Retirees Association

Oakwood Has a Boulevard Band—Six Feet Apart, by David Lee Garrison

Oakwood band

The corner of East Dixon Avenue and Shafor Boulevard in Oakwood has become a concert venue for a neighborhood musical group, Six Feet Apart, founded by retired Wright State professor of Spanish and Portuguese, David Garrison, who plays euphonium and trumpet.

All but one of the five other members of the group are, like Garrison, Oakwood residents: Kay Minardi (trumpet), Mark Minardi (tuba), Ted Shank (trombone), and Don Szumnarski (tenor saxophone).  Helen Heitz (bass clarinet) lives in Kettering.

The band gave its first performance on Easter with a program that included just three songs, Christ the Lord is Risen Today, Hatikvah (the Israeli national anthem), and Peter Cottontail. Since then, they have played every Saturday or Sunday and gradually expanded their weekly offerings to about seven pieces. SInce the summer heat started, performance have been at 7 p.m. on Sundays (or 7 p.m. on Mondays in case of rain).

On the weekend of the postponed Kentucky Derby they presented My Old Kentucky Home after the trumpeter sounded the traditional call to post. On another Saturday, they did mostly marches, and on Memorial Day weekend they played patriotic songs. They honored Oakwood High School graduates with Pomp and Circumstance at the car parade that replaced the traditional graduation ceremony on May 26.     

The group always closes with the University of Dayton’s fight song, Victory, because the band has a UD connection. All the members play in the UD-sponsored New Horizons Music Program, which is for adult musicians of any experience and skill level.

The group considers their concerts a shout out against the COVID-19 pandemic, and their goal is to cheer people up.

The audience has grown steadily. At first, neighbors drifted outside to listen and a few cars and joggers stopped, but now many people from several blocks around show up with lawn chairs to listen and to applaud the performers. 

The band plans to keep on playing until the quarantine is over!

David Garrison
June 2020

Band members in the top photo are (left to right): Mark Minardi, Kay Minardi, Ted Shank, David Garrison, Helen Heitz, Don Szumnarski.