“We [Sara, Lucille McAlexander, Mack Standifer] joined the Pep Squad, a group of girls who marched with the band and cheered at the football games. Roy Martin, the band director, was noted for his big halftime shows, and we had to practice in the afternoons and at night before a football game.
“If you got out of step, which I often did, he would scream at you in front of everybody, but we all respected him and liked him. We were warned never to run off the field but to march off in formation. One night one of the girls, Alice May McBee, got confused and we messed up on an intricate drill and all ran off the field despite his prior instructions. He kept us there until midnight drilling, even though many were supposed to have dates after the game. It never happened again.
“Mr. Martin produced some of the best high school bands in the country. He died in 1985 at the age of ninety, and he and I were still very good friends even though I still remember the time I was out of step and he said ‘Jake, you’re out of step!’ and looked right at me.
“We rode on a school bus to out-of-town games in places such as Belzoni, Leland, Cleveland or Clarksdale and Greenville, and we marched in the Christmas parades, the early Delta Band Festivals, and in the parades before the football games.”
Sara loved Greenwood High School all her days. One of my favorite childhood tales, which I would beg her to tell me over and over and over, was the saga of poor hapless Alice May leading the Pep Squad off the field. Actually, the way I remember Sara’s account, Alice May led them in the completely opposite direction from where they were supposed to be headed and they randomly marched around the field for awhile before dissolving into chaos as the football team stormed back out of the dressing room. This story would have me doubled over with laughter, which got Sara going and we would both be howling at the antics of a bunch of high school girls from long, long ago. And when she did something clumsy (not a rare event), Daddy would call her “Jake.” Notice that she is not on the front row in that Pep Squad photo; I suspect that she, Mack and Lucille were tucked safely in the back line, out of step and cutting up.