Drum corps is amazing for how it brings people together, and we as drum corps fans are sometimes connected in ways we never even know. But the following story is just plain ... well, weird. Jason Griffith of Howard, Ohio, serves on the Bluecoats' board of directors. Greg Gibson of Cincinnati is a drum corps fan. Neither knew each other, but met on Drum Corps Planet (DCP), an online message-board forum where many drum corps fans gather. Let's hear the story first from Jason's perspective. For a few years now, I have been reading and posting on Drum Corps Planet. Generally, I read items in the "General Junior Corps Discussion" area. But just over a year ago, I checked out the folks on the DCP community board. I have found many new friends there in the "Bored Forum," but one is very special. While congratulating a recently signed Bluecoat in an ongoing thread, I posed the question, "Where did you go to high school?" She replied, and after seeing my response, another user joined the conversation and simply asked a question about my employment background. I was shocked to find out that Greg Gibson and I had both taught music in the same school district and in some of the same buildings—albeit nine years apart. This prompted a reply by him stating that he earned a degree in music at Ohio University and graduated from Frontier High School in New Matamoras, Ohio. At this point, I was absolutely floored. I earned a degree in music at Ohio University and also graduated from Frontier High School. I told him this in my next reply. At this point, the mysterious individual—who was equally shocked—sent me a private message that indicated I should expect a call tomorrow night. When he called, we talked about many things; including being in the band at Frontier. We even hummed through the fight song together on the phone, as he knew the gentlemen who had written the original composition. This is a fight song unlike any college or high school fight song I have ever heard since, so I knew he was not a fake. The conversation turned to the houses in which he lived as a kid. He informed me that he lived down the hill from the elementary school in Newport, a big house on a corner lot with a nice front lawn. At the time I was thinking, "Wow, we too had a big house with a nice lawn on the corner down from the elementary building." When he proceeded to tell me about the porch, I knew full well what he was going to say next about the porch, so I interjected and the phone conversation went in this direction: Jason: And when you enter the house, the staircase is straight ahead, and if you make a right after entering the entryway, you would enter the living room. Greg: Well, that was our reading room. Jason: Would you consider that room octagonal? Dead silence over the phone. Greg: That is amazing! Was there a fireplace in your house? Jason: Yes. In the octagonal room you just described—the one your family used as a reading room. It was, however, boarded over. Greg: Where was it in relationship to the room? Jason: It was on the left hand side when you enter the room. Greg: Where was the master bedroom? Jason: On the other side of the fireplace. If you were to punch a hole through the fireplace, you would look right into the master bedroom. Jason: Did you have a basement? Greg: No. Jason: Ours did. Little thing, donut shaped because there was a concrete slab in the middle of it. It was a small room with slanted walls. Greg: We thought of it as a cellar." Jason: How did you get into the cellar? Greg: Through the kitchen and then into a small room with many little windows. Jason: How did you get into the basement? Greg: Through the door. Jason: Was the door on the floor and did you have to lift it up out of the floor to go down into the basement? Greg: Yes. Jason: This is freaky. Greg: Where was your bathroom? Jason: Behind the staircase. Greg: Was there an outbuilding outside, any trees? Jason: There was a small, two level outbuilding behind the house. Next to it was an apple tree. Greg: Do you remember anything about the outbuilding? Jason: You had to climb a crude ladder nailed to the wall and enter through a small entrance in the ceiling to get to the second level. Greg: Do you remember anything else about it? Jason: Yes, there were one or two windows—no glass, just openings—and baseball stickers all over the walls. Greg: I put those baseball stickers on the wall. We went on to talk about the house, the round push button light switches, the three bedrooms upstairs, the bathroom, the dining room with built in shelves that partially divided it from the front room, the brick sidewalk on the west side of the yard, the linen line and other assorted things. It was absolutely amazing. He then told me that for some time, he had lived in an apartment above a bar on the Ohio River. Again, I was floored. I asked, was it near the Spinning Wheel bar? We then talked about the backwaters of lower Newport. He informed that he lived off of Newell's Run. I informed him that I lived off of Bell's Run. When we reached this impasse, we realized that the similarities ended and didn't proceed further. We talked for more than an hour before he had to go. It was unbelievable. It was like I had found a long lost brother. It was almost like we were sharing parallel lives 20 years apart. I then