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Humble Beginnings
Rally Round the Hometown Team The Argonne Rebels Drum and Bugle Corps Reunion Weekend July 11 Jul
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The Argonne Rebels Drum and Bugle Corps Reunion Weekend July 11 – July 14
In August of 1947, John Taff, the driving force behind Great Bend’s school music departments and the city’s summer and concert program, organized and directed the St. Rose Drum and Bugle Corps with the help of the Reverend Joseph Tockert, assistant pastor of St. Rose Church. The group, comprised of a handful of Boy and Girl Scouts, ages 9 - 12, had less that a dozen valveless World War I brass bugles. Taff provided the boys and girls with private music lessons for 50 cents a month in a garage on the alley in back of the St. Rose Church. Under the direction of Taff, the corps gave its first public performance on Nov. 26, 1947, at a farewell program for the the Reverend John Butler, departing pastor of St. Rose.
With the realization that this new youth activity could endure came the appreciation of the possible magnitude of the program, but the corps growth presented financial difficulties too great for St. Rose parish. Through the coordination of John Taff, Ray Schulz, and Emmett Brewer in late 1948, the local Argonne Post 180 of the American Legion assumed sponsorship. The group was then known as the Great Bend Drum and Bugle Corps, subsequently named Junior American Legion Drum and Bugle Corps, and finally the Argonne Rebels Drum and Bugle Corps. At its zenith, the corps won three National American Legion Titles.
Learn more about the history and heritage of the corps, and its rise to national prominence. Explore the current exhibition: The Argonne Rebels Drum and Bugle Corps / The Hometown Team / How Our Community Championed Its Youth, through Sept. 5, at the Great Bend Public Library. The exhibit is part of the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum on Main Street Program, sponsored by the Kansas Humanities Council.