high school, I immediately joined the band and orchestra and played all during high school, and was hoping to go to Cal. I didn’t have time to go into things other than school and work because I held that job delivering groceries all during high school.
I was accepted at University of California, and the idea of playing in the University of California Band was one of the big things. I just hoped I could make it and I had gotten pretty good at the horn by this time, finding out that I could even make money with it in my latter days of high school.
ROTC of course was compulsory then [at Cal], and I applied for the band...the military band...right as soon as I could, and was accepted. I don’t recall any tryout. For a musician, the band was pretty popular in ROTC because you avoided quite a bit of marching with a rifle over your shoulder. [The ROTC band rehearsed in Room 175 Men’s Gym. Marching practice was minimal and the band only performed for parades. NHC]
The ASUC Band seemed to sort of follow. If you were in the ROTC band, it seemed like you were automatically eligible for the ASUC Band. As a matter of fact, the ASUC Band wasn’t very large at that time. My recollection would be around 50 to 60 pieces at most.
It was a thrill for me to play in a band. I loved it. I loved the military end of it. I loved the... particularly loved the music end of it... and was just as enthusiastic about getting into the ASUC Band and I was diligent. I tried to be helpful and during my freshman year at Cal my biggest interest was in both bands, and as a result I didn’t do too well in my studying. That picked up later.
Cheatham: Just a second ago, off of the tape, you told me a side story to your relationship with Henrietta. Let’s put it on tape.
Richardson: Because Henrietta Fashion and I were the only ones in the first grade, second grade and third grade, I recall being kidded so much about Henrietta being my girl. This was very, very, distasteful to me at that time. So Henrietta and I hardly spoke to one another, particularly when she wanted to join in some of the games at recess. I said no to her, because she was a “sissy”.
Anyway, after moving away from Pleasant Hill, and moving to Berkeley, I never heard from Henrietta Fashion, whose name later I understand became Viola but she remained in the Walnut Creek area until she passed away very recently. Before that, I had not heard from her in all those years until I moved to Rossmoor. Shortly after moving in a call came and the person on the other side said to me, “Does the name Henrietta Fashion, mean anything to you?” And I said, “Oh, it certainly does, and I would love to see you.” That resulted in our having lunch together at the Danville Hotel and it was very, very, pleasurable. I might add, that after she called I thought I would be funny...
I’m very bald-headed, and so I put on a wig and this wig looks like one of these modern, long-haired affairs and when I went to her door I had this wig on and course she hadn’t seen me for, oh, goodness, over 50 years, and she acted a little surprised. I know she didn’t recognize me because even my close friends couldn’t recognize me. At any rate, we went to the Danville Hotel for lunch and had a beautiful lunch. She was recognized in this area as an authority on the history of Pleasant Hill, Walnut Creek and good many parts of Contra Costa. She’s pretty well-known by the historians in this area.
Cheatham: What instrument do you play?
Richardson: My father first bought me what was called an alto horn. I think we’re more familiar with a baritone but it was a smaller instrument. Because the alto just played oompahs and that sort of thing, I wanted a cornet, so my dad exchanged it later on and got me one. And I started out playing it not by trying to read the music, but by looking at the other cornet players and seeing what finger they put on the valve. I changed that attitude a little later.
Cheatham: About your student years at Cal. You mentioned that you played in both bands, the ROTC band and the ASUC Band. That meant that you made a distinction in your mind between two different bands each with a different name and a different mission. Can you help us understand the relationship between these two bands?
Richardson: The military band, was of course a marching band, and you’d learn how to march. You knew all the precision movements of a military band [Referred to in those days, as dismounted drill. NHC] and if you played in the military band, you automatically were eligible for the ASUC Band. My recollection was that we had no tryouts but if you wanted to be in the ASUC Band, all you need do is apply.
Now the ASUC Band was the band that played for the football games and other athletic events, and occasionally at rallies. They often followed the football team on visits. [Out of town games?]
I recall going to the USC game [His Freshman year?] at which time the UCLA campus was just an offspring the southern branch of the University of California at Berkeley. Our yell leaders, before the USC game, would have a rehearsal with our southern branch brother students to teach them the yells and some of the songs.
