Drum Corps International
Letters to my Mom: 1977 Alberta Girls trip to England (II)

Letters to my Mom: 1977 Alberta Girls trip to England (II)

by Drum Corps International

Linda Purgas has submitted a most captivating series of remembrances of a trip she took to England in 1977 with the Alberta Girls, a corps that participated in Drum Corps International competition in 1975. Although the ensemble only competed in 1975, they still spread the word of drum corps by using only drums and G bugles, were prominently featured on the cover of the D.E.G. bugles catalog, and were taught by instructors including Santa Clara Vanguard's Fred Sanford and the Alberta Girls' musical director Mike Duffy. Intermittently over the next few weeks, the Fanfare column will feature a handful of letters Linda wrote to her mother, along with the photos she took on the trip. Linda wrote her mother every day and this compilation of memories may sound familiar to anyone who's been on a drum corps tour. I've personally never seen such a comprehensive collection of letters from tour. If anyone else has kept letters (or perhaps more current for today, a blog) of their travels with drum corps and would like to offer it for a possible Fanfare down the road (so to speak), please send it to me at boomike@dci.org. ~Michael Boo


July 19, 1977
England, Europe Hi Mom, Well, time is moving along and we're all going through many experiences. Lots of people are having birthdays and everyone is fine. Some of the girls had a slight cold but generally everyone is in great spirits.

Getting mail from home and a performance picture from Pieter of Holland
On Monday we performed in the Burlington Arcade in London, an expensive place to shop. We performed there because the people in Enfield complained about the noise. The performance at the arcade was a publicity stunt. It worked. We were in three London newspapers. The Toronto Sun and Toronto Star were also there. There was a picture of me in the London Evening News. Next is a televised performance by the BBC in a studio. We're a real novelty in Europe. There is no such thing as drum corps here so we get quite a bit of attention.

We did the "Faint" at the end of a show in England. The crowd gasped, fell silent and did not applaud until we all arose. The bass drummers needed help getting up. We never did the "Faint" again. It was effective.
"Faint" photo provided by Mike Duffy.
We're in Peterborough, England at an agricultural fair. It's huge. There are beautiful horses and cattle. Mom, the countryside is so nice and relaxing to view. The weather hasn't been that great—no sun but at least it hasn't been raining. I'm still healthy and enjoying every new experience. The girls are fine and such good company. Say hi to everyone and be good, healthy and happy. Take care. Ta ta for now. Love, Linda. July 22, 1977
England, Europe Hi Mom, Just a note to say hello. Things are getting hectic but consistent. We have a least one performance per day and traveling quite a bit. Yesterday, we started at 10 a.m., traveled to Peterborough again, left at 5 p.m. for Aldershot (a British army base) to perform at a Speedworth Stock car race show at 9 p.m., and back to Enfield to crawl into bed at 1 a.m. We've gotten quite a bit of publicity as the Alberta Girls Sound Spectacular, radio, TV, newspapers and word of mouth. England's buildings are old and new ones are built with careful design. Cars are small and drive on the left side of the road. Houses have bay windows, shear curtains and immaculate but small gardens with many roses. The British love cricket, lawn bowling, horse and greyhound racing and horse jumping. The British also love stately military bands but they love the Alberta Girls too.

We will be attending a tea at Canada House in downtown London. Mr. Nagel is trying to arrange a performance for the Queen. Let me know where Tom is so I can write. John sent me a postcard from Minneapolis, Minnesota and Kelty sent me a letter. She's going to Denver. Please send pictures or newspaper clippings. I sure miss home when I have time to think. Love, Linda.
Aug. 3, 1977
Paris, France Hi Mom, How are you? I'm writing from Paris and how different it is from England. We are staying at a hostel with German, American, French and others. There are so many different languages. French beer is expensive, wine isn't. It cost eight francs which is two dollars for a large glass of beer. It's crazy paying for a charm of the Eiffel Tower for 22 francs. Supposedly, in Italy, they have hundreds of lire equaling one dollar. Anyway, Paris is absolutely romantic. We performed as the Alberta Girls Sound Spectacular under the Eiffel Tower. Later we toured, saw the Louvre, the Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame Cathedral (beautiful), government buildings and got a taste of department store shopping. The people here are so open and amorous. Men were blowing kisses at us while we were traveling on our buses. The French like to take their time when being served food. As someone told me, the French don't have food to live, they live for food and use the activity as a social affair. By the way, water isn't drunk from a tap here. You order mineral water.

Before arriving in Paris we traveled from Enfield to Dover (white cliffs of Dover), we drove the buses and trucks on a ferry, a ride that took two hours. It was neat. I didn't even get sick but the food was terrible, so greasy. We landed in Calais, a harbour town and proceeded toward Paris. Paris is fascinating but dirty—dogs in taverns, garbage everywhere, cigarette butts thrown on the floor, etc. The French pride themselves in their appearance and indeed there are many handsome and immaculate men about. Pam walked into the hostel washroom to take a shower and there was a young man standing at the urinal. Crazy. We move on to Brussels today, and stay two days before moving on to Holland. The days are going by quickly but one thing for sure, I am coming back to Paris and London some day and probably every place I visit this trip. To have a taste of traveling invites me to want more. I love traveling. I hope you are in good spirits. Thanks for keeping in touch, Mom, and I'll get in touch with the relatives in Germany. Say hi to everyone. Take care. Love, Linda.


Editorial assistance by Michael Boo. "Letters to my Mom" Part I Fanfare archives

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