An Oompah Band
And a Produce War
By John M. Larsen
In 1952, when polka music was popular, four of us Marsing High School Band members started the Achtung German Band, which consisted of Bud Shields on clarinet, Cecil Horrace on trumpet, myself on trombone, and David Sevy on tuba.
We intended it to be a comedy act, which became apparent with our opening song, “Beer Barrel Polka,” when a problem always developed with the tuba.
“Schtop der music,” I would say, and an on-stage investigation would result in the discovery of a cabbage in the horn of the tuba. Once it was removed, our act continued. We toured neighboring high schools, performed at various gatherings, and generally had a good time—until one noon hour at school, when the war began.
We were riding around the school at lunchtime in Cecil’s 1941 Plymouth, still carrying the somewhat battered cabbage. Upperclassman Pete Sircin’s well-kept 1939 Chevy approached. Pete was a lanky, serious sort with little sense of humor, which perhaps helped to explain why Bud threw the cabbage out the window. It bounced off Pete’s hood and then off the roof.
After this volley, Pete came driving at us the next day and hurled rotten grapefruit our way, with a few doggie turds included to add insult to injury. What could reasonable and prudent band members do but retaliate? We retreated to the garbage cans behind the grocery store for armaments.
The next time Pete’s car bore down on us, I threw a rotten cantaloupe, which hit the hood ornament, slicing the fruit in half. The windshield didn’t break but the juice restricted his field of vision and slowed him down.