Simplex Minutemen HistoryThis is a history of the Simplex Minutemen Drum and Bugle Corps cobbled together from posts of former members of the corps and The Gardner News - Thank you all.
The corps was founded in 1947 with the generosity of the Watkins family and the Simplex Time Recorder Company of Gardner MA. It was originally started as the Simplex Fife and Drum Corp to give free music instruction to Simplex employees. In the early years the corps performed for company outings.
Simplex Fife and Drum Corps -1948
The corps became a corporate ambassador performing around the country and world. The first big trip was in 1956 to the Mardi Gras in Trinidad BWI aboard the S. S. Monarch. In 1958 the corps participated in the St Jean De Baptiste celebration in Montreal.
The sixties saw the corps travel expand. In 1964 the corps performed in New York City at the World’s Fair. In 1965 the corps travel to the UK on board the HMS Queen Elizabeth to perform at the yearly sales convention and tour England and Scotland. The next International Simplex Convention/cruise/tour took the Minutemen to NYC, Bermuda, Paradise Island and Nassau in 1966.
The 1970’s had the corps accompany Miss Massachusetts in the Miss America Pageant parade in Atlantic City NJ 1970-71. In 1974 with their new blue uniforms, acquired a few years earlier, moved to competitive drum corps. Over the next 8 years the corps would compete in all four of the local circuits, (CYO, Eastern Mass, Mayflower, and Greater New England). The early years were a learning time, but the corps worked hard to convert from a parade corps. Highlights from 1974 and 1975 saw the corps travel to Marion OH to compete in the US Open Drum and Bugle Corps Championships.
The 1978 competition year saw the corps experience its first real competitive success by placing first in class A in the Greater New England Drum and Bugle Corps Circuit. 1979 saw the corps absorb members of the former Regal Crownsmen of Cranston RI. Together the Simplex Minutemen continued their success by again winning GNE circuit class A championship and earning a spot in the World Open Championships finals finishing 8th. The last year of corps competing was 1981.
Throughout the corps competitive years they continued as a parade corps marching in many parades throughout New England. The Simplex Minutemen represented the US in the Gold Cup Parade in Charlottetown PEI. They were awarded best musical and marching group in 1972,73,78,79 and 81. The Minutemen were also awarded Best Parade Corps at the World Open Championships Parade Lynn MA in 1976 and first place in the Parade of Champions in Allentown, PA in 1979.
The Simplex Minutemen employed many great instructors over the years, including Charlie Southmayde, Frank Raffa, Tony Smith and James “Gee” Watts -drill and M&M, Reed Desrosiers and Wayne Downey- arrangers, Bill Jamsa and Tom Ruckey -Drums, Walter Congram – director/ horns.
The decision was made by the Simplex Time Recorder Co. to discontinue the corps in early 1982 with the death of long- time corps director Walter Congram. The uniforms and equipment were donated to former members who started the Granite State Garrison Drum and Bugle Corps in Keene NH. Members of Simplex went on to march with many great corps such as 27th, Boston Crusaders, North Star, Garfield Cadets and Blue Devils.