Dakota Datebook

Band Uniforms

Friday, January 24, 2014

 

In Meredith Wilson’s musical The Music Man, flim-flam man extraordinaire, Professor Harold Hill, not only sells a small town in Iowa on the idea of a boy’s marching band, but also the uniforms to go with it…complete with the stripe up the side of the leg.

Oh, there’s nothing quite like a band–even though the band he forms is not as promised.

In contrast, on this date in 1967, there was a sense of excitement at the debut of the Mandan High School Concert Band’s new uniforms. The uniform could serve two purposes. It was styled as a black tuxedo, made of virgin wool whipcord, with satin lapels and a leg stripe. White gloves and white spats, a white-and-red bib-like overlay, and a hat resembling that of the Royal guard, complete with a chin strap, made the ensemble marching-ready. When stripped of these accessories, however, the uniforms became simple black tuxedos, ready for a formal concert. Each had a white detachable collar liner, an adjustable zipper in the waist, and an inside music folio pocket.

Uniforms were last purchased nearly twenty years earlier, in 1949. Needless to say, the older uniforms were in bad repair. The school spent hours planning and designing the new uniforms, and they were plenty useful, but each cost $93.79 a piece.

At least three other schools in North Dakota copied the new look, even before it debuted at a concert on this date. The final price tag for the new togs was almost $8,000, but these multi-functional uniforms came without the flim-flam!

Dakota Datebook written by Sarah Walker

 

Sources:

January 20, 1967, p9 – Bismarck Tribune

 

 

This text and audio may not be copied without securing prior permission from Prairie Public.

Dakota Datebook is a project of Prairie Public, in partnership with the State Historical Society of North Dakota, with funding from the North Dakota Humanities Council.

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