Dick Jennings

Really Old Drum Corps

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I realize that there are some people out there who are sick and tired of "we" old folks talking about the "good old days." But I beleive there are many "new" drum corps people who don't know what went on in the 50's and 60's that helped make this great activity of ours what it is today. Has anyone ever thought "what happened to drum corps in New Jersey?" New Jersey was the center of junior drum corps in the 50's. There were 2 different types of drum corps.....junior corps, age till you were 21 and then senior corps.......21 and up. I may be wrong but there isn't one top junior corps from New Jersey, What happened to the foks who marched with Blessed Sacrament of Neward, St. Joe's of Newark, St. Vincents of Bayonne, St. Lucy's, Audubon Girls Corps, etc. We all know about Holy Name Cadets and they are the only one that kept going but they are now out of Pennsylvania. Massachusetts also was huge in the 50's but right now there is only the Boston Crusaders, what happened to the others.

I would love to get some interest in the past but never forgetting how great the present is.

Thanks and I hope I hear from all of you.

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I realize that there are some people out there who are sick and tired of "we" old folks talking about the "good old days." But I beleive there are many "new" drum corps people who don't know what went on in the 50's and 60's that helped make this great activity of ours what it is today. Has anyone ever thought "what happened to drum corps in New Jersey?" New Jersey was the center of junior drum corps in the 50's. There were 2 different types of drum corps.....junior corps, age till you were 21 and then senior corps.......21 and up. I may be wrong but there isn't one top junior corps from New Jersey, What happened to the foks who marched with Blessed Sacrament of Neward, St. Joe's of Newark, St. Vincents of Bayonne, St. Lucy's, Audubon Girls Corps, etc. We all know about Holy Name Cadets and they are the only one that kept going but they are now out of Pennsylvania. Massachusetts also was huge in the 50's but right now there is only the Boston Crusaders, what happened to the others.

I would love to get some interest in the past but never forgetting how great the present is.

Thanks and I hope I hear from all of you.

"Left and Gone Away":

I remember all the New Jersey corps you mentioned, as well as all the great corps that USED to call Massachusetts "Home". Connecticut, New York, Illinois, and Wisconsin were also home to powerhouse junior corps of the 1960s.

Almost all of them are long gone, with a few such as Blessed Sacrament St Andrews Bridgemen, and St Kevins Emerald Knights carrying on as Alumni corps.

You're correct in saying "They don't care/want to know". A lot of them don't. "Present Day" drum corps is all they are familiar with. It's not their "Fault". They've "Grown Up" with the amps, dancing, narration, props, keybords, storylines, and the conversions of the "G" bugles to "Any Key" (the same thing happened in "Senior" corp

snow called "All Ages" corps).

Quite a few of the old warhorses of the "Senior Scene" are also memories. Rochester Crusaders and Syracuse Brigadiers are inactive "Competing Corps" as are the New Your Skyliners, Reilly Raiders, and Archer Epler Musketeers.

Skyliners, Reilly and "Archie" live on as "Alumni" drum corps, while the Hawthorne Caballeros maintain an "Alumni" corps as well as their competing corps. The Boston Crusaders also have an "Senior" Crusaders Alumni.

Not only are most of the corps gone, the "Circuits" and Associations in which they competed are also memories. CYO, Graetaer New York, Garden State, Penn-Jersey, Yankee, and most of the others are history. So are the "Name" shows such as VFW & Legion Nationals, the National Dream, the World Open and the Shriners.

The "State Championships" that were so fiercly contested (And in cases such as Illinois, New Jersey and Massachusetts served as "Nationals Previews") aew also things long gone.

I remember you from your articles (The Drill Instructor) in the old 1960's Drum Corps News (Which is also long gone. Dick Blake died a few months ago BTW).

Elphaba

WWW

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I often have to chuckle when I see a post from a "kid" who says that, "Back in the old days, when I marched, from '87 to '89...." The old days...

But I grew up in Massachusetts during the Fifties and early Sixties, in a suburb of Boston, and one could put together a very good Class A show without going more than twenty miles from the city. Hyde Park (Boston) Crusaders, St. Kevin's Emerald Knights, St. Mary's Cardinals, St. Thomas More Cadets, St. Francis Sancians, Pembroke Imperials, Danvers Blue Angels, Braintree Warriors, Holy Trinity Cadets, Norwood Debonnaires, I.C. Queensmen, I.C. Rockets, I.C. Rockettes, P.L.A.V. White Eagles, and a host of others were all available within a short distance of each other. In fact, Danvers, Beverly, and the three corps from Salem were all in contiguous cities (we could hear each other practicing).

Those days are long gone - for better or worse. But I do agree with your initial idea that we had better start educating today's "kids" that there was drum corps before DCI.

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Sitting here and thinking "What Happended?" and who is to blame. Like anything, football, baseball, basketball, etc....Drum Corps was going to change and how soon it happened is what surprised me. Remembering back "in the day" watching college football games on Saturday afternoons and watching the half game shows (that's when they showed them) and seeing the college bands running around like headless chickens was kind of funny. We in drum corps saying "where is the military deportment, the company fronts and the cadane and here was a band of say over 100 members entertaining and the crowd loving it. I marched with the Crusaders when we would go to a Patriots game ( when they first started) and folks (no many in the stands back then) would get up and get there food.

