The "middle years" for the Vagabonds were their most successful. The corps left the South Jersey Association, and moved to the Penn Jersey Association, where they competed against bigger name corps. By 1961, Director Dick Zinn and his wife Sarah moved to Florida, and Charles A.(Charlie) Rudolph took over as corps director. The corps also changed uniforms twice during this period, ending up wearing a red and black military style wool uniform which would be their uniform for the remainder of the life of the corps. It was also during this period that the corps changed instuctors a few times along with the style of their music.
VFW Nationals, Miami Florida, 1961
The corps traveled to Miami, Florida in 1961 to participate in its second and final National Championship. The corps had never traveled such a distance, and anticipation was high. It was the trip of a lifetime.
Corps members, staff and parents worked hard for a year to enable the corps to make the trip to Miami. Parades and various fundraisers took place to come up with enough money for the trip. Finally, the corps hit the road in the two corps buses. Everything was fine until South Carolina, specifically a town called Manning, South Carolina.
It was in the town of Manning that one of the two corps buses broke down. A broken down bus was not terribly unusual for the Vagabonds. The buses used for the Miami trip were our "new" buses, replacing a pair of seriously old World War II models, but they still were not state of the art. It was not uncommon to break down along the road, and our stalwart drivers and chaprones acted as duty mechanics more than one. But the break down in Manning was different. There would be no quick fix. Getting the entire corps to Miami suddenly looked in doubt.
The guard awoke the
The people in Manning did not know what to make of a drum corps from New Jersey. Once it became evident that the corps was going to have to stay overnight in their town, they pitched in to find accomdations.
Pictured below is the local American Legion post, which became the overnight hotel for our color guard.
next morning refreshed
and looking forward to
another day on the road.
The next day, the bus was still not repaired, so a decision was made. Bus number one was loaded with as many corps members as possible. The rest of the boys would get to Miami in the back of a Ryder rental truck. Staying away from the main roads, the truck, driven by Mr. Walsh, and carrying about 15 boys in the back, made it to Miami around dawn the next day.
The corps stayed at the Heathwood Motel, a resort more "exotic" than most of the members of the corps had ever seen.
Practice, practice, practice...
Having fun at the pool
In the end, the corps did not make the finals, but that wasn't really the point. The trip proved to be an opportunity for not just an adventure, but for the corps members to come together as a more cohesive unit. The trip to VFW Nationals in Miami was a springboard for the steadily improving Vagabonds.
1960 - 1964 Continued...