A House of Cards

The National Perspirer was a practical joke issue of The Breeze, handed out on April 1st, 1977. This article features the MRD Uniform as fashionable. Click the image to read the article in its entirety.

Kenneth Moulton came to the school in 1974, taking the place of Malcolm Harris, who left to continue his doctoral education. Moulton held degrees from Boston University and East Carolina University and taught at Albermarle High School in Charlottesville before coming to teach at Madison College. His appointment was announced in the July 3, 1974 issue of The Breeze. During his three years at Albermarle, the band won several awards in regional competition. Moulton has also served as the assistant principal trumpet with the Richmond Symphony Orchestra and a finalist for the position of assistant principle trumpet with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra. (“Band Director Named.”)

Unknown female modeling the “Dukes” uniform, ca.2000s. Picture found in Kappa Kappa Psi photo album.

The band retained the first uniform (tuxedo jacket, gold emblazoned “M”) for Kenneth Moulton’s first two seasons with the Madison College Marching Band. In 1976 the band received new uniforms, designed by Moulton himself. One April 1st issue of The Breeze (or the National Perspirer, as it was called that day in 1977: see featured image), satirizes the uniform as fashion for the man on the go. (Trite) These uniforms were called the “House of Cards” or “Alice in Wonderland” uniforms by marchers and the general student body alike and was only worn by the Dukes for three years, the 1975-1977 seasons. Mr. Posey made the following comments on the unique ways in which some students wore their uniforms when I showed him this image (see right thumbnail) of the “Dukes” uniform.

“It was kind of clever in that these shoulder nests, we figured out that they made a really good visor, because there’s a cord under it, and you put the cord on the back of your head, and it kind of hangs out over your face, so that’s where they got worn a lot.” (“Posey”)

The majorettes or baton-twirlers were called the “Golden Girls” during the 1970s. Pictured below is one of the majorettes, and in the background you can see the band uniforms in their full color. In comparison to the thumbnail above, the actual uniforms contained purple pants and purple sleeves.

Image from the 1978 Bluestone, pp141.

What brought about this change from the regal “M” to the “Dukes” uniform? Perhaps the switch from M to Dukes can be seen as a move from the Madison College image, which still had connotations of a small women’s college, to the up and coming athleticism of the imminent “James Madison University.” The fleur-de-lis or “stylized lilies” depicted on the uniform hark back to coat of arms and French monarchy. By adopting a regal, medieval style of clothing, the Marching Royal Dukes were able to focus more on the athletic mascot, the Duke Dog. The following picture is from the JMU – MRD Alumni Facebook page, but can also be seen in the 1976 Bluestone.

Group picture of the Dukes, Fall 1976 Season. Ken Moulton is on the bottom right and Bill Posey is on the top right. This image was used in the 1977 Bluestone. Follow the link to see the same image with names.


Below is a photo from the July 1974 Breeze article which highlights Madison College’s purchase of the Wampler Foods turkey hatchery. The building was to be renovated into a band practice area, offices, and a theater. This renovation gave the Marching Royal Dukes a more permanent practice area for both indoor music and outdoor marching rehearsals. More commonly known as Theatre II, this building became home to the University’s experimental productions for the department of theatre and dance. (“Major Buildings”) However, Theater II has since been demolished and turned into a faculty parking lot, due to the recent construction of the Forbes Center for the Performing Arts, which now houses dance, theatre, and music productions.

The Breeze – Wednesday, July 10, 1974 – Wampler Foods building purchased. This new addition to Madison College’s campus is more widely known as “Theatre II.”

A September 20 article in The Breeze praises the bands improved performances. In the three weeks prior, the band had been developing halftime shows. The band practiced for one week of morning, afternoon, and evening practice sessions. The 1974 band’s numbers were slightly down, to 115 players. Eight flag girls and a color guard were added to that year’s band. The Golden Girls’ feature twirler was Debbie Figgett. The two drum majors were Dave Greennagel and Steve McDaniels.

Works Cited:

“Band Director Named.” The Breeze. Wednesday, July 3, 1974.

Haynes, Pete. “Marching Band Adds Flare With Improved Performances.” The Breeze. Friday, September 20, 1974.

James Madison University. The Bluestone, 1975.

James Madison University. The Bluestone, 1976.

“Major Buildings.” James Madison University. http://www.jmu.edu/centennialcelebration/major_buildings.shtml March 2008. Accessed April 28, 2012.

Trite, Rona. “Oh, those oom-pah-[ah suits are so divine.” The National Perspirer. Friday, April 1, 1977.

“Wampler Foods.” The Breeze.  Wednesday, July 10, 1974.