After more than 40 years of volunteering with Largo High School's Band of Gold, Howard Taylor, 88, is retiring. Band of Gold members and alumni are planning a tribute to Taylor, who spent decades working the concession stands, loading equipment, handing out Gatorade and encouraging the kids to keep on playing. We asked Howard to share some of his favorite songs and memories.
What are your favorite songs?
Battle Hymn of the Republic and Stars and Stripes Forever. They haven't had any good music since 1946. I used to dance to Begin the Beguine, when we went on a cruise, my wife and I.
How did you first get interested in music?
I was 10 or so, and my father took me to New York to watch the Oneida, N.Y., bugle band. It was an American Legion bugle band and we watched the parade and that band blew the socks off the city.
What's your musical background?
I played the drums in kindergarten. I took piano lessons from a blind woman during the Depression. My mother stopped the lessons. I wasn't doing so well and, in the Depression, you can't spend your money like that.
I sang soprano when I was 9 until I was 15. My 15th birthday, my voice cracked and I sing pretty bad now.
How did you get involved with the Band of Gold?
It was a new hobby for me. And then my daughter got into ninth grade, she played flute, and got to be first-chair flute in the band.
What made you stay a volunteer for so long?
I stayed for so long because I had never heard an unkind word from any of the kids in the band. And they always appreciated what I did. And right now, at 88, if I didn't have that band, I'd be dead. My wife has been gone for eight years. In the past eight years, they have been my life.