The Optimists Alumni Drum & Bugle Corps
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Small, But Mighty
At the corps’ drill camp in May 1968, the corps roared to the starting line with 18 horns. A furious round of phone calls brought the number up to 26. They would eventually start the season with 30.
Fortunately, the drum line was very, very strong. Kaiser had developed a friendship with Jerry Shelmar of the Boston Crusaders. Kaiser used Shelmar’s idea of horizontally mounted, tuned bass drums to add more voices to the line.
The drum line never lost a contest all year. But the corps did experience a series of defeats at the hands of the newly resurrected De La Salle, the Optimists cross-town rivals. They achieved this by hiring former Optimists as instructors.
One thing held the Optimists together: a desire for self-improvement that had been preached by all their instructors through all the years. They simply hunkered down and worked harder than they ever had before. One week before nationals, they caught De La Salle. In Kingston, Ontario, the next weekend, the corps won its eleventh consecutive title. It was quite possibly the sweetest victory.