Steps in time

November 9, 2012 10:00 AM

Craig Smith

Current Tulane University Marching Band members welcomed band alumni during Homecoming weekend (Nov. 1–4), among them retired Shreveport, La., physician Dr. J. Dudley Talbot, who served as the band’s drum major in 1935 and 1936.

Dr. Talbot with TUMB

During Homecoming, Dr. J. Dudley Talbot, drum major for the Tulane University Marching Band in the 1930s, meets current band members, from left: Zak James, drum major; Erin Ketterman, feature twirler; and Alex Tir, drum major. (Photo from the Tulane University Marching Band)

Based on his experience in high school and at the University of Arkansas, Talbot found himself recruited into the Tulane University Marching Band, though he was not an undergraduate at Tulane — he was a student in the Tulane School of Medicine.

“We had only 30 or 40 members in the band in those days,” Talbot remembered, “so our formations were somewhat limited. But you can be sure we did a Green Wave at every game!” In fact, it was up to Talbot to devise the formations and teach them to the other members of the band.

“When I agreed to be the drum major I didn't realize that the band had to march in Mardi Gras,” Talbot recalls with a smile. “We would start at Carrollton and march all the way down St. Charles Avenue to Canal Street. You had to be pretty strong to do that and play at the same time.”

Balancing his mutually demanding roles as a medical student and a drum major made Talbot was a very busy young man. “But it was all good. Those were fun times.”

Barry Spanier, director of bands, says that Talbot embodies “all that we honor and teach here through the Tulane band program — leadership, dedication, teamwork and balancing hard work with fun and camaraderie.”

Craig Smith is a freelance writer and friend of the Tulane University Marching Band who lives in New Orleans and New Mexico.

Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5000 website@tulane.edu