Bare with me as I give a brief history as to why I had a nice surprise today.
I entered Corner High School back in 1976 in the seventh grade. My younger brother decided that he wanted to join the band and back then you could join the beginner band in the sixth grade. I felt I was too good to be in the band and wanted to join the football team. Once we got settled in my brother joined the band and I tried out for football. I was too slow for football but they waited until two weeks before our first game to tell me. So, I did what my brother did and tried to join the band but by then it was too late to join in for that year. I had to wait another year before i could try out.
My two younger brothers, my baby sister and myself all were in the band at one time. I had some fond memories in the band especially when we got to go out of state to compete with other bands across the surrounding southeast. I even got to try out in the honor band, made it and got to perform on the Grand Ole Opre stage in Nashville Tennessee. The original stage not the new one.
During my time in the band I learned how to play the Trombone, Baritone, Concert Tuba and the Sousaphone. Believe it or not, there is a difference between the Tuba and the Sousaphone. My favorite instrument has got to be the Baritone. I even bought one right after high school just so I could keep playing it after I graduated. I’m glad I did because my son now plays that instrument in college.
Both my baby sister and my baby brother quite soon after their first year in the band. It just wasn’t for them. My sister played the Saxophone and my baby brother played the trombone. My other brother stayed in the band and he played the trumpet.
The band director that I had in high school is still there today. When asked when he was going to retire, he just simply said, “I’m not!” Many of my classmates still live in the area and Mr. Coggin teaches their kids how to play music and march on the field. I know it has to feel strange knowing that you taught their parents and now your teaching their kids. I know it would fell weird for me.
Mr. Coggin’s father was a Baptist minister and at one point was the preacher at my church. Guess who became our music minister. That’s right. His son the band director. Now, not only did I have Mr. Coggin for band during the week, I now had him on Sundays and Wednesday’s for choir.
Getting to know the Coggins’ was awesome. Not only did I get to know the father but the father’s wife, Mr. Coggins’ wife and his two young kids. If I recall, the families stayed with our church for many years. But there came a day when the preacher decided it was time to retire and so he left along with his son, Mr. Coggin with his wife and two kids. Of course, I still saw him at football games and competitions because we would go to the games to see my brother play and march in the band. In fact, with my kids being in the band we still see Mr. Coggin from time to time at competitions and at football games. I always make it a point to speak to him when ever possible. I remember one time after I shook his hand and asked him how he was doing, he turned to the gentleman standing beside him and said, “that’s one of my tuba players from years ago. One of the best tuba players I’ve ever had the pleasure of teaching.” Made my day to hear that. I don’t know if he actually meant for me to hear that or not but regardless I did.
Which brings me to today. While in the elevator at my workplace, the elevator stopped on third floor as it was going down. Four ladies and a gentleman stepped on and the doors closed. Moments later the door opened again on second floor and three ladies got off. I noticed that this lady kept looking at me. When I first saw her she looked familiar but to me everyone looks familiar. We have over 3000 employees that work at the complex so I see different people everyday of the week. She asked me if I had went to Corner. I said yes thinking maybe she was a classmate of mine or even a teacher. She then asked me if I had been in the band. I said yes. The then told me that she was Mr. Coggins’ wife. You could have blown me over with a feather. We talked from the time we got off together on ground floor to the doorway to her destination. We talked mostly about my family and a little about Mr. Coggin. I was dismayed when I had found out that she had been working there for well over a year and a half. I wished I was a fly on her wall when she told Mr. Coggin that she works in the same place that I work at.
Mr. Coggin taught me more than just how to play an instrument and how to play music. He taught me respect and how to be a leader. He taught me that there is more to life than winning at everything you do. That you can learn far more from losing than you can from winning. I have a lot of respect for Mr. Coggin and his family.
The above picture is a drawing of the old high school where we would meet for band practice. This is where we had all our band pictures made. This is where we had our graduation pictures made. This is where I had my first kiss. This is about to be demolished. A new high school is been built with nicer rooms, bigger band room, bigger auditorium and up to date equipment. They even have a stream flowing down through the center of the cafeteria.
“Life Goes On!”