Monday, November 19, 2007
St Thomas Aquinas Band
Montreal World's Fair, 1967 - I'm pretty sure that's the Iranian exhibition building in the background.
This looks like Dilboy Field in Somerville - 1967 or 1968.
Both pictures appear to have been taken at White Stadium in Franklin Park, during the annual CYO championship competition at the end of the summer. Can you match names with faces?
(All pictures Copyright 2007, all rights reserved)
If you lived between the Monument and Forest Hills in the 1960s, you knew about St Thomas Aquinas Band. The band, or bands, were started in 1962, and closed down in the early 1970s. They were part of the Catholic Youth Organization, or CYO, that sponsored athletic teams and other youth groups. Summers were spent as a marching band, playing in parades and entering competitions throughout the metropolitan Boston area, and winters turned the band into a concert ensemble. For the youth of the area, it was a great way to keep busy. As the original group advanced in age and skills, a feeder band was formed, producing "Senior" and "Junior," or "Prep" bands. Music practices were at the St Thomas grammar school, and marching practices were across South street in the church parking lot, or occasionally at the Carolina playground. Today, it's hard to imagine the neighbors going for the drums leading the band across to the parking lot, or the band playing at full blast, for an hour or two at a time. No doubt there would be much talk about property values, and not-so-subtle hints of lawsuits.
The band was full of older and younger siblings, and brought together children from the southern half of Jamaica Plain. It was mostly Catholic, but there were no religious requirements. Trips were made to New York, Washington D.C., and Montreal. For all its success, the organization came up against an insurmountable obstacle. The cultural changes of the late 1960s did not bode well for a youth organization built on a near-paramilitary model. The short haircuts required of the boys, the military marching, and the band music lost its appeal some time after the Summer of Love, and by 1969, the Senior band suffered the loss of many of its older, experienced members. Kids who grew up together in the band decided they had enough of the discipline the band required. Much the same happened all over the Boston area, and soon, as the baby boom peaked and began to ebb, the CYO music circuit faded away. St Thomas Grammar School came down in the mid-late 1970s, taking with it the hall and music room. The parking lot across from the church was replaced with apartments.
So is 40 years ago history? I tend to think of history as the things that can't be remembered by anyone alive today, but it will be history when we're gone, so it's worth archiving.