Pawn Starts SCV Drums

by Jesse J. Amador

In March of 1967 the Sparks Drum and Bugle Corps were no longer and the corps became the Santa Clara Vanguard.  In the beginning there were many hurdles for this new drum corps, no brass instruments, no drums, no flags, no uniform (sort of), and on and on.  The old Sparks Getzen brass horns were purchased with funds collected up by the Vanguard parents.  The flags were made up of materials Gail Royer got at a local hardware store and so poles and flags were made.  The Sparks did not want to sell their red Ludwig drums so that dilemma was an interesting story.  The story goes like this:

When SCV split from the Sparks, they didn’t want to sell us their red Ludwig drums.  Our first SCV drum instructor, Dan Barkley who had marched with the Richmond Hawks (East of SF) was trying to figure out how to get the Vanguard some drums.  

When Dan got out of high school he worked as a stenographer for the Santa Fe Railroad in San Francisco.  On his lunch hours he would take long walks around the city and this one time he walked past a Pawn Shop.  Inside this Pawn Shop he recognized a set of drums.  The drums had once belonged to a drum corps called the Le Sabre who were a part of the Santa Rosa Campions drill team.  The Santa Rosa Le Sabres were created by Al Pereyda (then with the San Joaquin Caballeros). The Le Sabres drum corps only existed for a few years then folded.   Apparently, they sold their drums to this San Francisco Pawn Shop.  The drums were a dark gray marble color.  

After Dan saw the drums in the SF Pawn Shop, he immediately contacted Ed Leeson (father of Jeff and Debra) and Ed quickly worked with the parents to purchase the drums from the Pawn Shop.  Since our Sparks uniform blouses were green and the dark gray marble drums really didn’t match anything, it wasn’t great, but it was a set of drums that we REALLY needed.
At that time the Stockton Commodores Drum and Bugle Corps were using a silver set of drums with a green stripe and they didn’t go very well with their light blue uniforms with a dark gray marble shako.  Dan knew many of the Stockton Commodores so he contacted Gene Castles (Director) and asked if they would consider trading the drum sets.  The Commodores loved the idea and so went the trade, they got the dark gray Pawn Shop drums, and we got the Commodores silver drums with the green stripe.  It was a good trade!  And that’s how SCV got their first set of drums, via a Pawn Shop.

1967 Santa Clara Vanguard Drums traded with the Stockton Commodores

This is an ongoing volunteer effort to document the history of Vanguard Music and Performing Arts. Submissions and corrections are welcome as we continue to add more content.