This speech was written for the St. James 50-Year Jubilee in 1974. (Contributed by Ed Tomlinson)
A History of the Cadet Corps and Band
My Cadet experience goes back to Dec. 4, 1914.
In 1933 I was a Lt. Col. of a large Cadet Corps known as the United Cadet Corps, consisting of five units of more than 750 boys and girls. After working with this group for some time I had to resign due to the pressure of my work. I was not a Beach resident at this time.
Pastor Agnew had heard about my Cadet work and asked if I was still interested in it. I said I was. He invited me to come to the Beach to view the St. James Cadet Corps. I made a visit on a Friday evening and met Pastor there, and he introduced me to Capt. Arthur Connelly, 1st Lt. Peter Sparks, 2d Lt. Walter Hanson and the other members of Co. “A”. Co. “A” had a full staff of officers and I wondered why Pastor needed me. Then I was introduced to a tall high school student by the name of Edwin Lake, who would help me as he had training in Co. “A”. There was a Co. “B” with 11 boys, no uniforms and no equipment. The Pastor asked if I would take command of Co. “B”. I told him I had been a Cadet for 22 years and I was interested in this group and would accept. That was on the second Friday in December, 1936.I would be Acting Captain.
On Sunday evening in January 1937 was the annual award night. All the Cadets assembled in the basement of the Church. We marched behind Pastor Agnew, Commissioner Christman and Commissioner Metz. The Commissioners and the Cadets were seated in the front pews of the Church. Pastor read from the bible. Commissioner Christman welcomed the parents and friends of the Cadets. At that time Officers and Cadets received their bars and medals and commissions. The Officers received their swords as authority for the ensuing year. That Sunday evening Ed Lake and I received our Commissions and swords. Mine for Captain and Ed Lake for 1st Lt. of Co. “B”.
Some time later I inquired just when and how the Cadet Corps were started at St. James and was told it was first a model airplane club, then became part of the Boys Brigade of America. Later the boys wanted to form a Cadet Corps of their own, so with the permission of the Church Council they named it the St. James Cadet Corps.
The Cadets attended church services on the third Sunday of the month from 1932 to 1959. A short time after I became active with the Cadets Co. “C” and Co. “D” were formed. These groups were for the girls. Co. “C” became an all girl band under the leadership of Mary L. Smith. The Band is still going strong thanks to the hard work of Janet Velle and Ed Tomlinson, Jr.
Over the years there have been several excellent leaders in the Cadet Corps and Band but I have only touched on the initial people and have mentioned some of the people who are still working with us today.
In these early years the Drill Team of Co. “A” won many awards for their outstanding work. The Band has participated in numerous parades and competitions and their trophies are on display in the cabinet in the basement of our Church. These groups have always been an asset to the Church.
By 1938 “B” Co. was completely uniformed and in 1939 they had purchased rifles and became a well trained unit. In 1939 I was commissioned Major by the Church Council.
In 1938-1939 I had my first experience at camp with Co. “A” upstate N.Y. in East Durham.
When the Church had bazaars, all the Cadets took part. Co. “A” had charge of a game table, Co. “B” sold soda which they paid for from their treasury and all money received was given to the Church. Co. “B” also brought in year after year thousands of can goods for the Ladies Auxiliary to use at the bazaar. The Band paraded around the community advertising the bazaar. The girl Cadets sold ladies articles that brought in many dollars for the Church.
Before World War II the Beach held a Memorial Sunday with the Band and all the Cadets, American Legion, V.F.W., Property Owners Association and our own Fire Department.
On Memorial Day, the Cadets and Band marched with the “Bill Brown Post” on Ocean Ave. From the Post we would march to Lundy’s in Sheepshead Bay, there a wreath was placed on a plaque in memory of World War I comrades. We marched to a Yacht Club on Emmons Ave. then back to the “Bill Brown Post” where refreshments were served. Then we marched back to our own Church. The Band participated at parades in the World’s Fair of 1939 and the entire Cadet Corps always marched in the Coney Island Mardi gras.
When the Church held their Minstrel Shows, Co. “B” sold many hundreds of booster names and tickets.
The night which I will remember as a very sad one was when the Cadets of Co. “A”, who I have always called young men, met for the last time as each one was going into the service of our country in the near future. As Major of the St. James Cadet Corps I can say with pride that every one of them served their Country with honor. But with a heavy heart for those who made the supreme sacrifice--for I knew them well.
As the boys and girls of the Cadet Corps grew to manhood and womanhood, and married, I have had the privilege of seeing their sons and daughters in the Cadets and Band.
Since the end of World War II I have had the friendship of a wonderful person who has been my Capt. Adjt. For nearly 25 years, Cpt. Adjt. Ed Tomlinson, Sr. During my long recent illness this year the Cadets functioned under his command and the command of all my officers. They kept me informed of what was going on.
The St. James Cadet Corps is the oldest youth organization in our Community. It is at present 42 years old and still going strong. I honestly believe the reason it has existed all these years is because it has stood for God and Country, discipline and respect.
God willing on December 4 of this year I will be a Cadet 60 years.I will have served the St. James Cadet Corps for 38 years.This type of work, being with young people, has been my life.
Time, illness and age has taken its toll, so on December 31, 1974 I will retire.May God bless this wonderful organization for what it stood for and for what it has done for the youth of our Community.