There will be a number of future "Drum corps love connection" columns in "Fanfare." But I doubt that any of them will have the sort of "Twilight Zone" sense of coincidence that these first two do.
Lauren Gilmore lives in Roanoke, Texas, and when this article was first written, was engaged to Cory Meals. (More on that in the update below.) Cory was a member of the Cavaliers from 1997 through 2001, and a Cavaliers mellophone tech in 2002 and 2003. He is currently a band director in Texas. According to Lauren, "I met my fianc?© a year ago at a show. A girlfriend of mine was getting married to a guy in the Cavaliers and asked for some help addressing e-mails to the guys in the corps. (She was going to the Tulsa, Okla., show the next day and offered to bring the members e-mails from their friends.) I decided to write something on one of the envelopes. I didn't know who this guy was ... I was just being silly. "My friend, Leigh, later asked if I wanted to go to the show with her, and after much hesitation, I decided to tag along. (I lived in central Arkansas and was 'on call' at work.) When I got there, the guys were on water break. That's when Leigh introduced me to Cory Meals, mellophone player and the "Four Corners" "first corner" soloist that year. "There was a bit of a spark, but seeing as he lived in Chicago and we met on tour, I thought that nothing more than a fling would come of it. I was wrong. The next day, Leigh and I decided to go to the Joplin, Mo., show. It was four hours away and we made it there just in time for the victory concert. I ended up driving to the Murfreesboro, Tenn., show and then paid $768 for an airline ticket to attend DCI World finals in Buffalo, N.Y. "Needless to say, it was worth it. I moved to Chicago (and now Texas, where Cory is assistant band director at a local school), and we are planning on getting married. "In Chicago, we were going through boxes full of his old stuff to make room for mine. In one of the boxes was a beat up old envelope that had my handwriting on it. It was the one I wrote on in Tulsa to a guy I hadn't met ... my soul mate. "It didn't register for a while because it was just so weird. Cory probably put the two together before that, but I never knew whose envelope it was ...I just grabbed someone's envelope and wrote on it. It was just something cheesy like, 'Have fun! Good luck! -- Lauren.' "Most people just roll their eyes because they don't believe it, but we still have the envelope! We should never have any doubts about our relationship or being together. Finding that envelope was the biggest sign that I had definitely found my soul mate." Now for the update: I received the following e-mail from Cory the first full week of May. "A while back, Lauren Gilmore e-mailed you telling you about our meeting in Tulsa, Okla., and the subsequent romance that of course comes from meeting someone in Tulsa (just like Venice and Paris, only dry and flat). Well, I wanted to update you ... we were married on Friday, May 2. We're planning to have a ceremony with our families next summer." Congratulations and good luck, Cory and Lauren. Mike Morris marched with the Birmingham Charioteers in 1976 and Spirit of Atlanta in 1977-1979. Since aging out, he's remained involved with Spirit as a volunteer, and is currently the corps' tour coordinator and a member of the corps' board of directors. According to Mike, "My recent (Feb. 21, 2003) bride and I didn't exactly meet through drum corps, but corps still plays a part in our story. "About three years ago, Carla Woods posted a note on the message board of the Jacksonville State University Marching Southerners Web site, asking if anyone knew what had happened to several of her friends from 1978, when she was in the color guard. "I had marched in Spirit of Atlanta with several of her friends, and still kept up with them through drum corps activities, so I responded and filled her in on what her friends were doing. "After that, Carla and I exchanged e-mails for about a year and a half, just getting to know each other better. We had both attended JSU, but missed one another by a couple of years. "After several near misses, we finally met face-to-face for the first time at the Cobb County marching band exhibition in suburban Atlanta on Oct. 1, 2001. That first meeting went wonderfully, and we agreed to meet again a week later at part two of the marching exhibition. "That night, Carla showed up with a big scrapbook that she had kept since high school. In the scrapbook were newspaper clippings from different band contests, etc., from her high school days. "One of the clippings, which she had kept for 25 years, was an article about the first drum corps show in Atlanta, in 1976. And the article was illustrated by a picture of two local guys who were marching that summer with the Birmingham Charioteers, a Class A corps from Alabama. One of the guys in the picture was Don Grimsley, who later became Spirit of Atlanta's first drum major. And the other guy was ME! "I had never even seen the article, and just vaguely remembered putting on my Charioteers uniform and posing for the picture, but she had kept it for all those years. "Well, one thing led to another, and we were engaged several months later. "Carla had wanted to march drum corps when she was in high school, but her parents wouldn't let her. Then, she got involved in other activities in college and never marched corps. "But she now volunteers in several ways with Spirit, and she's getting to live her drum corps dream vicariously through the eyes of the current members of the corps." Jeff Ream exists because of a drum corps love connection. While his story doesn't quite fit into the amazing coincidence category of the ones above, it is still amazing for how his parents determined early on that he would be exposed to drum corps from birth. As Jeff tells it, "My dad marched with the Westshoremen Senior Corps from 1962 to1972, with Yankee Rebels from 1973 to 1976, and again with Westshoremen from 1977 to 1978. In 1966, my mom went to a rehearsal with her girlfriend, who was dating a contra player. She met dad that night, and slowly but surely a romance was born, culminating in a wedding in July 1967. "The night of the wedding, Dad marched in the annual Hershey, Pa., drum corps show. "I was born in 1969. (Rumor has it I was created at DCA finals in 1968. If you do the math, it's a good guess.) The night Mom went into labor, Dad was at rehearsal. Half of the Westshoremen were in the waiting area with him. "At age four days, I was at my first rehearsal. At age one month, I was at my first Hershey show. (I have yet to miss one.) "I grew up in senior corps, and drum corps in general. I started riding the buses at age 5 (to Miami, with the Yankee Rebels). As a kid, I planned school functions around drum corps schedules. I raced home to read Drum Corps News and Drum Corps World before dad got home. I memorized corps repertoires the minute I knew them. I even used Fisher-Price action figures to design drill on my bedroom floor. "At age 8, I started taking instrumental music lessons in my school. The percussion instructor wanted to teach me matched grip. My reply was, 'I'm not going to play triples. I want to play snare, so teach me traditional grip.' "By age 10, I could recite legendary Westshoremen stories better than the guys who lived them (and still can, too). "And best of all, in 1975, the Yankee Rebels won high drums. At the banquet, each member of the drum line was given a trophy in the corps colors of orange and white. I told Dad that night that before I was done, I'd have one in the Westshoremen colors of blue and black. For 20 years, I reminded him of that. "In 1995, Westshoremen won high percussion at DCA finals, and I was a member of the bass line. "On Christmas Day, I opened a present, and it was an exact replica of Dad's trophy ... except mine was blue and black. He always remembered. "Drum and Bugle corps today is still a huge part of my life. I plan my summers around it. I post a bazillion times a day on drum corps forums. All of my best friends are drum corps people. "It is all I know."