At any rate, getting back to the ASUC Band, this was a fun band. We loved to play and we loved to play for the games. All of us knew how to march because of our military experience so we didn’t have to do a lot of marching rehearsal. We used the military pace [120 beats per minute.], which was certainly much slower than the pace of the Band today. [Between 130 to 140 beats per minute. The faster pace adds “sparkle” to the look and feel of the Cal Band. NHC]
Cheatham: Tell us more about the trip to Los Angeles.
Richardson: My recollection of that trip to UCLA for the USC game was that it was paid for out of ASUC money and when we arrived we were taken care of at night by being invited to private homes. I recall staying all night with a fraternity alumni brother and his wife...an attorney. We had rehearsal with the students of UCLA, at which time the yell leader taught ’em the yells and the Band was there and of course the Band was tied in very closely with the yell leader. As a matter of fact, the yell leader and the [student?] band master would get together, usually, ahead of the game.
I don’t recollect who won the game. I think Cal lost it.
UCLA wasn’t very large at that time. I don’t know how many students they had but my recollection is that they [UCLA] didn’t have a band. They might have had a military band, but I just can’t recollect that part of it.
[The University’s “Southern Branch” was, at that time, located at a site on North Vermont Avenue. Construction wasn’t started at the present site until September 1929.
The UCLA Band originated with 42-piece ROTC military band started in 1928. NHC]
I think we lost the game, which was a very sad thing...which hasn’t changed any [considering we still frequently lose to USC].
[Assuming Richardson’s freshman year to be 1923, Cal beat USC, 13 to 7, under Coach Andy Smith. The subsequent football schedule indicates that the trip had to have been in 1923.]
I don’t recall any other major trips like that during the rest of my years with the band. Of course we always attended the Stanford game but that was I think the extent of our travels in my whole experience with the band.
Cheatham: Was there any difference in marching style between the ASUC Band and the ROTC band?
Richardson: In those days the military band was the sort of...the basic band. The ASUC band seemed to be derived from that. For the most part, the ASUC band marched at the same military pace...the cadence of the military band. The ROTC band, and the ASUC band were the same [individuals] and that never changed during the period that I was there. This cadence seemed to be widely accepted amongst the universities, Stanford had the same cadence [Is he referring to the tempo or to standard military drum beats? Probably the tempo NHC], for instance, as did the University of Washington. However, the one that seemed to break through, was the USC band. The USC band was a beautiful band at that time. They had, I understand, a professional leader...director...and they had a drum major who was very, very, fancy in his wielding the baton. Their uniforms were terrific, they had these Trojan helmets that made them outstanding, and their cadence was a little faster. They were sort of accepted as being the best student band on the west coast.
Cheatham: Describe what the Stanford Band was like in your day.
Richardson: Stanford Band, was similar to the Cal Band really, in most areas. They had uniforms that although different color, resembled ours. They marched at the same cadence. They played the same college tunes and they did somewhat the same...what should I say...maneuvers on the field. Not terrific. Not nearly as good as the USC band. But Cal and Stanford at that time were quite similar and we tried to have fun with each other. At the games, there occasionally was a stealing of caps. However, it was just between the bands and it wasn’t anything outstanding. It was more fun than anything else.
Cheatham: Well, time passes and you became one of the band officers yourself.
Richardson: Well, my class, the class of ’27...at that time...my recollection of the band and the leadership of it goes back a couple of years from that date, to I guess it was 1925 when the leader of the of the military band...the cadet captain of the military band...was a fellow by the name of Wentz, I think it is, and the drum major was a fellow by the name of Millard Totman. Following that, the next year the leader was Maurel Hunkins. He became captain of the military band and leader of the ASUC band. The drum major...well I was the drum major under Maurel Hunkins.
My appointment as drum major of the military band...probably something that was necessary was that I take upper division military ...[ROTC was required only in the lower division years. To take ROTC in upper division, you had to become a Cadet, similar in status to a West Point cadet, leading to a commission and an obligatory two-year term of active duty upon graduation. NHC] Well, I wanted to do that any way. I had had three years of ROTC in high school and I was quite military minded I would say, in those days.
