Barbara Boerger (1976):
Freshman year, September 1975... HSU was on quarter system then. I lived in Redwood Hall, and decided that a way to get involved and meet people would be to get involved with Dorm Program Board, which happened to be presided over by Greg "Whangly P. Whangsworth," who also happened to be band GM at the same time. I fell in with the unsavory lot of dorm-ants that also were in the band: Dale Perry, Paul Remer, Chris Lawrence, Patti "Pooh Bear," Mary Baer, just to name a few. I did not join that year because 1) I did not play an instrument other than piano, and 2) well, I don't know. These were about the only folks I partied with. After trying out for, and making it, cheerleading (gasp! I have no idea why I did that), I decided I really wanted to be in band. Over the next summer, I worked at learning the glock, but never really got it. I was very graciously allowed to fake it on cymbols. 1976/1977 was a lot of fun. Gordon's first year. We were the first band to play "Gospel John." I remember taping it off of KHSU when Remer played it on his jazz show. We were at the monestary, back in its earliest inception. I even met my sweetie, trumpet player extraodinare, the late Steve Parmenter at a party at Paul "Smokey" Glazer's house after a basketball game. Ah youth. What a joy it was.
Paul "P.G." Dettner (1979)
It was my first year Humboldt. I was living in Sunset Hall, 3rd floor. I met JR while playing some boogie woogie piano in Sunset's lobby. We
learned each of us were big time Beatle fans and went on to have many jovial (albeit drunken) piano sing-alongs with our fellow dormies. JR, who was already active with the MLJ band at that time, and asked me if I wanted come with him to Redwood Bowl, meet some members and have a few beers. Not playing a marching instrument, I tagged along really just to be social (and yes... for the beer). Seems a few days later my roommate... another JR (Bunkley) and I were looking out our window when the MLB came marching through the dorm square and storming through the building. I then heard my calling ... I could be a MLJ while marching playing an acoustic guitar, fake playing another members trumpet, spoons, you name it, and of course make some good friends while drinking beer and supporting my school's team (these days they call that "multi-tasking"). All the MLJ's really made me feel welcome and a part of the group. Was active with
the band really only my first year, but "once a lumber jack... always a lumber jack". Thanks to all for the great times !
Gary 'Igor' Rensink (1980)
With me, it's not so much "why" I joined the MLJ's, but "how," because I must admit a lot about my first year at Humboldt is a bit hazy. I can't remember the first time I heard about the band. I can't remember the first time I saw the band. I can't remember how I knew that the band practiced 'High atop Redwood Bowl,' but I did, and that first afternoon I wandered over there by my lonesome to check things out. I guess it was the first practice of the 1980 school year. I had a beer in my hand within minutes, sitting up on the top bench with JR, Bags, Mr. Big Ears and others. I must have thought the bandas were nuts, for when I got back to my dorm-room I had no intention of returning. Little did I know that I would still be returning almost 25 years later.
Anyways, some days later I was in my 2nd floor Sunset dorm room when the band had stormed into the quad between it and Redwood. They played some songs while I hung halfway out of my room window watching. After they finished their last song, the call went out from the band asking the Sunset and Redwood dormies if "anyone wanted to join the band?" I figured since I hadn't really stayed after the first practice, I could "join" now, so I quickly grabbed my trumpet from its case and went to the window, and thrust both arms up in the air out the window. The banda noticed and a cheer went up and I yelled "I'll be right down, but the Axe (was it Gordon?) said the band would come up and get me, so they promptly marched into Sunset, up the stairs, gathered me at my door, on through Redwood, down to Cypress, across to the Canyon dorms, then all the way across campus to Band Room.
It's after this that I start to remember things: band camp, football games at the high school in Eureka (Redwood Bowl was not available for home football games that year), skipping basketball season, joining again for parade season and the infamous first bus road trip to Davis SUCKS.......come to think of it, I think that road trip was what really sold me on being and staying in the band......naked people (Hickey Gym pool), drunkeness (the entire trip, especially during the parade, for the kegs were waitin' for us along the route), playing the horn 'til my lips bled........sigh, I became addicted and the band became the habit I'd never kick.
