Today is the 103rd Rose Bowl Game. I am watching Penn State play USC. I would like to see Penn State do well but I really am not rooting for either team. But the Rose Bowl has been a source of sadness for me for a long time.
The Michigan Wolverines played in the 58th Rose Bowl Game, the 63rd Rose Bowl Game, and the 64th Rose Bowl Game. I was a high school senior for the 58th. I was in graduate school for the 63rd and 64th. For those four games in between, I was a proud member of the Michigan Marching Band and I dreamed of marching in the Rose Parade and representing Michigan in the game. However, Ohio State went to the Rose Bowl four times in a row even though the Michigan team lost only three games and tied two in those four years. Since then, all four of my children have marched in the Rose Parade as has one of my sons-in-law. I am 62 years old and still feel sad, almost angry, that I missed out on Pasadena.
But the sadness is easily overshadowed by feelings of gratitude for the opportunities I had, the friendships, and the memories of being in the Michigan Band. I remember the night before my first game when I slept at my brother’s house to get away from the partying at the dorm. I couldn’t sleep a wink anyway and then I got lost while walking to our practice field. Plus, I wore brand new shoes which tore up the back of my feet. A great start to my band career. Then there was Super Bowl VII in Los Angeles where we were the main attraction for the halftime show. There were appearances on national TV (they usually showed the bands back then). There were trips to Columbus, East Lansing, and Madison. We were the first Big Ten Band to appear at the Orange Bowl. We opened Revelli Hall while I was there and the portrait of The Chief was moved from Harris Hall in my Mercury Comet convertible. There was the excitement every Saturday of pouring out of the tunnel to the cheers of 100,000 people. There was the pride of wearing my band jacket on campus, no matter how cold it was outside. There were my brothers in Kappa Kappa Psi and my sisters in Tau Beta Sigma who congregated at Bimbos after the games.
Do I wish that a Rose Bowl appearance was included in my memories? Of course I do. Hey, maybe I can get a bunch of my classmates from 1976 to work something out with the Michigan Band so we can go with them someday.
But, when I sit back and think about it, my dream was not the Rose Bowl. My dream was to be good enough to be in the band. And that dream was accomplished. In spades.