[In 1926 Richardson was initiated into the >Scabbard and Blade, the military honor society. Honorary members included Major General David Prescott Barrows, who succeeded Benjamin Ide Wheeler as president of the University. (Barrows Hall) Another honorary member was Colonel George C. Edwards. (Edwards Track Stadium) I have not been able to confirm this but I think Edwards’ title is an honorary one bestowed by the California Cadet Corps.
One of Richardson’s fellow initiates was Commander Chester W. Nimitz who was the commandant of Berkeley’s newly created Naval ROTC unit. Nimitz later served as Commander-in-Chief of the naval forces in the Pacific during World War II. Nimitz would retire with five-star rank of Fleet Admiral.]
So the [student] leader at the time I was appointed drum major was Mr. Hunkins, Maurel Hunkins. He was a very capable person, a very good leader of the band...of both bands. Both Hunkins and Totman also a leader and drum major of the ASUC band...
We seemed to have very little input from any any persons other than our own members. I understand there was a committee [a nominating committee?]. For instance, my appointment as ROTC drum major was given me by the the military band instructor at that time, and I remember that Maurel Hunkins has there. He had been the past drum major, as I say...there was a committee behind this but we rarely ever heard of them. [Probably what we would call the Executive Committee. NHC] In my opinion, they were more of an advisor...I should say to the ASUC band...but they didn’t enter into any of the actual doings of the band such as the marching maneuvers we might make at games, the selection of music or selection of personnel. [Is he referring to adult supervision?]
We [the students] had our own committee for most everything, such as a committee for establishing the marching routines, interviewing new applicants or testing any new applicants that we wanted to test. And, these committees, of which there were several...for instance...I know we had a librarian and he had a helper...anyway, these committees weren’t bothered by any others but band members themselves. In other words, there’s no head [adult leadership], you might say, that told the band what to do. It was student run, and my recollection was that we had mighty good bands in those days,
Cheatham: Just a few minutes ago, you described the University of Southern California band as having professional leadership. Contrast that with the student system our own band was using.
Richardson: My recollection of that period is that we had no faculty and or parents of any kind, but they were helpful in that, if we asked them for help they were willing to give it. I recall so specifically Prof. Modeste Alloo helping and being glad to help. He was a help, but only when he was asked to help.
My understanding of the USC band at that time was that they had professional help. My recollection is that they hired a man by the name of Roberts and all he did was run the USC band. I’m sure it showed the difference because they were recognized as a very fine band.
Cheatham: Would you tell me more about Modeste Alloo?
Richardson: Modeste Alloo, was the head of the music department...a very gifted professional man that was very helpful to the band when asked to be helpful. For instance, he helped us with selecting instruments. We had a little money in the bank, and I went to Modeste Alloo who recommended that we buy a few horns. This was with the approval of the ASUC governing committee, and was done through Modeste Alloo. Not only that, but Mr. Alloo ...Professor Alloo...helped conduct our band when we asked him to do so.
We had...in spring...the band gave a concert at the Greek Theatre. I think this had been done the year before, but that’s the first time we’d ever done that. So we did it [in my year] too and sought Prof. Modeste Alloo for help and he was glad to give it. He worked hard with the band and actually conducted most of the numbers at the Greek Theatre for us. Very helpful man.
Cheatham: Charlie just gave me a program, from the April 4 1926 concert that was given at Greek Theatre. The significance of this program is that, to Charlie’s best recollection, this is the first time that the ASUC band played a Spring Concert in the Greek Theatre. Even to this day, the Band puts on a Winter/Spring concert band performance as a way of keeping up skills and showing its talents.
Would you set the scene for either one of these Spring Concerts?
Richardson: My recollection is that Maurel Hunkins was the leader of the band, when it was decided to come up with a concert at the Greek Theatre [Spring 1926]. I believe that was the very first one of its kind.
[The printed program lists Hunkins as the “Conductor”. There is a list of band officers that shows Richardson as Drum Major. (He would have been the incoming Drum Major.) Since none of the Band’s adult advisors are listed, I deduce that this performance was an entirely student-run venture. NHC]
The following year [Spring 1927], when I was the leader of the band, we sought the help of Modeste Alloo and I recall leading the opening number and turning over the baton to Professor Alloo ...made a little ceremony out of it. (laugh) Anyway, I would say we had a fine turnout. How many in numbers? I can’t remember at this time. I won’t say that the Greek Theatre was full, but we had a fine attendance. I recall specifically, President Campbell coming up on the stand and congratulating me and telling me how much they enjoyed the concert.