Ask most any long-time MLJ and they'll tell you that being in the band has forever changed them.....
JD" Dyke (1987):
I was fortunate enough to see their appearance twice. Once at HOP casino night in August of 1987 and once again the first time they stormed de dorms when school started. OH MY GOD WHAT A BLAST!!!! I was fully depressed, I mean impressed!! They gave me goose bumps. Later that night, Cory (I don't even remember her last name... I know you know who I am talking about!) She came to Redwood Hall second floor where she was rooming that year and I happened to run into her in the bathroom while I was brushing my teeth. She was in full uniform/costume and I began quizzing her about the whole scene. She was so friendly and very encouraging and that following Tuesday at 4:00 pm high atop the Redwood Bowl, I became a Marching Lumberjack!!
Acceptance and friendliness and universal love and undying appreciation from 30 people I didn't even know!! That very same day, we had a gig on the Arcata Plaza and I fuddled around with the tenor drum!! At the same time, I was trying out for the Lady Lumberjacks basketball team. And I made the team, but I quit! Because I loved the band!!!!
Dave Riess (1987):
I believe my first encounter w/ the band was during HOP, July 1987. There inside of JVD, I met Jane and Dana (I'm not real sure, after all those killer parties, my memory is somewhat foggy!) sitting at a table w/ the usual band paraphenalia. I'm sure I expressed interest, as it sounded like fun (little did I know what kind of "fun," or that the band gets into your blood permanently). I don't remember if I made the first week, I believe I did make the first day, but not the next. Of course, we all tend to meet people at HOP who would somehow change our lives, and that for me was Brent. He also was a musician (even if he does play trumpet!). When I wasn't real enthused, Brent would drag me along to band until I was "trapped!" I think I did the same for him, so it was mutual. The rest is just history, stories to be told to others (OK, so my first bandcamp was a little rough).
I would have to say that I joined because it sounded like fun, and no real marching or musical experience were necessary, even though I had some of both............
Jodie (Marshall) Riess, (1988):
Let me see, the first contact I had with the band was a table in Founder's
hall during HOP . No one there seemed to be terribly enthusiastic about a
person who didn't play a musical instrument. I met Cathy Patterson (then
Walford) at HOP and we hung out together. We were together at Casino Night
when the band marched in. We both enjoyed the show they put on. Cathy says
that we talked to Bookmark and Dana. I don't remember but I do remember
that they were both very welcoming and really seemed to want me in the band.
I know that I went looking for a band because in High School I had been part
of the tall flag team with a military marching band. I had had it with
theatre at that point and wanted to join a group. I remember the first day
at band walking up and seeing some very (underline that very) scruffy
looking individuals in the bandroom. It was Erich Kruger and
Dave Riess. Erich had a long scratch down the side of his face and neither
had shaved recently.
I was planning to stick around even after that. But I guess there was a
strong feeling in the band that I could be scared away. I couldn't. I even
told Gordon off at Band Camp. I know that I stuck around for a variety of
reasons. I had started dating a band member ...and the longer I was there the
more the people seemed to accept me as me. At least, until my second
and third year when I was under an incredible amount of stress and even then
the people who seemed willng to understand and help me were in the band.
I even ended up marrying a band member. [the above-mentioned "very scruffy" Dave Riess]
Now I can't ever escape!!!!!
Julie Olsen (1993):
I joined during February of my senior year because I didn't think I was crazy enough to fit in until then!! I joined because Blaze called me at a moment of weakness on my part (I had already sworn that I would NEVER join "that band"). I had just been picked up by my friend whose idea of getting a beer means a 40 oz Mickeys!! Whoops! Anyway, after I had finished my "beer," I got a call from Blaze who used the upcoming march into the ocean to twist my weak arm into joining! I had a couple glasses of wine with my roomies then had one drive me to Blaze's house so he could drive me to band. I heard later that I only offended one person and impressed the heck out of the rest. It may have been my shitty playing or my running downstairs to the "bathroom" right below the stairs that everyone liked - we can only imagine!...
