Minden High School Majorettes (1950s)

We discovered the following article, Fortitude and Delicacy for Sports Parade by Margaret Ann Jones Dampier, buried in the basement of the Internet. It was originally published around 2009, on Minden Memories, a website dedicated to the history of the Louisiana high school; however, the site was not maintained and someone bought the URL, which now features a lot of spammy junk. We were able to pull the article and photos off a site that archives web content.

Here it is along with some of the photos originally featured in the post.


Fortitude and Delicacy for Sports Parade

by Margaret Ann Jones Dampier (1940-2018)

This is what was required of a majorette from 1953 through 1958. Sun sweltering August days were when it began each year. Preparation began for at least eleven football game performances.

Practice made perfect every 3rd hour class period and at least one night a week. Drummers and majorettes put in extra time after school.

Chalk board graphic studies were drilled for half time performances, district and state competitions, concerts, special military marching competitions, parades, fairs and festivals. Creating choreography for the music was always fun but required much fortitude and delicacy. These routines were combined with band members who wore costumes such as the fanny flappers (Linda Lee Mims), turn of the century attire (Earlene Mendenhall), tux outfits,suspenders, suspenders with a wine barrel. There were many varied shows.

In 1956 we caused a laughing riot in the stands during half-time when Mary Celeste Brown repeatedly lost her majorette skirt while doing an Indian dance. Bob Grambling was furious because we didn’t move off to the side line, but mostly because we thought it was hilarious fun!

In 1952 and 1953, Jane Grubbs was on parade and Dan Pace took such a fancy that he married the majorette. Later on in 1957 and 1958, he was closing up his barber shop along with Fort’s News Stand to watch majorettes on parade. Sandra Pullig’s tan legs and Carla Faye Green’s blonde hair always drew a crowd.

Sandra Pullig’s tan legs and Carla Faye Green’s blonde hair always drew a crowd.

From 1953 through 1955 the idol among majorettes was Mary Ellen Bailey. Her loving personality and great leadership was admired by all. Sue Tatom and Barbara Bryan were two of the majorettes who worked closely with her. She was a mentor to many. We learned to cherish every day of life as a precious gift. As a freshman band member I sat next to her. The French horn and Saxophone sections bordered. The whole band loved her dearly.

Mary Ellen was a mentor, a friend, and left a void in band leadership hard to follow. Being a drum majorette was a major undertaking.

A “Thunderer” whistle was the best. It could be heard two city blocks and was used to be sure the band was directed clearly over other bands and sounds. Fifteen commands were used with the whistle and large baton. Each command depends on the route of parade and pace or on the music and performance routine. Timing and distance paced were imperative. Giving the wrong signal or command might result in you going one way and the band the other or just a total disaster! Examples of a mere few of these commands were: drums on the hoops, drums on the head, full pace, counter march, half pace, roll off for music and flanks.

There was a special bond among majorettes. We had lots of work hours, laughs, and even silly nick names for each other. The older or experienced ones always helped to train the ones who were newer and to move up later. In 1955 Jackie “Tootsie” Batton was a prime example of moving up the rank. She was a stately figure of an intelligent leader who stepped in to fill Mary Ellen’s boots. Earlene Mendenhall, Sandra Pullig and Barbara Bryan followed as majorettes. This was a hard time and the only time we had three girls on line instead of four. However, Ronald Miller was a great feature twirler and helped to fill the void and hurt. He even twirled fire at times. He tried to teach me, but I was afraid my red hair would really “flame.”

However, Ronald Miller was a great feature twirler and helped to fill the void and hurt. He even twirled fire at times. He tried to teach me, but I was afraid my red hair would really “flame.”

In 1956, Mary Celeste Brown, Belle Zachry, myself, and Earlene served under “Tootsie” Batton. Earlene and I are childhood friends and had lots of fun. She had a petite figure and turned lots of heads on parade. Mary Celeste and I could be down right silly and were full of lots of monkey business. Earlene put up with a lot!

1957 changed my spirit and I received more responsibility as drum majorette. Sandra Crockett and Linda Monzingo joined Belle and Mary Celeste on front line. They were great girls and worked so hard. I appreciated them greatly. In the heat of early summer our band parents sent us to the Cotton Carnival in Memphis, TN. I have never been so hot in my life. Linda looked at me before the parade in her sweet voice and said, “Margaret! Look how wide the streets are!” Well, the route was also longer than the State Fair one in Shreveport. When it was over we all crashed for water in the first Memphis bar we could find. My heavy rabbit hat came off fast. We earned this honor of parade! In 1958 I continued to lead. Glenda Fields and Diane Green joined the rank with Linda and Sandra. I began to be a mentor to Sandra just as Mary Ellen and Tootsie did for me. You have to want the responsibility to be a head majorette. Sandra was a lovely girl and worked hard. And as goes the history of Minden High School majorettes.

We tried to have fortitude with delicacy.  I hope we succeeded.

The original sources for these photos include Joyce Dulany Anderson, Rowland Ivy and the Gramblings.

Ms. Dampier was born in 1940 and died in 2018. From her obituary: “Margaret loved music. She was a member of the MHS Band and the Louisiana Tech Band of Pride where she played the French horn and was the head drum major.”

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