The money raised purchased the fabric for the girls’ uniforms, but the girls still had to sew the uniforms themselves, “with the assistance of their mothers,” the Townsman reported. Some girls learned to sew in addition to learning their instruments. One headline read, “… Girls Organized Band to Play at Football Games; Have Natty Uniforms.”
The Punchard High All-Girl Band debuted to great acclaim during the 1940 fall football season — just a year after Miss Sweeney first proposed the band. At their first half-time performance during a game against rival Amesbury High School, the girls marched in formation to form first an “A” for Amesbury and then “P” for Punchard.
The All-Girl Band quickly became the “Pride of Punchard.” The group drew crowds that overflowed the bleachers at Punchard High’s Playstead, and performed at events around town, including the Policemen’s Ball. Such was their popularity that two dropped batons at one half-time performance was news. The poise and grace of the girls who quickly retrieved their batons and resumed their performance was noted as an illustration of how lessons learned by band members would serve them well throughout their lives: “Life demands the ability, when you drop your baton, to be able to make the most of it.”
Generations of Andover women were members of the band, as the daughters of former members took up their instruments. The 1970s brought many changes and in 1972 the All-Girl Band merged with the Andover High School Golden Warriors Marching Band.
The Andover Historical Society is proud to be the steward of some of Punchard High’s All-Girl Band stories, and invites former All-Girl Band members to share their stories and memories to keep the Punchard High School All-Girl Band’s story alive for future generations.
Coming next: Andover’s Boxing Camp