July 13, 2021 By Fred Montonye

Glenn Miller Memorial Band Concert

Recently we were looking at our DVD of Glenn Miller and his orchestra. It brought back memories of when we were living in France and did most of our shopping at the Farmer’s Market in Eymet, a small Bastide village of 5,000 people that dated from the l300s.

One summer they were celebrating a twinning of their village with the city of Monroe, Louisiana. For that celebration they really came up with a fabulous program. A local resident who was a pilot in the French Air Force was stationed in Germany. He convinced the local Chamber of Commerce and the American Air Force to have the Glenn Miller Memorial Band, stationed in Germany, to come and present a concert at the Twinning.

Just outside of the old village was a large shed used for various activities of markets, auctions, and other such presentations. The building was at least two to two and a half acres inside. They built a bandstand large enough for the band.

The concert started at about 8:30 p.m. The audience almost immediately got into the “swing of things.” By no later than nine o’clock many of the chairs had been folded and stacked outside. The open area now became a packed dance floor. Some of the dancers were doing the current shake and hip hop up and down, but a large majority of them were really into the WWII jitterbug. By 10:30 p.m., the bandmaster said they were taking a ten-minute break. Exactly ten minutes later the audience began clapping hands and stamping feet, “Let’s have more music.”

At about 2:25 a.m., the band master announced the last number, as the band was scheduled to play for the teams marching onto the soccer field at 8:00 a.m. In talking with one of the band members on their break, he told us they were scheduled for five different events on their visit.

At this point I want to mention the myth of many Americans that contend that the French dislike Americans. We never found it in the twenty years we lived there. We did not speak fluent French, only functional. (We could get the septic tank pumped out, fuel oil delivered, the tile roof repaired, hotel and dinner reservations made, and the car serviced.)

Needless to say, definitely in Southwest France, we never found a Frenchman who disliked Americans. I think there are more Americans who dislike the French, but that is a whole other story.


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