In the continued spirit of Holiday warmth and love, this is the seventh in the series of drum corps love connection columns. Love of Corps Leads to Love in Life: April 25, 2003
Drum Corps as a Love Connection: May 16, 2003
Love Connection Amazing Stories: June 13, 2003
More Drum Corps as a Love Connection, July 11, 2003
And Even More Drum Corps as a Love Connection, August 29, 2003 (If you wish to share your story for a future Fanfare column, please e-mail me at It doesn't have to be a Love Connection story, but I'm willing to take more of them if it is.) Randy Blackburn is former drum major of the Florida Vanguard and joined the Crossmen in 1980, where he played the baritone solo in "Tiger of San Pedro" that same year. Here's his story. "I marched with the Crossmen until I aged out in 1982. During that summer, we had a show in Cullowhee, N.C., and that is where I met my future wife, who at that time was the guard captain of Suncoast Sound. I remember watching them practice with a couple of buddies of mine and noticed this gorgeous blonde running the guard rehearsal that day. I told my buddies that somehow, someway I was going to meet this girl. Well, it never happened that year, but needless to say, I kept on thinking about her through the off-season. "I contacted Suncoast in the fall of 1982 about teaching the corps, and to my surprise, I was hired by my good friend, Russell Stanton, and was asked to come down and teach marching. At the first camp weekend my dream of meeting this girl finally came true. I found out her name, Susan Alderman. She was an original member of the corps and she lived nearby. Wow, how lucky could I get, teaching an up-and-coming drum corps and meeting my future wife? Of course, I had to ask as many questions from all the staff members and other member of the corps about her right away. I found out that she was attending college in North Carolina, and the only time I would see her was at camps. That didn't stop me, though. "I kept in touch with her through quite a few phone calls (several hundred dollars over the next couple of months) and a road trip to her college. I didn't really have that much money at the time and saved as much as I could to make that road trip. Well, when I got there, I really surprised her that I had driven all night from Clearwater, Fla., just to spend the weekend with her. After all my planning, I was shocked to hear her say that she really didn't want to have a serious relationship at that time, and I guess you could say my bubble was burst. "Never to be one to give up, I kept up the pursuit and spent as much time with her as I could through that weekend and then into the summer. Once the summer was over and drum corps was done for another season I talked her into moving back home to the Tampa Bay area and continuing school at the University of South Florida. She agreed and our romance continued to grow. Once she completed school, we set a date and have now been married for 17 years and have two beautiful girls that look just like their mom. I am sure that one day both of them will march, too, and I can only hope that they have the same type of experiences that we had together during our days of drum corps. "A lot of people ask me if I ever regret giving up school to do the drum corps scene, and all I can say is that without drum corps, I never would have met my soul mate, my best friend and the love of my life." And here's a story from Alan Armstrong.

Allan and Ginger Armstrong now (left) and in 1985.
"In 1985, I had been dating a girl for four years and had even discussed marriage. She was not a marching member, but was very supportive of my time with the corps. In May of that year, Spirit played a gig for President Reagan when he was in Atlanta. "While we were all sitting around waiting for the security clearances we had to pass, I was introduced to a young redhead from Texas who was marching her first year in Spirit's guard. I had noticed her at camps before, but she was pretty quiet and I was happily occupied in the girlfriend department, so we had never really talked. "I came to find out that she and her friend from Texas were moving in to Atlanta a week early and had nothing to do the next week. My college roomie and I were moving in as well and were hitting some of the fun spots in Atlanta during the week before everydays started. We invited Ginger and Brigitta to come along and meet us at the local water park. We were meeting some friends there (including my girlfriend) later that week. They agreed to join us. "We all arrived at the park and began spending the day sloshing, swimming and generally enjoying our time. My girlfriend was acting obnoxious and was ignoring me, so I began intentionally flirting with Ginger (she says to this day she didn't realize it, but everyone else with us did). A huge storm came up, so we had to hit the local mall. We all had dinner together, and then I went to see my girlfriend off and tell her 'bye' for the summer. She was supposed to drive back to the University of Georgia in Athens during the bad storm and I was concerned about it. She said she had an offer from a wrestler at the university to stay the night at his place in Atlanta, but his parents weren't home and she was not sure about that. I told her I didn't want her doing that, to which she replied, 'Don't trust me huh? I'm supposed to trust you with some cute little redheaded friend all summer, but you don't trust me?' We ended things rather ticked with each other. "Long story short, there was some misunderstanding about where she went that night and I thought she had cheated on me. The next day, believing that the old girlfriend had intentionally done something I asked her not to, I asked Ginger to be my seat partner for the summer. We went to a corps party a few days later and shared a first kiss that we both can remember to this day. "Our first show of the year was in North Carolina, a few weeks later. My longtime girlfriend's father and stepmother lived there. She was visiting and came to see me at the show. I had found out there had been a misunderstanding and she truly hadn't 'cheated on me' and felt bad. She showed up with a gift for me and the news that she was now ready to get married (I had broached the subject about a year earlier and she had told me she wasn't ready). I had to tell her that things had changed and while I made no promises to Ginger, I wasn't going to make any decisions until the summer was over. "Ginger and I spent the summer as a couple and flew home on the same flight from Madison to Kansas City. We had to split there, as she caught a flight to Texas and I to Georgia. She cried and sobbed the whole flight, afraid she was going to 'lose me' when I went home to my old girlfriend. I made no promises to either and told them both I had to have time to 'sort things out.' "After several months of 'sorting things out,' I told my old girlfriend that my decision was to stay with Ginger. We carried on a long-distance relationship for the rest of that year and then she moved to Alabama to go to college where I did. She marched one more year with me in Spirit and then marched one more summer while I taught the corps. We announced our engagement at the corps banquet finals week in 1987 and were married one year later in Atlanta, using 'Greatest Love of All' and 'Let It Be Me' in our ceremony and having many corps friends as attendants. "We continued touring with the corps, teaching and selling souvies for several years. I took the summer of 1990 off as we were having our first child. That daughter turned one on tour in New York City the next year, as Mom sold souvies and Dad taught the corps. Mom continued on helping out with souvies, doing a little part-time teaching through the early 1990s while I was heavily involved with the brass. She even toured a few days in 1993 while pregnant with our second child, selling souvies while I finished a Florida swing before leaving tour to take our 3-year-old to Disney for a few days. "Our involvement with Spirit continued at varying levels through the years until 2000, when there was an effort to fold the corps. Ginger stepped up to help 'jumpstart' an alumni association that was dormant, though still in existence, and tried to help bring the corps back from the brink of death. We were both HEAVILY involved in the 2001 season, her with the alumni association and me as the brass co-caption head. "A split from the Spirit organization at the end of 2001 provided a respite from corps life for a while, but I was soon asked to be the staff coordinator for a brand new organization being started in Atlanta, Court of Honor. While Ginger was not involved at the beginning, she has come on board recently to try and help get the guard program going, and we find ourselves working together again, helping other young people find the same drum corps experience that brought us together. "Four kids and 18 years later, drum corps is still a HUGE part of both of our lives and has made us the people we are today. Our success as teachers is owed in great part to the likes of those that taught us: Scott Chandler, Tam Easterwood, Freddy Martin, Sal and LuAnne Salas, and Brad Caraway, among others. Our best friends are still our corps friends and we spend time each year with the other 'families' that grew from the relationships forged in those mid 1980s Spirit corps. An old Chicago tune from that era, 'If She Would Have Been Faithful,' still gives us a chuckle and we count our blessings each day, remembering what 'almost never happened.'"
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.