Bobby Adair joined the Auburn Knights in 1938 and went on to front the band as a featured soloist on clarinet during one of its heyday periods, the early 1940s. In this article, submitted by Charlie Kinzer (AKO ’78-’83), Adair recalls a couple of disctinctly Knight-ish experiences:
During the late 1930s the Knights made regular pocket money by playing for lunches (a 30-minute set) and dinners (a 45-minute set) on weekdays at the College Inn across from the campus on College Street. A drum set, piano, and small sound system were kept in the restaurant’s balcony, where the band played, but the horn players had to lug their instruments in and out, and Tobe Griffith’s upright bass had to be hoisted over the front of the balcony.
Bobby Adair recalled that the band had a view of everything in the restaurant below as it played: “We’d be in the middle of a tune, playing along nicely, and every now and then someone would spot a big gopher rat in the grill area, which ran along the side of the building. This would get our attention in a hurry. Sometimes the rats would scurry onto the cooking surfaces and lose their footing in all the grease. Man, nobody could play at all when that happened. We’d roll with laughter and have to regroup!”
Throughout the year the Knights also played frequently on the campuses of other colleges and universities. The musicians especially enjoyed traveling to Judson College, an all-female institution in Marion, Alabama. “The ballroom was near one of the dormitories at Judson,” Adair remembered. “Whenever we went there, the guys in the band would call out toward the open windows and flirt with the girls as we loaded our equipment up after the dances. To tease us, some of the girls would pull their blinds down over the windows and kind of ‘fake’ a risqué dance with the shadows from the light in their room. Of course, that would result in all sorts of hollering, horn-tooting, and drum-beating from the fellows! It would only last until the dorm mothers would come outside and threaten us, you know, but it sure made for some excitement on those band trips!”