ROCKPORT — The Twin Town Cadets Drum and Bugle Corps once filled the streets, fairgrounds and school playing fields with their exuberant rhythm and beat that can only be produced by drums and horns. The Color Guard, in full regalia, led the cadets along the route.
For the Twin Town cadets, one of those color guard leaders was Linda Greenlaw, of Rockport, who is now the Rockport Town Clerk. She marched in the 1960s with her fellow cadets, including Rodney Lynch, Dolores Hyssong, Linda Milliken Roden and many others, leading them forward with a flag, sabre or a rifle.
The cadets, from Camden, Lincolnville and Rockport, traveled around Maine with their instruments, to lead parades and compete.
The tradition of drum and bugle corps extends back to World War I, and even longer to the days of the Roman Army, and is part of centuries-old military history.
“We not only marched but we also participated in competitions/exhibitions and performed at Union Fair, and more,” said Greenlaw. “Were traveled to different places, winning trophies and making friends. One of our money makers was a hot dog stand at Camden Public Landing. We had the pleasure of working shifts and could have free hot dogs and sodas. We have lots of good memories.”
Rodney Lynch, of Camden, started with the original drum and bugle corps known as Camden By the Sea, in 1957, and marched in the Memorial Day parade that year.
He was Drum Captain, an assistant to the Drum Major, and the two of them would lead the cadets in parades and competitions; in 1961, when he was a junior in high school, Lynch earned a third place medal in the statewide competition as Drum Captain.
“I was a much better Drum Captain than a bugle player and won a medal for my competitive performance as Drum Major at the Lewiston Maine 1961 Centennial Parade,” said Lynch. “Back then there were lots of Drum and Bugle Corps in the state and in New England and we competed with each other. Rockland had the Port of Rockland Corps. We were all part of the Drum Corps World.”
They also traveled up in Mattawamkeag, down in Old Orchard Beach, and nearby, marching in the Lobster Festival parades.
But it was work: In the 1960s, several of the leaders of the cadets were World War II veterans and they knew how to march. And they demanded self discipline from the cadets, many of whom were wearing uniforms for the first time.
“We did a lot of traveling,” he said. “A number of Millville kids belonged and we often practiced at the former Tannery parking lot on Washington Street or at the Tannery Lane parking lot in the downtown, where we drew crowds for our drill performances. You had to show up to the practices or else you got behind in the drills. During August we raked blueberries during the day, came home and cleaned up, quickly ate supper and went to practice. It was a mixed corps as both girls and boys played the bugle and drums but the color guard consisted of all girls. There was no gender discrimination and a lot of parent involvement.”
A military precision ruled the commitment, and practices went from 6 p.m. to dark, and then, “we’d go for ice cream after,” said Lynch.
He joined the Navy, and served in the Vietnam War, one year in the Mekong Delta, 1968-1969.
As a recruit in boot camp: “Most guys didn't even march. But I knew how so I taught how to march and do the turns.”
That knowledge and training was thanks to the Twin Town Cadets, and especially Frank Milliken, who had taught the Camden-Rockport students well.
“We all remember him with fond memories and have a great deal of respect for both he and his lovely wife, Connie,” said Lynch.
“I still like marching and have been a member of the Camden American Legion Post 30 Honor Color Guard for quite a few years and we do five parades/events on Memorial Day as well as act as the honor guard at the Veterans Monument in Camden on November 11,” said Lynch. “Needless to say if not for my drum corps experience I would not be doing it and every time we march I am reminiscent of my drum corps years and experiences and the good times we had. Being a member of the Color Guard allows me to recapture a bit of the same feelings I had about marching and being in a parade as I did back so many decades ago. And I still get a feeling of nostalgia whenever I see a corps on parade.”
The cadets are organizing their 50th reunion for Sept. 15, 1 to 5 p.m., at the Rockport Masonic Hall, at 361 Main Street, in Rockport.
All former members are invited; suggested donation will be $15. There will be hot dogs, hamburgers, potato chips, cole slaw, dessert and drinks, beginning at 2 p.m.
The following is a list of former cadets, who are all invited to the reunion. Instruments are welcome; maybe there will be some marching!
ARNOLD, RUTH (TAFFY)
DAVIS, MARY LOU
GERRY, CECIL (MONTY)
GREGORY, BOBBY (?)
KENNEDY , EDDIE
OSGOOD, RICHARD (?)
PATTEN, FRANCES (FRANNIE)
RONCO, BETTY LOU
SIMMONS, MULFORD, JR