The Screen Play was written for all ages. I think a five year old could get as much enjoyment out of it as an adult; identifying with the children and the fabulous music. My intention for a discerning adult, upon exiting the theatre…”Now I know why they called it the Greatest Generation”
My guiding light in all my work has been the words of W. Summerset Maugham describing his work “OF HUMAN BONDAGE”…FACT INEXTRICABLY mixed with fiction
THE GRAND STREET BOYS are indeed a work of FACT, NEAR FACT and FICTION. …It’s a character driven work that drives events… The multi plots reveal who and what they were. I would suspect that they have all passed on. I used real names connected with organizations and events for no other purpose but to honor the characters. Early on, the year 1945 one of the main characters asks, while waiting for the parade to start up, “ Where are Jim and Catherine”…They’re home with the baby, he has a cold (the baby is me).
The best way I felt to give a good synopsis was to present the main characters, then just fill in events. Words however fail…It’s the music that brings on the soul…swing era drums and horn…As the saying goes.. no-one blows a horn like the angels…and little Gabriel is the best…..Bugle Boy of Company B, A Bluesy version of You Made me Love You, Summertime, Glen Miller's In the Mood, A heart wrenching version of I’ll be seeing you, and Nat King Cole’s "NOT TO YOUNG" (appropriately interspersed in its relationship to Story…..It’s really not a musical it’s a story of love life and character…Everyone has the right stuff…The painful war coming to an end. A new world of optimism and charity… He or she who suffers the most knows.
The story opens on a troop transport D Day minus -1 June 5th 1944. Soldiers sitting on deck with hardly an inch to spare. Major Harris asks “Where’s Bugle Boy”…Maybe true maybe just sarcastic for morale,(it doesn’t make any difference) Major Harris” apparently General Eisenhower heard Sgt BLACK play "GOODBYE BROADWAY, HELLO FRANCE" somewhere in England, and requests.. mind you, doesn’t order him to play it. The song brought him Good luck in WW1. BUDDY BLACK probably one of the finest who ever picked up a horn was the outstanding Bugle player, the incomparable soloist, with the Grand Street Boys Drum and Bugle Corps in N.Y.
BUDDY is reading a well- worn letter from his wife MARY and little boy GABRIEL three, whom he left with a toy bugle. A morale booster Buddy really shakes it up playing “Stomping at the Ritz”….Buddy doesn’t make it; killed on Omaha Beach in the invasion of France.
Months later things have settled down.. MARY is back from Washington, with a medal from the President , The Medal of Honor, presented posthumously. MARY had been a teacher at St. Victors Grammar School 3rd grade. Visiting MONSIGNOR DUFFY with GABRIEL to tell him she would not be returning. His reply I read the papers, good luck on the new school. MONSIGNOR asks MARY does GABRIEL know his father won’t be returning. GABRIEL pipes up My Daddy is with God. Mommy said God needed a bugle player, and Daddy was the best. MARY will be headmistress of a school sponsored by the VA. A school for Children who lost their fathers during the war from pre-kindergarten to 5th Grade in the realization that young children can be cruel to other young children who do not have a father; in addition to help the young mothers to adjust. The school is to open September 1945.
April 1945, The war has ended in Europe. ROSE GOLDSTEIN, a close friend of MARY, both marched with the GRAND STREET BOYS, calls up all excited, she is going to Germany.. MARY asks is it safe, the war just ended there two weeks ago?. Her husband HANK GOLDSTEIN just returned injured in action with the 3rd Army, rehabilitating at the VA. Hospital in the Bronx. HANK’s FATHER is the President of the GRAND STREET BOYS organization... a social and philanthropic Jewish Organization in N.Y. who sponsored Drum & Bugle Corps for young kids in the early 1930’s. BUDDY, HANK, MARY, ROSE all belonged;the girls marched color guard. HANK was a photographer with the N.Y. Daily Mirror before going overseas. ROSE an experienced RN. Along with Dr. WERTZ and RABBI SHAPIRO, their mission to help where they can in the recently uncovered Concentration Camps. Arriving in Munich, everything in complete disorder. The favored word “provisional”… “you make up the rules as you go along”. Their first experience arriving at Dachau concentration Camp was of complete disbelief. The sick, the dying from disease and starvation, the sights smell desperation from people barely alive.. ROSE” at a supposed “provisional hospital” cries out…. There are no medical supplies, no bandages, no medicine no antiseptics, no food , no nothing… Everybody totally helpless.. While leaving that first day, by the gate she spots a four year old girl on her knees moaning and pointing to an old woman…she is eating paper and dirt…ROSE responds immediately. She takes the child. This will become her daughter ZARA.
