By Myra Lee Adams Goff
In 1916, a unit of United States Army soldiers was on maneuvers from San Antonio and camped on the Landa Ranch overlooking Landa Park. One of those soldiers camping there was young Victor Kase who would return to New Braunfels to become band director at New Braunfels High School. Kase later said that the maneuvers were for the purpose of fighting Pancho Villa, should he advance this far.
Returning to New Braunfels in the school year 1943-1944, Kase accomplished a great deal before leaving in 1947. He came here with 20 years of music education and performance to his credit.
For the school, he wrote the alma mater, first the tune and then the words. He observed that the school only had a fight song “On New Braunfels”. It is thought that this song, substituting the words for “On Wisconsin” took hold here in 1916 when most of those same soldiers were from Wisconsin.
More recent band director Joe Rogers wrote Seguin’s alma mater.
When I was in the seventh grade, NBHS included grades 7-12 at the Mill St. School, now the NBISD Administration building. Band was in the basement next to the boiler that heated the entire building. With concrete floors and padded walls, the band didn’t bother other classes.
I remember Victor Kase in his smart, completely white military uniform in the tradition of John Philip Sousa. I will never forget George Goepf playing the piccolo solo in “Stars and Stripes Forever”. We played “El Capitan, “National Emblem”, “Zacatecas” and the list goes on and on.
There were five seventh graders chosen to be in the big band in 1943-44 and I was fortunate to be one of them. Other seventh graders were Doyle Krueger, Allen Pittman, Shirley Rheinlander, and Gladys Werner.
That year, we won first division in the marching competition in San Antonio. Lots of practice went into that competition in the Academy Avenue gym and up and down Mill Street.
We were led by drum major Jack Darling and majorettes in military jackets with jodhpurs and high white boots.
They were Laura Jean Yates, Inez Wegeman, Kathleen Adams and Billie Lou Luckett. By 1947, Kase had increased the majorette line to a total of eight.
But Kase wasn’t only interested in band music; he was interested in promoting an orchestra program with string instruments.
He began a strings program at Carl Schurz Elementary. For the community, he began the New Braunfels Civic Orchestra. This orchestra featured guest artists as well.
Kase, in his spare time, played with the San Antonio Symphony and filled in for local oompah bands.
This community orchestra gave a concert for the celebration of the New Braunfels Centennial in 1946. A picture of the orchestra is at the Sophienburg and reveals the names of about half of the participants. Log on to sophienburg.com for those names.
When I think of band years, I remember a loyal, musically talented person, Gladys Werner (Reininger), who not only played the flute and piccolo for six years in the band and orchestra, but was also a majorette from 1946 to 1950.
She comes by this musical talent naturally because her father, Eddie Werner, played the flute and piccolo with the Army Military Band in World War I in Koblenz, Germany. His wooden flute and piccolo are the ones that his daughter played for her first years in the band.
Victor Kase left New Braunfels in 1947 to teach in schools elsewhere. In 1977, at age 84, he made one last trip here to visit old friends.
Merritt Schumann, who had been drum major in 1945-46, organized a get-together for former band members. Victor Kase died shortly thereafter, but left behind:
“Our comradeship we’ll ne’er forget those glorious days of yore,
The blue and white for truth and right, shall live forever more.”