Shatswell Drum and Fife Corps, 1929Stories

The Shatswell Fife and Drum Corps

From Tales of Olde Ipswich by Harold Bowen (1970s). Photo by Bernie Spencer, courtesy of Scott Collum.

“Having spent many years as a custodian in schools and churches, one finds there are many times when you are called upon to do things far beyond the call of duty. And so it was with Warren Grant, who was custodian of the Shatswell School for many years. Probably the one time that stands out in his memory was when Mrs. Greenach, the principal, called him into the office and said, “Mr. Grant. you have had a great deal of experience in teaching fifes and drums. Why can’t we have a fife-and-drum corps here at Shatswell? And you also have a way with children others don’t have.”

After discussing the matter for some time, Mr. Grant consented to do what he could. Not wanting to use any of the children’s school time, it was finally decided to hold rehearsals after school (school was out then at 3:30), and the parents all agreed. So in the fall of 1928, the Shatswell School fife and drum corps was born. About 18 boys were signed up. All that autumn and through the winter the boys rehearsed in earnest. By Memorial Day they were ready to appear in public.

shatswell_school_constructed_1926

The former Shatswell School on Green St. was constructed in 1926

And so, on May 30, 1929 the Shatswell Fife and Drum Corps made its first appearance in the Memorial Day parade. The uniform of the day was white pants and shirts to
match with black ties. The hat was a white sailor hat. It was agreed that only boys from the fourth or fifth grade should be chosen. Any grade under those was too young. The drum corps made several appearances out of town, including a performance in Beverly at a Christian Endeavor Convention parade and also in a parade in Rowley.

The photo at the top of this page shows Dick Collura had a busy day. In that Memorial Day parade, he marched with the Boy Scouts too. So from going from one to the other he did not have a chance to change. Thus. he appears in a Boy Scout uniform. I think the tall boy playing the drum is Russell Grant.

shatswell_school_parade

Central St. parade, students from Shatswell School

The drum corps continued until 1944 when Mr. Grant resigned to go into war work. He later returned to Shatswell under a new principal but did not form another corps. This was not the only thing he did for the school. They gave a talent show there one year which included four different performances that drew a full house each time. He also organized Shatswell Saturday. This was sort of a lawn party affair. The money raised went to buy furniture for a music room in the basement. Mr. Grant is enjoying his well-earned retirement now, but we will always remember him as the janitor who had a way with kids.”

— HAROLD D. BOWEN

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3 replies »

  1. Thank you for sharing – brings back so many fond memories of those kind
    gentlemen who did so much more than clean floors and blackboards—
    thank you Mr. Leet, Mr. Miller and,in later years at the Middle School, Mr. White.

    Like

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