had to call my family and tell them the story. Every time another similarity was mentioned, they were more flabbergasted. When talking to my dad, I got to the part where I told him that Greg lived off of Newell's Run and that we lived off of Bell's Run. Then my father corrected me. "No, we lived off of Newell's Run, not Bell's Run." With this new tidbit of information, I had to call Greg back. This was a close approximation of our phone conversation: Jason: You mentioned that you lived off of Newell's Run. Where in relationship to the Spinning Wheel? Greg: Up the river. Jason: After talking to my dad, I realized that I had mixed up the names of the roads. We also lived in an apartment up from the Spinning Wheel, off of Newell's Run. Greg: Which side of State Route 7? Jason: The side nearest the river. Greg: We might have another winner! How did you get up to the apartment? Jason: The stairs were not facing Route 7. There was a little gravel road. The stairs were off of it in the building and facing north. There were many steps and at the top was a screened in porch-like area. Greg: How did you get into the apartment? Jason: The door was on the left? Greg: Wow. What room did you walk into? Jason: The kitchen. Greg: That was our dining room. Jason: Well, our table was in it as it was attached to the cooking area. Greg: OK, let's say you are looking in the apartment standing in the doorway. What room is at your 9 o'clock? Jason: The master bedroom. It was Mom and Dad's room. Greg: That was not our master bedroom. Jason: Well, it wasn't the biggest room, but it was my parents' room. Greg: Were there other rooms? Jason: At 11 o'clock you had the entrance to the living room. At 1 o'clock was my brother's bedroom. Down the hall at a little past 2 o'clock was my bedroom." Greg: That was my parents' master bedroom. Do you remember anything else about the apartment? Jason: All the floors had linoleum. Also, the rooms did not have closets. Greg: Was the hallway closet at 12 o'clock? Jason: Yes, and there was a walk in closet in the bedroom at 1 o'clock. Greg: Where was the bathroom? Jason: On the other side of the kitchen sink. If you were to punch a hole in the wall, you would be in the bathroom. Greg: Where was the door to the bathroom? Jason: You had to go down the hall past my bedroom or what was your parents' bedroom. The door was on the right. There were two windows in the bathroom. Greg: One faced State Route 7, the other faced the Ohio River. Do you know anything about the house today? Does anybody live there? Jason: No, it was torn down eight or nine years ago. Greg:That's right. Neither of us could believe the odds of this happening. There were even more similarities. Through more conversations, we found out that my mother and his sister were in the same graduating class and had many classes together. I even went to school with his nieces and nephews. The similarities are amazing: We both taught instrumental music in the same district and some of the same buildings. We both went to the same university to study music. We both graduated from the same high school—18 years apart. Obviously, we were both in the same high school band in a very rural school. For almost a year, I lived in the same house in which he lived. For a brief period of time, I lived in the same apartment that he lived in for 13 years. For brief periods of time, we both lived in apartments above churches, although not the same one. Our parents ended up living in trailers in our college years after we had moved out. Now, I had never met this man, and I can tell you, we talked about these things like we were brothers. People, places, things, events that you could not possibly know unless you actually lived, breathed, ate and slept in these places. There are relatives, similar friends and acquaintances—too many other little similarities to mention. During the entire phone conversation, the similarities kept coming, fast and furious. Let me tell you. These aren't similarities like, "What's your favorite movie?" or "How do you like your eggs cooked?" These are incredible life experiences that only one person should have access to, but we both shared them—separately but together. If these similarities went this long without connecting, it would be a crime for me to not try and make a connection. In the colossal scheme of time, it is amazing to meet an individual with whom you have so many similarities. Beyond all other odds, what are the odds that we would make this connection in an obscure message-board thread on a Web site? Greg did not march in a drum corps, so we really do not have that element in common. I do feel that it is important to note that had I never marched as a member of the Bluecoats, I would never have been on that little known message board discussing drum corps. Had I not marched, I would have likely never met Greg. When I marched in a corps, I was told that drum corps would change my life. That realization didn't come until 15 years after taking off my Bluecoats uniform. Greg and I met for the first time at a Harrison, Ohio drum corps show. Now let's hear the story from Greg's perspective. I am a former band director now doing computer work for a living. I got on the Drum Corps International "bandwagon" (pun intended) while watching the 2001 DCI World Championships