Jon "Baby Jon" Pede (1986):
I joined the band because I saw in the catalogue that there was a marching
band and because I was a band nerd I joined up. I mean marching band meant
marching band right? Wrong!!! I was petrified of the MLJs the first day
I walked in. I also was very disapointed at first. I really felt that way
when I saw Davis and hoped that we could be like that. Then like a bolt
of lightening from the almighty, it dawned on me that we were better. From
that point on, I began to see the incredible potential the Marching Lumberjacks
have in themselves. I also like the name, HSU Marching Lumberjacks-- it
During my first year of being in the MLJ's I was never quite sure if I made the right decision to be a Marching Lumberjack. I mean it was definitely not a conventional marching band and after being in a military band and being drum major, this was a lot to handle. I guess what really sank it was when I came back to Humboldt after my first year and Dana Clopine and Jane Rucker greeted me at the door of Jane's apartment (they were having a cheap wine and champagne party) and really made me feel as if I was part of the group. Besides at this point I was getting the taste of wanting to be the Axe-Major really bad, and believe me, that is a hard taste to get rid of (just ask any ex-axe major). After all these years of still being a Marching Lumberjack (no you never stop being a MLJ), I do not regret it, and cherish those memories of "when I was in band." Thank you to all who made it fun and still make it fun.
Melissa (Kindel) Russell (1988):
I was a Jr. transfer student Fall 1988. At orientation I was walking through Founder's Hall and noticed a table with a poster of Lumberjack with an axe and leading a marching band. Being a former Highschool band-geek, I thought I should check it out. Then I noticed Grace and sensed that she was someone who would talk to me about the band but not be pushy. I also picked up a flyer that she designed (I still have it somewhere) with a very Bookmarkish-looking individual playing the baritone, wearing a hard-hat.
Elise "Sorry" Taylor (1989):
I joined the band to get into the football games for free.
I was visiting HSU, Spring Preview 1989, when I first saw the Jacks perform. I was very impressed and everyone sounded great (Yes they actually marched and played). The band was funny and made everyone visiting the campus feel welcomed. It was at that moment, that I wished I had taken up something else besides piano.
After the homecoming game, I was hanging out at LUMBERJACK DAYS (waahh!) when I brought a beer at THE MOST AMAZING booth in the whole place. I recognized some Jacks and I approached Grace (yeah) and Lisa Bowes about the band. I explained I really wanted to join but didn't play an instrument. Grace said, no problem, we need a kazoo player or SS.
The very next rehearsal I arrived early and unbeknownst to me, I was talking to the Axe Major Baby Jon. I said to him, "Just between you and me, I just want to get into the football games for free. Who do I talk to"? Jon said, "Me!"
Grace Kerr (1987):
I came up to Humboldt as a transfer student. I attended one of the orientation weekends, which included a slide show/lecture by the charismatic Buzz Webb. Seems it was either after or before this presentation in Van Duzer I spotted a lively group of people in hardhats in front of a table outside. On the table were photographs pasted to Budweiser posters. My eyes went right to a photo of a sousaphone player leading a line of horns, marching into the ocean. As I gasped with wonder at this scenario, and asked a little more about this 'marching' band... Jane asked me, "do you play an instrument?" I said, yeah, I play tuba. "TUBA?!!" she exclaimed, "wow, she plays TUBA!!" Everyone seemed to excited about this. I have never in my life ever heard someone get so excited over the fact I played tuba. I was charmed. Jane said "Oom-pah will be so happy to have another tuba to play with... he's been the only one!" Of course, I was completely sucked in. Especially over the fact this band looked nothing like high school!
