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In the Beginning...circa 1932
“There is a corps that we all know that has the greatest drum corps show.” Well, that has not always been the case. The Hurricanes, you see, had a humble beginning. Not a lot of detail is recorded of those early years but the charter members built a corps that would in time, become one of the most recognizable names in the world of drum corps……..The Connecticut Hurricanes.
It all started a lifetime ago, way back in 1932. The Corps was organized as the John H. Collins Post Fife Drum & Bugle Corps from Derby Connecticut. It is not known who initiated the Corps, weather it was the American Legion, or simply a group of guys interested in starting a corps, we just don’t know. But in 1932 when a man named Walter H. DeForest donated 6 fifes, 4 snares, 1 bass drum, and a pair of cymbals the organization that would eventually become the Hurricanes was born.
The original members of the Corps were;
Musical Director, Maurice Wring
Drum Sgt. Thomas Woods Fife Sgt. Frank Cross Bugle Sgt. Fred Gould
Drum Major, Patrick Reidy
Wesley Anderson Lester Gunn Jeremiah Carey Paul Sweeney Fred Kelly Eugene Imperato
John Daiuto James O’Day William Kiley Michael Kiley James Cribbins Rinald Walsh
Walter Lique Ivan Cable John Sparso J. McCoy Andrew Purcella B. Vollaro C. Peterson
Julius Pochy Ralph. Mancini Fred Kershaw Harry Kershaw A. Tomasella James Hennessey
Ole Severson Vincent Lique Ralph Bartone J. Baley A. Korack Richard Woods Hector Scarpa Harold Carey Vincent DeRosa Harry Gordon J. Murasky J. Peterson Walter Armstrong P. Kraft Joseph Finer Thomas O’Conner Charles McManus George Biancarelli
The first songs learned were the “Thunderer March” (how prophetic is that?) and “Semper Fidelis.” The uniform of the day was simple; a white shirt, black bow tie, dark trousers, and the overseas cap of the American Legion. The year of 1932 was during the height of the Great Depression ... money was an issue, however, funding for uniforms and more equipment wasn’t an obstacle they couldn’t overcome…it was just a goal requiring discipline, patience and perseverance. The John H. Collins Post Fife Drum & Bugle Corps was now in business! It’s quite certain the handful of originals would be truly amazed with how long enduring, successful, and how popular their undertaking would become.
Due to the high number of veterans that manned so many drum corps as well as the supportive sponsorship by the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars organizations, drum corps across the nation were heavily influenced by a military discipline and patriotic theme. This was reflected in the marching style, the uniforms, and the music that was played….mostly marches and patriotic tunes. The Collins Post Drum Corps was no different in this respect, and it was a formula that paid off and the membership kept growing with each passing year.
They started out doing what hundreds of American Legion and VFW drum corps all across America did; march in a variety of local parades and accompany their Post to wherever the American Legion conventions were held, all the while, growing their savings account. The great fun that they enjoyed was more to do with the camaraderie and hi-jinx than in competition, but for sure, excellence was their focus.
By 1937 they had earned enough money to purchase new uniforms. Though not yet called the Hurricanes, the forefathers were indeed an impressive sight. The new uniform was in the West Point military style featuring a blue cadet jacket highlighted by white piping and chrome buttons, a white belt and cross strap, grey pants, and black shoes, topped by a blue shako with a white plume.
This new uniform was like an adrenaline boost, a huge shot in the arm…The Collins Post Fife Drum & Bugle Corps was no longer a rag tag neighborhood band, they now had the look, size and quality of a class “A” musical unit! Looking towards the future, it seemed as if the potential to grow as well as to excel was limitless. The effect of the new uniforms was immediate and very much in evidence; these guys exuded pride and confidence.
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