[The printed program for the 1927 concert list Richardson as the “Conductor” and Professor Alloo as the “Director”. It appears to me me that Richardson exercised his leadership as the outgoing Drum Major and put this concert together, including asking Alloo’s assistance. The performance also included two numbers by the Glee Club, under Professor McWhood. NHC]
Cheatham: I’d like to read from a clipping located in Charlie’s scrapbook about that concert on April 17, 1927, in which Charlie Richardson carries the title of conductor.
Eleven hundred California music lovers listened to the California Band yesterday in the Greek Theatre. They heard a program of classical music excellently played, with a touch that bespoke a semester of hard, careful work. Too many Californians know the band solely as a group of neatly uniformed musicians who play California songs and hymns at varsity athletic contests. They have applauded its splendid marching and countermarching at football games, and have thrilled to its martially defiant music throbbing to the roof at its basketball contests, but those who know only this face of the band do not know the band. Yesterday, under the direction of Professor Modeste Alloo, the band presented an all-too-short program. When they had finished, a group ranging from a spirited Sousa number to a plaintive and fragrant [?] overture, the praise of the assembled listeners rose to the air in a prolonged, hand-clapping applause. The band has proved once again that it is more than an athletic sideshow: that it is, in fact, a welded and finished group of trained musicians.
Do you have any response to what I just read?
Richardson: I respond to that only in wanting to say that it’s a good example of the cooperation we got from, in this case, Professor Modeste Alloo. I doubt if he got any more status recognition from the University, but he was glad to help the Band with the selection of the program, the rehearsal of the program, and the the actual concert. He helped us...as a matter of fact, got the music for it. He was very, very, helpful, and we found on every occasion that whenever we asked anybody in the faculty for help or assistance of any kind, they were always willing to do so. Much of which, I think they didn’t get credit for.
Cheatham: While the Band was on the stage playing that concert, were you in band uniform?
Richardson: My recollection’s a little dim on this point, however, I do believe that we wore our regular uniforms. I can’t recall any other dress code then one of our two uniforms.
Cheatham: Describe the uniform to us.
Richardson: When I first arrived at Cal and was a member of the ASUC band, we had a very nice uniform but there weren’t too many of them. They were blue with gold trim and a blue cap.
We later got more of those, and if I recall correctly...I can’t remember whether it was my year or the year before...we got capes and then, we got an outfit consisting of white duck pants and white cap. I can’t remember the jacket...whether we used the old jacket or not. But anyway, we had two sets of uniforms that we could wear.
The new uniforms were approved after our appeal to the ASUC Executive Committee, and we were very happy to have two sets of uniforms.
[From an undated news clipping it seems that the Band grew in numbers and needed additional uniforms which the ASUC approved. At first there were not enough new ones to go around so the Band appeared in two different styles. This clipping and an additional one indicate that Richardson had a lead role in this. He was credited with the title “Captain” of the Band.
In those days the administrative structure of the Band was in flux and it is not always clear how individual titles relate to the band structure as we know it today.
The title “Captain” of the ASUC band is, I am sure, an extension of the title “Captain” of the ROTC band. I presume the ranking student in the ROTC band was designated a Cadet Captain and no doubt had the responsibilities of any cadet commanding officer of a comparable-sized unit. The adult assistance of people like Prof. Modest Alloo and Glenn Haydon was, I am sure, limited to running musical rehearsals and training the band’s musical skills. By extension, the “Captain” of the ASUC Band would the equivalent of today’s Senior Manager.
The sequence of events hinted at in the news clippings is that Richardson stepped up from Drum Major in 1926 to Captain/Senior Manager in 1927. Although Richardson does not indicate this in his interview, this sequence of events is consistent with the list of officers appearing on page 202 of the Band’s history book, The Pride of California. (This table incidentally, is a “best guess” and may not be 100% accurate.)
I also suspect that the Captain frequently functioned as the Student Director.]
Cheatham: There’s another clipping in the scrapbook. It has two paragraphs in it, and I’ll stop and ask you a question after the first paragraph, then I’ll ask you an additional question after the second paragraph.
