De' fliengde Vuogtlänn'r

Observations, rants, etc. from a guy who really gets around.


"Is It Time Yet?"

If you were to ask any of the approximately 250 members of my high school graduating class who the class clown was, about 240 of them would give you the same answer – "Jahn!". I might not have been popular, but I was notorious. It still boggles my mind how I got away with some of my antics.

In my sophomore year, I was finally able to join the band, despite an experience in my freshman year. The school was run by an order of Catholic "brothers" (kind of like male nuns) known as the Marianists. (It's now run by the Christian Brothers, of wine fame. How fitting.) The brand new band director was a Bro. Frank DeMonaco, originally from New York. (I think he had taught at Chaminade High School previously.)

We really gave Frank a rough time of it, and I suppose I'm single-handedly responsible for most of the grey hairs he had by the time I graduated. But he was a good sport. My best friend, Joe, was the Band Secretary and I was the Quartermaster. So we pretty much had the run of the place. When school was not in session, all we had to do was go over to the Faculty House and pick up the key and we could get in and do all manner of mischief work.

One particular afternoon, we put thumbtacks in the felt striker heads of the piano, making it sound like a honky-tonk piano. We thought it was totally hilarious, but a couple of the purists in the band were absolutely convinced we had "ruined" it. Frank took it in stride, although he did admit later that he should have fried us for it.

In my senior year, I had my driver's license. On occasion, Frank and I would drive about a half a mile down the road to Dunkin' Donuts (despite the closed-campus policy) and have coffee and donuts and just shoot the breeze. On more than one occasion, I'd breeze into the band room and ask "Is it time yet?". I really should have waited until I could at least see who was in the office, but I wasn't that cunning. On one particular afternoon, the newly chosen Assistant Band Director was in there with Frank. As I turned the corner into the office with my usual "Is it time yet?", he asked "Time for what?".

"Uh…… time for my music lesson." Uh-huh. A little fancy footwork, and I was off the hook for the time being.

Several days later, I went over to the Faculty House to pick up the key so I could practice. As was customary, I was met at the door by one of the Brothers and stated my business. I waited outside while he got on the PA system to page Frank. I learned later that his announcement included "Jahn's here. He wants to know if it's time yet." Soon, everyone in the place was asking Frank what that was all about. Including (unbeknownst to me) the principal. Oopsi.

Some time after that, I had occasion to go to the Principal's Office (but not for anything of a disciplinary nature; I was crazy, but not stupid). Seeing me coming in the door, he asked "Is it time yet?". I can't remember what I said, but it probably wasn't very articulate.

We had to lie low for a while after that.

After I graduated, I heard thru the grapevine that Frank had left the Order and moved back to NYC. Never heard anything more from or about him, which is a pity. I hope things turned out well for him. He was one of my better teachers. Of course, if I ever do hear from him, I know what my first question will be:

"Is it time yet?"


At 18:44, Blogger T. F. Stern said...

Nice story, glad you shared it.

At 00:20, Blogger Lucy Stern said...

What instrument did your play?

At 14:53, Blogger Jahn said...

I started out playing French horn, but didn't like it. Then I switched to trombone in my junior year, then baritone horn in my senior year. Along the way, I also learned trumpet, vibes, and marimba.


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