Meet our Alumni: Interview with Bruce Englehart

Let's talk about the early days. When did the idea of the Buccaneers first come

up?

 

Even as older members of the Temple Cadets were nearing their final year in Junior Corps,

several of us began thinking about a senior corps in the Reading area. Frank Chupak, Fritz Price,

and I carried those conversations into our communications while in the service during the Korean

conflict along with Roy Miller who was stateside. This was not easy as I was deployed on the

destroyer USS Hailey. We all knew we would not have a drum corps waiting when we got out.

Frank Chupak, who was in the Army began circulating calling cards to “Watch out for the Jolly

Rogers.” A lot of the ideas solidified when Chupak, Fritz, and I were home on leave and Roy

joined us to go upstate to a drum corps contest.

 

We know you're one of the 5 founding members. Who were the other four and tell

us briefly about each one.

 

Fritz Price was a drummer from the Temple Cadets and went into the Navy to serve in the

Korean war. Fritz stayed in contact with the others from aboard his ship, USS Salamonie.

Roy Miller a horn player from the Temple Cadets was unable to go in the service due to health

issues, so he covered the home front while we were gone. Roy always had ideas, some of them

were out there, but he came through with things. He drove the efforts to get equipment and

knocked on a lot of Veteran organizations doors to get sponsorships started.

Ronald Fisher was a horn player that had aged out of West Reading Police Cadets. He joined our

group while we were watching the Police Cadets, a junior corps, practice out at the airport as age

outs with no corps to call home.

 

Carl Bagenstose was a World War II Vet and a member of the former Rockets Drum & Bugle

Corps sponsored by Berkshire Heights Fire Company, and an earlier Senior Corps sponsored by

the Greater Reading VFW Post 179, which later also sponsored the Buccaneers.

 

As the five of us watched the W.R. Police Cadets rehearse, we decided it was time to start

reaching out to friends to organize a meeting on the steps of Reading High.

 

Notice how Frank Chupak was so involved with starting the Buccaneers. Frank was the Drum

Major for the Temple Cadets. When he came out of the Army, Frank went to Kutztown

University and soon began teaching in New Jersey. This took him away from participating in the

later “official meetings” so he was never included in the Founding Father group, but certainly

was instrumental in planting the seed. Frank conducted the first drill practice and was the

original drum major of the Buccaneers.

 

Was the corps name always the Reading Buccaneers?

 

The working name during the corps development was the Jolly Rogers, however we found out

there was a corps using the name Jolly Jesters. Not wanting to be too close to that, the group

started talking about some alternatives.

 

How did you come up with the name Buccaneers?

 

From the beginning, we wanted to go with a nautical theme. Several similar names were

discussed at the third organizational meeting in 1956. One of the guys, whose name never got

documented, threw out “The Buccaneers.” It was nautical and close to, but different than the

popular Musketeers. It fit and the name stuck.

 

Of all your years on the field, what year was most memorable?

 

My years on the field spanned from the beginning through the 1973 season. Each win over a

larger, well established corps felt good as a steppingstone, but the first win over the Hawthorne

Caballeros, I believe in 1964 or early 65 in Scranton was the clincher. That is when we knew we

made it. Musically speaking, in 1973 when we played Red Winzer’s arrangements of Shaft and

Get It On, the crowds just went wild.

 

How would you compare the activity today with the drum corps of the 50's & 60's?

 

I am very fortunate to have an answer for that question. The evolution of our corps from my time

to today has been phenomenal. Of course, I love my military-based shows, but how could I not

love and appreciate what we are doing today. Put yourself in my position, “Old guy and

Founder” knowing I was one of five guys who started all this. Immense pride and wishing I

could still be out there with them.

 

We're All Good Men!

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Reading Buccaneers Inc.
P.O. Box 13032
Reading, PA 19612