The activities on the fairgrounds came to be of special interest to the teenage boys. W. C. White later recalled:
The nearest neighbors to the south were the Jonah Lewis family, devout Adventists. While the White and Lewis families were noncombatants, the children took a lively interest in the war. The two younger Lewis boys, 16 and 18 years of age, and the two older White boys, 12 and 14, got hold of wartime songs and many a sunny afternoon sat on the fence and practiced "Tramp, Tramp, Tramp, the Boys Are Marching" and "We Are Coming, Father Abraham." They all had good voices, and I, about 7, was an admiring audience, and sat on the grass to listen.
My brothers went as far as they could in supplying themselves with warlike instruments. They built good bows and arrows with which they shot troublesome birds. They were good whistlers, but wanted a drum, so they bought two cheese boxes, knocking out the heads, putting the rims together, paper inside and out. They secured a sheepskin, took the wool off, and made rawhide heads (DF 780a, "Pioneer Days Are Recalled," Battle Creek Enquirer, Oct. 30, 1932).
The drum was quite successful and could be heard all over the neighborhood. In his account Willie included developments over a period of time:
When soldiers were in training on the old fairground, . . . Henry went to watch them and, boylike, was marching along with them, whistling in harmony with the fife. The captain gave the signal to the fifers to be silent, and the company of soldiers made their one-mile march keeping step to music of the drum and Henry's whistle.
He wanted to enter the war as a drummer, but love for his mother and respect for her wishes led him to give up the cherished thought of being in the Army (ibid.).