Frank Brown

Chapter 9

My mother had secretly enrolled me in Ithaca College, in Ithaca, NY. I’m ever thankful to have had a mother with my best interest at heart. Maybe she lived vicariously through me, or maybe she could see what I couldn’t – my potential. She’d found a way to support a calling I wasn’t even aware of yet.

It was at Ithaca College I decided to become a music teacher, though before then I’d had no desire to teach. I joined the national music fraternity, Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia Fraternity of America. I had a good friend and fraternity brother, Bob Magee, who played jazz clarinet. He decided to go on the road after college. He ended up having a long career playing clarinet and tenor sax in the Charlie Spivak Jazz Orchestra, even becoming the band manager. Somehow, I knew a life on the road wasn’t for me. I wanted a family.

🔹 Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia Fraternity of America invited me to pledge. Here’s an excerpt from their website about the fraternity:

“The Object of this Fraternity shall be for the development of the best and truest fraternal spirit; the mutual welfare and brotherhood of musical students; the advancement of music in America and a loyalty to the Alma Mater.”

At Ithaca, I lived and breathed music. I played in the concert band, led by Walter Beeler. He was a wonderful conductor and I learned a lot just being in his band. We’d later become good friends. As a boy I’d enjoyed singing in the church choir and decided to join the Ithaca College Men’s Chorus under the direction of Robert Commanday. I was also playing in the college orchestra conducted by Dean Craig McHenry.

The woods. The sign says it all – "Danger, keep away!"
The sign says it all!

There was a violinist in the orchestra who was beautiful and talented. I’d started gigging at the Normandy Hotel with Bob Navas and John Boor.

Elly wins a radio contest in her teens
Elly wins a radio contest in her teens

This violinist came to listen to us several times. We eventually met and became a couple. I gave her my fraternity pin.

At Ithaca College
Young love
Elly and me dating
Elly and me

Then, in a small ceremony, Eleanor Ruth Russell and I, Frank W Brown, were wed on Flag Day, June 14, 1951.

Elly was the love of my life.

Wedding Day June 14, 1951
Elly on wedding day
Wedding Day