Drum Corps International
Fanfare -- Marchers' golden memories

Fanfare -- Marchers' golden memories

by Michael Boo

Gary Peterson, Robert Michaelson and DeLynn Mull have little in common and much in common.

By Michael Boo
Gary, a drum major, marched in the mid to late 1970s and Robert in the mid-1980s, while DeLynn, a horn player, is marching now. But each has a particular memory that will stay with them their entire life, an indelible impression forever burned into the brain cells. Gary marched Defenders of Rockland, Mass., from 1974 through 1978, and was the corps' drum major in 1977 when Defenders made World Open finals for the first time. (For those of you new to the activity, World Open was one of the truly big drum corps contests of its day.) During the finals retreat, the drum majors lined up for the announcing of scores. Gary ended up standing next to the drum major of the Offensive Lions from Jonquiere, Quebec, Canada, a French-speaking corps that a couple years later was knocking on the door of DCI World finals. An on-field official gave the drum majors their instructions on what to do when the name of their corps was announced. Gary could see that the DM for Offensive Lions wasn't quite grasping what was being said, due to the language barrier.Gary knew no French, so he tried the best he could, through hand gestures, to explain what was going to happen to his colleague. He attempted to convey that when the name of the Quebec corps was called, the drum major was to step forward, salute, and prepare to receive the bronze bowl that was awarded to each finalist corps. The Offensive Lions drum major smiled and nodded to let Gary know that he understood what Gary was telling him.Gary didn't think too much about the incident until later that summer in Marion, Ohio, at the US Open prelims. (US Open was another show that was really big for many years.) Defenders was exiting the stadium after its performance and Offensive Lions was entering through the same gate in preparation for its prelims performance. Gary was marching alongside his corps as the two corps passed each other in single file. The Offensive Lions' DM approached alongside his own corps. When he got close, he looked Gary in the eyes and gave him a sharp military salute, which was promptly returned by Gary. It seemed as if he was thanking Gary for his assistance that night several days earlier in the season. It was a simple gesture, but a quarter century later; it has stuck with Gary, who reflects, "To me it exemplified part of what drum corps was all about." Robert Michaelson's most cherished memory came when he wasn't even marching. In 1983, his first year in drum corps, he spent the year with Anaheim Kingsmen as a non-marching member. He claims the best part of his season was when the corps equipment truck broke down in Butler, Pa., and he was left with the truck. The reason it was the best part of his season was because of whom he met while waiting for mechanical assistance for the truck. To members of Velvet Knights, Ginger Smith was known as "Mom." She noticed Robert was lonely by the truck and took him under her wings, making sure he was fed and taken care of until help arrived for the truck. Robert was so impressed by her concern that he joined VK in 1984 for his first of two years in the drum line. That turned out to be the first year the corps made DCI World finals. Robert remembers calling home to tell his family the corps had made finals, and realizing that had it not been for Mom's concern for him a year earlier, he would have given up on drum corps entirely. Robert adds, "It is because of her and others like her that drum corps is what it is, and for that I am forever grateful. So, to Mom Smith all those like her, thank you from all us of drum corps kids past and present." DeLynn Mull has played soprano for Phantom Regiment since 2000. Her favorite memory is from the Drum Corps International World Championships Division I finals night in 2002, in Madison, Wis.
Madison itself already held fond memories for her. It was there that she saw her first DCI World Championship, in 1999.All summer long, she hadn't thought much about the few seconds leading up to her horn solo in the Shostakovich ballad. But, on finals night, as she knelt down beside the timpani to play her solo, she noticed something special; her fellow corps members performing their hearts out, leading into a huge chord, releasing it as if with a single breath, and lowering their horns in crisp unison.The effect on DeLynn was mesmerizing and inspirational, the most incredible thing to affect her in her three years with the corps. The entire summer flashed before her eyes in a split second; the toil, the tiredness, the long trips, the sleeping on gym floors. It all went into making that moment possible. She was proud of her fellow marchers and thanked God for giving her the privilege of being able to watch her own corps in its last performance of the season from such a vantage point, if only for a few seconds. Then, it was her turn to play the solo. She nailed it and was extremely happy, and when the show was over, the fans rewarded the corps with a substantial standing ovation. It's a feeling anyone can attest to who's been on the Drum Corps International World Championships finals field. It is a wonderful, phenomenal sensation of accomplishment, and as a marcher, one never forgets the moment. At the conclusion of the performance, all one really notices is the reaction of the audience. And, strangely, one thing marchers continually mention is that they never truly notice the audience until their corps' show is over. Oh, they are certainly aware of it when they first enter the stadium for the performance, but then the system goes on automatic pilot, blocking out all outside stimuli so one can focus on the show. When the autopilot is "turned off," marchers are often amazed just how big and boisterous the audience really is.DeLynn states, "We may not have won DCI finals this year, but to us, we felt like champions. Nothing can take that away from us." That is so true. Not the passage of time, nor changes in the world scene, nor major events in one's own life will remove the satisfaction of a job well done. And that feeling goes for corps that don't make finals as well."We'll always have Paris" is one of the most famous lines among many famous lines in the movie "Casablanca." Each of us in drum corps; whether marchers, management, staff, family or fans, has a few special moments that defy the ravages of time. Thank you, Gary, Robert and DeLynn, for sharing yours. Calling all readers -- do you have a drum corps love connection?Do you have a drum corps love connection? Did you meet your significant other through drum corps? Please share your memories with us for consideration in a future "Fanfare" column. Send your contribution to Michael Boo at boomike@aol.com. Please put Drum Corps Love Connection in the Subject heading at the top of your e-mail. Please include your name, hometown, corps affiliation (if applicable) and years marching with or working with the corps (if applicable). No anonymous comments, please. We will credit you for your contribution. Hugs for everyone! Michael Boo has been involved with drum and bugle corps since 1975, when he marched his first of three seasons with the Cavaliers. He has a bachelor's degree in music education and a masters degree in music theory and composition.   He has written about the drum corps activity for over a quarter century for publications such as Drum Corps World, and presently is involved in a variety of projects for Drum Corps International, including souvenir program books, CD liner notes, DCI Update and Web articles, and other endeavors. Michael currently writes music for a variety of idioms, is a church handbell and vocal choir director, an assistant director of a community band, and a licensed Realtor in the state of Indiana. His other writing projects are for numerous publications, and he has published an honors-winning book on the history of figure skating.His hobbies include TaeKwonDo and hiking the Indiana Dunes. But more than anything, Michael is proud to love drum corps and to be a part of the activity in some small way, chronicling various facets of each season for the enjoyment of others.