Part 10: Regiment joins the DCI era

Up until this time, drum corps had been under the overall control of the veterans organizations, the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion. Each year they wold both hold state and national championships. Corps would have to be sponsored by a local post in order to compete. The Phantom Regiment was sponsored by VFW Post 342, but had no regular American Legion Sponsor. Other corps had similar situations to one degree or another. During the early 1970s it was up to the corps themselves to get the money to travel to the national convention. The larger corps banded together and formed a “combine” which in effect was a union. They would not compete during a specified period of the summer for less than a stated amount. There was a combine west with 6 corps and shortly after a combine east with 6 corps. It was only a short step to put the two combines together into a single organization named Drum Corps International.

The first two DCI championship contests were held in 1972 and 1973 at Warhawk Stadium in Whitewater, WI. Since Whitewater is only 1 hour away from Rockford, we were able to compete in the preliminary contests both years. We did not make finals either year, but did score in the top twelve in brass and marching.

I must digress for a little personal history. I had been employed as a safety engineer for an insurance company, but decided to try insurance sales. For reasons to lengthy to write about here, I was fired in the spring of 1974. While I was looking for other work, I was able to spend the entire summer working with the horn line traveling with the corps during the final tour.   It was my good fortune, and possibly for the corps also since that was the year that we got into DCI. When I returned from the tour, I was contacted by another company to be the local safety engineer in Rockford.

Making finals was a great day, many folks from that time still count it as a highlight of their life. It was a rainy day, we warmed up under balcony overhangs, we had a long delay once at the stadium and the rain came on again during our performance. The local paper sent a reporter and he did the day justice. You can read it here by clicking on the link below. You can also click on the link “Regiment in DCI Finals” and see how we’ve stacked up in DCI since 1972.

Next week: “Pivitol Points”