HANK’S pictures have shocked the nation. The pathetic picture of Zara prompted Drs. JACOB MOSS Psychiatrist and his brother SAMUEL MOSS, who encouraged the mission, made immediate request from authorities to return; a complete evaluation of this child. In recognition of what they will be soon facing.
ZARA through the love and care of HANK and ROSE will recover to well… normal. Tortured throughout her young life, she on rare occasions regresses... though ably attended by JACOB MOSS MD Phychrist, She will be a classmate with GABRIEL at ELMWOOD. MARY got her teaching degree from Fordham University. The teachers at the school, all-volunteer,interns from Fordham; dedicated young ladies in their senior year teacher education program. The school not very big, will be known for their exceptional education and care for young children. MARY’s philosophy, they all like my son GABRIEL suffered; these children all deserve the very best.
Before the term begins, the war has ended in the Pacific. EDDIE BRADY 111, MARY’s brother, pulls up in his Marine uniform in front of his father’s well known restaurant between Kingsbridge and Riverdale. Brady’s Steak & Chop House. EDDIE having fought in Saipan and Iwo Jima is the type of guy with a great personality, great sense of humor a ball of positive energy. There are two people, older well dressed entering the restaurant…EDDIE coming out of the cab in his uniform returning home after almost three years… ”Do you know if they rent rooms here”? Laughing I’m looking for a dish-washers job.… They look at him… Are you Gertrude and Eddies Son.. EDDIE smiles, nods his head… Welcome home son. We catch up with EDDIE over at the school fixing some electrical wiring, EDDIE's always on the go. MARY is with MYRA, an older lady who is a Psychologist. Approaching EDDIE on the grounds. MARY in tears; Congressman Burns called, you have been awarded the Bronze Star… EDDIE with a grim look on his face replies, Maybe if it comes with 50 bucks, I’ll put that uniform on and pick it up. EDDIE wants no part of the military any more…. EDDIE an optimist of the future… wants to forget the past…. Stop it EDDIE. MYRA, EDDIE wanted to return to college this week…He was a student in Manhattan Electrical Engineering program a little less than two years to go…The VA said NO.. He needs six months separation time. MYRA: EDDIE you are a remarkable young man... You need time to adjust… enjoy yourself, Eddie laughs.. you mean I can go back playing my drums without guilt.. MYRA yes wash dishes in your father’s restaurant, help Mary… play your drums with your friends… EDDIE SMILES, he knows she’s right….Humorously… You will write me a note that I can go back to school…. Young man you have a remarkable sense of humility and vision…You will go far in life… We find out EDDIE is very close to the children. GABRIEL his nephew ZARA, MICKEY and ANDY….He regards these kids as war heroes
JEROME RHODES… Some say JEROME blew a horn as well as BUDDY, at any rate they were in a class by themselves. EDDIE is in the restaurant at lunch, he likes washing dishes. EDDIE likes everything and everybody. He hears JEROME in the VA hospital. .Kamikaze attack on their ship at Okinawa, JEROME lost his left arm, his younger brother Fred killed. EDDIE calls Dr. MOSS if the guys can come over and bring JEROME a horn to blow maybe at the rehab section…EDDIE, HANK, TOMMY TURNER, TOMMY back from fighting with the 88th Division in No. Africa, Anzio beach head in Sicily and Italy, TOMMY carrying the horn… When they arrive JEROME doesn’t look very cheerful… MICKEY GARRIEL’S age is crying MURIEL his wife looks depressed. These guys all marched together…TOMMY, EDDIE AND HANK Grand Street Boys.. JEROME, maybe because he was colored, was initially rejected, marched with MOE WOLF Corps in Brooklyn. JEROME begins playing an incredible version of "BUGLE BOY FROM COMPANY B"… MICKEY’s tears turn to smiles watching EDDIE Drum… Mickey was Fred’s son, the mother went insane, now MICKEY their son
