The 70’s = Evolution; curvilinear, the Wheel, and Girls!....
As they turned the corner into the seventies, the Corps only gained momentum. Genero and Luedee kept churning out one popular show after another. With the exception of John Bodnar filling in for the ailing Luedee in 1974, the musical team was otherwise constant; however, change was frequent in the 1970s. Bob Daniels designed the M&M in 1970 and Ike Ianessa assumed that duty for 1971 and 1972. Carman Cluna took over the M&M for 1973 and 1974, and the venerable Daniels returned for another stint in 1975 and 1976.
One big change for the Corps was that of “Jumping” Joe Genero stepping aside as drum major in 1970 and bringing onboard in his place the very capable Jimmy McHenry. This was an adjustment for the horn line after having had Joe out front for so long, but he did always seem to show up for the big shows in a uniform. In 1972 Tom Hart assumed the lead drum major spot, staying on the podium through 1974, only to give way to Al Richmond for the 1975 and 1976 seasons.
Drum corps being cyclical, as membership goes, saw many of the vets from the 1960’s retire. This wasn’t a problem because the ranks were swelled by many newcomers e.g. Doug Oravez, Paul Mayer, Danny McCarthy, John “the Redhead” Glynn, Mark Burel, Joey Nicholson, Butch Verdi as well as Skip Vargo, Paul Kasperzyk, Bob Bradley, John Gore, and lets not forget John “Cupcakes” Curran. These guys, among others, had the Hurricane horn line blazing at new levels. The drum line added its own talent….Vic Kulinski, John Moynihan, Bill Palumbo, Bob Wilcox and Moe Marchitto to name a few. The color guard was joined by Rich Mastrioani and Duke Breon. These new guys added the punch that helped produce some of the largest and most powerful corps in the Hurricanes long history.
All in all, the Hurcs of those first seven years of the 1970’s, were always in the mix… fiercely competitive, and always a well received, popular corps, with a quality product, though never quite making it to the top in the championship contest…the DCA. But again, always in the mix…..sometimes you just have to tip your cap to the competition. These Hurricanes took the field of competition a total of 92 times, resulting in twelve 1st place finishes, as well as achieving 2nd in thirty one contests. In DCA championship contests, the Hurcs placed 3rd twice, in 1970 and 1973, they came in 4th three times, in 1971, 1972, and 1975, as well as two 6th place finishes, in 1974 and 1976. Make no mistake; the hallmark of these powerhouse editions of the Hurricanes was the level of commitment of every member…not only to the Corps and the quest for excellence, but to each other!
As earlier stated, drum corps is cyclical. This reality became a huge concern following the 1976 season when the cycle went out of whack with an unusual number of vets reaching their time to retire. In essence, this was the end of an era. The nucleus of the Corps shrank drastically. Compounding the problem was the departure of two greats…Joe Genero, who’d had such an indelible influence on the corps from the early years, through so many exciting campaigns deemed it was time to move on, culminating a brilliant twenty years of guiding the Hurricanes. In addition, Bob Glovna bowed out of a long Hurricane career to devote his energies to his duties as Vice President of Drum Corps Associates, and handed over the directorial reins to Arnie Juliano. Ray Luedee remained as the only holdover of the previous staff and had a fairly solid drum line with which to work.
The Corps was faced with two main issues: rebuilding the horn line, and recognizing the evolutionary turn color guards had taken. The days of holding the flag and being used as picks in the drill were now gone. Arnie Juliano and Asst. Director/Business Manager Tom Gabianelli put their heads together and put forth a plan…a controversial plan to allow females into the color guard. The new generation of guard style had taken over. Choreography, dancing, twirling and a wide variety of props were now being used. Women were best suited for these functions to help the Corps keep pace with the changing trends. Macho pride and the human nature to resist change made the decision to allow girls into the Corps one of the toughest ever, but in November of 1976 the decision was made…..The plan to revitalize the Corps was presented to the membership for approval. This democratic approach was unprecedented, and remains isolated as the only occurrence where the entire body of members voted on any issue, however, this fact not withstanding, the vote was favorable, hence the “Men from Connecticut” transformed into “The Pride of Connecticut.” The girls were in, thus solving both problems. Today, the decision to make the Corps co-ed seems like it would be a no brainer, but that wasn’t the case in the fall of 1976. The Hurricanes had been an all male institution for 45 years. Our competition, with few exceptions, was all male. In the minds of many, fears were that going co-ed would irreparably change the landscape of our activity. Fortunately, common sense and logic prevailed…In November of 1976 the first female, Joan Mullen, joined the Hurricanes and was named Color Guard Captain! She was soon joined by the following girls; Nancy Moynihan, Marie Kane, Laura Florentino, Dodie Wynn, Ellen Stacy, Heidi King, Debbie MacLennan, Mary Bennett, Lauren Sette, Faye Barrett, Laurie Cassidy, Ellen Niezelski, Terry Sekellick, Jane Bologna, Paula Yankowich, Donna Kearney, Dianna MacLennan, Leta Golder, Brenda Curran, Fran Kulpowich, Laurie Nestor, Kris Szokol, Mary Ann Bucci and Laura Lally.
