State College, PA United States
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The first public appearance in State College was on Memorial Day of 1936. By the early summer, the
corps was outfitted in new cadet-style uniforms. A 1936 photo of the corps in these uniforms shows 15
snare drums, 26 straight G bugles, and a drum major (Rachel Fulton). Seven of the drummers were girls.
The new corps took first place in three local parade competitions. In August 1936, the corps took first
place in the parade competition held at the State AL Convention in Johnstown. The corps held its first
week-long Corps Camp in July 1937 as preparation for the State AL field competition. The Camp was
described as having “a military-like schedule of drill and exercises combined with supervised recreation
activities.” The corps again took first place in the state competition. A month later the corps competed
in the AL National Championship held at the Polo Grounds in New York City. The sponsored-junior
division was won by the Gallitzin (PA) Corps, with the State College Corps taking second place. The
Convention parade that year was fifty-two blocks long and took 18 hours to complete.
In 1938 the corps won the state championship for the third time in a row. In August the corps was
invited to lead the parade at the Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto. In 1939, new uniforms were
purchased and a change was made from straight bugles to valves (slides), which allowed the buglers to
play soprano, tenor, and baritone parts. Tenor drums were added to the battery. The corps again won the
state championship at the AL Convention in Williamsport. A trip also was made to the World’s Fair in
New York City. In 1940, a large turnover in personnel occurred, and the State College Corps ended up
placing second in the state competition. First place that year was taken by the Bristol (PA) corps.
Given the turnover in personnel, it looked like 1941 would be another rebuilding year. The new drum
majors were Patricia Johnson and Patricia Mitchell. Early on it was decided that if the corps won the
state championship, it would attend the AL National Convention to be held in Milwaukee. The corps
went undefeated in eleven local competitions, and at the convention in Altoona, it regained the state
championship. In late August, the corps traveled by train to Milwaukee, where it was housed at the
Horace Mann High School in West Allis, WI. On the day of the field competition, three buses that had
been chartered to take the unit to Milwaukee did not show up at the scheduled time. All available cars
near the school were commandeered to take the corps and its equipment to the competition field. On the
inspection line, the corps was assessed 1.6 penalty points for car-travel wrinkled uniforms.
Despite a rough start, Nittany Post #245 of State College took first place in the sponsored-division with a
score of 93.2. The runner-up was McNally Post #263 of New York City with a score of 91.6. In 5th
place was Logan Square Post #405 of Chicago and Racine Post #76 ended up in 7th place. The division
for Sons of the American Legion (SAL, all-male corps) was won by Square Post #232 of Chicago with a
score of 89.9. Commonwealth Edison won the senior AL title. The Convention parade lasted 12 hours.
Newspaper accounts from the 1941 championship season indicate that there were about 53 members in
the State College Corps, including 26 girls. A photo of the championship corps appears in A History of
Drum & Bugle Corps, Volume 1, page 16. The corps’ theme song was “Tell Me Why” and its motto was
“All for one – One for all.” The corps’ colors were blue and orange.
National AL junior competitions were not held during 1942-1945. The State College Corps returned to
national competition in 1949 at the AL Convention in Philadelphia, placing fourth in the sponsored
division and 12th overall. The top two corps that year would go on to dominate junior corps activity
during the late 1940s and 1950s – Holy Name Cadets (Garfield) and St. Vincent’s Cadets. Winning its first senior AL championship in 1949 was Raymond A. Garbarina Memorial Post of New York City (aka
The State College Corps disbanded around 1950.
[History prepared by Jon P. Nelson (Madison Scouts, 1955-1959), a resident of State College, PA since
1969. Reference materials include “Attaining the Heights: The Drum and Bugle Corps in State College”
by Jeff Stengel, Town & Gown magazine, August 1972; and Centre Daily Times Newspaper articles for
August 25, 1941; September 5, 1941; September 8, 1941; September 10, 1941; September 11, 1941;
September 13, 1941; September 16, 1941; September 18, 1941; September 19, 1941; September 20,
1941; August 9, 1949; August 20, 1949; August 25, 1949; August 27, 1949; August 28, 1949; August 29,
1949; and August 30, 1949.]