A lost piece of high school memorabilia has resurfaced, marching its way into the Warren County Heritage Center and Museum.
The drum was used in the 1950s and ’60s by McMinnville City High and McMinnville Central High. While the drums of a marching band allow the music to be heard for miles away and keep band members in step, this drum held far more significance to the City High Rebels and Central High Bulldogs. It was a sought after trophy.
According to museum president and McMinnville Mayor Jimmy Haley, the schools were fierce rivals and each homecoming game determined which school would be allowed to keep the drum that year.
“Supposedly whomever won the homecoming game, got the drum,” said Haley. “That’s why one side is the Central High Bulldogs and the other is the City High Rebels. It was used by their marching bands.”
Warren County schools were consolidated in 1969, ending the rivalry. The drum fell into the hands of different people over the years. It reappeared briefly as part of Applebee’s décor when it first opened for business. During restaurant remodeling, it was either given away or sold and disappeared again.
Doug Lott said the drum was hidden in plain view. It hung from the ceiling of a business he purchased on Smithville Highway that he renamed Dr. D’s Sports Pub.
“It was there and we used it,” said Lott. “Do you remember the Gong Show? We had the Gone Show. They would do routines and stuff. We would hit the drum. I took it down in 2013 because we were remodeling. I put it in a closet. That’s where it stayed.”
Lott eventually closed his business and sold all the items in it. He was offered $1,500 for the drum, an offer he rejected.
“I knew the drum belonged somewhere,” said Lott. “I wanted to do the right thing with it. Until I could determine what the right thing was, I was going to leave it in my closet. My wife called one day and said ‘someone is looking for that drum.’ I asked who and she said, ‘the mayor of McMinnville.’ Now, I’ll talk to him about it.”
Haley offered Lott no money, only the history of the drum, about the failed attempts over the years to locate it, and about the requests from graduating classes to find it and have the drum at their reunions. These are former students who are now in their late 60s and 70s, but have not forgotten what the drum meant to them.
“I knew where the drum belonged,” said Lott. “I donated it to the museum. It should be here, for everyone to see, and for those graduating classes to have for their reunions. I turned down $1,500 for it and gave it away for free, but it was the right thing to do.”
The drum, overall, is in good condition, but the Rebel side is a little worse for wear. It will be preserved and not restored, said Haley, who offered his gratitude for Lott’s generosity.
“I appreciate Doug giving this back,” said Haley. “It’s really an important part of local history with the school systems, particularly now that they are consolidated. The Rebels and Bulldog folks are getting older. Most of them are in the late 60s and 70s. It’s good to have a little memory that they can connect to from the 1950s and 1960s era. It’s good to have this for them to enjoy.”
Warren County Heritage Center and Museum is located at 113 East Main Street. For more information, call 474-2717.