Hoover High School band

Bill Russell, front row, sixth from left, was in the Hoover band directed by Richard Schieberl when it marched in the Rose Bowl, Tournament of Roses Parade and at Disneyland. Photo appeared in the 1956 Scroll, Hoover's yearbook. (Courtesy Special Collections, Glendale Public Library)

Bill Russell has fond memories of his years at Hoover High School. As a member of the school band, Russell and his fellow players marched down Main Street at the just-opened Disneyland, performed for the audience at the annual Hoover vs. Glendale game at the Rose Bowl and marched in Pasadena’s Tournament of Roses Parade.

Russell grew up at 326 Concord St. and attended Columbus Elementary. His grandmother Jessie Russell, one of the founders of Glendale’s PTA, served as president of that organization from 1910 to 1913. His mother, Ruth, continuing the volunteer activity modeled by her mother-in-law, signed up as assistant hospitality chair at Columbus, as noted in a 1950-’51 PTA directory kept by the Russell family. (This was back in the days when that school’s PTA membership stood at 445 members.)

He still remembers the big pickles they bought from a market across from Columbus.

“They were dill pickles and came out of a jar,” he said. “They cost a nickel in those days. The market is still there.”

Sometimes, he and his friends walked to another store, a little white house on Pacific Avenue at Lexington Drive, to buy candy.

1949 was a very cold winter, he recalled. So cold that water puddles on the playground turned to ice.

“We would run and skate on them. It snowed here that year. It never snows here in Glendale, but we had to go to school anyway,” he remembered.

Russell began his musical education in the fourth grade when he joined the chorus. When he entered Toll (riding his bike up Concord to the school) he took up the flute and played that instrument all three years.

Russell joined the band as soon as he got to Hoover and vividly recalled playing at the Hoover vs. Glendale game in the Rose Bowl.

“It seemed like half the town turned out for the games,” he said. “We played ‘Rock Around the Clock.’ “

The cross-town rivals played at the Rose Bowl for more than 30 years, from 1933 to 1966, according to an article in the Glendale High student newspaper Explosion, Nov. 14, 2008.

“Crowds usually numbered 15,000 to 20,000, but in the 1930s some games drew more than 30,000 spectators,” Russell said.

Every year that he attended the Hoover vs. Glendale game, Russell tried to figure out how to beat the crowd back to Bob’s Big Boy in Glendale. One year, he said, he had his mother’s car and tried a new route, driving back on Linda Vista Road. “Everyone went to Bob’s after the game.”

Russell was in the band on New Year’s Day, 1956 when, after many hours of planning and practice, the band marched down the parade route. Smartly attired in their brand-new purple-and-white uniforms, they were “a sight that will long remain in the hearts of the students,” according to the 1956 Scroll yearbook.

In March of that same year, Russell said, the band played on Main Street in Disneyland.

“This was a year after the park opened and several bands were there. Maybe 10 or more. We took a school bus down.”

Since their uniforms were brand new, the students were cautioned to keep them clean as they toured the park after the performance.

Looking back on those years, he said, “I didn¹t appreciate playing in all those venues during high school until much later in life.”

Russell graduated from Hoover in 1958 and then attended Glendale Community College. He also joined the Elks Choraliers, sponsored by Elks Lodge #1289.