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Are the VFW Post 596 drums the oldest set of Moeller drums made for a corps? And why are these drums so special to us? Part 1

My mother was bailed out of jail by my father, and promptly fell in love. Post 596 drum corps jail, that is. The Mount Vernon NY VFW Post 596 drum corps was having a fundraising dance that night in 1950 when one of Pop Classey’s drum students bought the largest bucketful of tokens he could afford to rescue Pop Murphy’s daughter from dance hall jail. Pop Classey (Edward A.) and Pop Murphy (Arthur J.) were founding members of the 596 drum corps, a drummer and a fifer going back to 1930 in a corps that Gus Moeller would join as member and instructor by 1932.

The corps' set of 1933/1934 Moeller/Classey drums was purchased by my dad, Patrick H. Cooperman, in 1967 after the VFW Post 596 Field Music corps, then known as the Colonial Greens Fife & Drum Corps, was officially disbanded. This photo is from 1964, Trenton NJ.

I’ve been looking into the history of this 1930's championship corps from its beginning all the way through to its end in the 1960’s, when a few of its remaining members formed up with Sons of Liberty alums to create Glovers Marbleheaders Fife & Drum Corps (this is an early muster photo, they later had green regimental coats).

This is a story with many familiar names in the fife & drum community, and some not so familiar, including Sanford A. “Gus” Moeller, Pop Classey and his son Ed (Edward C.), Pop Murphy and his daughter Patsy (not to be confused with me – yes, our family has way too many “Pat”s in it), and Pat Cooperman, patriarch of our company. It’s a long story, and I’ll be posting pieces of it over the next few weeks and months as we get the 4 snares we still have here in our shop back to playing condition. We know where most of the other drums from original set are, and will share their stories too as their owners allow. For now, here's Pat Cooperman, fifth from left, enjoying his veteran's "52-20 club" benefit (his story) at Post 596 after being discharged from the Navy after WWII .

Patsy Cooperman Ellis


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