Now drum corps is like these bands of years gone bye. No military deportment, running instead of marching, but they do the triangles, boxes, circles, etc very well. Musically there is absolutely no comparison but look what they are playing.....trumpets. They call them bugles but how many valves? I don't think this caused the demise of drum corps in the East Coast. I really think what caused it was the surge of drum corps in the Midwest, DCI, and the extreme travel commitment put upon the individuals. Now before you try to hang me, let me explain. Most of the DCI competitions are in the Midwest or Southwest and it is very easy for the corps to get too. To come out of the East Coast and do that kind of travel is a huge commitment. Another thing is opening up membership to whomever wants to "audition" no matter where they are from. I know everyone does this but look how many corps are left in the East. To be fair......Illinois used to have a number of corps but now only a few.

I really believe members of corps now want to hear about the past corps but they don't want people saying it was better back then than now. Apples and Oranges but to call this Drum Corps and call the past Durm Corps.....Apples and Oranges.

What I would love to be able to do and hopefully use this forum is to educate and discuss some of the greatest Drum Corps that ever took the starting line. Not only Junior Corps but also the Senior Circuits.

Stay in touch and please lets hear your views. You don't have to agree with me but lets start some comminication.

Dick Jennings

Simi Valley, CA

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Interesting points everyone.

Welcome, Dick.

You had two points: one was why are today's marchers not interested in DC history, and two why the demise of the regional/national Corps.

On your first point, I don't think with today's music major kids, they can relate to the one-valve sound and look at it as a junior high orchestra vs the New York Philharmonic despite the great arrangements from the 50s and 60s and the hurdles that had to be overcome to sound good. If I had a pile of money, I'd be buying Fleetwood reissue CDs along with DCI Bluerays.

Second, The Catholic Churches withdrew their support as their money dwindled and they had to support their schools. Also the cost of supporting a 128 member Corps vs. 50 members is astonomical. Where do you get 128 members? From the 50 member Corps and you cherry pick the best. You also had the flight from Newark after the 1968 riots. Can't speak for Boston, was it the same?

I woudn't have a problem going to a regional concept until the last two weeks, but I think the prize money is difficult to handle when you're playing in high stadiums as opposed to NFL and major college stadiums.

Just a few thoughts

Kevin Doherty (kdoh)

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Lt. Norman Prince "Princemen" Senior Drum and Bugle Corps, Malden, Massachusetts.

There's a start. A little tarrot card in front of me tells me you might have heard of them, Dick. The numbers of marchers that came out of this Corps that went on to teach and judge up and down the east coast is vast and wide the card is telling me.

Have you ever heard of them ? Is this correct ?

Edited by BRASSO

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I realize that there are some people out there who are sick and tired of "we" old folks talking about the "good old days." But I beleive there are many "new" drum corps people who don't know what went on in the 50's and 60's that helped make this great activity of ours what it is today. Has anyone ever thought "what happened to drum corps in New Jersey?" New Jersey was the center of junior drum corps in the 50's. There were 2 different types of drum corps.....junior corps, age till you were 21 and then senior corps.......21 and up. I may be wrong but there isn't one top junior corps from New Jersey, What happened to the foks who marched with Blessed Sacrament of Neward, St. Joe's of Newark, St. Vincents of Bayonne, St. Lucy's, Audubon Girls Corps, etc. We all know about Holy Name Cadets and they are the only one that kept going but they are now out of Pennsylvania. Massachusetts also was huge in the 50's but right now there is only the Boston Crusaders, what happened to the others.

I would love to get some interest in the past but never forgetting how great the present is.

Thanks and I hope I hear from all of you.

i remeber the all girl audubon corp. they were still active in the 70s but they did dispand though i am not sure when.

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I have heard a few reasons why an area like New Jersey have lost so mant Big Names. But whatever. It is what it is.

However. here is something about my past.

I remember when it was a " GOAL " to make the Top FIVE in New Jersey. You knew before the "States" (Either one VFW or AL) started that at least the Top 3 or 4 spots were taken by "National Contenders" like those you mentioned. Then ther were the Corps on the edeg of the Top contenders list.

So "States" had 15 or 20 Corps trying to get into the Top 5 in N.J. (maybe having to settle for "Just a Top 10" in the State spot.)

Edited by 2B or not 2B

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"New Jersey's Top Five":

There was a time in the dark and distant drum corps past that you could swing a dead cat by the tail and hit a National Contender in North Jersey. St Vincent's Cadets, Holy Name/Garfield St Joseph's and Blessed Sacrament were all within a bus transfer's distance of each other.

Not too far behind were the Patterson Cadets, Audubon Bon Bons and Our Lady of Lourdes Cadets. On the rise were the Newark Woodsiders, St Lucys Cadets St Patricks Cadets and Dumont's Police Cadets.

Times have sure changed....

Elphaba

WWW

Edited by elphaba01

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"New Jersey's Top Five":

Times have sure changed....

Elphaba

WWW

While you're absolutely right about New Jersey's Top Five, we can't forget that there were some pretty good corps from other parts of the country.

For example, I was just looking at the VFW and AL Nationals from '54. Three out of eight corps in the finals at the VFW in Philadelphia were from New Jersey and five out of the top ten in Washington at the Legion Nationals were from New Jersey.

And exactly the same thing happened in '57. At the VFW in Miami Beach, there were three out of eight finalists from New Jersey, while there were five out of ten in the top ten at the Legion's Atlantic City Nationals.

In each of the above cases, the remaining corps came from Greater Boston, the Chicago area, NYC, and Philadelphia/Baltimore. All in all, the geographic distribution was pretty good.

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