Channing “Chap” Mitzell W’69, ’74 remembers the pride he took in wearing the drum major outfit of the Woodcraft Drum & Bugle Corps in 1969. For several years, the drum major wore a special red shirt with gold trim, a white overseas cap, and white pants or shorts for parades.
Nearly 50 years later, drum major Max Gifford W’17 led the D&B during the Homecoming parade, wearing a uniform modeled after photos Mitzell had given to the Culver staff.
“It was a huge thrill,” Mitzell said. “I felt like a little kid again. It’s such a unique uniform.”
For Gifford, wearing the uniform was simply a case of being the right man at the right time. The Drum & Bugle Corps rotates who serves as drum major after every two performances. Gifford was the next man up. He didn’t learn about the history behind the uniform until he was being fitted for the white shorts at the Uniform Department. “That’s when they told me it was like the uniform they had worn 50 years ago,” he said.
The uniform was worn for several years, Mitzell said, but he believes the tradition died out during the early 1970s. He had originally hoped to bring the uniform back in time for the Woodcraft 100th anniversary in 2012, but it took until this year to find the right people – especially an experienced seamstress – who could make it happen.
That seamstress, Janet Meyers of nearby Plymouth, found the red shirts and uniform supplied the special Culver details like the buttons. There are actually three uniform shirts – small, medium, and large. That way any member of the D&B can be the drum major. “We don’t want to exclude somebody just because they can’t wear the shirt,” division commander Josh Roesler said.
While the original uniform was worn at every parade, Roesler said the replicas will be saved for special occasions now. “We want to make it a special thing,” he said. “We think it will have more meaning for the kids.”
It took nearly six years to get the mission accomplished, but Mitzell said it was worth the wait based on the all the favorable comments from the crowd.
“I was pretty happy when I heard them,” he said, “especially since they didn’t know I was involved.”