memories  1950’s . . . . .  page  5

What wonderful memories we have of our ‘Marching Days’, the practices, the uniforms, the trips, the music, winning competitions, losing competitions, friendships formed with other marching teams, billets, and most importantly working as a team.

A group of parents formed the Reefton Marching Association about 1953 (approx) and a Junior team called ‘Robbies of Reefton’ was formed. Prior to this a Senior team had been in Reefton, but before my time. Jack Robertson was our instructor and put us through our paces, we practised at least twice a week. Being a Band Major and ex army he was a perfectionist in all aspects of marching and we took notice and learnt from him Ashley Bang followed Jack and our team did very well in South Island competitions. We travelled in Hobbs’ buses with chaperones and parents assisting all these teenagers to get to Christchurch, Dunedin, Westport, Greymouth, Blackball at various times during the summer months. We linked up with Roy Cairn’s teams, Blue Star Taxis (midget) and Downing Red Robins (Junior) and travelled with them in their ‘big Christchurch bus’ to Dunedin to take part in the South Island Championships. What an adventure for small town girls in those days. We had the choice of Brass Band or Pipe Band music to march to and most times we went for Brass as we felt it was easier to keep in step to.

The attention to detail was paramount in marching - uniforms had to be immaculate - skirts all the same length - six inches above the knee when kneeling, hats at correct angle, two fingers above left eye, boots laced in the same direction, legs all the same colour!! A taylor from Westport made the uniforms which were white pleated skirts, Prince of Wales tartan waistcoat style jackets with short sleeves, Glengarry hats, white boots and gloves. How did our mothers keep the white skirts, gloves and boots and laces looking so white in those days!? Not the facilities we have today. The leg paint was something else! What a messy job and to get it on without streaks and keep it off the white pleated skirts was certainly a mission. We learnt a few tricks along the way but oh the mess in the bathrooms. Our poor mothers.

However, they were very proud of our achievements and it taught us deportment, helped our fitness, encourages our love of marching music, team spirit, camaraderie, and kept us out of mischief. We enjoyed the glamour, the excitement of being the centre of attention when it was our turn to compete in the March Plan, Leaders display and Uniform Competition. We won numerous meals and cups and I still have a chuckle remembering things that went wrong, like hats blowing off, half the team heading off in the wrong direction and having to scurry back and pretend nothing was amiss, the leader going one way and the team the other and making out it was all part and parcel of the display and getting away with it!!

A Midget team was also started about 1957 and the youngest and the youngest of these was only six years old. Great for these tiny tots to learn team spirit and enjoy what we did.

Lifelong friendships and wonderful memories that we have to take with us into our twilight years.

    by  jan  morris  (nee archer)
marching in the 50’s

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