Friday, April 14, 2006

Wandering With The Waters

By Betty and Joe Waters
DCN Sept. 12, 1962 issue

This was sort of a busman's holiday for us as we took in as much drum corps as possible in the Southern States. The two days we spent with "Mr. Drum Corps of the South" of Georgetown, South Carolina was the highlight of our trip. Having been a correspondent of old W.W. for some time we finally met in person and of course drum corps was the main theme of our conversations. We didn't get to see St. Mary's Cadets as they were on vacation but they were well represented by one Freddie DiBiase, bass drummer for the corps.

Our discussions throughout our whole trip with all of the people we visited served mainly on ways and means to create interest in drum corps in the South. We came to the conclusion that lack of capable instructors in that area is the main problem. For example, the director of St. Mary's Cadets is also the complete instructing staff and after all there is just so much one man can do. Lack of financial support is the next obstacle, which we feel could be overcome thru public interest. Thanks Bill for taking us along that one day when you rehearsed your band - we really had a ball and best regards to all.

Traveling west to Greenville, South Carolina the home of the Rebeleers, a combination of the old Anderson-Greenville corps. Ronnie Ferronti wasn't available but we had a long and very interesting talk with his charming wife Vi and one of the drum line, the good Lord and he forgive us, but we can't remember his name. He is a transplanted Yankee from the central Pa. area. All this took place at the Legion Hut - one of the most beautiful and modern post homes that has been our pleasure to visit for some time. If you are ever in the Greenville area - a warm invitation is extended to you by Vi and her cohorts to visit this showplace.

While we were in Georgetown we learned that the Rambling Rebels of Gastonia, North Carolina were participating in the dedication ceremonies of part of Interstate 85. So we headed north and contacted the corps commander, Lewis Cathey and was introduced to Charles Wetzel, drum major and the rest of the corps. This was quite a deal with local television stars, the Army band from Fort Bragg, North Carolina as well as the Rambling Rebels furnished the entertainment.

We learned from Mr. Cathey that the Rebels were providing part of the entertainment at halftime of the Washington Redskin - Philadelphia Eagles football game at Charlotte, North Carolina. We would say that this was the greatest exposure a drum corps has had in the South lately because a crowd of 22,500 was there. The Rambling Rebels in the seven minutes alloted to them made a good impression on the crowd with their Song of the Bagabonds, Stranger In Paradise, Shiek of Araby, Get Me To The Church On Time. Something unusual - in two weeks the corps had mastered both the Redskin and the Eagles fight songs and the Truman Crawford arrangements were well received by both benches.

Another pleasant surprise and perhaps the most inspiring event of our trip was the Charlotte Police Junior Drum and Bugle Corps. This unit was formed nine years ago and was known as the school safety patrol corps. The sponsorship was taken over last year by the Charlotte Police Dept. They have a complement of 82 boys ranging in years from 11 to 15 from all sections of the city and county. The directors are Lt. George B. Livingston and Sgt. J. A. Dellinger. Musical Director is Ben McGraw. The drill is handled by Sgt. James Padgett of the Marine Corps. This is the youngest corps to have ever marched in an Inaugural Parade. They performed in the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, Florida in 1961, was in the national Jr Chamber of Commerce parade in Buffalo, N.Y. and this year took second place in the Sun Fun Festival Parade at Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. They participated in the Labor Day Parade at Darlington, South Carolina kicking off the Southern 500. Using straight G bugles "not many of these left" they play such favorites as Marching Thru Georgia, Your In The Army Now and the Thunderer. We have not seen such enthusiasm for drum corps and such drum corps potential as this corps showed us that night. Considering the area which is not all drum corps conscience this corps has the discipline and the drive not shown by a lot of corps in the North. The corps was at a boys camp two weeks prior to this event preparing new material. This is a shining example of what drum corps can be in the South with the proper backing and direction.

When we got back home there was a letter awaiting us from Ben McGraw. In it he asked if we knew of any recording of a corps using G bugles. Unfortunately we do not and we are passing it along to our readers who may be able to give Ben a hand on this. [omitting old North Carolina address] We are very much interested in this corps and in fact we are thinking about adopting it. Going back to the start of this article - we want to arouse interest in drum corps in the Southland. We firmly believe the Charlotte Police Drum & Bugle Corps is the organization that can spearhead the attack. Anyone wishing further information on this corps can contact Ben McGraw. Keep up the good work buddy and we will be looking forward to hearing more and more about the corps.

REMEMBER ---------- Don't be a carbon copy of somebody else - make your own impression.
Hang in there.