Where were you in 64?
The summer of ’64. Memories that seem like only yesterday. Cars, corps life, jobs, and a host of fellow corpsmen that just graduated high school, with younger members wondering – where to next? Baxter, Duesterbeck, Grorud, Marshall, Kelly and the list goes on. This had to be our year, especially for them, a great year.
We had our music: WLS Chicago, KAAY Little Rock, KDWB St. Paul, and thoughts about a disc jockey we couldn’t tune in, Wolfman Jack. Dick Biondi at WLS was the first American DJ to play the Beatles. Sugar Shack played repeatedly on KDWB arousing thoughts of Porky’s Drive Inn on University Ave in the big city to the West. My corp buddy Charlie Lane was all about the Beach Boys and “California Dreamin”. All one needed was AM radio and the latest issue of Hit Parade to stay current.
Cars only had to make it to Durand and back; we used the folks’ car if we ventured over the state line. The old junkers did double duty when the sun went down on the parking lot at Carson Park during practice, and the call for ‘headlights’ came out!
Lyman was the man – the drum major of drum majors, and only that little gal from the St.Mathias Cadets gave him any GE competition.
This was my 7th year, and perhaps the heaviest schedule I recall. I personally enjoyed the parades, we entertained only feet from our audience. But it wasn’t hard to get hyped for competition; if for no other reason, we had never beat the St. Paul Scouts in full corp competition.
Minneapolis had its’ Foshay Tower and St. Paul, the First National Bank, proud sponsor of the Indianhead Council Scouts Drum and Bugle Corp. Every time I was in that city, I was overwhelmed by that big building on Robert St. near it’s junction with Kellogg. Thirty-two stories high, with a four story steel structure on top that held a fifty foot tall red neon number ‘1’. It could be seen 20 miles away at night from the ground and 75 miles away by air; and every time I saw it I was reminded of the countless times in competition, the Scouts were in fact number 1. They were our arch nemesis, rivals whom we all knew by name, and at the same time, off the field, our friends.
Then came August in Appleton, the night the light went out for the Scouts. As I recall, confident of our performance, several corp members joined Lyman and assistant drum major Al Lorenz at the sideline for the presentations. Lyman had about 6 helpers for this occasion. And that night the Eau Claire Boys Drum and Bugle Corp took home the first place trophy and the right to serenade the corps off the field. For those fellas, some like me who started in grade school, REDEMPTION! At last! To my knowledge, the St. Paul Scouts represented the largest city in America to ‘field’ a singular Scout Corp.
The Kilties started off that year dreadfully getting kicked by the Cavies, 12 points down on Memorial Day. But late that summer, Charlie Lane came to practice to announce; in his own diction -“Kiltie win National” for which line became repeated often, just to tease.
According to their website, there is no recollection of them competing in either the VFW or American Legion State Championships. But in August, in Cleveland, Ohio, the Kilts became VFW National Junior Corp Champs. In the fall, they missed a first place due to a flag penalty at the New York World’s Fair competition.
We had a great year; it just didn’t always show in the standings. In addition to our triumph in Appleton, there was to be one other ‘first’ and the following place finishes: Menomonie – 2nd place, Clinton, IA – 4th, LaCrosse – 5th, Austin – 3rd, New Richmond – 2nd and the LaCrosse Octoberfest – 3rd.
We competed in JUNIOR Corps division. We called things like they were back then; not to mention about 1 out of every 5 boys I knew actually was a Jr. Nowadays, the Kilts would have been accused of sand bagging. First is first, besides, venues for competition seemed endless.
Charlie and I headed for California at 5 a.m., the morning of the 4th of July, 1965 in his recently acquired ’55 Chevy. We didn’t see the Beach Boys, but we did hang out at every beach from North Santa Monica south to Seal Beach. Charlie passed away in 2004, forty years from the ‘summer of 64’. We held a memorial service for him downtown at Destini Artworks. Eighty five people showed and the service ended when the After Dark Barbershop Quartet sang “In my room”. Charlie liked the Beach Boys and drum corps life a lot.
Where were you in ’64? Well, just maybe, to quote ‘Milner’ from the movie “American Graffitti”
“having fun, ... as usual…”