Email from a band alum to his son

Author: William Jensen '75, '77M.A.

This is the email William Jensen ’75, ’77M.A., a former drummer with the Band of the Fighting Irish, sent to his son Patrick, a sophomore saxophonist, following the band alumni reunion weekend October 5, 2002.

Patrick, I had to keep from getting to emotional when describing my ND weekend to my bosses at lunch today. I will say that it certainly was one of the best times I have ever spent there on campus, and I have had quite a few good times there (and some bad, too) Going there has always been somewhat of a homecoming for me. After my dad died, I even went there alone for a few days just to try and sort things out. But the entire rushed weekend could not have been scripted much better (except for some rain/wind that made things interesting, and of course, I would like to have had a parking pass!).

I have so many mental pictures that almost defy words to express their impact. Guys walking up to me as I was working (helping as a volunteer Friday at the registration tent, which almost blew over at one point due to high winds and rain) and recognizing me after 27 years….seeing you on the Loftus practice field, and there I am on the same field. Feeling like a fossil since I don’t know the cadences and barely know the music, and not even knowing how to do an about face. Knowing that other guys felt like fossils too, esp when the current band folks don’t even know what a rolling timpani is/was. Not worrying about feeling like a fossil and just having fun with it.

Lining up….

Your mom grinning at me as I stand there waiting for all the others to get there.

Hearing the whistle outside of Washington Hall one more time.

Step off

rolloff almost immediately.

playing the fight song, and there are people going nuts while I am desperately trying to play while we are squeezed soooooo close together and I have this bass drummer banging sticks with me. But it is a rush. (You have to remember, we had about twice as many people in Band 1 [the alumni band was so large it had to be split in half] of the alum band than we did in MY day of the real band.)

It seems like we are at the stadium almost instantly, even though carrying the drum at that pace, it is welcome.

Playing [cadence] #5 (GO IRISH-BEAT CARDINAL, leading to “here come the Irish, here come the Irish”)

Going into the tunnel. I almost don’t realize how special that is once again just trying to play-and then as I am coming to the end of the tunnel I see Ty. He’s clapping to the cadence.

I raise one stick with a fist – he just gets it, and it is so GREAT! He gets it with these old farts marching their hearts out. Simply amazing.

It takes all of 10 minutes, and you guys have not even started playing at Bond Hall yet.

Pregame-I am also sorry that we didn’t meet on the field. But just knowing you were there was so cool. And the same for halftime. Playing Notre Dame Our Mother — which means more as you get to be a senior and then of course an alum. I am so proud to have you as a member of the band, and enjoying your own unique band experience, but sharing the things that are common is just amazing.

We never got apples.

Being able to yell “run up the score” when you are playing a team that isn’t Navy!

Looking north and not being able to see Touchdown Jesus with the new stadium . . . seems odd.

Looking over at the other side of the field, and waiting for the real band to stop playing so WE can play! also very odd!

Playing the Victory March one last time before leaving the stadium. I think we would have stayed there for hours, and the few fans that were left loved it. It was hard to leave that place.

Marching back and then seeing you trot next to me. (Did you ever try trotting with a drum — there is only so high that you can lift your knees. The smart ones don’t try too hard, esp when you are pushing 50!) But that was so neat to see you in uniform trotting next to us. It was even better to have survived it!

Seeing O’B. Age sure takes it toll, but does not diminish the respect, sometimes begrudging though it was, for him.

As one of the guys sitting next to me said about one of the scores, the weekend was “OUT-STANDING.”

I was so pumped up on the drive to Ohio there was no way I was going to fall asleep. I was awash with emotions. I am so lucky, and so proud, to have a son like you. I never would have guessed that the kid I held in my arms first almost 20 years ago would be playing with me as part of the Oldest and Finest College Marching Band in the country.

Thanks once again for sharing the weekend and for making me so proud to be your father.

Go Irish!