on PBS. My whole family (me, plus the misses and four grown daughters) instantly fell in love with the drum corps activity. Being a woodwind player, I never marched in a corps, but that didn't stop me from enjoying everything that the activity has to offer to its fan base! I had seen snippets of the DCI World Championships on PBS over the years, but really didn't pay much attention, much to my newly discovered detriment. Now that I've been out of the music profession for 20 years, I found from the 2001 World Championship Finals show just how much of it I missed, and this activity has re-awakened what I used to refer to in my college marching band (Ohio University) days as the "Saturday Morning Fire," that nervy, antsy feeling of burning anticipation (and the almost physical need to get out there and kick some serious butt) before taking the field for a pre-game or halftime show, the thrill of performing, and the after-glow of a well-done show. In fact, one of my marching seasons at Ohio University in the Marching 110 was shared with Steve Auditore who is an advisor to the DCI board of directors. The college connection with Jason is that we both went to Ohio University, me for my bachelor's degree and he for his master's degree. I identify so strongly with all of the drum corps students, regardless of ability level. I laugh, scream and feel right along with them, to the point of being moved to tears of poignancy on more than one occasion. My wife Sandy and I spent our wedding anniversary on a little getaway to Louisville. Oh, yeah, there was a DCI major event there that night. Our tickets were in the second deck right on the 50. Insert devilish laugh here. My media collection of Drum corps International and individual corps CDs and DVDs is still in its infancy. I have plans for some of DCI's Legacy Collection to help me and the family make up for lost time, once our college bills are all paid up. We have three kids in undergraduate and graduate school. Jason and I went to the same high school, graduating 18 years apart. I spent my entire student career in the district, and Jason moved there just before entering high school. The place I lived in for the first 13 years of my life was the second place Jason lived in that area. I have quite a number of pictures taken there from my childhood. The next place I lived in was the first place Jason lived in after moving there and was the first house connection we made. He taught in the same school system I did, nine years after I left, and worked in one of the same buildings as I did. He had three buildings, including the high school, and I taught in five elementary schools, one of those being one of his three. His dad is originally from an area of Pennsylvania where my wife was born and spent the first several years of her life. I brought along a pile of pictures to share with Jason when we finally met, including a large amount from the time I was growing up in the little apartment over the bar. I dug up a first/second grade class picture of mine from the fall of 1959 when I was six-years-old. Two of Jason's family members—an aunt and an uncle—were in it with me. We are both devoted family men with friends and other acquaintances in common, but no known family connection. That doesn't mean we may not find one later. He went to school with nieces and nephews of mine, and I with aunts, uncles and cousins of his. My older siblings went to school with older cousins and other family members of his, including his mom. I am the last of six, with my oldest sibling being 18 years older than me, so that set of connections covers a long stretch of time, more than 40 years in total. I would also like to add my thanks to Drum Corps Planet, not only for just being there as an enjoyable online place to "hang out," but also for making this little "meeting" possible. I have a good friend I told this story to, and he said that it sounded like Jason and I were "twin brothers born of different mothers 18 years apart." A family member of mine called it "parallel lives at two different points in time." It is more than a little spooky, but also very cool, that I was unknowingly blazing a trail that would be fairly closely followed.


Michael Boo has been involved with drum and bugle corps since 1975, when he marched his first of three seasons with the Cavaliers.

He has a bachelor's degree in music education and a master's degree in music theory and composition.
   
He has written about the drum corps activity for over a quarter century for publications such as Drum Corps World, and presently is involved in a variety of projects for Drum Corps International, including souvenir program books, CD liner notes, DCI Update and Web articles, and other endeavors. Michael currently writes music for a variety of idioms, is a church handbell and vocal choir director, an assistant director of a community band, and a licensed Realtor in the state of Indiana. His other writing projects are for numerous publications, and he has published an honors-winning book on the history of figure skating. His hobbies include TaeKwonDo and hiking the Indiana Dunes. But more than anything, Michael is proud to love drum corps and to be a part of the activity in some small way, chronicling various facets of each season for the enjoyment of others.