March On! ...the history of the
Toronto Optimists Drum & Bugle Corps
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Toronto Optimists: 1965
We were off to a great start!
(Memories submitted by Bob Carell)
We had lost many of our corps members after the 1963 season and that meant 1964 was a rebuilding year. As we closed 1964 and began the 1965 season we already had 31 rookies which could have meant that we could have had another challenging year. The 1964 corps dinner changed that. At the corps banquet Barry Bell "gave us hell" and demanded 100% turnout at rehearsals. The corps responded whole-heartedly and that set the tone for 1965. Attendance at rehearsals shot up and all of us worked our butts off to learn the new music.
The year started off with a bang. In late February we headed west on the earliest trip I can remember. We were on our way to perform at the Civic Opera House in Chicago. Some of the other corps performing were Cabs, Cavaliers, Royal Airs, St Kevin's, Kilties and, I believe, Racine Scouts. What a way to start a year! And, to top it off, while we were in Chicago we had an opportunity to spend some time working on our music with Truman Crawford. Truman had arranged the brass scores for all of our music (both the old and the new numbers).
In this show we debuted a new arrangement of our 1964 opener, "Who Will Buy". Instead of last year's slow intro we started of with a double-time bang. We also introduced a couple of new numbers including an extended version of "Alabama Jubilee" (we shortened it for our field show) and "Big Bad Bill".
A few memories of 1965
- performing in the Civic Opera House in Chicago
- our horns were a veritable hodge-podge. After seeing Optimists for the first time, Truman Crawford had told Barry that the corps would sound much better with a set of matched horns. In 1965 we switched from Brass to a matched set of Chrome bugles.
- we got our first contrabasses – three of them – and filled out the bottom end of our sound (other corps had started using contras in 1962)
- During the winter we had learned "Temptation" and Ron Kaiser wanted to use Steel Drums to add to the mood. The corps association said "no". Temptation was put on the shelf until 1968 when it was used as the out of concert number.
- being invited to perform for the annual "Timmy’s Easter Seal Parade of Stars" show. This annual benefit show was to be televised nationally and everyone, including the host, Bob Hope, volunteered their services. This was Optimists first opportunity to be seen nationally and everyone was excited. Unfortunately the Musicians' Union put an end to both our excitement and our performance. They told the TV station that, even though we were not being paid, no corps could appear. If we performed, no musicians' union members would be allowed to perform. As much as we wanted to perform, we had no choice but to withdraw.
- we had a free weekend in July and spent the Saturday at Ivor Wynne Stadium in Hamilton having our show filmed in glorious 16mm colour! The movie was to be used in a promotional campaign. We spent the day in the hot sun starting, stopping, running through bits and pieces of the show so that the cameras could get a variety of views. After the filming we recorded the music so that, after the film had been edited, the music could be added.
- a two week trip to the mid-west was cancelled. By the time we found out it was too late to find alternative contests so it was a big disappoint for everyone. As a result of the cancellation we went from Aug 7th to the 28th without a contest and I think that break kept us from achieving our full potential.
- because the trip had been cancelled the corps members wanted to go to the World Open which was to be held on August 21st. We did battle with management. Management won and we stayed home.
- we did manage to compete against Troopers and Garfield in Kingston, NY (we were in 3rd place)
- we had a horn line that was 1st or 2nd in every contest
- we played, in my opinion, the nicest repertoire in my 5 years with the Optimists
- in October at our Corps banquet we viewed the final version of the film. We were both thrilled and disappointed. There was the thrill of seeing ourselves in full colour together with a major disappointment. We discovered that the editors had not synced the music to the drill. The video made all of us appear to be out of step!! Sigh. A couple of years later someone who wanted to start a new corps borrowed our only copy. More than 50 years later we are still waiting for them to return it.
- I think that we could have had a fantastic corps in 1965. Unfortunately there were just too many weekends without a contest! Still, we handily won our 8th consecutive Nationals.
Other Material from 1965
- Recording: Civic Opera House (February 27th, 1965, Chicago, IL)
- Recording: Pow Wow (August 28th, 1965 in Kingston, NY)
- Recording: Canadian Nationals (September 11th, Varsity Stadium, Toronto, Ontario)
- Barry Bell's speech at the 1964 Banquet (From January 2012 GCC)
- 1965 Toronto Optimists Yearbook (Submitted by Bob Carell)
- Article on Andy Henderson, Drum Major of the Month (from March, 1965 Drum Corps World)
- Article on Barry Bell, Man of Ideals (from March, 1965 Drum Corps World)
- Article on the Toronto Optimists (from February, 1965 Drum Corps World)
- Article on De La Salle (from the May 1965 issue of Drum Corps Digest)
- Concert Photo (with names but no colour guard)
- Formal Photo (with colour guard and names)