I grew up in Oakland, Calif. It was kind of rough. Not a lot of money for extraneous items, such as band uniforms. So when the principal of our high school decided it was time for us to reform the marching band to compete on "Band Day" before a Cal Berkeley football game, we had to improvise. There wasn't money for uniforms. So...we wore the red wool blazers that had been stored for more than a decade in the bowels of the auditorium. To complete our uniform, we each had to supplement with our own white pants and shirts. We practiced in the school parking lot on weekends. Our band leader wore a makeshift cape and manufactured his own baton. The blazers smelled musty. We tried to feel proud, but the wind was knocked out of us the morning we arrived at the Cal stadium. Everyone else had "real" uniforms. Epaulets, gold braid, high hats and spats. Despite wearing the same blazers, we looked far from uniform. We looked and felt rag-tag. On the field with hundreds of our fellow high school students, we knew we were inadequate, like the poor kids we were. We performed our hearts out and left the field dejected. We never returned. The band disbanded.