The Story Behind the Last Soistman Drum Ever Built
(The story of this drum comes to us from Michael Jedd, a drummer and drum collector in Connecticut with a long history in drum corps, including having played with the Casper Troopers Drum & Bugle Corps as well as some of the finest fife and drum corps in Connecticut.)
Jedd reports that manufacture of the drum (see "Buck Soistman Shell Assembled by Reamer (1979)" was started by Buck Soistman and completed by Bill Reamer. As such, he says, it is the last GAR drum made by Buck Soistman and, even though it was completed by Bill Reamer, it is still the last Soistman ever made. Jedd said that Soistman/Moeller drums (birch shells) are considered by many drummers to be the Stradivarius of rope-tuned drums.
Jedd wrote that in 1977 he spoke with Bill Reamer at a rehearsal of the Connecticut Yankees Fife & Drum Corps. Reamer had then just acquired Soistman's drum-making equipment and inventory from Buck Soistman's wife Marie and was moving it to Pennsylvania (Bromall). Jedd arranged for the purchase of some remaining Soistman drum sticks.
Later Jedd spoke with Reamer about any remaining Soistman drums, including any left-over GAR shells, hoops, ears, hardware. Jedd learned in January, 1977 that there was one GAR shell left in inventory with hoops, ears, rope and hardware. The drum was finished in August 1979.
Jedd said that at the time that the Connecticut Yankees folded, they disoposed of six Soistman drums. He said that two of the drums went to corps officials, and that four were sold to the Connecticut Rebels of Danbury. "The hoops were re-painted solid red, but the Connecticut Yanks' name painted on the sides [was] left intact."
Jedd also reported that the first GAR drum totally built by Mr. Reamer is/was owned by Mr. Bill LaPort of Connecticut, a former executive with Connecticut General, now Cigna or ACE Insurance. The last GAR drums built by "Buck" Soistman were purchased by two former members of the Connecticut Yanks. Both drums are reportedly still in Connecticut.
Aug. 23, 2009 update: Jedd wrote today mentioning that he had just returned from the Westport (CT) Muster where Andrew Reamer (son of Bill, Principal Percussionist with the Pittsburgh Symphony and Chair of Percussion at Duquesne University)) and his wife (Ruth Ann) were selling drum sticks and taking orders for drums. Reamer reportedly had quite an inventory of drum sticks. Jedd noted that a GAR drum fully painted in the Moeller tradition is priced at $2,000.00. See Drummers Service.
Andrew Reamer has moved the drum manufacturing shop from his father's basement in Lancaster County closer to Andrew's home near Pittsburgh. And Andrew has hired a person to work in the shop. Jedd was not sure if that person is making sticks, drums, or both. Andrew was extremely busy selling drum sticks.