St Louis based, Military style Pipe band. Always looking for new pipers and drummers. Or just come along and say hello.
Every organisation has a background and that background makes a major contribution to the health and picture of that organisation We shall trace the background leading to the present (1991) condition and picture that is the John Ford Highland Pipe Band of 1991 as we see it on the streets and celebrations of society. Once upon a time (1969) there was a man who was inspired by the play Brigadoon - he was of somewhat Scottish descent and was interested in learning to perform on the instrument (Bagpipes). He sought a teacher in the St Louis area and encountered a diminutive Canadian - born Scot name John Angus Ford who was a teacher and piper of some note. Word of the endeavour spread through the Moolah Shrine Temple and others were found who, either were interested and had no musical training, or had some previous instrumental experience and wanted to join in mastering the Great Highland Bagpipe. After learning the scales, came the tunes and John Ford rewrote the music to make it easier for his large class of beginners, who were all of Masonic background and members of Moolah Temple in St Louis. Most of whom were very short on marching experience and all the everything else it takes to make a band. Drummers materialised and so did a drum major. The basis for a good esprit de corps was developing as the membership grew. The group took as it's name the Pipes and Drums of Moolah - created a set of rules and became a functioning committee of the Temple in 1969. William (Bill) Sandbach, our present Pipe Major, was a member of that chartering group. Because the group had elected to adopt the Royal Stewart Tartan for the Pipers, a courtesy letter requesting approval was sent to the local British Counsel for the Royal Family office - since this is the Queens Tartan. Approval was given and it proved that the group was thinking to the future. Beyond appearances at the Temple functions and the grand entry at the Circus, the bands first parade was in Waterloo, Illinois. As the band was becoming a viable marching entity and as support for outside functions became apparent, more and more bookings were found through the efforts of a side drummer who belonged to the Scott Air Force Base Band. He had made many Illinois homecomings and celebrations and the band was soon so busy that we were making two and sometimes three bookings on a given weekend. The outings were very much family oriented and the various parade locations were identified with the usual restaurant stopping place after the parade. There were usually three significant social parties a year plus the several Shrine parties and a convention trip, each fall, to Colorado Springs, Little Rock, Wichita, Des Moines and Kansas City at which time we enjoyed association with five to seven other Pipe Bands within the Central States Shrine Temple Association. Partners were always included on these trips and associations were usually very much enjoyed. At the height of our glory, we encountered two major problems as a Shrine functioning unit. We were expected to perform on demand, whether or not there were sufficient numbers available to play at a given time. Secondly, there was a problem with the Temple appointed director becoming unwilling to initiate new music and the majority grew tired of the same tunes being played endlessly. After trying to obtain a new director appointment and similarly, being threatened with withdrawal of parade opportunities because of non-performance at Temple functions, the majority of the band membership was determined to change the basis of operations in the latter part of 1976. After several months of regular practice in each others homes, we elected to establish ourselves as a unit of 'Alhambra Grotto', still within the Masonic fraternity, but no longer limited in number of appearances. The John Ford Highland Pipe Band was born, out of an all day meeting on 12th February 1977 and is essentially the same band structure as it exists today. Rules and regulations were restructured and some significant new members appeared from the association. Jack McIntyre came from an Irish group that played at Brendans. Ken Vogal, our star tenor drummer and six times president and travel agent beyond compare. Ken was instrumental in getting us settled in the Grotto as our new home - he was a line officer at the time. He became a band member after his term as Monarch in 1980 and was loyal to the group until his untimely passing. Our namesake, John Angus Ford, died of lung problems in August 1974. He was instrumental in placing the initial organisation on the streets over a short period of time and was close to all of us who name the band in his honour. During our time as a Grotto band, we attended several Midwest Association Conventions and one Supreme Gathering in Hot Springs, Arkansas. We began our association with the committee for the Orange Jamboree in Miami on New Years Eve through a contact Jack McIntyre made while on a vacation cruise. We accepted an invitation to be in three parades in New Orleans during the final week of the Mardi Gras. That's were we learned about lo...........ng parades and LARGE crowds. The band was ready for growth after a ten year association with the Grotto. In order to make the younger members active members of the band, we had to make a change, where membership in the parent organisation was not required to be a member of the band. While departure from the Grotto was to promote growth, the youth members of the Masonic order, have remained in the Masonic fraternity. Due to the pioneering efforts of Ken Vogel and Jack McIntyre, Thoman Booth Post 388 of the American Legion was willing, not only to give us a home in which to practice, but also provided a colour guard to add to our street presence in major parades. We were also permitted to operate as a separate entity. We have made a major effort to acknowledge the major contribution made by Post 338 in giving us this freedom by contributing to various Post charities and participating in Post activities when requested by the legion. We have also received major financial assistance for major trip to Miami in 1987 and 1990 and have performed in the last five National Convention parades in San Antonio, Louisville, Baltimore, Indianapolis and Salt Lake City, Utah. The association and future both look bright as we will soon have a colour guard in full Scottish military dress and if our numbers of proficient players continue to increase, the days ahead are promising for the John Ford Highland Pipe Band. Rauel D Quimby April 7 1991 -
Created: 09/23/2005 ::
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