Drum Corps International
More drum corps as a love connection

More drum corps as a love connection

by Michael Boo


Michael Boo
This is another in the continuing series of love connection stories. (Love of Corps Leads to Love in Life: April 25, 2003, Drum Corps as a Love Connection: May 16, 2003, and Love Connection Amazing Stories: June 13, 2003.) Due to the incredible amount of material sent in on this topic, there will be at least one more column in this series in a few weeks. Wendy Paquin marched in St. John's Girls Corps from 1965 to 1972. Her future husband was a soprano from the Toronto Optimists, having moved to Toronto from Quebec to march the corps in 1969. According to Wendy, "We married and moved to Montreal where we both taught Les Chatelaines de Laval (he taught drill and I color guard). In 1975, we moved to Toronto where we were asked to teach the newly merged Seneca Optimists, which we did for the three years of the corps' existence (1976, 1977 and 1978). We separated amicably after DCI in 1977 ... I believe we had married as best friends and buddies, but we each wanted something different in a marriage. "He is now married in Toronto and has two children and teaches French. I am single and have my own business and live in the Venice Beach section of Los Angeles, where I ran away to after DCI 1978 with another instructor for a vacation, and am still here 24 years later. My great love affairs have almost always been corps guys (in fact the guy I came to California with was another corps guy). During my teen-age years, I never dated anyone except corps guys. "My younger sister started out in the drum line of St. John's Girls, came to Seneca and marched color guard (1976 to 1978) and married a drummer from Seneca. They both became instructors after they aged out. They are happily married (24 years) and he marches in a police band ... (a hobby thing). They are very happy with two boys and still love corps. He is often asked to do announcer duties at local drum corps events, and both of them still refer to people who 'used to be in the corps.' "My even younger sister was a soprano in St. John's Girls and also married a Seneca Optimist who was a baritone player. They are happily married with three little boys. (Our family seems to be furnishing the world with men.) "My fourth and final sister marched St. John's Girls, playing French horn. She married a non-corps guy ... but they're happy, nonetheless. "At one time, all four of us marched in St. John's together (1972). "Drum corps was such a part of our lives back then it wasn't even conceivable to be with anyone not in a corps. We all still have closed drum corps friendships that have lasted the years." Mike Ryan has been in the Caballeros Senior Corps from 1975 to the present, stating, "I had just started marching in the Hawthorne Caballeros in the winter of 1976. My wife Theresa was marching in the Parsippany Patriots Winter Color Guard as guard captain. We met at a guard show because my brother was dating her sister at the time, and we were married in July of 1981. "She has been my partner in life ever since. I have never made a better decision. In 1982, she became the first woman in the Caballeros, signing up as soon as they opened the corps to females. That's something for the record books. She marched from 1982 through 1990. She has let me continue to be involved in drum corps and I'm still trying to get it right. It has been great to live it for the last 26 years. "Our wedding day was great. The Caballeros held the Grand Prix Senior Contest at Giants Stadium in the Meadowlands in North Jersey. So the night before we got married, our names were up in lights on the stadium scoreboard. The post-contest party at the Legion hall was kind of a second bachelor party. They sent Theresa home early so that she would be OK the next day and so I didn't see her before the wedding (bad luck and all that). My best man played in the tenor line and he and I had a rough time getting up early the next day for the wedding. The church was full of Caballeros. It was interesting seeing them there, knowing where they had been the night before, and all had a good time. "The keyboard player at the church played baritone in the corps. As the mass finished and we were leaving the church, he played the 'Call of the Bull.' It was great. "Drum corps has allowed us to remain young at heart. Each year, new and excited people join the drum corps, leading to new relationships and lifelong friendships. We have attended many weddings over the years of members of the corps. People from corps have an openness that does not exist anywhere else. We see each other at our worst and our best and this sharing allows us to enjoy each other more, to help each other through life and revel in our victories and commiserate in our defeats. "My children both march ... winter guard at first. My eldest (she is 20) also joined the Caballeros and