Charles C. Cushing, class of ’28, was selected as next semester’s captain of the ASUC band, replacing Charles R. Richardson, class of ’27. At the band’s semi-annual banquet, held Saturday night.
That leads me to ask the question, What do you remember about Charles Cushing?
Richardson: I remember Charles Cushing real well. He played clarinet, he was very hard worker for the band, helping wherever he could, and he was on at least one committee, maybe two, of the committees we had, but he was a diligent worker, and a very valuable man to me. I leaned on him quite a bit when I was the leader of the band.
Cheatham: Second paragraph of this article says:
Richardson was presented with a conductor’s baton by A. Maurel Hunkins, class of ’27, toastmaster, as a token of the band’s appreciation for his services during the past year.
I’m holding that baton in my hand, it’s about a foot and a half long, looks to me like it’s been turned on a lathe out of maple wood, [sound of wood tapping something twice] which means that it’s not at all of the sort of conductor’s baton you see today which is a very light, white-colored baton attached to a piece of cork at the end that the conductors hold. This is just all one piece of solid wood and on it is a brass [Charlie’s LOUD protest in background] Correction!! It’s GOLD!! Pardon me!! (Dan laughs)...a silhouette of a bear in the the classic pose of a bear...it’s a side view of a bear standing on all four legs, with the initials C.R.R. and the number ’27.
Tell us about the event when this was was presented to you?
Richardson: My recollection is that this event, where all the band got together for a fun evening, was at the at Stephens Union, and there at the Co-op. [Stephens Student Union was the seat of the ASUC government. The book store, and the Bears’ Lair coffee shop/food service was sometimes referred to as the Co-op. NHC] It was more of a fun evening than anything else. We spoke about what had happened during the year and and I was elated when Maurel Hunkins presented me with this baton, which made me feel like the guys in the Band wanted me to know that they enjoyed working in the Band too. I prize it very highly.
[One of the other clippings lists Richardson’s address as 2809 Fulton Street. This white, clapboard house still stands. Because it is within a stone’s throw of LeConte Grammar School, within four blocks of Willard Junior High School, and an easy walk to campus, I presume it is the family home rather than an address shared by a group of fellow students.
Later Richardson lived with his wife Katherine and his two daughters Sue and Mary Ann at 2154 Ashby Ave., very close to the Fulton Street address. Then the family moved to Regal Road in Berkeley. NHC]
Cheatham: Yes, I’m sure that was a very special occasion for you.
Now, tell us about something that those of my generation and younger don’t know anything about but was a very important part of the ROTC uniform in your day. Would you tell us what “wrap leggings” are?
Richardson: How well I remember those wrap leggings. its something that all of us hated. We hated those damn (laughter) wrap leggings. They were all wool, about, I’d say four or five inches in width, maybe a little less than that, but perhaps four inches. Anyway, after you’d put on your socks and your pants you put on these leggings by wrapping them around your legs. They had to be fairly tight otherwise they would fall down, and of course that would not be acceptable when you were in a military formation. Anyway, many of us that were not living on the campus at the time, had to wear our uniforms all day long, in classes and everything else. By the end of the day you were so glad to get those wrap leggings off. Your legs were all marked up from ’em. I’m sure that if they were of practical use it must have been in real cold climate, to keep your legs warm. But, believe me, they were miserable. I don’t know anybody that didn’t hate ’em with everything they had.
Cheatham: Probably the closest thing that we could relate to today is something called an Ace bandage. It would be like wrapping an Ace bandage on your lower leg, over your pant leg, from your knee down to the top of your shoe. You can see these leggings in many of the photographs of the Cadet Corps and the Cadet Band that appear in the early issues of the Blue and Gold as well in photos of American Army troops of the early 1900’s.
Let’s change the subject slightly. Describe what the Band’s typical pregame performance was like in a football stadium?
