Art Hood avoided the draft by enlisting in the U.S. Navy. He served from 1971-1974.
“By enlisting, I got what I wanted to do, which was to play music,” he said. “I already had my education, having received a Bachelor’s of Music and I was teaching in California. I left San Diego with dreams of going overseas; I was assigned to South Carolina.
“I went to ‘A school’ in Virginia Beach, Virginia,” Hood said. “My major instrument was an alto saxophone. My secondary instrument was a clarinet.
“When I got to my duty station, I was handed a tenor sax and that’s the instrument I played for four years.”
Hood played in a 13-piece band. There were no second parts.
“We were a glorified jukebox,” he said. “If the admiral wanted a dance, we played dance music.
“When we traveled, we were moved around in a WWII paratrooper plane. There was no insulation and it didn’t fly very high. We were given ear plugs as soon as we boarded the plane because it was pure noise from those engines.”
On one flight from the Charleston, S.C., air base to Florida, Hood was able to sit in the jump seat behind the co-pilot.
“Transport planes were practicing ‘touch and go,’” he said. “The transport planes would fly not too high in an oval pattern. They would touch down, then take off, and go around to do it again.
“Our pilot pulled out right in front of one of those planes,” he said. “When we were five feet off the ground, the pilot looked behind to see the confusion we caused. Don’t play chicken with an airplane.”
During the last part of his service, the Navy combined a number of jazz groups to form a 50-piece band.
“We could play a larger variety of music,” he said. “Mostly, we played strictly ceremonial occasions for the Sixth Naval District. These ceremonies included the change of command, raising flags, commissioning ships.
“For the retirement of one admiral, four-inch deck guns were taken off a ship and loaded with black gun powder. For the 21-gun salute, the deck guns were shot three at a time. The ground shook; everything was covered with black powder.”
In his four years in the Navy, Hood spent one night on an ocean-going tub.
“Instead of staying in housing for a night, they put us on a boat,” he said.
“One Christmas, we were playing for the commissioning of a submarine the United States gave to Argentina,” Hood said. “The British were nice enough to sink it for us.”
“We had a good time; it was easy duty. We worked from 8:15 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., five days a week. When we traveled for two or three days, our hours were longer.
“I always felt sorry for the medics who worked 12 hours a day since we were both paid the same.”
“I met a lot of good friends,” he said.
Hood was in the Navy four years and four months.
“I extended my time in the service by four months for the birth of our second daughter,” he said. “The birth of our first daughter cost us $5; the birth of our second daughter cost us $5.25.”
After getting out of the Navy, Hood taught music at Animas, N.M., for 22 years.
“My wife, Sharon, and I sent our girls to school at BYU-Idaho; it was Ricks College then. I forgot to have them sign pre-nuptial agreements that they would not marry Idaho boys. All four girls married Idaho boys and then they stayed here.
“After many trips to Idaho to see our 11 grandchildren and their parents, we decided to move here, but, we did it backward,” Hood said. “We bought a house first and then I started looking for a job.”
Hood got a job in District 93 teaching music. He retired last year and now substitute teaches in the Ammon School District.