The following is a collaboration piece paraphrased from a memoir by Cadets 1981 alum, Joe D'Arrigo, about his father's lifelong contribution to The Cadets.
Vince D’Arrigo was born in 1931 and became a drum corps fan at an early age. He marched in the snare line with the Mt. Carmel Drum and Bugle Corps for a year and a half, until, at the tender age of seven, members of the Holy Name Cadets recognized his talent and brought him to a Cadets rehearsal. Vince made the snare line immediately. The kid could play! From that night on, he took the bus from Passaic, NJ to Garfield for every rehearsal. Not to worry; older members of the corps from his tenement rode with him.
Shortly after joining the corps, Vince also became a member of the Most Holy Name Church in Garfield, NJ, and an altar boy.
Growing up, Vince’s family didn’t have much. He often practiced for three hours a day on a toilet seat. One day, he was practicing on the third floor of his building while another drummer practiced on the first floor. It was all the poor man in the middle could take. He came out into the hall and started banging two metal garbage can lids together, yelling, “Do you want to see how much noise I can make?!” Needless to say, practice ended for the day.
During his years in the Cadets, Vince became a respected member of the drumline and was given his stripes as drum sergeant. “Vince was probably the greatest snare player I have ever seen,” said Jim Costello, the director, founder and drum instructor of the Caballeros who became the drum instructor for Holy Name in the ‘40s.
In 1948, Vince’s tenth year in the corps, the Holy Name Cadets received a 96.5 at Nationals. The judges put their clip boards under their arms and started applauding. That was Herb Bonin’s first year in the drumline.
“During the years I marched, Vince was the drum squad sergeant,” said Herb said. “He was the most dedicated, energetic, respectful and respected Cadet that I looked up to as a rookie. Vince would drum on anything that didn’t move while whistling at the same time, and his energy was unending as a leader.” Herb was a Holy Name Cadet from 1948 to 1954.
Vince D'Arrigo (second snare from the right) and the 1949 Holy Name Cadets drumline
As a leader, Vince encouraged his fellow members and pushed them to work harder. When things got out of hand, he often helped keep members focused. He also helped organize the corps’ fundraisers, paper drives, dances and plays. This is where he met his wife, Lucille.
“Vince was a true team player and a great snare drummer – one of the best during his era,” said Cadet alum Arthur Mura. “His performance credentials, pride, passion and love for Holy Name were contagious among his peers. He was one of the reasons why The Cadets were National Champions in 1948, 1949 and 1950,” Arthur said.
Vince’s last two years of eligibility were taken from him by a draft notice. During his military training, Vince still found ways to play. He joined the military marching band in Korea, but also ended up fighting in three of the five worst battles of the Korean War, including Pork Chop Hill and Old Baldie. He also rose up the ranks to sergeant.
Among Cadets alumni, Vince has forever been a leader. “It probably is not widely known that Vincent held monthly meetings at his Park Ridge home for aged-out Cadets of the 30s, 40s and 50s,” said Albert Mura, a charter member of the Holy Name Cadets who marched until 1954. “A nucleus of a dozen or more, including myself, met for the sole purpose of raising money to support the corps. I believe this was the beginning of a formal alumni organization,” Albert said.
Vince’s basement was a Cadets shrine. Many old pictures have been copied and circulated from his collection. This served to assist and guide Director George Hopkins and bridged the gap between the early traditions of the corps and the present.
Vince followed the corps religiously and was always there when he was needed. In 1981, the Garfield Cadets needed financial help, and Vince’s sales abilities shined. He put together beefsteak dinners for the corps at the Cotillion in Garfield. As the deadline for minimum orders was coming to a close, he realized that they were in danger of losing the hall. Vince virtually filled the hall himself, selling table after table, and the dinner was a major success.
“I met Vinnie during the early 1980s, and I got a chance to see the love he had for the corps in action,” said Greg Cinzio, who marched from 1967 to 1977 and served as drum major. “Vinnie was responsible for several fundraising events to help raise money for the corps. Beefsteak dinner dances during the ‘80s were more of a ‘Vince D’Arrigo and friends’ dinner dance. He was relentless when it came to approaching businesses, friends and family to give donations to help the kids of the corps, and actually took it quite personally when he was not able to secure a donation.”
The 1950 National Champion Cadets (Vince is the snare on the far left)
When the corps was desperate for a building, Vince used his political influence. He brought the corps’ plight to the mayor and council of Garfield, and with his help, The Cadets were given the former VFW Hall on Belmont Ave., as well as a place to park their vehicles. After the corps won its first World Championship in 1983, Vince again used his influence to help organize a town reception for the Garfield Cadets at the town hall.
As the 50th anniversary approached in 1984, very few active members knew the details of how it all began. Vince was able to gather many of the charter members and record how the Holy Name Cadets came to be. He also shared many stories of his own marching days to encourage the current corps on to victory.
“It was Vince D’Arrigo who helped make the 50th anniversary a truly unbelievable event,” Greg Cinzio said. “You see, during previous years, the corps’ office had changed locations several times, and records of Cadets alumni prior to the age of the computer were delegated to old rosters and program booklets. Vince singlehandedly took on the task of finding and reuniting with charter Cadets members.”
In 1984, over 50 Cadets alumni from 1934-1950 attended the 50th Anniversary Dinner Dance. This would not have been possible without Vince’s efforts.
“What made this chain of events special for me was the fact that Vince arranged a gathering for several charter members to meet with me at the Sub Base Pub in Elmwood Park so I could interview them for the anniversary book and find out how the corps really got started,” Greg said. “I remember asking one question: ‘How’d it all begin?’ And those were the last words I uttered for the entire evening other than, ‘Thank you all for attending.’ It was a wonderful experience.”
Vince’s son Joe said that his dad’s most important contribution was his wonderful leadership as a father. “He also encouraged me to join and march for this wonderful organization,” Joe said. “The time I spent in the corps (both as a plebe and a Cadet) proved to be some of the greatest moments in my life. For this I say, ‘Thank you, Dad!’ ”
Vince D'Arrigo passed away on January 10, 2013. Our thoughts are with his family in this difficult time.Thanks so much to Joe D’Arrigo, Herb Bonin, Arthur and Albert Mura and Greg Cinzio for sharing their memories of Vince. His contribution to The Cadets’ tradition cannot be measured.