Richardson: [Musical] rehearsals in my day were mostly in what they called the Stephens Union, or the Student Co-Op. We didn’t practice marching very often. However, before a football game it would be customary to have two days which both [Music and marching?] were part time... One of them was some day during the week, like perhaps for two or three hours... You’d go over the initial maneuvers. Then on Saturday morning, before the game, the Band would meet early, in the football...not the not the present stadium but the old football field. [I think Charlie is referring to California Field which was located where the Hearst Gymnasium (formerly the Hearst Gymnasium for Women) is now located. The slope just west of Wurster Hall, the site of the 1950s campus cafeteria, marks the remains of where the bleachers used to be. The abrupt slope along Pepper Tree Way (the pathway located between Morrison Hall and North Field) was the wall at the north end zone. NHC] [1999. There is talk that a music library will be constructed over that slope just west of Wurster Hall. NHC] We would rehearse and go through very quickly...there wasn’t need to rehearse the [fundamental] marching itself, because this was well known [to anyone involved with ROTC]...it was only such movements as we might have contrived just for that one game, and we did that before the game. When we finished, it was time to go up to the game, and we usually...I guess did what the present band does...and walked up to the stadium.
Upon arriving at the stadium which was a sort of route-step [That’s a military term referring to sauntering along in a relaxed way but still proceeding in an organized formation. NHC], we assembled the Band [in North Tunnel] the way we planned to go out...quite similar to today’s band. We would play Lights Out March and normally before the game started, we would march either to the center of the stadium or to the...to the [south] goal posts, yes, and then do a reverse [counter march] and come back. We would then march over to where we were going to sit and get in [the stands].
We always had prepared some [variation of these?] marching maneuvers for the game itself and those seemed to go over pretty well.
I can remember one thing which was not perhaps too smart, but at the Big Game we maneuvered over to a single line-up on the side line...we used that for a guide...and I remember leading the band and playing Hail to California. The trouble with that sort of thing is you have drums on one side and way on the other side is probably an important part of the band. [That] doesn’t sound do too well when it comes to the music part. [The Band is stretched out too far to sound well in the stands or to hear one another in order to keep together. NHC]
Cheatham: Talking with Charlie off tape...the image I have is that they would come out North Tunnel in a block band, playing Lights Out March, proceed down the field toward the south goal posts, at some point do a countermarch, come back toward the center field, do a a column right movement to face our rooting section. Then leave the field and go to their seats. I take it they did not salute the the opposing rooting section by playing their fight song. That must have come along later. Perhaps after World War II. I remember them doing it in the late ’40’s, when the rooting sections faced each other across 50 yard line. In his oral history interview, Phil Ellwood says that they did not start playing the Star Spangled Banner on a regular basis until WWII came along.
Give us some insight into the halftime performances.
Richardson: We had a committee in the Band that prepared whatever maneuvers were going to follow on that particular day and we would rehearse them the morning of the game. We did what would be pretty common, we would spell out certain things, I remember “Cal” at one time, however we did not do the maneuvers that are so effective now...like spelling out the Cal as it is done now [Referring to the Script-Cal.]...which is so beautifully done by today’s Band.
The maneuvers were mostly, such things as wheels, and countermarches and not the very involved things that they do nowadays. We never seemed to leave one another very far in the band. They would halt together rather than running to different spots.[I think he is referring to the complexity of today’s shows. NHC] So in those days it was quite a bit simpler...the maneuvers...because we didn’t have a lot of time to rehearse things, and practice. They couldn’t be too complicated.
[It is unclear to me if he is speaking of variations of the pregame or the halftime shows. I am under the impression that they had such things as youth teams playing during the halftime. But, maybe the Band did halftime shows for the Big Game and on other special occasions. NHC]
Cheatham: Give us a few words about the Band’s activities right after the game...how they left the field...that sort of thing...the sequence of events that the band participated in when the game was over.
Richardson: When the game was over...of course if it was a Stanford game, we assembled right out in front and marched with all the other students directly across to the Stanford rooting section if we had won the game [To claim or to flaunt the Axe, as the case may be. NHC], and did a lot of yells and that sort of thing. And the band played.
