Even without ‘fix-it guy,’ bands will play on

By Tom Vogt, Columbian science, military & history reporter



If you go

What: Hazel Dell Parade of Bands; 48th annual parade with at least 27 local school bands and about 145 other participating groups.

Where: The parade begins at the District 6 fire station at 8800 Hazel Dell Ave. and ends at 78th Street and Highway 99. See http://bit.ly/J1rg8Z for map.

When: 10:30 a.m. Saturday.

Information: http://www.hdscba.org; http://www.ccfd6.org.

Jim Detchman stood between clarinets and calamity, between trumpets and tragedy.

Each May, he would park his Music World van behind the Fire District 6 station before the Hazel Dell Parade of Bands and do emergency instrument repairs for young musicians.

It was a unique service, said Dave Conditt, band director at Discovery Middle School.

“At no other parade is somebody there” to do quick instrument repairs, Conditt said.

Last year, Detchman -- a retired music educator -- rescued a student in Discovery’s percussion section.

“He had a broken snare drum,” Conditt said. “A snare drum head is so tight, it will eventually give way. It just popped, and the drum was worthless.”

Detchman quickly zipped off the dozen lugs securing the drum head and immediately replaced it -- for free. The Discovery drummer didn’t miss a beat.

The van will be there again Saturday for the 2012 Hazel Dell Parade of Bands, but it will be Detchman’s colleagues replacing tenor sax reeds and oiling trumpet valves this year. Detchman died April 19 after a battle with cancer.

Detchman and his daughter, Jodi Goughnour, were co-owners of Music World stores in Battle Ground and Hazel Dell.

But the Hazel Dell Parade of Bands is where Detchman saw the biggest annual gathering of musicians in Clark County -- which always includes the possibility of a thing or two going wrong.

He understood that youngsters -- especially middle-schoolers -- can have accidents with instruments, said Jean Kent, band director at Pacific Middle School in the Evergreen district.

“Bump your clarinet against your orthodontia braces and chip your reed? Ask Mr. Detchman if he has a reed you can use. Drop your trombone and get a ding in the slide? See if Mr. Detchman can straighten it out,” Kent said in an email tribute.

“Suddenly discover that your alto sax G-sharp pad has a huge tear on it? Ask Mr. Detchman if he can help. The upper stack of your flute just fell onto the concrete because the teensy screw backed out? Maybe Mr. Detchman can fix it.”

“And help he did,” Kent wrote. “He never charged a dime for all the reeds, pads, and other repair and maintenance equipment he gave the kids waiting to march in the parade.

“He will be missed this year, and for all the Hazel Dell parades to come,” Kent said.

‘Fix-it guy’

Jennifer Ritenburgh, the band teacher at Hockinson Middle School, had a similar remembrance:

“Jim’s behind-the-scenes emergency service has saved many of my students several times. Lost pads, lost screws, falling-off keys, broken reeds, sticky valves, bent keys -- you name it: Jim was our ‘fix-it guy,’” Ritenburgh said.

That wasn’t all, said Chris Sandstrom, a Music World traveling service representative who has worked his share of Hazel Dell parades.

“Jim would bring along a few loaner instruments in case somebody had an instrument that was too badly damaged,” Sandstrom said.

And when one student showed up at the staging area without a crucial part of the horn, Sandstrom said, “Jim had me walk to the Hazel Dell store and grab a mouthpiece.”

Tom Vogt: 360-735-4558; http://www.twitter.com/col_history;tom.vogt@columbian.com.