So I registered for the MLJ class... showed up to my first Tuesday rehearsal on a beautiful Humboldt day, and upon entry to the bandroom "high atop Redwood Bowl," I was handed a Soda!! The huge group of 1987 rookies introduced themselves, all were enthusiastically welcomed and refills offered. Various "announcements" were given... all the council were introduced... (Dana was Axe that year, the only female Axe the MLJs would have until 2003. Dana was AWESOME!!)
The first week, we stormed the dorms. We were instructed to "follow the ass in front of you," nothing more! Wow, I could march without having to think! [and Bookmark's ass wasn't too hard to look at, thankfully.] So up, down, up and down the hills, stairs, all over campus. I think we marched over the foot bridge (or was it 11th Street?!). It was a work-out! It was great! [Later I procured an E-flat sousaphone in the bowels of the bandroom...and had quite the developed leg muscles!]
Some of the tunes we were playing then included "Basin Street," "She's Not There," "Para Los Rumberos," "Muppet Show," "Oye Como Va," "Beginnings" (Gil Cline arrangement, pre-computer!), "Leader of the Pack," "China Grove," "Can Can"... so many more... and many the MLJs still play today.
Jane Rucker (1984):
Well, when I was a senior, thinking about colleges, my brother mentioned
Humboldt State to me. I was very interested, and I hadn't even seen it. So
mom and I visited the school. As we were being toured, we walked near
Redwood Bowl and the guide showed us the band room across the stadium. I
asked a bunch of questions, and she said that the band was kinda crazy. I
knew then and there that this was the school for me.
During HOP, my orientation counselor was Robert Preston, and I was sure
happy when I found out he was in the band. He told me all kinds of wonderful
stories and I had to be part. I even signed up for the class. (I think it
is the only thing I actually got that quarter).
The first night I moved into the dorms, I was walking around and met up
with this redhead in a bathrobe, using the payphone at the JGC. Ann `Meg'
`Little Wolf' `Lewski' Godlewski completed the cycle by thouroughly exciting
me about the band and the rest is history.
Erin McAlonan (1990):
My first encounter with the band was during preview the week before school started Fall '90. I just moved to Eureka and had been asking about a marching band and got no answers.
While walking through the Art quad after a boring "Peer Group" meeting, I glanced out of the corner of my eye a rather beat up tuba and Madge. Being in the hurry I was, I past the table up thinking, I'll come back later. But then I heard "Hey you in the Rose Parade jacket! Come here!" Being a high school band geek, drum major, and honor band know-it-all, I walked back over and said, "What do you want?" I remember those sitting at the table were James, Baby Jon, Jane, Mouth, and Melissa sitting on James' lap. I can't remember who asked me, but they asked, "Can you play an instrument?" Being the cocky individual I am, I pointed to the patch on my sleeve and said, "It says musician?" Mouth laughed and replied, "Yeah, but can you play?" "Well yes," I replied. I think it was Baby Jon who asked, "What instrument?" I said, "What do you need? I play all woodwinds and a little drums."
It was then that I was asked if I could play a gig with them that night called Casino Night. I was reluctant, because the last bus to Eureka left before the gig started. Jane said that it would be no problem, and that she would give me a ride home. They told me to meet at the band room by the football stadium. They said that I would see a building with four large barn-looking doors. So I wandered around the field house for about 10 minutes until I heard a trumpet and followed it. While walking up the stairs, Jane came up behind me. I walked into the band room. It had that closed-up-all-summer band room smell. I walked up to the top of the stairs and stopped. I found myself staring at Bags [newly a father] sitting in the trumpet section with a stogie ... and his trumpet in his lap. He looked at me and shouted, "I have a baby boy! Who the hell are you?" I thought about it for a second and replied, "Who the hell are you!?" He looked at me for a while and said, "I like you; you've got the right attitude." Jane showed me where to get a tenor sax, and when I opened it, it smelled worse then the band room. Some music was thrown at me; more people showed up, and off we went.
