Meredith Galentine performed on alto bugle in 1996, 1997 and 1999. This past summer (2008) she reconnected with Pacific Crest by spending a few days on the cook staff when the corps travelled through the South.
On my way to class one day in the early spring of 1996, my college drum major, Adrian Rivas, convinced me to give Pacific Crest a try. There were several moments in the following three seasons that were physically taxing, emotionally draining and full of long nights, not the least of which was that two hour drive through the heart of LA traffic most Monday nights on the 10, but I wouldn’t trade a moment of my experiences.
I started my drum corps experience as a woodwind cross-over. With ambitions of learning the bugle and then moving to an A-corps, I was instead won over by the members, staff and volunteers of PC. Memorial Day weekends were made sweeter with breaks of perfectly chopped fruit salads and Tang-Ade, watching the July 4th fireworks overlooking the Mexican border, the long bus rides were enlivened with episodes of South Park and Friday movies, and you knew that as wicked awful as your sunburns were, your best friends had the same tan lines. There was even one memorable moment that first year in Cathedral City, when we had a 10 minute break and saw some sprinklers at the edge of the property. We high-tailed it over there only to find out halfway through the coolness that it was Reclaimed Water. I wish I could say we turned right around and ran even faster back to the field, but at that point, the watery relief was all too welcome and we enjoyed that break like no other.
In those days, we didn’t get the plum housing assignments nor the after-sunset start times. During one trip to the Northern California shows, we stayed at Vallejo High School. Dealing with cockroaches by this point was no longer a problem and seeing them in the gym and stage area bothered only a few. However, at this site, the football field was on a slight hill covered in hip-high weeds. We had to stand shoulder to shoulder pulling weeds across the field before we could start practice. Thankfully, our lacerated hands were fine before the show that afternoon.
While these moments make me smile and provide entertainment for my co-workers, what I am thankful for more than those sun-filled days when I wore my uniform, are the friends that still make their presence known in my life to this day. I am constantly impressed with the collection of people with whom I marched: several police officers, CHP officers, attorneys, professional musicians, employees of aerospace and automotive companies along with various and assorted other well-established professionals. From the low brow to the erudite minutiae involved in solving all manner of issues, the men and women with whom I marched were constant sources of inspiration and as a marker for where I needed to push myself, both while I was marching and even more now that we’re several years passed our age out years.
It might seem unlikely that three seasons in PC have much correlation with my current life as a cancer and critical illness claims examiner in Columbia, South Carolina, outside of the odd story and introspective smile. Yet the determination needed to move from my first season of last place finishes to my last: undeniably undefeated is one characteristic of which I am most proud. This quality is also keeping me on track in training for my first half marathon in February 2009. And while it’s been almost a decade since we had our last pre-tour dinner at Claimjumper’s with Howard, Nat, and Fred, to name just a few of my favorite people, they are never very far away.
To the current members of PC: thanks for stopping by and chatting with me when I volunteered in the kitchen in the mugginess of Rome, Georgia. It was flattering knowing that so many talented men and women are a part of something I had a small part of in the mid and late 90s. You make quite a lot of us proud of your achievements!