Posted by: patwogan | October 9, 2009

Independence High School Drum Corps

I was in Chorus in both Junior High School and Senior High School.  In fact, I sang second soprano in the one of the trios.  I think it was the JV Trio.  I was told by the choir director that I had a nice voice and it blended well with the other two girls in the trio.  Somehow, I felt that second soprano meant that I wasn’t quite good enough to sing first soprano.  I know now that the range of my voice fit the second soprano part better than the first soprano or alto.  Anyway, I never felt very proud of being in the trio, always envying the girls who had solo parts. 

My pride was invested in the fact that I made the Independence Drum Corps, at that time, the elite marching organization…or so we thought… of Independence High School.  We marched at half time of the football games, various parades in neighboring towns, and of course, the big important Neewollah parade.  We had a place of honor at the end of the parade.  This meant we had to march carefully because we followed the saddle club horses.  I don’t know how we felt that it was a position of honor, but we did. 

I played the bell lyre, a vertical type of xylophone which was carried in a harness on one hip and hit with a mallet with my right hand.  I think I was chosen to play that instrument because I could play the piano and read music.  I really would have like to have played the tom drums, but my instrument was probably better than the snares and definitely easier to carry than the bass. 

Our uniforms were quite classy.  They consisted of a blue jacket, waist length, with brass buttons, a white skirt which had to be a certain length,  nylon stockings, white oxfords, and a blue hat with an ostrich plume thingy on the front.  We had to shake out the ostrich plume and steam it in the bathroom so it always looked just right.  Miss Self was the drum corps sponsor and she made sure the seams on our nylons were straight and that we had a garter belt to hold them up so they didn’t sag.  She also checked the skirt lengths when we received our uniforms to make sure they were the right length so we all looked the same.  She also inspected us before each parade and then rode the bus with us to our destination.  She was the chaperone and sponsor.

The director of the drum corps was also the director of the band.  He rode the bus with the band, but would stick his head in the bus and give us last minute directions, reminding us we were the premier drum corps in Southeast Kansas and to conduct ourselves as such.  He was interested in the way we played, but also was very interested in the way we marched.  We had routines that we performed during parades of precision marching, etc.  I remember one time that when he stuck his head in the bus, he reminded the twirlers who led us that they should really strut their stuff as their job was to make the old men who sat on the corner sit up and take notice of us.  He wore a brown military type uniform and had a Clark Gable type mustache.  I don’t remember what his name was, but I remember we all had a little bit of a crush on him.    Can you imagine, it was probably the uniform…no, I think it was the mustache and I think he knew we had a crush on him and conducted himself accordingly.

Our longest parade was always the Neewollah parade.  The parade route was several miles long.  We marched in the Kiddie parade Friday afternoon and then again in the big parade on Saturday.  It was one of the most important parades in Southeast Kansas and culminated a week of activities.  I always had at least one blister following this march..sometimes more than one. 

We practiced twice a week after school and sometimes had early morning practices for special things like Homecoming.  We would march in the street around the school and the little kids in the neighborhood would come out and march along with us on the sidewalk.  Sometimes we would go by bus to the football stadium to practice our routines using the yard lines as guides. 

We were good and we knew we were good.  We took a lot of pride in our straight lines and our playing.  It was an honor to be a member of this organization and we were to conduct ourselves as ladies at all times.  Being a member of the Independence High School Drum and Bugle Corps was probably the highlight of my high school career.

Go, Bulldogs!!



  1. Reading the “GO BULLDOGS” reminds me of the time we watched the Vikings and Tornado and did the GO, GO, GO Tornado chant because it was such a great sound in the stadium.

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