Tuesday, March 17

Posted by Laurel Garver on Tuesday, March 17, 2015 9 comments
Dublin photo by flokke from morguefile.com
Just for fun, I thought I'd post an entry from one of my high school journals describing my experiences marching in the St. Patrick's day parade in Dublin, Ireland, with my high school band.  I haven't altered the words I wrote at 16, except to remove names. Read on to learn about the magic of magpies, dueling saxophones and how to preform emergency surgery on a parade route.

March 17, 1985

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Up at the crack of dawn, we dressed and made our appearance at breakfast. Corn flakes and juice, followed by bacon, mutton sausage and eggs became an all-too-familiar breakfast. After loading the buses with instruments, everyone donned uniforms and boarded. To Dublin, Ho!

Conn [tour guide] told us of an ancient superstition about magpies, those huge crow-like birds of Europe. If you see a single magpie and wave to it, you’ll have good luck all day. If you see two, you needn’t wave, that is automatically good luck. If you wave to three magpies, you’ll have a girl child, and waving to four will bring a boy. We got caught up in the amusing Irish superstitions, to say the least—we waved at every big, black bird we saw for the rest of the week.

Entering the city, we stopped waving at magpies and started waving at the magnificent people. Everyone waved back, even some of the dignified guarde (police). We really got a kick out of that. With a little coaxing and much waving, we urged a peddler to come over to the bus and sell us Irish flags. Now we had flags to wave, as well as hands.

After lining up, we were in for quite a wait. A group of curious, kilted bagpipers came over to talk to us. They were intrigued by American saxophones, and we were intrigued by their bagpipes. One of the bagpipers challenged John S., an alto saxophonist, to a duel. We called it a draw.

The time finally came to enter the parade route. I swear, Dublin’s entire population must have come out to see us. They were so thick, we had to go single file at times. About 5/6 of the onlookers seemed to be under 18. I almost wished we didn’t have to march the parade—I just wanted to reach out and cuddle some of those adorable children. The little rosy-cheeked girls with ponytails in green ribbon and rosy little naughty boys were just too cute! The crowd seemed to love us too, asking as we passed if we knew their cousins in Pittsburgh or Scranton or Philadelphia.

The cord that suspends my xylophone upper keys [like the black keys on a piano] broke as I played the cadence, while we were squeezed into single file formation. One of the parents, Mr. F., saw my grimace, and thinking I’d hurt myself, rushed to my side. We were now two groups away from the judging stand, and I began to feel panicked. I restrung the bars, trying to keep moving and not swing my xylophone into anyone. Then Mr. F. pulled the cord taut and together we tied it, hopefully well enough to make it through our routine for the judges.

At the moment of truth—the Lord Mayor’s judging stand—we did our “Thriller” routine with utmost flash and precision. The crowd went wild. They’d probably never seen a drum major in a sequined glove moonwalk while color guard and instrumentalists alike did a Jackson-esque dance routine.


The entry goes on to describe the sightseeing tour they dragged us on after we’d marched in a parade and were still very jet lagged. We did take first place for our division with that homage to MJ, which was quite a thrill for our band from rural central Pennsylvania.

If you have no old journals to dig through, you might enjoy trying your hand at one of the following prompts.

Writing prompts
Write your most extraordinary holiday or travel memory.
Write a fictional journal entry for a kid traveling abroad for the first time.
Write a story in which a parade goes horribly wrong.
Write a scene in which your character is caught in the crush of a huge crowd.

Have you ever dug out things you wrote in high school? What did you unearth? Are there any memories you wish you'd captured in a journal?


  1. This is a fun peek at your past! Thanks for sharing!

    1. I've had a blast reminiscing all day on FB with high school friends. It was an unforgettable experience.

  2. While in high school, I used to lose myself in films and music, which always kicked my creative brain into gear. I can remember conjuring up all sorts of fantasy worlds, possible characters, etc... I wish I'd jotted notes down about those.

    So fun to hear your younger voice. Great reminiscing!

    1. Those old ideas are still inside you. growing as you mature. If you were to regularly freewrite about that time in your life, I bet some of the ideas would come back.

  3. As a former marching band member and (a generation later) band parent/chaperone, that entry brought back memories of many performance trips. Sadly, none were to Dublin. This lovely post makes me sad I never kept a journal growing up.

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. sorry--typo on my first attempt...

      Always fun to meet former bandies! It was a pretty unique opportunity, especially for a school of our size (500 students grades 9-12). I certainly learned a lot about fundraising from preparing for the trip. I kind of wish I'd journaled a bit about that--it would be useful to have details about everything we did to pay for the trip now that I'm a parent!

  4. I don't have any of my youthful journals but I really wish I did!!! I kept one from time to time but they've long ago disappeared. I think I always got too scared they'd be discovered. I do have a book of bad poetry I wrote from age 13-19...and the poems have dates, so I at least have a little bit of a glimpse into the younger me.

    1. I know what you mean about the fear of discovery. I think at the time I wrote these Ireland journal entries I made a concerted effort to leave out the stuff I wouldn't want people to see--like which boy I was crushing on at the moment and which BFF had provoked peevish feelings any given day. Largely it was the sense of importance of a first time overseas that made me pull back that way.