The war is over. CHARLEY ZELL is the post commander of the WM. Irwin Jr Am. Legion post. They sponsor in conjunction with St. Victor's a junior drum corps... kids 10 to 17… with everyone gone the Corps became neglected; small contributions because the fund raising went to the new alter in the lower Church. While ROSE and HANK were in Europe earlier, TOMMY comes into the story with his wife on the 1945 Memorial Day Parade… They are with their nephew JIMMY COLLIGAN 10 and younger sister MAUREEN 7. JIMMY just joined the Corps, his first parade, he was lucky to get a bugle, no uniforms around for the new kids. MAUREEN marching with her Aunt and Uncle carrying a small American flag. The music not very good, but an optimistic occasion with the war winding down with promise of better times ahead… Little did they know…THEN…. that in seven years the St. Victor’s Kingsmen…JIMMY COLLIGAN aging out at 18, ready to begin college, along with other old corps members will become World Champions…. winning over 32 Corps in Washington DC.
How did they get to be Champs?
When the guys got back from overseas, the past members of mostly Grand Street Boys, Moe Wolf Post Drum & Bugle Corps, Phoebe Hearst Post Drum & Bugle Corps and St. Victors, formed a Senior Corps called the N.Y. Skyliners; between 1946 to 1951 they won 38 competitions out of 41 plus never defeated in a National contest. “Factual”
EDDIE's graduation in 1947 pulls the story together… He graduated from Manhattan Engineering first in his class on an IBM scholarship. TOMMY TURNER graduated from Fordham Law School. Over in the corner a special table of Graduates…GABRIEL,ZARA,MICKEY and ANDY graduated from Kindergarten, sitting with KAREN COOPER… ANDY’s mother…Bill her husband a war casualty. They are sitting along with MONSIGNOR DUFFY, KAREN’S UNCLE, and ANDY”S GRAND UNCLE. SUZIE their teacher has graduated from Fordham ed. Will be staying on having received a TAFT grant for her Masters… The success of the school has pointed out a new field of education…special education. SUZIE will later marry EDDIE.
As life progresses throughout the 40’s the SKYLINERS an extremely talented and disciplined Corps find time to help St. Victor’s, who are nicely progressing under their Director LESTER ABRAHAMSON, a Skyliner. “Factual”
As the 4 kids of Elmwood get older they are in short little SKYLINERS… By the time GABRIEL is eight he is a phenom.. ANDY close behind… MICKEY could probably join the drum line of the Skyliners. ZARA has been under the tutelage of the great Drum Major WALTER WINKELMAN since she was six. Her mother ROSE was the Drum majorette of the GRAND STREET BOYS, MARY carried the Am. Flag in the color guard.
In 1950 EDDIE BRADY 111 realizes his playing days are coming to an end… They are defending their National Championship in Los Angeles… Most of the Corps went by train 6 days, EDDIE dressed in a suit, straw skimmer, Regional Mgr. for Electro Dynamics, a home in N.J. He really doesn’t want to leave his wife and baby for even three days… SUZI smiling says… we can put up with you going providing you win…They do.
Next year the St. Victor’s Kingsmen win the N.Y. State Title…a repeat… When they get back to their post LESTER their Director asks them how many think we will win the National Championship coming up in two months… No body raises their hand… JIMMY pipes up.. We are really not that good we never beat St. Vinny’s or any of the N.J Corps ever, our uniforms, warn out; Someone yells out drawing a laugh SHINEY PANTS are poorly received for General Effect, our marching M&M not that imaginative and our music not that exciting
JEROME at this time is their horn instructor…He looks at LESTER nods his head….ALL that is going to change…We are getting new uniforms, new arrangement and new M & M drill… plus four new members that can take you to I believe, winning Nationals… The Corps appears ecstatic till they find out their new members have not even turned eleven years old.
