Forest High School Band Program
A schedule of events for the year 1940-1941 shows that the band, or members of it, made more than 40 public appearances between October 10 and July 4 in addition to regular Thursday night concerts in downtown Ocala and drills at all home football games. Among these appearances were the 1941 Inaugural Parade for Governor Holland in Tallahassee, concerts for American Legion district meetings, and programs for tourist clubs and civic organizations. Soloists won honors at a National Contest in Richmond, Virginia. It was around this time that the long-time petitions by Mrs. Cole for a new band facility were finally met. The city and school board came to an agreement to build a “state of the art” band facility on the school grounds for the OHS Music Dept. to house the growing programs and meet the needs of a modern band program. This facility, a separate unit from the schoolhouse at Ocala High, is still in use today as the band room at Osceola Middle School.
As the clouds of war grew more threatening, the programs assumed a strong patriotic character. Among the engagements were farewell serenades at the Railroad station to honor draftees who were leaving to join the armed forces. All during WWII, the Ocala High School Band was in the front rank in parades and patriotic meetings of all kinds. Admission to some of the musical programs in the school was through the purchase of War Savings Bands and Stamps. At one concert, three bands had tables at the door and $1475.00 worth of stamps and bonds were sold. Mrs. Cole’s diary contains the names of many of “her boys” who served in various branches of the armed services. A number of them were reported “missing in action” or prisoners of war.
On May 8, 1944, at the age of 69, Mrs. Cole handed in her resignation. On Thursday of that week, the final recital of the music department under her leadership was presented to a capacity audience. A featured portion of the program outlined the evolution of the Ocala High School Band. On graduation night that year, Carol Fraser, Mayor of Ocala, presented Mrs. Cole with a resolution from the city council commending her for their work in developing fine citizens as well as fine musicians during the years she had been music director in the Ocala schools. At the same time, the Band Mothers presented her with an envelope containing six $100 bonds.
The closing of one era is also the beginning of a new one. With Mrs. Cole’s retirement, the School Board hired Mr. Leland Armstrong from Indiana to take over the band program at Ocala High School. Mr. Armstrong has been a popular and prominent Band Director in Bedford Indiana before relocating to Florida, and under his direction, the program that Mrs. Cole began would reach national prominence.
Browne’ Greaton Cole (retired in 1944)
Arthur “King” Cole (Assistant until 1944)
Leland “Pop” Armstrong
Governor’s Inaugural Parade in Tallahassee- 1941
Band Facility built at OHS-1941
State FBA Contest canceled (one of only two times in history) due to US entry into World War II -1941
OHS Band raised over $4000 in war bonds at concerts series for the year- 1943
Mrs. Cole retires- May 1944
Mr. Leland “Pop Armstrong is hired as the 2nd band director- June 1944.