I graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Music Education. Elly had a year to complete but left school to have our first child, a daughter, in 1952. We named her Linn Calla Brown, after Elly’s mentor and teacher, Professor Linn Bogart, and for my mother, Calla Marguerite.
I’d taken a job as band director and general music teacher in Marathon, NY. After three successful years there, I took a job in Canajoharie, NY. During this time we welcomed a son, Darron Robert Brown. We’d seen the name Daron in Life magazine. We liked it because it was unusual. I added the extra “R”. Robert was in honor of my brother, Bob.
Fatherhood agreed with me. I loved playing with my kids; drawing little faces on their fingers, making them Mickey Mouse pancakes, pretending I was the kid and they were the parents and letting them boss me around… I never regretted my decision not to go on the road.
I very nearly left Marathon for a job in Pennsylvania, but at the last minute, heard there was an opening in Odessa, NY. I’d attended a year of high school there and jumped at the chance to be home again. Montour Falls was just down the hill and I’d be near family. I wasn’t deterred when a colleague disparaged Odessa Central School (Odessa and Montour Falls were consolidated in the 1960s, becoming Odessa-Montour Central School, or OMCS) saying “There’s no program there!” I said “That’s alright, I’ll build one.”
I found it challenging and rewarding to build something out of nothing. We rented an apartment a block from school and I enjoyed my days teaching instrumental music to all grades and creating the band program. I played with the kids on days off and in winter built them big snow sculptures; a dog or an elephant they could sit on, igloos to play in. It was while living there on College Avenue that our third child, Joel William Brown was born. This time I made sure “William” was fully written out on the birth certificate!
We moved to a larger place, a house on Speedway; a dead end, two block road on the edge of town… and convenient. I could walk from our back yard, through the football field to the back of the school. Odessa was a very small town.
I’d been a smoker since I was a boy, but when Darron started developing a chronic cough due to the smoke, I quit cold turkey.
🔹 I didn’t think about it then but being a clarinet player and smoking aren’t compatible. I never smoked again and I’m happy to say at 96, my lungs are in great shape. (My knees, however, could use some help!)