It was September 1982 and I was a sophomore at Fox High School. I was in the marching band and had been playing the flute since I was in fifth grade. Mr. Butler, the band director announced that a marching band was coming from South Africa and we were hosting them. They were all boys and played either the trumpet or the drums. I immediately wanted to host one (keep one just sounds like they were animals or something). So I brought the note home and read it to my mother. She interrupted me two sentences in and wanted to know if they were black or white. I said what difference does it make. She said it didn’t but was just curious. They were white and from outside of Johannesburg. I can still remember the night they arrived. We were all waiting rather impatiently in the band room and it seems like the flight might have been delayed. I’m thinking it was around 10:30pm on a school night before they showed up. My family was assigned to Gary who was not a drummer but a trumpet player. I swear within ten minutes we were carrying on like brother and sister and were best friends for life. I loved calling him a dork. They spent two weeks with us. Gary brought us this copper clock that was a map of Africa. It hung in our living room for years.
It was a short two weeks and some of you know the love story with Anton the drummer so you can skip this part. I’m pretty sure I noticed Anton that very first night. Anton stayed with Scott whom I became very good friends with from this point on. (Scott is a respiratory therapist in Columbia but In high school he wanted to be a mortician. Personally I find trachs, sputum and respiratory treatments way grosser than a mortician.) Anyway Anton and I fell fast and hard in teenage love. I would learn I was the first girl he ever noticed. I had a boyfriend at the time who I dumped in a really awful way and broke his heart. If I could go back in time, I would have handled that differently.
The boys did a lot in those two weeks. They went to the Magic house, the arch, a cardinals game, and since I’m writing this in CA, I can’t remember what else.
I had a party for Gary and every single person I invited came. This included the popular boys that I had crushes on during junior high. However I still didn’t think anyone knew me or liked me. My party had no alcohol and my mom present and yet they all came. I’m sure it was because of Gary. Haha.
After the boys left Arnold, they went to Disney world and then flew back home. Within a month some of the band parents would get together with Mr. Butler to see about going to South Africa the following summer.
So in August of 1983, my sister, my mom and I went to South Africa with Fox High School band for three weeks. My sister was only going into eighth grade but she auditioned on the clarinet and was in the band as well. It was 1500 each for the trip. I raised 1400 and my sister 1300. I think we sold everything except the kitchen sink. This would affect me as an adult as I will buy almost anything off a kid selling stuff as a fundraiser. As for my own kids, I worked extra shifts to avoid fundraising. I’d rather rip my eyes out than ask people to buy stuff. However this fundraising made me appreciate the trip much better than if my dad just wrote a check for it.
Flying to and from South Africa was horrible. It took almost 24 hours and I had horrible motion sickness but it was worth it to see a different country. My mom, I and my best friend Kathy stayed with Gary. My sister stayed with the Lansom’s who lived around the corner from Andre whom my sister would eventually marry. After the first half of the trip I went and stayed at Anton’s house with Scott and Sarah. The three weeks went by way too fast and we were back home and I started my junior year. Anton would meet a girl sometime around December who he would eventually marry and have two gorgeous daughters.
Gary went to chef school and finished it and felt called to missionary work. He joined Covenent players and met his wife Heidi. Three weeks after they were married they came to the US and have been here since. They worked on the east coast but had to travel to west coast for training. They would stop in and see us each time. They were here when Kayla was born which was really cool. They eventually took jobs and settled down. They lived in Texas before this. Gary has bugged me for years to come see him and now that I have he can’t bug me anymore. Ha
Mole Moral~when your kids tell you they hope you die so they can go live with Gary & Heidi you know you have very special friends that God has blessed you with.