I remember feeling so excited when we went into stealth mode and stormed into Kate Buchanan room. I remember following the ass in front of me and playing from the top of a table. I remember playing Drive-On, China Grove, Das Beat (with all the movements), and the Duck. I had a blast! I thought this is something I could do.
I never heard of or saw the band before this. I just
jumped in head first and have regretted, I mean enjoyed it. Especially pissing
off Gordon at my first band camp. I know this is long Grace, but hopefully you'll
get a laugh out of it. Oh by the way, that was the gig when they wrote "Grace
is a weenie" on the wall behind the drums because you didn't
Brad R. Wetmore ('83-'87, back for 88-89):
A really good friend of mine was one year ahead of me in high school, and
she ended up going to a school which still sucks. I told her about
half-way through my senior year that I would be attending Humboldt, and
she said, "You have to join the band there; we have so much fun together."
A couple months later, I got a letter from Dugger Root introducing me to
band. I thought, "hey this does sound like fun."
Well, upon arrival, I did the usual HOP thing, and through the middle
of the casino storm the MLJs. I eventually caught up with Robabert
Preston (I forgot what he was doing at HOP) and he gave me the scoop,
so I decided to give it a try. However, one of my suitemates installed
fear into my impressionable heart with tales of heinous activities at
band camp. So I drove out two days in a row to Patrick's Point instead
of camping overnight. Oh well, live and learn.
P.S. Is there still a greased flagpole at band camp?
Dana "Nipples" (Clopine) Sullivan (1984):
I had a lot of respect (still do) for my high school band director. He knew I was going to go to HSU. His words were, "don't join the marching band; they are really weird. I hear they march in swimsuits when it is raining." Well, being a relatively shy, yuppyish, conservative nun, I took him at his word, and off to HSU I went......
I didn't see any recruiting booths or anyone at HOP. Not that I was looking anyway. But, some buddies and I hung out at Casino Night (I think) and in marched the band. Let's see, the buddies were Todd Freeman (currently in the Air Force), Clara something or other (working on the Stanislaus NF with Dave), and Me. None of us were very impressed. After all, Todd and I were
from state champion high school bands, and we were used to real power house university bands like UCLA, USC, etc. I mean, these guys didn't play really well, didn't march worth a damn, and had really different uniforms. However, something, I'm not really sure what, must have intrigued me. Todd, Clara, and I met Joan in the music building. Joan played clarinet in the marching band and was an aspiring opera singer...this woman could do it, too. ...
Joan somehow talked all of us into going to at least one practice. She said we should give it a chance. Sure, the band did weird things, but they had LOTS of fun doing it. We all tramped off to "that place high atop the Redwood Bowl." I don't remember much of the first day or the first band camp and all that. It just wasn't that remarkable. I do remember the joy these people had over a piccolo player. They hadn't had one since some freshman a few years before dropped out of school due to the fact she was never sober. Ask Igor about that one. My first really solid memory of the band is Bags, his Harley, and trying to intimidate me with his newly acquired army attitude. I believe I told him to fuck off. He hadn't ever heard that from a rookie apparently. Well, the Harley made an impression, cause now I have my very own.
Let's see, the buddies. Clara became the secretary for the 1985 year. She quit after the first year and went to crew. Todd could no longer afford school and joined the Air Force. And me I stuck it out, and yikes, it's been 12 years. I hate it when years sneak up like that.
As far as the recruiting scheme, I'd say the biggest thing is personal contact. If Joan hadn't taken the time, I never would have joined. Look at the other stories. They all carry a similar theme. The new recruit met someone in the dorms, the bathroom, in the halls of learning. The new recruit wanted to know more and the time was taken to enthusiastically tell all. Sure the gigs get us in the lime light, which is a start, but the personal contact brings it home. Even from someone who felt strongly enough about the band to take the time to recruit while brushing her teeth.
