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Red Hussars Alumni Assn.
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RED HUSSAR DRUM & BUGLE CORPS
Thomas Jefferson High School, Port Arthur, TX
1929 - 1993
 
     The Thomas Jefferson High School RED HUSSAR DRUM AND BUGLE CORPS double-timed their way to fame September 27, 1930, and won the hearts of all who watched their performances for 63 years.  They were the first all-girl drum and bugle corps in the state of Texas.  The girls represented TJ and the city of Port Arthur at football games, parades, the state fair and a multitude of civic activities.
    
     Miss Elizabeth ''Smitty'' Smith, head of the TJ PE Department, organized the Red Hussars in 1929.  Her inspiration for the Hussars came from a trip to California where she was so impressed with a male corps dressed like Russian Cossacks that she presented the idea of a girl's corps to the school.  And so, the Hussars were born.  Twenty four girls were selected, uniforms were ordered, the band director, O.L. ''Pop'' Lantz, wrote the signature song, ''Here We Come'', and taught the girls how to march and play the drums and bugles.  When the uniforms arrived, the bill was much higher than expected.  Not to be deterred, the Hussars put on their first fundraisers to pay for their uniforms.
 
     Their first appearance was at a TJ football game September 27, 1930.  For 63 years the Hussars wore red and white designed to resemble those Russian Hussars, or light cavalry, decked with gold buttons and braid.  Initially the girls wore slippers.  Skirts were shortened, the signature white boots and marching double-time were added around 1938.  For 63 years the Hussars started every half-time performance by marching onto the football field playing ''Here We Come''.  Over 2000 girls passed through the ranks of the corps.  It was disbanded in 1993.
 
     We served with pride and honor and distinction.  It wasn't always easy.  Being a Hussar meant 7 AM practice, five days a week, for six weeks every summer before school started.  It meant practice after school four afternoons a week to learn a new field routine for every home football game.  It meant sore feet and arms, bruised lips and hips and legs that could fall off they hurt so bad.  It meant making good grades or being asked to leave.  It meant discipline on and off the field and there were places and activities that were off limits when we were in uniform.  It meant polishing white boots after marching in a parde behind the horses!  It meant pride in being a part of something unique.  Being a Hussar meant that we were special.  We felt it to the center of our being, and when we were on the field playing ''Here We Come", it showed.  And, while we didn't know it at the time, it meant a lifetime of happy memories.
 
ONCE A HUSSAR, ALWAYS A HUSSAR
 
















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HUSSAR HISTORY
(Courtesy of Ms. Nancy McClain)

     Miss Elizabeth Smith originated the Red Hussar Drum and Bugle Corps in 1929; She was later Mrs. Brown or "Smitty Brown".   Their marching debut was September 27, 1930 with 21 members.  

     Hazel Baron (deceased 1998) known as Hazel Dunham in 1930 at Port Arthur High was the corps' first drum major.  Her Co-drum major, Ethel Thompson (now Ethel Bowen) led the Hussars to the field (after flipping a coin to see who got to go first) when they made their debut on September 27, 1930.  They didn't have boots back then.  They wore white slippers.  Marvel Clark was the first president.  Janet (Lorenz) Beckham 1932, Marguerite (LeBlanc) Griffith 1933, and Jane (Bailey) Dennis 1933 are now RHAA members. 

     An all-male drum and bugle corps spurred the idea for a Hussar Corps.  Smitty saw the male corps in California and decided a pep squad just wasn't enough anymore.  On her return to Port Arthur, she requested permission from the school board to form the corps.  Permission was granted.  

     Instruments and uniforms were ordered.  When the uniforms came in, they were much better quality than they were told, and therefore the cost was higher than quoted.  To raise extra money to pay for the uniforms, the 21 members of this first corps put on a water pageant and vaudeville show.  Thus the Red Hussars were born--the first marching drum and bugle corps in Texas.

     Mrs. Willoughby (Louise Lattimer) served as director in 1934 - 1938.  One of the Drum Majors under Mrs. Willoughby was Ruth Hampton (Lofton) in 1936 who was later followed by her daughter Anne Lofton, Drum Major in 1961.  Another Drum Major was Susie Kinney (Gartin) in 1937 who is now a member of the RHAA.   Other early members included Mrs. Willis (Marjorie) Honeycutt whose daughter was a majorette in the late 50's, and Mrs. Ida Mildred Luquette.  Mrs. Lillian (Nichols) Dorrell (1934), Mrs. Dorothy (Ott) Owen (1937), Mrs. Jim (Steed) Everett (1938), and Mrs. Mary Tee (Perry) Rizer (1938) are now members of the RHAA.

     In 1939 Betty Jo White was director.  Betty Jo later directed the Baytown Brigadiers.

     In 1958 there were about 100 members--14 rows of 6, plus alternates.  Work began early in the summer for the New Hussars.  Then in August the whole group was brought together for 6-hour daily practices.  

     Hazel Baron organized the Red Hussar Booster Club in 1974.  Mrs. Baron was the president for the first year.  In 1979 when the Hussars celebrated their 50th anniversary, Sue Williams was president and the membership was 87, with 21 life members.

     The 1979 corps under the direction of Marsha Hicks Bartlett consisted of 1 drum major, 1 assistant drum major, 2 majorettes, 14 snare drums, 8 tenor drums, 5 bass drums, 12 bells, 8 cymbals, 23 bugles and 8 baritone bugles.