is dating a member of the corps. The family goes on. My father was in the Caballeros. My brother, my wife and I are the second generation, and now my daughter is the third generation. Drum corps is a great activity and has been for a long time. I hope it continues." Bea Bicking met Gus Gustafson in June of 1973 when they were both marching St. Mary's Cadets of Gloucester, N.J. (formerly the Belles of St. Mary's All-Girl Corps). They were both drummers, but as the drum line was full, Bea picked up a mellophone. They went out for four years, until 1977, even though they went to different corps in 1974, she to New Jersey's Audubon Bon-Bons and he to the Keystone Regiment, which later became Crossmen. In 1977, Gus joined the Army and Bea was still in high school. As Bea remembers, "We tried to keep in touch, but somehow 25 years got away from us. I knew somehow we would meet again. In the 1980s, St. Mary's had a reunion. I tried unsuccessfully to contact him, thinking he was out of the military. "I believed somewhere down the road we would have reunited at a drum corps reunion or something, He kept looking for my maiden name Hammell in the drum corps world, not my married name Bicking. I was right under his nose if he only knew. My old horn instructor Ray Eyler is a member of the Rebels and Rip Bernert, director of the Audubon Alumni Chorus, is always at Rebels functions. "Gus also did 21 years in the Army, which is why I didn't find him before. It was not until he retired and started looking for me again that he got the hit on classmate.com in October, 2002. If my sister had not answered his e-mail, we would not be together today. At first all I could say was, 'OH MY GOD,' then I was worried about how I looked, but then I said, 'oh well,' and I called him on the phone. I could have e-mailed him, but I wanted to hear his voice after 25 years. "I called him and it has been history ever since. We found out that we are both still active in the drum corps world, and that we both felt the same way about each other. I taught and was on staff of the now disbanded Southern Knights of Franklinville, New Jersey, and was a founding member of the corps. I still go to all levels of drum corps shows ... DCI, DCA, Garden State and alumni corps. "I learned that he was marching as a rudimental bass drummer in the Yankee Rebels Alumni Corps out of Baltimore, Md. The ironic part of this situation is that we were both at DCA finals in Scranton in September and did not know each other was involved in the activity. "We are so happy we found each other and are planning a life together. Gus and I were both married to other people in the 25 years we were apart. When he found me, I was divorced (of course, I married a non-drum corps person who did not understand the love of drum corps) and so was he. We both had children and we each had a child march in drum corps. My daughter Danielle marched in the Southern Knights and his son Robbie is currently a tonal bass drummer in the Yankee Rebels (Rookie of the Year for 2002). I think our relationship was in God's master plan, because we never stopped loving each other through the years. "I believe it was destiny that we are to be together. If it was not for our teenage years in drum corps, we would never have met and known each other. I always knew I would find him but thought it would be when we were a lot older, not in our 40s. So you see, I believe in soul mates, and Gus is definitely mine. "Gus recently resigned as a tenor drummer from the Yankee Rebel alumni and joined the Hawthorne Cabs Alumni corps to do more of a field show. This was a childhood dream for him. I will probably be in Maryland this summer and will support him in any way while he marches. I would join the corps, but moving and changing my home and job is too much to concentrate on drill and music this late in the game. Gus will be playing tenor drum with the Cabs. This requires a four-hour drive, two hours to my house then another two hours with a friend to Cabs practice. Drum corps people are so dedicated. "We are planning to get married in the next year, and I will relocate to the Baltimore area to be with him. We will still travel and participate in the drum corps activity. We can both say that we met through our years of marching in the wonderful experience of drum corps. This drum corps love connection was meant to be." In mid-June, after the above was written, I received a note from Bea that they had decided to get married on July 12 in Gloucester, N.J., where Bea's sister's cousin is mayor. They wanted an Irish wedding, as they are both Irish, the mayor is Irish, and they are exchanging Irish wedding rings imported from Ireland. And in true drum corps spirit, they decided to speed things up to accommodate their busy summer drum corps schedules. Fanfare archives 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.

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