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Posted on Mon, Sep 9, 2013 : 5:54 a.m.

Photo of U-M marching band drum major might be the happiest photo of all time

By Kyle Feldscher

In a quest to look at iconic photographs in a new light, revisited an old favorite from Ann Arbor involving a drum major and seven children on Ferry Field that they say might be the happiest photo ever made. features Alfred Eisenstaedt’s photo of University of Michigan drum major Dick Scott practicing his high step before a game in 1950. Trailing behind Scott are seven of the happiest little children you’ll ever see.

Eisenstaedt was on assignment for Life in 1950, covering the University of Michigan marching band, when he shot the spontaneous moment.

Ben Cosgrove, editor of, has a full write up on the history of the photo. Read it here.

Kyle Feldscher covers cops and courts for He can be reached at or you can follow him on Twitter.



Thu, Sep 12, 2013 : 1:50 a.m.

I seem to recall a story written about this photo in the past few decades, either in the Ann Arbor News or the Observer. They might have interviewed the drum major or parents of one of the kids. I think they said it was an early evening rehearsal and that it was common for folks to gather after dinner and watch them play. That version makes more sense due to the angle of the shadows.


Thu, Sep 12, 2013 : 1:39 a.m.

So is the drum major named Dick Smith or Dick Scott? I would live to see a story about the kids and what they remember of those happier times. They are sure to know they were part of a slice of U of M history. Right?


Mon, Sep 9, 2013 : 11:13 p.m.

I had a book full of Life photographs and this was one of the best. Loved it even before I ame here for college 40 years ago

Kyle Mattson

Mon, Sep 9, 2013 : 4:24 p.m.

Interesting photo considering Bob Horning's column about Ferry Field this past weekend. Check out photo #11 in his gallery, looks like the tractor is in the same location as the children in this shot.


Mon, Sep 9, 2013 : 10:28 p.m.

I think the photo is in the current parking lot just south of Yost. In the life photo you can see the brick wall and gate still standing, and just the corner of Yost. The caption photo that Kyle linked also suggests that the band practiced here.,+MI&hl=en&ll=42.266958,-83.740518&spn=0.001108,0.002626&sll=45.00109,-86.270553&sspn=7.938892,21.51123&oq=ann+ar&hnear=Ann+Arbor,+Washtenaw,+Michigan&t=m&z=19&layer=c&cbll=42.267004,-83.740518&panoid=zwivMXMqGiCY1VSCQw_CNg&cbp=12,298.1,,0,-6.71

Jeff Renner

Mon, Sep 9, 2013 : 7:42 p.m.

Photo #13 seems to have been taken from the same place as Eisenstaedt.


Mon, Sep 9, 2013 : 3:38 p.m.

I don't know if this was the happiest photo ever taken but I think what is appealing about it is that it shows happy children during a time in their lives when they really have no cares in the world. Adults look at it and remember that time in their own lives when they didn't have a care in the world. Look how happy those kids are just PLAYING, outdoors no less, in the morning! No cellphones, no video games, no designer clothing. Probably one of the best times to be a child.


Mon, Sep 9, 2013 : 3:08 p.m.

Can anyone help figure out where the photo was taken exactly? I'm guessing the brick wall separates the field from South State St. Maybe it's near where Schembechler Hall now sits. But if that's true, then the story behind the picture is not exactly right. The sun would be low and to the west, making it late in the day. However, the story behind the picture describes it as early morning. If the photo was taken early in the morning, we need a brick wall the west side of the field and houses on the other side of the wall. How/where could this be? Thanks for any sleuthing.....


Tue, Sep 10, 2013 : 12:21 a.m.

I'm pretty sure the photographer is facing north east, the street is State St., and the building is Yost Field House (at the time, later Yost Ice Arena)....


Mon, Sep 9, 2013 : 10:24 p.m.

The shadows do seem odd for "early" morning. The building in the background appears Yost ice arena. It looks like the picture is taken in what is now the parking lot of the Schembechler hall area, you can see the houses behind that wall. I know portions of the wall were torn out over time. I know someone who has some of the bricks from one of the times it was taken out.


Mon, Sep 9, 2013 : 4:26 p.m.

@bunnyabbot - even so, Peregrine's original comment is still valid. If that's State street in the background, whether looking from the south or from the north reversed, the sun is still in the west.


Mon, Sep 9, 2013 : 3:34 p.m.

maybe the photo was reversed? I don't think it would be as appealing if the major was on the right of the frame.


Mon, Sep 9, 2013 : 1:19 p.m.

That is a wonderful photograph! Too bad that the University is turning Ferry Field into a parking lot, as they move more sports south to the South State sports area (tennis, soccer, gymnastics, wrestling).


Mon, Sep 9, 2013 : 1:10 p.m.

Awesome! Worth the click.


Mon, Sep 9, 2013 : 12:33 p.m.

Would be interesting to see a follow-up on the life of Dick Smith, the drum major in the picture.

Boo Radley

Mon, Sep 9, 2013 : 10:39 a.m.

Click on the "read it here" link to the Life magazine story.

Elaine F. Owsley

Mon, Sep 9, 2013 : 10:18 a.m.

So, where's the picture?

Kyle Feldscher

Mon, Sep 9, 2013 : 12:05 p.m.

Unfortunately, Getty Images owns the photo and we don't have the rights to it, so it couldn't be posted here.