Other games, we would assemble, in the vicinity of the goal posts, and then go through the tunnel, and I know that very often we played Rambled, particularly if we’d won the game, for everybody to enjoy...which they did...particularly our drum section. [I think he is referring to the reverberating sound within the tunnel. NHC] I don’t know, sometimes I think all drummers like to be kids again because our drummers were just full of energy and they really had some fancy steps. [Drum beats?] Particularly when we finished a song and then they...these drummers...would come in with a lot of fancy beats...but the whole band usually was in a wonderful mood and enjoyed it very much. We had the usual bunch of young people, particularly kids, following us and imitating the drum major and and that sort of thing, so we were always well escorted back to the campus. [The collection of oral histories reveal that a lot of those kids later became members of the Band. I am thinking of people like Bob Rice, Bill Fay, Phil Ellwood, Huntley Johnson, Barney Rocca, and I am sure many others. NHC]
Cheatham: Charlie made reference to playing the song Rambled. This is the tune that’s the first several strains going into the California Drinking Song. A lot of today’s Bandsmen may not realize it, but there are actually two tunes involved with that song. Rambled is a short ditty having to do with a goat called, Billy the Goat.
In the earliest days it was repeated over and over again the same way that we played One More River over and over again in the tunnel during the 1940’s and ’50’s. But in the 1960’s, I think it was, our tunnel exit was shortened by the advent of the post game concert over on the alumni side of the field...formerly the space occupied by the opposing rooting section in the days when large numbers of opposing rooters would show up. When those numbers started to drop off alumni started to agitate for having those best seats in the house for themselves. The Men’s Athletic Department, as it was then called, saw a source of revenue and moved the visiting rooters to the southwest corner of the Stadium.
Any way, the tune Rambled...“Oh, they had to carry Harry to the Ferry” (current words)...was appended onto the front of the California Drinking Song some time after Charlie’s years.
What is the difference between the two songs, “All Hail” and “Hail to California”?
Richardson: I well remember both Hail to Cal and All Hail. All Hail was a hymn. That was a...well like the expression, “It’s not over until the fat lady sings.” Events at at Cal, in those days were not over until you sang All Hail. And you stood while singing it.
Whereas, Hail to California, written by Brick Muller, was probably the favorite. It was a wonderful song, and composed as I said, by Brick Muller and it had fine harmony. I was in the California Glee Club and that was one of the songs that went over so well. And I’ve noticed as I’ve aged that so many people now, don’t sing it as we did then. For instance, I went to the Cal Alumni Club dinner at Rossmoor just the other night, and at the end they sang Hail to California [instead of All Hail Blue and Gold] and all stood up for it. This indicates to me that they just like it better than they did the old All Hail hymn.
My interpretation of that is that over the years there are fewer and fewer “Old Blues” around. My guess is that those in charge just didn’t know any better. Recent alumnus may not even be aware that there are two school alma mater hymns, much the less when to sing which. The correct way, as I know it, is to start an event with Hail to California and end it with All Hail.
Cheatham: During my marching days we would traditionally play Hail to Cal as our last number before leaving the field at pregame. The rooting section, probably due to the influence of the fraternities (The pledges were required to memorize the words to the Cal songs.), would stand and sing it. That is, the event started with the playing/singing of Hail to California.
At the end of the game we would play All Hail. And again, the rooting section would stand and sing. During the ’60s these traditional touches became corny. Also, we had loosing teams and the fans wouldn’t “stick around for All Hail”. (That’s what you were supposed to do at the end of a game, “stick around for All Hail”.) It’s a shame, but these traditions just don’t seem relevant today.
In my day we considered Hail to California the alma mater song for the whole University and All Hail Blue and Gold the alma mater song for the Berkeley Campus, the Flagship Campus. Public events would start with the Band playing and the audience singing and standing to Hail to California and ended the same way to All Hail.
These days, in the 1990’s, public events are very rare. They are no longer part of the main stream campus culture. There is no longer any living memory of how it was done. When there is a public ceremony the words to Hail to California, the wrong song, appear on the back cover of the program. The Band plays at the end and no one sings. Even the band members are forgetting the proper sequence.
Give us insight to a man named Leroy W. Allen.
Richardson: When I got to Cal, the first director of the military band was Leroy W. Allen. My impression was that he was a member of the faculty, rather than being a regular military officer assigned to the ROTC unit. [The 1922 and 1923 Blue and Golds show him as Instructor of the ROTC Band. NHC] He rehearsed the band and prepared it musically but the students, for instance his cadet captain or the cadet drum major, would lead the band during parades.
