Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Leader of the Band

***** For the latest entry on Frank "Buck" Shaffer -- click here. *****

Panther Band in Washington D.C. - that's me - the first "L" in Porterville.

We have the most amazing man in Porterville, California.

Frank "Buck" Shaffer is someone I love and respect and have known for many years. And today I got to interview him for a hometown newspaper story about Unsung Heroes.

I have always admired Buck and always knew he has done so much for our small community, but sitting in his home - interviewing him - I was in awe while listening to all he has done.

If I had to name one person who has had a huge impact on Porterville, that would have to be Frank "Buck" Shaffer. He started the Porterville Christmas parade, the Veterans Day Band-a-Rama, the City of Hope Spectacular -- and The Fabulous Studio Band, to mention just a few things.

He was Porterville High School's band director for many years. He took a tiny band and made it grand. He has led our band from sea to shining sea - as they performed at venues across America. He was there for Disneyland's grand opening ceremonies - and every year thereafter for 32 years. He has directed the Porterville Panther Band at Carnegie Hall, Squaw Valley Winter Olympics of 1960, Seattle World's Fair, six Rose Parades, represented California in Philadelphia on the fourth of July of 1976, performed at half time shows for the Los Angeles Rams four separate years, led the band through 35 years of CMEA Superior Ratings, led the band through four recordings (Capitol Custom), played at least 185 half-time football shows, led the band through 345 DIFFERENT parades all over America and has had 37 annual concerts to a packed house in Porterville. (at the Porterville Memorial Auditorium in the Frank "Buck" Shaffer Theater -- named after him. Outside, he has a star on the sidewalk walk of fame.)

I still remember marching under his direction, 1973-1976 -- four of the best years of my life. During that time, I marched the Hollywood Christmas parade every year, Disneyland every year, did two Rams half-time shows, met and shook Vice President Ford's hand when the band played for him while he was in Fresno campaigning. In fact, he told me I had a beautiful smile. Buck also took us to New York City, Washington D.C., Arlington National Monument - Cemetery, Philadelphia -- a 10-day tour of the East Coast, where we toured the Statue of Liberty, The United Nations, Montecito, Gettysburg, Amish country, the White House, U.S. Capital, Lincoln Memorial, U.S. Treasury, the Smithsonian -- the list is endless.

His Fabulous Studio Band has done even more -- including several tours to the Orient, Japan and Korea -- and they have completed many domestic tours as well.

The hour and a half I spent with Buck was precious and priceless.
Writing the story will be an honor.
But how can I give enough justice to the story -- this man is incredible.
I was also very touched by a few things he shared with me and a favor he asked of me.

Thank you, Buck Shaffer. For the gift that you gave me -- the gift of music and for believing in me. Thank you for putting a song in my soul.

This is me in 1976 - you can't see my long hair
I was an Orange Blossom
the first "L" in P-O-R-T-E-R-V-I-L-L-E,
we marched in front of the band.

If you want to know more about Buck Shaffer -- please visit: www.buckshaffer.com
or read the story I wrote: HERE

For other Porterville High Band, Monache High Band, Fabulous Studio Band and other band stories click HERE.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous2:58 PM

    enjoyed your blog on Buck Shaffer i was in his Shinnston (wv) High School band in 1950. At a HS football game i did some things that caused him to tell me to turn-in ny band unifrom the next morning. By the next am, he relented and asked me to stay, but i declined to continue... i'm just amazed at what he went on to accomplish...someone should make a movie....theme song would be "Candy" , his first wife' name. He would be playing "Candy" on his clarinet anytime there was a break. thank you harold miller (hmiller@buffalo.com)