Jennifer (Hastings) Goudreau (1991):
The first time that I heard of the banda was from a friend from high school whose brother attended HSU. My friend came up here to see a basketball game about 6 years ago. When he got back to my school he couldn't stop talking about this band that played "Rubber Duckie."
So when I came up for HOP, I was looking for anyone that could tell me about the band. During casino night, I saw the band for the first time. There weren't many of them, but boy, did they look like they were having fun. I met Allie that night and she gave me John Boy's phone number. When I got back up here in fall of 1991, one of the first things I did was call John Boy. I joined the band first thing. My images of the first practice is Allie playing "Ballin' the Jack," and knowing that I never wanted to play that.
Bodie Pfost (1998)
I went to Arcata High School, so I had had a little exposure to the Marching Lumberjacks. I remember being a freshman in high school and going to one of HSU's night football games. I sat next to the band because, like so many others, I was a music nerd in high school also. That night I saw how different and crazy the band did things from the way they were done at my high school.
Four years later, actually the summer after I graduated from high school, I joined the Crab Grass Band. Being the extreme coincidence that it is, the Crab Grass Band and the MLJ's have many of the same members. I had a lot of fun that summer and when I told them that I was going to attend HSU in the fall, everyone asked, "Are you going to be in the band???" I wasn't sure what band they were talking about, but I got the point after a little while. I actually played a few gigs with the band before school began. I think that my first gig was the illustrious, Gay Pride Parade in Arcata. What a great first impression for me, huh? Well, that was followed by the extreme Annie and Mary Daze in Blue Lake, and I also played at a few HOPs. I'm pretty sure I joined the band because of peer pressure, but I stayed because of the undying love that everybody showed me at those first few gigs.
Gina Piazza (1998)
I was first introduced to the MLJs during my winter break as a Senior in high school by Owen Ott. [band member] My Dad, a super rad French teacher in the town of Benicia, had Owen as a student. He arranged a Chinese lunch with him so he could tell me about HSU and the band. He talked about the very laid-back style of the band. I kept saying to myself "I HAVE TO BE IN THIS BAND!"
I got accepted to HSU and I went to HOP. I heard that the marching band would make an appearance, and I was waiting desparately (cause I was getting sick of playing dumb games). Then I heard the "HEY HO!" and the cadence into the Kate Buchanan Room. The bandas I remember are Gracie dressed all in green as axe, Bodie, Charles, Abe Crow, Cindy, Carrie, and Amanda ( I have a pretty good memory, yet I don't remember any trumpets or tubas, sorry guys.) They played lots of high energy songs that made the crowd get up and dance. I kept thinking I want to be in that band!
Then the first day of band. I had a hard time finding the "dark side of the fieldhouse." But I got there, and it was totally different then any other band room I've been in (duh). People shouting profanity, ANNOUNCEMENTS! and stuff like that. But it was great fun.
One more thing: My first party was at Emily and Amanda's house. I remember Stacey saying that band parties usually scare people away. She said this as she was piled on the couch with 6 other women chanting, "All chicks no dicks!" Obviously it didn't scare me. It hooked me in, and I've loved the band ever since. Band Geeks Rule!!!
Ann "Meg" "Wolf" "Lewski" Godlewski (1983)
My high school band was a stiff-necked military corps band. We won a bunch of competitions and that kind of thing. So when I got to Humboldt and saw the MLJs, it was major culture shock. I remember thinking, "They're Animal House with instruments." I didn't go to my first band camp because they scared the hell out of me; but I enrolled in the class anyway.
The biggest thing in my life at that point in time was "losing that pesky virginity" as Dooger put it. I made a point to bring all the people to band I could (I showed up with three friends on my first roadtrip to Chico. It turned out we needed them as SS). Then, about March of freshman year a certain redhead snare drummer and I developed a mutual attraction. The rest as they say, is history. The band has been with me thru many "incarnations," and I greatly appreciate it!
Note from Gracie:
I hope you found these personal testomonials extremely inspirational, if not downright SPIRITUAL!
If you would like to add your story to this list, please me.