If there is one thing about the Westshoremen Drum and Bugle Corps that is consistent, it is that the corps had ups and downs every so many years. Despite the lows, the corps has been a VFW, American Legion and Drum Corps Associates World Champion in its history.
Founded in 1946 along the banks of the Susquehanna River in Wormleysburg, Pennsylvania, the corps was originally named the Longshoremen. Many of the founding members were former members of the old Harrisburg Privateers junior corps, which disbanded at the onset of World War II.
The corps won the Pennsylvania State VFW title in 1953. Director Jack Kaufman led his troops home victorious, only to find trouble waiting. It seemed the famed union of the same name issues with the usage of that name being used by the corps. The union did indeed sue the corps for misuse of the name and right away the corps changed the name to the Westshoremen, as the post the corps used was on the west bank of the Susquehanna, across from Harrisburg. The union then dropped the lawsuit.
During this same time, in Millersburg, Pennsylvania, representing American Legion Post 326, the Bonnie Scots were born. In 1959, the Westshorement merged with the Bonnie Scots. The 1960s saw not as much competitive success, though the corps did place 2nd at the 1963 and 1966 State VFW championships.
The corps joined Drum Corps Associates in 1965, although did not attend finals until 1967. The director of the corps through this era was T. V. O'Connell, who passed away in 1967. Billy Saltzer took over the reigns of leadership, and remained in that position until the corps later disbanded. The season also saw the beginning of the corps' home show in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. Review of the Corps carried on until 1989.
After the Westshoremen went inactive during 1973, the corps reorganized in early the following year, with Hall of Famer Larry Hershman at the helm. The name was changed to Westshoremen, Inc., and with a dedicated group of veterans, they began the long climb back to DCA finalist status.
The corps continued to survive despite many internal issues until 2002. Their name has remained visible due to the formation of the Westshoremen Alumni Corps, which performs annually at the Serenade In Brass indoor concert held annually in April and has been growing steadily every year.
- Ream, Jeff, The history of the Westshoremen, Drum Corps Planet, Apr 13, 2004.
- [entry for Westshoremen - corpsreps.com
The Dove Incident
In 1980, en route to a 5th place finish at DCA finals, the corps was performing their closer of "Impossible Dream," which included a color pres, and a huge American flag to be unfurled. Underneath the flag was several drum cases filled with doves to be released. Only one problem. The birds, being kept in the dark, refused to fly away, and instead had to be chased off the field. Chief Judge Walter Kelly chased several off by firing the timing pistol, and members came back to retrieve the straggling birds so the Sunrisers could take the field.