JEROME tells them they all need to be here tomorrow to meet their new Corps members… Everyone seems to be agreeable but they feel this is joke….The color guard buys donuts… When they arrive they are offered donuts, as you would a guest. They are young and don’t realize they are not being taken seriously… ANDY reaches in for a donut... GABRIEL says ANDY are there any chocolate left…The girls are laughing the boys just staring…It’s mean, MICKEY picks up on that…He turns to a drummer…let me borrow your drum…saying to GABRIEL and ANDY, grab your horns.. He turns to GABRIEL… GABRIEL blow that horn…They put on an incredible performance of “STOMPING AT THE RITZ… GABRIEL’s Solo incredible followed up by ANDY’s French Horn solo.. Then MICKEY brings the house down with his drum solo all ably led by ZARA… They then go into Glen Miller’s “IN THE MOOD” When they end, there is stunned silence. GABRIEL doesn’t realize how good they really are…and asks did we do something wrong… MAUREEN COLLIGAN is crying “We never heard anything like that before… we were making fun of you, we thought it was a joke, you are far better than any of us…If you join us it would be a privilege.. JIMMY pipes up we are not that bad. We are the N.Y.S champions.. JEROME pipes in…with the new advanced arrangements, these guys can pull it off... They can pull off the solos. It’s what won we Skyliners our first Nationals…The late BUDDY BLACK arranged this program…The best bugle in the Grand Street Boys and N.Y…This is his son GABRIEL,…with tears in his eye his father killed in action… This is my son MICKEY… Spontaneous applause. Standing ovation
The Corps has something to shoot for…When its time to go to Washington… The Corps is fabulous. There is a Corps from California the Clipper Town Destroyers from Hollywood with a real mean Director…always looking for an angle… Seeing there is no official Birth Certificate for Zara... Kingsmen's drum Majorette, he has her disqualified… "One for All… All for One"…The corps won’t march without ZARA… JIMMY calls his friend MATT RILEY at St. Vinny’s, the recurring champions, the acknowledged class of Junior Drum Corps the favorites to win…as JIMMY said in seven years competing against them we never beat any Jersey Corps. They all refuse to march.. the other corps follow. Mr. WITLASH it seems outsmarted himself so by default, Destroyers win Nationals… The other 31 Corps laughing at him. TOMMY TURNER licensed to practice law in Washington draws a new contract… The World Invitational, the reason three Corps came from Europe, Germany, France and Switzerland… a novelty in those days;instead of exhibition status, full status to march. MAUREEN COLLIGAN is made chairman of the Invitational Committee… The Destroyers told they weren’t invited unless their Director gets on a plane and leaves town… Mr.WITLASH says how old are you, you can’t talk to me like that… CLICK… MAUREEN hangs up the phone…a half hour later the phone rings there is a girl crying on the phone JENINE SHINEMAN… she the drum majorette of the Destroyers.. JENINE called her father who, sponsors the CORPS, told him what happened,Her father went ballistic.. MURRAY SHINEMAN fired WITLASH immediately, with ticket back to California… JENINE said her mother was so upset, she was crying, wanted to talk to ZARA’s mother….so 32 Corps will march
ROSE runs into JIMMY COLLIGAN and MATT RILEY who have competed against each other the past seven years, this their last competition before aging out… ROSE thanked them for sticking behind her daughter. MATT makes light of the situation….laughing …The Kingsmen never beat us,… rumor has it they have a hot Corps for this competition... We wouldn’t want to compete against them unless they could throw their best at us.
JIMMY and I will be starting Engineering at Manhattan in two weeks…we will both be turning 18, the loser buys the beers…JIMMY is a real scholar, I know EDDIE BRADY is close to JIMMY, both REGIS HIGH boys, Mr.BRADY helped me with my application to the Dean of Admissions.
