Here’s the picture of the band that I used on Friday:
Grungy pointed out in the comments that this band is much too large to have been Rice’s and was probably the A&M band politely acknowledging the day’s opponent. He also noted that the 1938 Rice-A&M game was played at Kyle Field.
Well, hmmm. I admit that his argument is pretty persuasive but that doesn’t look like Kyle Field to me. Luckily, I have a lot to work with on this. Here’s a picture of the Aggie band of the same vintage that I know for sure was taken in College Station:
How do I know this? Because I sacrificed myself and went looking around at an Aggie chatboard. (Don’t do this, by the way. Trust me, you wouldn’t like it.) There I found these beautiful photos of Kyle Field in 1940 that were posted a couple of years ago by an A&M old timer.
Then I remembered that I had this wider angled shot of the even more impressive LSU band, which was clearly taken at about the same time from the stands at Rice Field. The trees are the same and Hermann Hospital, clearly visible in this second image, is also just barely visible in the first.
So my best guess is that the date on the first image is just wrong and the picture was probably taken in 1937 or 1939 when the game was played in Houston. Grungy’s certainly right about the size of the band in the first picture, though. A quick perusal of the 1939 Campanile (Thank you, Dara!) reveals that the Rice band only had about fifty members, although I’m sure they filled in with locals.
I am certainly willing to believe that the photo was taken at the end of a sequence of formations something like “BEAT”… “THE”… “OWLS.”
The first photo is definitely the Aggie band. I don’t think the Rice band ever wore Sam Browne belts and riding breeches and boots, as is the drum major on the near sideline near mid-field. Also, the Aggie band has traditionally had three drum majors. Two are visible in this photo – the one on the sideline and a second just to the right of the “S.” Undoubtedly, there is a third just out of the photo to the left of the “O.”
Also, this has to be 1935, 1936 or 1937. The 1938, 1939, and 1940 games were played in College Station and 1941-1945 in Houston. I take a back seat to no one when it comes to making fun of the Aggies, but in those days the school was male-only and ROTC participation was mandatory. We should not forget that more officers from Texas A&M lost their lives in World War II than from any other school, including the service academies. It is probable, therefore, that an appalling number of the young men in this photograph, whether in band uniforms, yell leader uniforms, football uniforms or just members of the Corps, did not survive the following few years. And we should not forget the Owls who died also, some of whom have been noted in this blog.
I choose to believe the following:
“Give me an army of West Point graduates, I’ll win a battle. Give me a handful of Texas Aggies and I’ll win a war!
Mike Province, founder and president of The Patton Society calls this an urban legend and in the Texas A&M Battalion (2 October 2006) is quoted as saying “I’ve gotten e-mails and questions regarding that quote for several years… People will use it with Texas Aggies, The Citadel, Virginia Military Institute and even Clemson. All of these schools want to be linked to Patton… Anything is possible… I honestly don’t believe he said it, because I’ve heard too many people say that he said it about their school. But if anyone out there can find proof that he said it, I’d love to hear about it and get it out there.”