Veterans Day: Part 4, Recollections of a WWI Veteran

A "Monster" Conn BBb tuba model 28J
A “Monster” Conn BBb tuba model 28J (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My grandfather, Frank Zyber, got recruited into the military band during WWI.  These are his memories, typed by him when he was in his nineties.  This week I transcribed them for all to read.  Today, I added a few paragraph breaks just to make his writing a little easier for on-screen reading.  If you are new with this post, please go back to the “related posts” to catch up on the Spanish flu and Grandpa joining the military.

[The military band] was a group of forty two musicians and there were four of us in the tuba section and two of us were from Flint.  Originally, I played the E flat tuba, but the army only used the double B flat, which is a larger and lower tone and it worried me a bit at the fingering was different and it was a slight change in the music.  The armed services were all equipped with Conn band instruments and the tubas were all of the helicon style and very good instruments.  The director told me not to fret about the change and said that I did produce a good tone and with all the rehearsals, it would be only a few days and I would be in the groove.  Most of the music that we played was semi-classical, but there was all sorts, marches and some contemporary.  It was nice during the rehearsals, comfortable and the selections were of the better kind.  Once in a while the band would play reveille and that meant getting up earlier and that sure was a break for the buglers.  Then every evening there was the guard orders given, guards are assigned and the flag is taken down exactly on the hour.  About every other week the band would go to Baltimore to take part in a parade or a concert in one of the auditoriums.

All of a sudden there was a rumor that an armistice was being signed and the war was over.  That night throughout the entire camp every soldier rolled out in the street and formed a great unorganized parade and as the parade moved through the camp streets, singing every song that they knew and gathered more marchers and despite orders to disband, it went on till sometime after midnight, ignoring the nine o’clock lights out and the sound of taps.  But to everyone’s disbelief, the word came out that the signing was a false alarm.