A Reunion of Memories, Part 4. "Closing Ceremony"

Mr. Bflat

John Philip Sousa

Pete Seeger  ~ Honor ~ Taps

IMPORTANT! Please Note: Click on blue, underlined text to hear the songs. You can stop the music by closing your music player. If a song is playing, close your music player before playing another song!

John Baur '60: "Dee Whitman has just arrived with Mr. Bflat. I believe she is about to interview him."


Doris [Dee] (Odson) Whitman '56: "Nick Filimon THS '44 is affectionately known by his fellow South Shore Band members and his listening public as Mr. Bflat.


Nick how did you first learn to read music, and how did you learn to play a musical instrument?"


Nick Filimon THS 1940 -1944 (Mr. Bflat): "Dee, In 1938 at the age of twelve, I joined Boy Scout Troop 46. Ernie Sehlmeyer THS '37 was one of my scout leaders and went on to be a Naval Aviator during WW II. I was asked if I would be interested in joining 'The Boy Scout South Shore Band.' Drums were not available and so I learned clarinet, and then later, saxophone.


This group was, and still is, sponsored by Bethel Church in Tottenville, where we still meet to practice and rehearse on Monday evenings."


Dee: "Did you have music instructors to teach you?"


Nick: "I received lessons on Saturday morning from the other clarinetists. In order for the band to have musicians, the older boys taught the younger ones how to read music and play their instruments. When I was able to play more notes than squeaks, I was invited to attend rehearsals on Monday evenings.


I played my notes when the band played. I can still remember the time when my notes fit in with the notes played by the rest of the band, and I knew I was playing band music. Since I could read music and play an instrument, I became a member of the PS 1. Band. In 1939 for my birthday, I received my own clarinet - which I played with the Boy Scout Band at the 1939 Worlds Fair. In September 1940 I entered Tottenville High School and became a member of the THS Band."

Tottenville High School Band, 1943

Dee: "What music programs were offered at Tottenville High School?"


Nick: "Music in those days was either chorus (The Euterpean Society), band, or music appreciation. Classical songs were identified, there composers named and some information about the piece. The band played at assemblies, for concerts and for graduations."


Dee: "Did you march with the THS Band?"


Nick: "I checked with Dick Walsh '44 who was in the Band when I was - We don't remember marching with the THS Band, but rather with the Boy Scout Band and later, the South Shore Band. In 1943, due to WWII and a shortage of band members, The South Shore Boy Scout band was disbanded."


Dee: "What other groups did you play with?"


Nick: "Some of us formed a dance band called the 'Rhythmarines.' We played popular music at the Legion Hall some Saturday evenings. We also played for school dances. During the Summer we played at block parties and at the Pavilion at the end of Hylan Boulevard. Different small bands were also invited to play. Servicemen were encouraged to attend and have a good time."


Dee: "What did you do after graduation from Tottenville High School in 1944?"


Nick: "I graduated Tottenville High School in June of 1944 and in November '44, I became a member of the U.S. Navy. I was a sailor for almost two years; eleven months being spent in the Philippines, working in the Fleet Post Office in Manila. Then it was back to NYC and the Receiving Station Post Office in Brooklyn.


The THS Band welcomed service men who were former members to sit in with them at band activities. I played alto sax at their 1946 graduation ceremony. This was the same evening the St. George Ferry Terminal burned down.


This was a memorable evening because I met a young lady playing trumpet. Her name was Janice Petersen. We became good friends and four years later in October 1950 said I do. In fact, we are still married. Janice no longer plays, but is very supportive of my band activities. From 1946 until graduation in 1950, I was a member of the Wagner College Band."


Dee: "When did the South Shore Band Commence playing again?"


Nick: "In 1952 at the annual troop dinner, we honored Andrew Sprague (former Bandmaster of The Boy Scout Band) affectionately called Uncle Andy.


A suggestion was made to try to get as many former band members as possible to play a few songs at the dinner. This was very successful and a decision was made to form a community band. We made the decision to include female musicians resulting in a larger band with more instrumentation.


We just celebrated our 50th anniversary and I am proud to be able to say I am still a participating member. Rehearsals are still Monday evening at the Bethel Church in Tottenville.


I play clarinet, alto sax, tenor sax and base clarinet.  I no longer march due to arthritis.  I marched with the 'Staten Island Community Band' at the dedication of the Verrizano Narrows Bridge, and played at various citizen centers with a four piece senior group.  Recently our drummer and the other sax man passed away.  I am still active in the local cub scout troop and the South Shore Band.



South Shore Band

June 2001

Westerleigh Park




Tom Doty, our current president, would like to say a few words about our activities."


Tom Doty THS 69:  "http://www.southshoreband.org/


Many of the marches played by the Tottenville High School Band and the South Shore Band were composed by John Philip Sousa.




Click for 'Stars and Stripes Forever.' (To discontinue the music, close (X) your music player)


The mystical, magical, musical John Philip Sousa was born 1854 and began to study music at an early age. Provider of the martial music (with which his name has become synonymous) to American and Allied troops during World Wars I  and II, he gained the admiration and respect of the entire world. You can check out 'March of the Month' at:  http://www.dws.org/sousa/index.htm


This Land Is Our Land proclaims Pete Seeger, and it is great because of the sacrifices made by those who have gone on before us.  In conclusion, let us take a few minutes to Honor those who have paid the ultimate price for our freedom."


Click on "TAPS." Herb and Walter will be our Trumpeters.


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Those whom I would like to thank for their help and cooperation in the preparation and presentation of  "A Reunion of Memories" are legion.  First and foremost, I would like to thank Ellen, Werner, Ernie, Carol, Kathy, Louise, Johannah, Dee, Rich, Lila, Tom, Nick, Florence, The 59ers, and the Trumpet Staff and Readers. And let us not forget Ms. Vogt, Ms. Bubb, George Breidenbach and Ms. Donahue and all of the other THS Teachers who gave us instruction and guidance. If you in any way participated in this project, even by past participation in band, twirler, color guard, cheerleaders, chorus, or other stage or assembly or school activities - you are a part of "A Reunion of Memories."


LvJBB 60     

   Published 1/2004