[My guess is that the Military Science Department arranged with the Music Department to either borrow him or to pay them for his services for producing a band that could make music together. Performance on the drill field was, as Charlie says, handled by cadet officers or cadet non-commissioned officers, i.e, sergeants, et al. That was the circumstances during the days when Charles Cushing and Jim Berdahl were serving as the adult presence in both bands. NHC]
It seems to me that Leroy Allen left at the end of either my freshman or sophomore year. I have a hard time recollecting just when that was and the name of the person who succeeded him.
Cheatham: Tell us about Earle Rogers.
Richardson: Yes, I recall Earle Rogers, very well. He must have been about six feet three or four, a very tall fellow who had a hobby of using the baton and what a splendid drum major he was going to be, and everything was going to be fine. The year that I was drum major, he was to succeed me, and I was happy with the idea...geez, we were gonna have a swell drum major next year. Anyway, Earle Rogers flunked out, and it was a sad day when he came to me and said, “Gee, I’m sorry, I just wanted to lead the band so much that I flunked out.”
[Note to the record: The Cal Band history book, The Pride of California, states that Earle Rogers performed as drum major not only in 1927 but in in 1928 too. So he somehow managed to talk his way back into school. The book also says, referring to the 1927 season:
The Band went to the USC game that fall and showed the highly-touted USC band a new kind of excellence. Upon entering the stadium, the California Drum Major [Earle Rogers] tossed his baton over the goal post and, wonder of wonders, caught it on the beat. In another stunt, the Band marched down the field to waltz music which suddenly changed to the quick tempo of Fight for California. An English journalist who viewed the game wrote about the bands. He compared the USC band to a vaudeville show, with balloons, confetti, pistols, and stunts which had no relation to the spirit of the football game that it was supposed to supplement; in contrast, he said the California Band was like a chorus from a grand opera for its musical excellence, drilling, and coordination.
As we bring this interview to a close, take a few moments to ad lib some of the memories that might have stuck in your mind but I forgot to ask about regarding your undergraduate years and your relationship with the Band.
Richardson: Well, I was always very, very proud to be a member of the band. I really enjoyed every part of it, and was elated when I was made drum major. To be leader of the Cal Band was a thrill that I just loved. We worked hard in those days and we had a good band. You can’t find a better group I think, than band members. They all have something in common with one another and they just enjoy it. The thrill of playing at a Big Game. It’s only one in a million, I’d say, that gets to lead a band like the California Band at a Stanford game. Anyway, it was a just a tremendous thrill, I was awfully proud to be not only just with the band, but to be the the leader of it.
Cheatham: Well, to end this interview, would you give us a synopsis of your career subsequent to your graduation from Cal?
Richardson: One of the things that helped me through Cal was the ability to play a horn. During my campus career, I played in a number of orchestras. Some of you may recall, if you’re old enough, Bob Beale at the Hotel Claremont and at the Athens Athletic Club and at the St. Francis. After graduation I played with the Lofner-Phil Harris Band. You all recall Phil Harris. He’s still alive. We were playing at the St. Francis Hotel. I followed music after graduation for about four years. One of the reasons was because the money was so good and I played at various night clubs and theaters. However, I never wanted to be a musician and I was married and had two children so I wanted to get out of music.
I took a job playing part time at the Athens Athletic Club so I could pursue my career. I joined the Traveler’s Insurance Company in San Francisco in April, 1931 and I worked for them for 40 years, ending up as manager of the San Francisco office. During that career, one of the things that I loved to recall was the California Band...my experience with them.
After retirement we moved to Alamo for a few years and then to Rossmoor. Here at Rossmoor, I belong to the California Alumni Club. At my 80th birthday, which was seven years ago, my ever loving wife and two daughters put on a surprise party for me at one of the big club houses here at Rossmoor. And who should appear but the University of California Straw Hat Band? What a thrill it was. I couldn’t keep the tears out of my eyes. And I do the same thing every year, when the Cal Band comes and plays at our California Alumni Club rally before the Big Game. It’s terrific. It just does something to ya that nothing else does. Anyway, what a career I’ve had and the Cal Band has always been a big part of it and I have a deep appreciation for it. I’ve been a very lucky man in my life, and one of the reasons is the Cal Band.
Cheatham: Well, Charlie, this has been a very informative interview. I am really pleased that you were able to take the time to chat with me this morning, and Go Bears!