Hello, all! I got permission from G James Miller and Dennis DeLucia to repost this message which was originally posted in the 1970's Drum and Bugle Corps group on Facebook. Dennis's account speaks for itself. I will repost the two messages in full, starting with G James Miller's introduction.
G James Miller
Hello folks - I didn't march in 1975 muchachos, but was with the corps in 1977, my first year in drum corps. I have heard stories of what happened from corps members and others. I have had a 30 year friendship with Dennis DeLucia, who was on the staff of the corps that year. I asked him what really happened in 1975 and, with his permission, I will share the account of that year, and the events that lead up to Prelims in 1975:
THE HAWTHORNE MUCHACHOS:
WHAT REALLY HAPPENED
By Dennis DeLucia
More than three decades have passed since the Hawthorne Muchachos, who had become one of DCI’s elite contenders in the mid-seventies, were disqualified at DCI Championships in Philadelphia in August, 1975 for marching an overage member. Those are the facts, but the back-story is involved, convoluted, mysterious and worthy of a Hollywood movie!
I grew up in Bergenfield, NJ and participated in the school district’s music program, which was created by and run by the incredible Dr. Bernard Baggs. In my junior year, Dr. Baggs hired a young Don Angelica to run the band while he took on more administrative duties. My involvement in drum corps was [and is] a direct result of the support of my family and the influence and mentorship of both Dr. Baggs and Mr. Angelica.
I graduated from Bergenfield HS in 1962 and Upsala College in 1966. I was immediately drafted into the Army during the peak of the VietNam war. I auditioned for and was accepted into the West Point Band’s “Hellcats” as a drummer, a position I held for almost three years. While at West Point, I started to teach a drum corps [The Pacers, Poughkeepsie, NY] with my friend, Bob Devlin. Upon leaving the army, Angelica convinced the Muchachos to hire me as their percussion arranger/instructor for the 1970 season. At the time, the corps was an all-boy off-shoot of the famous Caballeros, and practiced in American Legion Post 199 in Hawthorne, NJ.
The details that I am about to outline are derived from my direct experiences [indicated by one asterisk *] plus conversations with notable people who were connected to the Holy Name Cadets **[later called “Garfield” and ultimately just “The Cadets”], the Caballeros/Muchachos ***, the Cavaliers ****and DCI itself. I prefer to eliminate many names, and to refer to the man at the center of the Muchachos’ fate as simply the Boss.
Here is my account of what really happened to the Muchachos in Philadelphia in 1975:
1. Around 1940, the Boss and friends were marching in a small corps in NJ. The group included Jim Costello, who was to later become the long-time director of the Hawthorne Caballeros***.
2. They joined the Navy during World War II***.
3. Costello would eventually marry the Boss’ sister***.
4. After World War II, the friends returned to NJ and joined American Legion Post 199 in Hawthorne, where they started a senior corps, which became the “Caballeros”***.
5. The Boss was a marching member of the Caballeros and became an assistant to Costello [officially or unofficially---I’m not sure]***
6. In the fifties, Jim Costello taught the Holy Name Cadets, and the Boss was an “unofficial” helper/assistant director**.
7. The corps’ staff regularly hung out at a particular restaurant/bar, above which lived the Boss**.
8. Around 1958 or 1959, the Boss allegedly shot and killed the drum major of Holy Name**. Nobody has ever told me why that tragedy happened.
9. The Boss went to prison until 1968 [?]**.
10. Upon release from prison, the Boss returned to Hawthorne and became the “assistant” director of both the Caballeros and Muchachos, who had been created in 1959 as a youth activity for male relatives of Caballero members and alumni**.
11. Don Angelica had been in Holy Name in the fifties, then marched in and taught the Caballeros in the sixties*.
12. I was hired to teach the Muchachos for the 1970 season, knowing about the Boss’ story*.
13. By 1972, the Boss had ascended to the directorship of the Muchachos after the 1971 Director had to resign to run his business full-time*.
14. The Boss was so tied in to the American Legion and the Caballeros that he resented the newly-formed “DCI” because he considered its possible success as a threat to the Legion’s involvement in and dominance of the junior drum corps scene*.
15. The Muchachos were NOT one of the founders of DCI because, up to 1971, they had not achieved competitive “elite” status*.
16. The Boss refused to sign the corps up for the initial DCI Championships because he wanted to stay loyal to the Legion*.
17. At the last minute, Don Angelica convinced the Boss to sign up, which he did*.
18. As a result of being the last corps to enroll, the Muchachos had to go on FIRST on the first day of the two-day prelims. In spite of that handicap, the corps made finals, finishing tenth*.
