austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

Let's all raise a glass to the rock stars of the past

I forgot to mention something shocking from the Detroit parade: the Fred Hill Precision Briefcase Drill Team, which I hadn't been aware of before moving to Michigan, is retiring. It's a group of guys who for thirty years have dressed up the way men used to dress for the office back when people dressed for anything, march around, and move their briefcases around like parade rifles. It's wonderful and quirky and odd and this is their farewell year. They're not formally retiring until an event scheduled for the 4th of July 2015, but that makes this the last Thanksgiving parade they figure to hold.

The reasons for the retirement aren't perfectly clear to me. It seems to be a matter of people feeling they're aging out of this sort of fun. Fred Hill was quoted in papers as saying that, you know, people don't carry briefcases any more. This may be true but it seems like that should hardly be a problem. Active military don't dress the way the Swiss Guard do, but that hardly makes them less interesting. The articles also suggest that the increasing age of the participants is at issue --- ``too many guys on injured reserve,'' Fred Hill said --- and I'm surprised that they haven't been recruiting new people as older folks retire or move away. It doesn't seem like the sort of affair that couldn't be passed on.

Apparently the whole business got started in the mid-80s, when Fred Hill was a haberdasher, and who knew there were haberdashers in the mid-80s? He'd wanted some elephants for a promotion, but there weren't any available, so he went to business drill teams instead and thus was the world enriched. They've only missed two Detroit parades since the Detroit parade organizers decided they weren't too ridiculous for them, those being when they marched in the Macy's parade.

I don't know what the parade will do to fill the gap, though.

Trivia: The Space Shuttle Main Engine's oxygen turbopump was rated at 23,068 horsepower; the liquid hydrogen at 61,420. The Titanic's engine was rated at 55,000 horsepower. Source: Development of the Space Shuttle, 1972 - 1981, T A Heppenheimer.

Currently Reading: All The Truth Is Out: The Week Politics Went Tabloid, Matt Bai. ... Wait, Gary Hart wrote spy novels? And not, like, after leaving politics, but as a sideline to his day job? Well, also after leaving politics, but still.


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