In the years following World War II, marching bands were much in demand.  Drum and bugle corps competed against each other, and rivalry was keen.  Jamestown had had a Men’s Drum & Bugle Corps in the 1930s, and it was revived early in 1947. Later that same year, under the direction of John F. Boone, manager of the Jamestown & Newport Ferry Co., 27 young Jamestown women came together to form a girls’ drum and bugle corps. 

 

girls bugle corps 1948

The Girls Drum and Bugle Corps in August 1948.  The corps practiced both the music and the drill formations three times a week.  The members are Tony Anderson, Joan Alves, Lane Barry, Lee Bowen, Patty Caswell, Mary Ellen Clarke, Eileen Dutra, Dian Gagne, Peggy Ann Gardner, Delores Guimary, Evelyn Matoes, Mary Madieros, Jennett McCloud, Matty McGonigal, Threasa McGrath, Claudia Mello, Norma Moll, Betty Sheehan, Dolly Silvia, Eleanor Spry, Mary Lou Watson, Patty Watson, Debra West, Prudy West, and Mary Williams. Most of those without hats are new members.

The corps’ first public appearance was on June 1, 1948, at Jamestown’s Memorial Day Parade. They were an instant success.  In addition to marching in parades in Jamestown and Newport, they competed in several Rhode Island Fife, Drum and Bugle Association events.  At the association’s 1948 meet in Northbridge, MA, drum major Norma Moll (now Walsh) won the State Female Championship for Drum Majors. The corps won first prize in playing, a title they retained for three successive years. 

The Jamestown Girls Drum and Bugle Corps continued for about 10 years, into the mid-1950s, marching in parades and competitions throughout New England.

newport parade
jamestown parade

Left: The Jamestown Girls Drum and Bugle Corps marched in many parades around the state.  This is the Newport Memorial Day parade, May 30, 1950. Right: One of the groups early gigs was Jamestown’s Fourth of July parade.  

john boone
twirlers

Left: John Boone (left) managed the Drum and Bugle Corps and taught the young women to play their instruments. Norma Moll Walsh (center) was the Drum Major.  Francis Spry, a retired army colonel, was the drill Instructor. Right: The baton twirlers always attracted the most attention.  Left to right standing:  Lee Bowen, Norma Moll, Debra West.  (in front) Barbara Carlos.

score card
Norma Moll

Left: Scoring at competitions was defined by the Rhode Island Fife, Drum and Bugle Association.  This score card is for Norma Moll’s performance at a meet in June 1951. Right: Norma Moll was the first Drum Major of the Jamestown Girls Drum and Bugle Corps.  She was state champion Drum Major.

All photos are from the collection of Norma Moll Walsh.

This article is part of a series written by Rosemary Enright and
Sue Maden for The Jamestown Press. It appeared in June 2021.