Drum Corps International
Semper Fi memories

Semper Fi memories

by Drum Corps International

Rick Crouthamel contributed the following article. Next Wednesday, Nov. 10, is the anniversary of the United States Marine Corps. Unlike most of your readers, my experience with drum corps was almost solely confined to my experience with the United States Marines Drum and Bugle Corps. I grew up in Allentown and marched for two seasons (1973 and 1974) with a small corps called the Emmaus Sentinels, and that was how I was introduced to drum corps. I never even heard of DCI until I got to Washington, D.C., and lived with guys who marched with corps like Troopers and Madison Scouts. What an eye-opener! The shows I saw literally took my breath away. A huge influence on me was my good buddy, Glen Conklin, who marched with the old Rochester Crusaders. That guy could flat-out play snare drum. You want a memory? OK. I'll give you two memories, my most embarrassing moment and possibly my finest. One of the things I liked about being in the Marine Drum and Bugle Corps was the fact that our jobs were so varied. One week we could be at the White House, and the next week we could be at a high school in Brownsville, Texas. I've got to say, I liked the high school jobs as much as the White House gigs. The people in those small towns truly appreciated our performances. So, there we were down in Brownsville, lined up to march into a gymnasium absolutely packed to the rafters with people. We LOVED playing in gyms. We'd get into concert formation and just blow the roof off the place. You can talk all you want about musicality, but all the old drum corps people loved doing stuff like that. It was part of the drum corps experience. Whenever we had to march single file, the standard operating procedure (SOP) was for me to lead the entire drum corps, directly behind the drum major. The reason for this was because I was the tallest snare drummer (by far). I would hit my mark, the snares would form up on me and the rest of the drum line would form up on the snares, and so on until we were in complete formation. The drum major gave the command, we started playing a cadence, I took ONE step into the gym, my foot caught a rubber mat on the floor and I stumbled. Now let me explain: In the history of stumbling, no one has EVER stumbled like I did on that day in Texas. Like a drunken circus clown, I stumbled forward for a good 10 or 15 feet. I remember my snare drum was bobbling up and down like a buoy in a storm. I came THIS close to falling flat on my face. The effect was electric. By the time I hit my mark, I was laughing hysterically. I could barely control myself. I was shaking violently from holding the laughter in. Tears were running down my face. As the rest of the drum line formed up around me all I could see out of the corners of my eyes were drums shaking up and down because the entire drum line was also hysterical. It took us half the concert to get under control. Our execution really stunk that day, and it was my entire fault. Thank God drum major Sgt. James Marcel was conducting us and not our leader, Truman Crawford. If my memory is accurate, he was off to the side somewhere, functioning as our announcer. He was most definitely NOT in my line of vision, I can tell you that. He was a good guy and a fair man to work for, but if he had seen us like that there would have been major hell to pay. Hey, it was bad enough that Gunny Marcel saw us. A year or two later we were up in Chicago, playing a halftime show at a football game at Northwestern University. It was my finest hour, so to speak. We had just spent 15 days at the Texas State Fair in Dallas. Dallas was always a great trip, but man, we used to work out butts off. We'd minimally march at least three jobs a day, playing at Marine Corps Square. After several days, I started to feel a pain on the left side of my left foot when we marched. The pain kept getting worse, but I just figured that I needed new soles or something, and made a mental note to take care of it when we got back to D.C. After Dallas, the plan was to fly up to Northwestern, stay overnight, play the halftime show, and immediately fly back to D.C. I loved Northwestern. I discovered Chicago deep-dish pizza and foosball at a great bar just off campus. The next day we were lined up, waiting for the halftime of the game. My foot was hurting as usual. If I recall correctly, we stepped off to "Barnum and Bailey's Favorites." Part of that drill called for the snares to go up the 50-yard line in slow march. As I got to the middle of the field, I slowly stepped on a stone right on the sore part of my left foot and heard a very loud "CRACK!" Having had more than my share of broken bones, I instantly knew what had happened. I began to limp, slightly at first, but a little more pronounced, as the pain got worse. I began to sweat from the pain, (keep in mind, this was Chicago in late October) and frantically thought about my options. I could have simply marched (or limped) off the field, but I simply did not want to do that in front of all those college kids. We were Marines, for cryin' out loud. So I just marched the rest of the drill. As the snares lined up on me I could hear guys around me whispering, "Crout, what's wrong?" "My foot's broken," I'd whisper back, and the reaction was always the same. "Get out of here!" As we marched off the field, our commanding officer, Truman Crawford (the late Truman Crawford, I'm so very sad to say), who had just made Captain, came running over and asked, "Crout, what's wrong?" I looked at him and said, "Skipper, I think I broke my foot." He almost fell over. I was big by Marine Corps standards, (6 foot, 4 inches, about 215 pounds), so Captain Crawford got three or four guys to carry me back on the bus, on our plane, off the plane and right over to the hospital at Bolling Air Force base in D.C. The rest of the week was kind of nice because some of the officers and staff NCO's at Marine Barracks sought me out to say to shake my hand for "toughing it out" in front of that crowd at Northwestern. I finally went back to that field just a couple of years ago for a Penn State/Northwestern game with my wife, Maggie. It brought back a ton of great memories of all the wonderful people I served with. 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 master's 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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