St. Mary’s Academy Band- 1944
[Click photo to enlarge image]
Sitting (left to right) — Cecilia Breaux, Violet Williams, Agnes Ryan, Melba Jones, Rita McClung, Winifred Bertrand, Winifred Jones, Barbara Jones, Gloria Benoit, Ida Petty, Albertha Toppins, Audrey Colvon, Melba Vega
Standing— Marguerite Mayfield, Valeria Robinson, Margaret Theresa Landry, Dorothy Mouton, Theresa Lawrence, Vera Mougous, Carmen Tenette, Marguerite Broussard, Geradine Marceline, Maudie Marie Turnbull, Earline Robin, Ella Mae Wilson
Top row — Emma Walton, Juanita Turnbull, Barbara Juge, Blanche Bowers
Not in picture— Beryldell Crutchfield, Audrey Moseman, Marjorie Rouzan
At the beginning of the 1935 school term, the principal of St. Mary’s Academy in the French Quarters announced that she wanted to organize a school band. She asked the girls to get consent from their parents and, of course, the girls enthusiastically responded.
By December of 1935, eight girls formed the nucleus of the band under the directorship of Professor Chaligny. Gradually, other girls joined and, just three months later, they learned that a new band instructor, Mr. L.L. Wilcox, would be taking over. His arrival would be very beneficial to the school since he would prove to be a great teacher and one who would remain with them for many years to come. It didn’t take long before the girls were learning the notes and the correct method of holding their instruments.
Two months later, May 26, 1936, the all girls’ band performed at the dedication of the newly built Lafon Home. They even presented a musical program for the students at both St. Joan of Arc and St. Katherine Elementary Schools. By June 3, 1936, they played the graduation march at St. Mary’s commencement exercises. So much progress had been made in such a short period of time that, as a collective group, they decided to continue lessons during the summer months for the purpose of being further advanced when school reopened that fall.
By 1937, the girls were thrilled to discover they were getting brand new blue and gold uniforms. That year they performed at the Corpus Christi Church parade which was being held on the Feast of Christ the King, as well as the last football game of the season at Xavier University’s Stadium. They were especially thrilled when they were invited to march in two carnival parades!
By 1944, Mr. Wilcox was still directing his all girls’ band. He had been with them for the past nine years, ever since they came together as a group in 1935. It was during this year that they achieved the honor of winning the All State Title at the state rally. In their 1944 yearbook, the team wrote, “Mr. Wilcox has given many hours of self-sacrificing devotion to our advancement. We thank you Mr. Wilcox. The members of the band will never forget you, nor shall we forget our days of hard work as well as our triumphs as members of St. Mary’s Academy All State Band.”
The band still exists today. You can find them at Carnival time still marching in various parades.
The Junior Band- 1944
First row (left to right) — Caledonia Cousin, Dolores Johnson, June Llado, Joan Foster, Betty Garrison, Germaine Walton
Second row — Agnes Banks, Marjorie Montgomery, Jacqueline Dix, Helen Wells, Verlie Thibodeaux
Mr. Louis L. Wilcox – Band Director
Sources: Maris Stella (St. Mary’s yearbooks 1936, 1937, 1944) – personal possession