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Cub Scout Pack 15
Drum Corp on Parade in the 1950's
Cub Drum Corps will March in Parade - December 1955
A group of small boys will play a big part in tonight's Christmas parade - as they have done in every local parade for the past three years.
They are the drum corps of Pack 15.
These 33 boys, marching to the rhythm of drums and without the aid of bugles or fifes, often comprise the youngest unit in a local parade. But they are one of the most popular groups, and parade fans wait their appearance expectantly each year.
The Pack 15 drum corps started three years ago, when young Bobby Meinzer joined the troop. Bob's father, Edwin Meinzer of 7 James Place, was asked to help out the troop. Since Mr. Meinzer is a professional drummer with the Starlight Trio, he decided to use his talent to form a pack drum corps - the area's only Cub Scout drum and bugle corps.
A total of 68 boys came out for the first practice - much too cumbersome a group, Mr. Meinzer thought. He gradually whittled down the group to 18 boys.
With the help of Condit Atkinson, director of music at Metuchen High School, Mr. Meinzer organized the 10, 11 and 12 year olds into a drum corps. A bass drum was obtained, and Patrolman J.J. Perrino of the Metuchen Police Department contributed his artistic talent to paint lettering on the big instrument. The pack drum corps appeared in full uniform in the Christmas parade of 1952 - its first public appearance.
The boys have five drum beats - different rhythms. The main attraction, of course, is the bass drum. Most boys want to play the bass, but Mr. Meinzer has to give the job to the biggest and strongest youngster. This year's bass drummer is "Butch" Davis.
Mr. Meinzer gets a bigger thrill out of the drum corps than do any of his young charges. When the boys "sound off" in parades, the loudest voice you hear on the sidelines is the leader, marching smartly in step with the youngsters.
"I've never had to send a boy home from practice," Mr. Meinzer recalls. "When we practice there is no fooling around."
There is one perennial problem, though. "I don't think any drum corps breaks as many drumheads as we do," the leader says. "But the boys don't get discouraged. We tape the heads again and again, and they're always ready for the next parade."
If you ever watch the boys practice in the Presbyterian Social Center, don't be surprised if you see a boy playing his drum with a drumstick in one hand and a hairbrush in the other. Sometimes young boys cannot find both sticks in time.
Tragedy strikes sometimes, too. Like the boy who had to drop out of the corps one autumn because after attending several practice sessions, he found he had grown so tall during the summer that he could no longer fit in his cub uniform.
Mr. Meinzer still remembers his prize "boner" as drum corps leader. He had his boys marching down Woodbridge Avenue toward the social center, and he forgot to say right face.
"I turned around," Mr. Meinzer recalls, "to see the outfit marching straight ahead to the Presbyterian Cemetery - was my face red!"
A big thrill in the boys' careers comes when each receives an award. An emblem is awarded after a boy has marched in one parade.
The boys provide thrills for their leader, too. In June, for example, Mr. Meinzer was presented with an American flag from his drummers.
The Pack 15 corps also provides a training ground for high school drummers. Three Pack 15 "alumni" now play in the Metuchen High School band.
So when you come out to tonight's parade, and you notice the house lighting queen and the borough celebrities, the adult bands and the original floats, save a special cheer for the youngest and snappiest bunch in the line - the Pack 15 drum corps.
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