These women quickly adapted to the standards and rigors of life as Hurricanes and breathed a new life into the Corps. This new entity propelled the Corps through a successful rebuilding program that produced a steady improvement, beginning in 1977, that gained momentum in subsequent years and culminated with a DCA World Championship title in 1981! In hindsight, the move to become a co-ed organization did indeed change the landscape of the activity……for the better in such a big way! The new color guard quickly became a championship caliber unit. Over the decades the color guard has been the centerpiece of many great Hurricane Corps and is a tremendous source of pride year after year. In that inaugural year girls were restricted to the guard but their inclusion proved to be such a huge success that all barriers were removed beginning the very next year, 1978.
Guys previously in the guard transferred to the horn and drum lines, and began learning to play. The girls also brought with them an influx of new members, among them Larry McLennan, Rick Averil, Steve “Loops” Gangi, Ted Furman, Charlie King, Dom Mascolo, Bronto D’Andrea, Al DeSantis, Dave Paradise, and a flashy new drum major…Dave McLennan.
Frank Dorritie was brought in to write the horn book and turn the “new” horn line into a respectable unit. With his patience and tempered persistence, he did just that….not great, but respectable. Ray Luedee continued to head up the drum line and turned out good results as well. Neal Smith was hired to write drill while Ed Yagovane took the helm of the marching program. Smith and Yagovane were progressive sorts, and brought the Corps into the newer style of maneuvering that had gradually evolved from the strictly military style of marching. All the pieces were in place…..a tough winter for sure, but the rebuilding effort was well on its way towards returning the Hurricanes to the upper echelon of the DCA. The Hurcs ended the season of 1977 at the championship contest in 8th place. Undaunted, the quest to make constant improvement continued. Tom “Gabby” Gabianelli became the new director when Arnie Juliano retired after 1977. Gabby brought in Eric Rosen to write and teach the horn line and the drum line saw change too; Ray Luedee retired after the 1977 season and was replaced by the very capable Pat Scollon…Ray would surely be missed…the accomplishments and the legacy of his thirteen years as head of the Hurricane drum line would not easily be eclipsed! The Corps continued to improve and grow in 1978. The change to co-ed had produced a positive impact, and contributed to a very solid winter…with girls now contributing in all sections of the Corps. The 1978 season was driven by a renewed sense of purpose as the Corps steadily rose in the rankings, as demonstrated by a respectable 5th place finish at the championship.
Mel St Louis assumed the directorship in 1979, with Gabby staying active behind the scene. However, the big jump in 1979 was in the hiring of Ray Fallon to write and teach the horn line. Ray was very talented, ambitious, and aggressive in his approach. He simply took ownership of the horn line and began kicking up the level of performance immediately. His standards were high and he expected, and would only accept, an all out commitment towards excellence! It only got better, when, in mid season, Ray was joined by the irrepressible and inimitable drum corps sage Pepe Notaro. One more key addition was the addition of Mickey Kelly to teach the color guard exclusively. Mickey proved to be a high energy instructor and a master of guard/visual innovation as well! These three guys were master motivators, and working in concert with Smith and Yagovane made this staff as solid as they come……..and the proof was on the field! The Hurricanes turned in 5th and 3rd place performances, respectively, at the 1979 and 1980 DCA championships. The Corps was once again popular, entertaining and electrifying!
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