From Woody's Couch

Our Playbook on OSU History

Category: Marching Band (page 1 of 3)

From marriage proposals to moonwalks, Band formations are crowd-pleasers

You may have noticed that the members of The Ohio State University Marching Band are getting quite a bit of attention for their innovative use of iPads and the mesmerizing shows they’re able to put together because of them. But anyone who’s spent any time at the ‘Shoe watching TBDBITL knows that they’ve found creative ways to entertain crowds for over a century. We dug deep into the photo archives to prove this and below we’re sharing some of our favorite formations.

1930s

1930s

Lizard, 1940s

Lizard, 1940s

Buckeye leaf, "Snow Bowl" of 1950

Buckeye leaf, “Snow Bowl” of 1950

Woman in bikini, "Snow Bowl" of 1950

Woman in bikini, “Snow Bowl” of 1950

Dinosaur, 1954

Dinosaur, 1954

Proposal, 1955

Proposal, 1955

 

1958

1958

1960

1960

"G" Bowtie, 1990s

“G” Bowtie, 1990s

no date

no date

And of course, Script Ohio!

And of course, Script Ohio!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

‘Across the Field,’ and into the record books: Drum-major firsts

"Tubby" Essington, 1923

“Tubby” Essington, 1923

The Ohio State University Marching Band began as a drum corps in the 1878-79 academic year, so from the very beginning the band has had a drum major. At that time, the drum major led the musical unit that accompanied the weekly parade of cadets and kept tempo for the units to follow, according to Script Ohio, the definitive OSUMB history.

It wasn’t until the early 1920s, though, that the band had its first drum major who exhibited the showmanship and personality to be a standout figure on the field. That figure was G. Edwin Essington, whose nickname was “Tubby.” It’s unclear why it began, but Essington was the one who started the tradition that continues today.

Dwight Hudson, 1970s

Dwight Hudson, 1970s

He served as drum major for three seasons, from 1920 to 1922. He is best remembered for leading the parade through the streets of Chicago after the Buckeyes defeated the University of Chicago on its home turf in 1921. His characteristic showmanship gained him national recognition that day: At that time, marching bands were in the process of transitioning from traditional military bands to the large, complex entertainment units we know today. The following year, he performed at the first game played in Ohio Stadium. (The Buckeyes were defeated by Michigan, but the band no doubt put on a good show.) He graduated from Ohio State in 1925.

Fifty years later, the Marching Band introduced its first African-American drum major to Ohio Stadium crowds: Dwight Hudson. He started twirling in elementary school and wrote a letter to Paul Droste, then the Marching Band’s director, that he wanted to become the band’s drum major someday. To achieve that goal, he practiced – so much that in 1975 he placed 7th in the world twirling competition. When he came to Ohio State, Dwight Hudson fulfilled his wish: In 1977 he became the drum major. Hudson served as drum major for three years, longer than any other drum major since Essington. His final performance was at the 1980 Rose Bowl.

Shelley Graf, 1981

Shelley Graf, 1981

More than 100 years after the first band formed, the first woman earned the spot of drum major.

Michelle “Shelley” Graf was not only the first woman drum major at Ohio State, but also in the Big Ten. She also started twirling at a very young age, and she performed with her high school band, although as a majorette. Since Ohio State did not have majorettes, she decided to try for drum major. She was assistant drum major in 1980, then won the lead job in 1981. Graf still works for the University as a clinical instructor in the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences and as a physical therapist at the Wexner Medical Center. Every November, she leads her patients in performing Script Ohio.

 Filed by C.N.

Early OSU Football: ringers, riots, red ink and … recitations?

1968

This week, a patron asked if we could find out when the OSU Marching Band first played at a football game. We tracked down a likely answer in James Pollard’s “Ohio State Athletics: 1879-1959,” which also offered a wealth of hard-to-imagine tidbits about the early football program at OSU. (Because we don’t have many photos from the early days, we’ve decided to post a few images that help illustrate how far the program has progressed over the years.)

For instance, soon after intercollegiate competition started 1891, there were charges of brutality, the use of “ringers” (non-students) and – hard to imagine today – coaches playing on their own teams. It led to various college faculties to call for the abolishment of football. Luckily, nothing ever came of their appeals.

Training was also much different from the current regimen. Pollard quotes the Columbus Dispatch in describing a typical day of football training in the 1890s:

Every fellow rises at 7 o’clock and breakfasts at training table…on rare beefsteak, poached eggs, fried potatoes and dry bread. The forenoon hours are devoted to study and recitation and at noon an hour is spent rehearsing signals and individual practice… At 4 o’clock the men practice team work with the second University eleven until dark, when they take a run of several miles and then rub down, eat supper and go to bed.

Football practice, 1916

Also unheard of for today’s football program was the gloomy financial picture The Wahoo reported for the 1892 season. (The Wahoo was the name of the student newspaper during a brief period of the early 1890s.) The newspaper gave figures showing estimated costs of $550 – more than double the estimated receipts of $250.

Football ticket line, 1949

In 1893, three years after the football team was founded, the OSU Marching Band made its first appearance at the Oct. 21 game between OSU and Oberlin. According to Pollard, who was quoting The Columbus Dispatch, “the newly organized O.S.U. band” led a “parade of the city” on the morning of the game and gave a concert just before play started.  Clearly the band was not nearly as effective as it is now; the football team suffered a 38-10 loss that day. Back then, of course,  the band consisted of roughly a dozen musicians; today, membership tops 210 members.

Band, 1900

Meanwhile, fans became so incensed at an early score by the Kenyon College team in the second half of a Nov. 30, 1892, game, that the crowd poured onto the field and tore down a portion of the fence. Pollard, quoting the Dispatch again, said “The game had to be stopped until the police cleared the grounds.” The crowd’s passion did not always lead to destruction: Two years later, after OSU won the Thanksgiving game against Kenyon, the Dispatch reported that “the crowd went crazy and carried the winners off the field.”

1970

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