19. The Boss was therefore automatically a member of the DCI Board, but did not attend meetings and continued to profess his dislike/distrust for the new circuit, probably under pressure from the Caballeros’ organization and his deeply-held affinity for the Legion*.
20. DCI Board members, aware of the Boss’ past [prison] and his reluctance/refusal to fully participate in DCI events, never fully welcomed him or the Muchachos into the fold, even though the corps moved up the competitive ladder every year and became a legitimate contender by 1975*.
21. Many corps in the early years of DCI marched with overage members, probably as an result of practices under the Legion/VFW years as well as Catholic corps who were usually based in inner-city environments and whose priests considered their purpose to be more “youth-protection” than drum corps competitors [strictly my opinion]*.
22. In the winter of 1975 a young man [i’ll call him “Tommy”] auditioned for a spot in the Muchachos’ drumline. He did not get the spot, and ultimately joined the Cavaliers in Chicago for the ’75 season, where he marched [timpani, I believe]*.
23. “Tommy” knew of an overage member of the Muchachos, a person with whom he apparently had a personal grudge***.
24. In the early Spring of ’75, the Boss showed me a letter from DCI asking him to check on the possibility of three members on the roster being overage. The Boss replied to DCI by refuting their information and telling DCI, in essence, to “mind your own business and to not to interfere in the running of my corps”*.
25. I knew then that 1975 would be my last year with the corps*.
26. At the World Open [Massachusetts] in early August, “Tommy” hid behind Cavalier adults and pointed out the Muchachos’ member who he knew was overage****.
27. A Cavalier father followed the corps out to the truck and struck up a conversation with the overage member, who played an unusual drum called roto-toms. He took a picture of the member with his drums, allegedly to “show his son these unique drums”****.
28. The Cavaliers turned the photo into DCI, who checked the member’s age and image against the documents that the Boss had turned in prior to the season****.
29. At prelims in Philadelphia, after the corps performed, a member of the Cavaliers’ management accompanied Executive Director Don Pesceone to the Muchachos’ truck where they demanded this member’s wallet and driver’s license*.
30. The photo matched the photo that the Boss had submitted, but the member’s birth info did not match. Factoring in the negative feelings of DCI Board members towards the Boss, and in spite of hours of fruitless begging and pleading by Frank Gerris and me, the result was already decided. Game over*.
31. The aftermath was tragic---we lost a great drum corps, the Boss passed away, several members of the corps suffered incredible hardships [including suicides] and the activity itself was damaged*.
Epilogue #1---“Tommy” ended up in prison in Texas for impersonating a doctor! Not just any doctor, but a gynecologist!!! Nice guy.
Epilogue #2---In 1989 the Santa Clara Vanguard was caught with two overage members at prelims. Not only were they NOT disqualified, as the rules clearly mandated, but they were allowed to compete if they removed the two overage members. Result? They won the DCI Championship! Ironic.
Epilogue #3---The scores were never revealed, except for our drum score, which was 19.3, winning percussion by six tenths over Santa Clara! Rumors have persisted about whether we won prelims or not, but I have no firm proof. My best guess is that the Muchachos finished second to Madison by a couple of tenths.
Epilogue #4---In prelims, including the Muchachos in the top-three, the results were as follows:
9th----83.0 Kilties---------7th in finals
10th—82.3 Garfield------11th in finals
11th---81.9 Phantom-----10th in finals
12th---81.4 Cavaliers----8th in finals
13th---79.6 Troopers----got into finals as a result of the Muchachos’ disqualification.
14th---79.4 Watkins Glen Squires
The corps who were “on the bubble” of either making or just missing finals, were the Cavaliers, Troopers, Phantom, Garfield, Kilties and Squires. It is my understanding that they all voted to disqualify the Muchachos. Ironically, I had positive proof that at least three of these six corps had marched overage members!
In the immediate aftermath of the Muchachos’ disqualification, I found at least six of the top-13 had marched with overage members during the 1975 season, including prelims. I chose to NOT pursue the information out of my strong belief in the positive benefits of the drum corps movement. But the events of that day and its aftermath haunt me still.
I recommend a book written by Nic Waerzeggers called “Drum Corps International: The First Decade, 1972-1981” published by Steve Vickers and available through Drum Corps Worldemail@example.com. It is a beautifully-written, detailed account of the first ten years of DCI’s existence, and includes many photos, stats and interviews with key people in the activity.
January 31 at 11:38am