On the Way Back Home


This is Allen. He’s a truck driver. I met him at the breakfast stop we took in Somerset PA.

He had stopped and asked me as I was walking back from the bathroom what corps I was from. “I knew from the caravan of buses and trucks that you had to be a drum corps. I’ve been driving for a long time but I haven’t seen a drum corps on the road in 6 years.”

“By the way, I heard Crown won.”

Allen had marched snare with Sunrisers in 89-90. For many years before, he had marched in a fife and drum corps. I want to go back to drum corps.” His schedule as a truck driver, he explained, had prevented him for many years from returning as a performing member of the activity.

“You should go back,” I said. “If it’s something you really want, you should go back.”

The time was 7:30 am. We stood on the sidewalk in the early morning sun for an hour and talked. About DCA, about the future of DCI, about the future of performing arts. About shows and and scores.

We talked about identity. How so many corps change to win and not to simply be themselves. How so many older members of the drum corps activity are slowly becoming alienated by the constant drive to win, but not entertain. To achieve incredible greatness, but at the expense of their audiences.

We got on the topic of corps folding. Of the activity dying.

“It’s because people stop performing. People grow up and age out and they put away their drums and their horns and they think that it’s time for them to stop. Because they’re older, because they think they have to move on. But you should NEVER stop performing. Performing is about keeping the world alive not only for you but for everyone else around you. That’s how you keep drum corps alive. That’s how you keep music alive. You don’t give up on giving it all. And you don’t give up on yourself.”

“I want to drum again…”

We talked for nearly an hour. When we left to go our separate ways, Allen assured me that he would try his best to get to Annapolis to see DCA finals. It would be his first drum corps show since 2007.

Music truly makes the world seem 5 inches wide. The thing is, it also makes friendships 30,000 miles long, easy, and everlasting.

Hope to see you again down the road, Allen. And you better be carrying a drum šŸ™‚

5 thoughts on “On the Way Back Home”

  1. Did you happen to get his last name? Just curious since I marched in 1990 (1990-2000). Great story thought! Thank for sharing!!!

  2. Allen was a drummer of mine in the fife and drum corps he mentioned before going to the Sunrisers. The last time I saw him was in 2008 at the Hawthorne Caballeros audition weekend when he was hoping to get back into drum corps. Great to hear he’s still got the desire!

      1. Sorry I didn’t see this sooner, Christine, but it just popped up on my Facebook memory. The corps was St. Clare’s “Golden Emeralds” of Rosedale, NY, the corps I started in and later taught. We originally were a fife, drum and bugle corps but the horn section couldn’t sustain enough members, so we continued on as fife and drum for another 25 years or so. Allen Perry came to us from another standstill fife, drum and bugle corps, St. Camillus of Rockaway Beach, NY. He learned how to drum there, and then he was with us several years before joining the Sunrisers.

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