Corps have been competing all afternoon 8 groups of 4…Both St. Vinny’s and the KINGSMEN in the final elite four…..As the sun goes down… The street beat observed as the Kingsmen march in column to present themselves…WALTER WINKELMAN has told ZARA.. ZARA dressed in White and Gold with a large dome feathered cap that when she directs the first drum roll the FIRST THREE NOTES off the line must be POWERFUL to shock the crowd…of 50,000…She does it... BAM gets them off the line…When they are marching to concert.. CHARLEY ZELL takes the cigar out of his mouth. WW1 vet.. ”BUDDY’s arrangement” GOODBY BROADWAY HELLO FRANCE” .When they get to Concert, she slows the pace in their first presentation then directs an explosion “STOMPING AT THE RITZ… The 50,000 go wild… WE SEE MATT WITH A STOP WATCH…the program timed to 13 minutes or serious deductions…
As they come out of concert, and start marching to finale before going over line, MATT with his watch says they are going to cross the line early… ZARA artfully stops them purposefully gives a final quick maneuver, well planned out, and with a flourish finishes the song, a salute to the audience and march off perfectly. MATT says only the Skyliners could pull something like that off; “ Looks like I’ll be buying the beer. The Kingsmen put on an incredible performance”
In short when the scores come in…The KINGSMEN ran away with it not even close.
It ends with MONSIGNOR DUFFY standing with a crowd swirling by…appearing a bit confused…”MY Goodness, St. Victor’s World Champions
In a short epilogue 1964… 20th Anniversy of D-Day… Normandy American - Cemetary…GABRIEL is carrying a bugle. He just graduated from the Naval Academy in dress Whites, followed by ANDY and his mother and his step father Bill Cooper buried there, followed by…EDDIE and SUZIE, HANK and ROSE, JEROME and MURIEL. JEROME in his Am. Legion overseas cap. GABRIEL forms up with honor Guard…. JEROME marching to other side of Cemetary… The sun is going down and so the flag; GABRIEL is playing a beautiful version TAPS and JEROME playing echo taps….The formal ceremonies over… GABRIEL, ZARA, MICKEY and ANDY all grown up, clowning around… GABRIEL a naval officer, ZARA like her father a photographer, MICKEY will be going to Medical school, ANDY with his step father, have multiple outlets of music store. It ends with GABRIEL saying at one time we were all World Champions, turning to ANDY Laughing "ANDY how many did we win"? ANDY looks at ZARA, GABRIEL and MICKEY, Laughing...Shrugs his shoulders...the others do same laughing.....; a snap shot, a framed picture... with NAT KING COLE singing… NOT TOO YOUNG AT ALL.
The warmth of the screenplay is to be found in favorite scenes: ZARA found in Dachau prone on the ground, eating paper and dirt.. She is moaning and pointing to an old woman who is leaning against a once electrified fence. ROSE calls RABBI SHAPIRO who speaks German... The woman suffering says" My life is wrecked...ROSE asks this suffering woman are you the child's mother...She replies "We are all mothers to the children, to see they will never go to the gas chambers again"...(this is an authentic quote while researching). Take the child and give her a good home.
ZARA learning about life asks MICKEY, the three sitting in a sand box, why his skin is black...MICKEY says ask God...GABRIEL says God doesn't answer questions... just tells you stuff and you better listen or you are in big trouble...ZARA just shrugs her shoulders followed by GABRIEL and MICKEY...In the 1964 epilogue...GABRIEL congratulates MICKEY on his scholarship to medical school...MICKEY laughing looking at ZARA...THEY said they needed boys with black skin who could play drums as Doctors.
ZARA finally waking up to the world through coloring books sitting next to MONSIGNOR DUFFY at EDDIE's graduation party...says "I bet you have a lot of crayons...I have 14,but only know the names of 8.
With the dawning of the decade of 1950. The need for the school is coming to an end...MARY knows that...but when you put so much effort, regardless of the outstanding achievement, it is difficult...MARY is in her office late evening... GABRIEL somewhere outside is playing on his horn...The incomparable BILLIE HOLIDAY hit "I"LL BE SEEING YOU"...MARY begins to cry, picking up the framed picture of her late husband...
What inspired the Screenplay, if you press on the offered link, you may begin to understand these fine people
INSPIRATION FOR STORY
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