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HJ&Nita

History recalls Orange, Texas prior to 1935 as a sleepy little river town whose notoriety extended only a few miles in any direction. The BENGAL GUARDS quickly put Orange on the map. Started and completely funded by Mr. H J L Stark and his wife Nita, the "Guards" were soon talked about, read about and recognized by thousands of people throughout the United States. Mrs. L W Hustmyre (former director of Port Arthurs "Red Hussars" Drum and Bugle Corps) was hired as director in October, 1935. Marching at 187 steps a minute, they were second to none. On October 5, 1936, the "Guards" made their first public appearance at the Orange vs. Jasper football game. Many notable performances followed over the years. The A&M vs Texas football game on Thanksgiving Day in Austin was the first time a high school band ever performed at half time on Memorial Field. Other performances included, Lamar vs Schriener football game in Beaumont, in Waco for Baylor President, in Beaumont for Texas Attorney General Gerald Mann, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt arrived in Beaumont and the Guards were chosen to be her Honor Guard, Rainbow Bridge dedication, Sugar Bowl in New Orleans 1940 (A&M vs Tulane), Featured performers at 1941 Sugar Bowl, Chicagoland Music Festival (Mr Stark reserved the entire 6th floor of the Stevens Hotel in Chicago). In October, 1940, there was a 3 page pictorial spread in "LIFE" magazine. As the Nation became involved in WWII, the "Guards" were not traveling much, but were found taking part in ship launching, war bond concerts and patriotic ceremonies. In 1944, Mr. Stark turned over complete control of the "Guards" to Orange High School. He was no longer the sponsor. In 1958, the Bengal Guards program was discontinued.