From Dr. Cook’s Journal

The article below is from a journal kept by Dr. Bruce Cook, long-time director of Tiger Band at Clemson, and is published compliments of Dr. Cook’s family.  


Clemson University
Clemson, South Carolina

As a high school band director I was unaccustomed to secretarial help. Not only did Jo Amerson keep me from missing deadlines, etc., she and her husband Mack have remained close friends. Mack was enrolled in graduate studies at Clemson University and, after receiving a doctoral degree, moved to Atlanta and a new job at Oglethorpe University.

Prior to departing for graduate school at the University of Georgia, John talked me through what was to be an approximation of my daily schedule. I would be teaching a class in music appreciation and a class in American Music as well as the marching band. Clemson University’s mascot is the Tiger and henceforth the marching band will be referred to as “Tiger Band.” John and I are of the same “school” when it comes to bands and I really did not anticipate any problems managing the marching or concert bands. The college classroom was another story. Classes met in a rehearsal room located in the basement of Johnstone Hall, a large prefabricated dormitory for men. The audiovisual equipment in the rehearsal room was used in classroom presentations. It was not unusual for enrollment in these classes to top fifty or more students and an occasional faculty member who audited the course. Joel Brawley was my first faculty auditor (fall 1966) and luckily I discovered his status before the end of the semester. (He asked a lot of questions!)

The football coach at Clemson was Frank Howard whose won/lost record at Clemson was the envy of most of Clemson’s competition, especially the University of South Carolina. Another legend by the name of Heisman coached at Clemson before there was a stadium for football. During Heisman’s day, the games were played on “Bowman Field.” This is the field still used for military review on Thursdays and more recently as a gathering place for Frisbee, touch football and just hanging out.

Tiger Band rehearsals began a few days before the students began matriculation. The rehearsals focused on becoming familiar with a season of music and marching fundamentals. The established military influence continued to be a part of the marching fundamentals and in the music we chose for the season. In other words, a lot of marches and a few show tunes for the two feature twirlers. Individual drill charts were nonexistent except for a detailed director’s chart. All drill instructions were given out from the director’s podium via a hand held ‘squawk” box.

Indoor music rehearsals were held in the band room, a small space that had large pillars that kept you from seeing the entire band and some from seeing you. Each music stand had a small metal can attached for use as an ashtray and cigarette butt receptacle. Clemson band members mastered the art of smoking, holding a cigarette and playing their instrument at the same time.

Some time during the first week of rehearsal, I was summoned to Walter Cox’s (Dean of Student) office. He had received complaints about students practicing drill routines early (5:00 AM) in the morning. I had no idea! The “rat” season in all its glory continued to unfold throughout the week, especially as I found human hair in trash baskets located in the rehearsal room. Eventually, all heads were shaved and topped off by a “rat hat.”

I was just beginning to learn about being the Tiger Band director at Clemson University!