JOSEPH PATRON CADETS
Joseph Patron was a little Italian church in Brooklyn, NY that provided
both nurturing and a home for our Drum Corps. There at St. Joe’s a
standard of perfection and difficulty in Drum Corps., was established
and would be remembered forever. The following is a brief history of St.
Joseph Patron Drum Corps from 1956 through 1968, as I lived and
St. Joseph Patron organized a Sea Cadet Corps., for young boys and
girls. The incentive was two fold:
1) To provide young boys and girls a place to go and keep
them out of trouble and off the streets.
2) A band to represent the church and march for the annual Italian
In the summer
of 1956, I joined St. Joseph Patron Sea Cadets. It wasn’t until 1959
that I transferred into the band. (I do have some photos dating back to
1959). I began as a second soprano and with improvement became a solo
soprano. Upon Hy Dreitzer’s arrival at St. Joe’s and command I became a
French horn player.
Within two years the band became a Drum Corps. We continually, pressured
the Director and founder of St. Joe’s, Tony Franco to go Drum Corps.
Tony was St. Joe’s in mind, body and soul. He was at the Youth Center
for every practice. We continuously encouraged Tony to take us to Drum
Corps., shows, standstills and individual contest. I remember like it
was yesterday, how he would load up his Black Cadillac with as many of
us he could fit, and go to all the individuals we could find. We were
bitten by the Drum Corps. bug, which would remain, in our hearts
forever. We were rather talented and at the time as I remember our
toughest competition was St. Kevin’s. It seemed, Blessed Sac, Garfield
and the other top gun Drum Corps. refused to compete at individual
contests. They feared the results of the individual shows in the winter
would influence the Judges’ opinion of their Corps’ during the next
After continually, begging, pleading and traveling to every Drum Corp.
competition we could find, we finally convinced our Director Tony Franco
to go M&M.
Tony wanted the best for his corp. and did everything in his power to
make it possible. The first step was to hire the best instructors he
could find. He hired the drill instructor of the Senior Corps.named the
Skyliner’s and a junior Corps., named Our Lady of Loretta who was none
other than “The Man” Carman Cluna. Carman was very young at this time
and known to the Drum Corps., world as the toughest M & M instruction
around. He gave new meaning to the word disciplinarian in every sense of
the word. Within two years the Sea Cadets became a Drum Corps.
In June of 1961 we started “close order drill.” He was an absolute
perfectionist when it came to detail and marching. It seemed as if there
was no end in site to close order drill. Our practices were every Sunday
at the Armory in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. Our practices of “close order
drill” were known as murder sessions. It was hard work to say the least,
but as we improved and acquired the Carman Cluna style, we actually
began to enjoy close order drill. Carman wanted perfection and would
neither accept nor tolerate anything less. It was his way or you were
OUT! When Carman threw you out of the Corps. it was known as you got the
“AXE.” St. Joseph Patron was a Carman Cluna Drum Corps. and we had
mastered his style of M & M perfection.
Carman’s goals were hard work, perfection and recognition as a Drum
Corps. The key was to have the best music and horn instructor there was.
Well, we got the best and his name was Hy Dreitzer. The next decision
was to become recognized through standstill competitions. I remember
back then the Big Gun in Drum Corps. was “The Saints.” Well, we were all
nervous our first time out but it turned out to be our first win. I
remember Carman being his creative and innovative self so he decided we
would all pop open our arms and start marching at a standstill. Now it
was unheard of, but nothing was too original or innovative for Carman.
We were now ready and waiting to compete on the field. St. Joseph’s
first field appearance was at Shea Stadium.
With a lot of hard work and pure desire we greatly improved. We were
beginning to attract more and more talented members. Suddenly, we had a
full size Corp., horn line, drum line and an actual color guard.
In 1965, we needed a new Drum instruction and Don Fresing* was the man.
St. Joe’s Drum Corps., continued to grow with new horns and drums coming
in from all over. The word was out. St. Joseph was the upcoming corps.,
to watch. St. Joe’s was being noticed and at every practice experienced
horn players and drummers from top named Drum Corps., would come in and
just watch the corp. practice. The talent contained in St. Joseph’s was
amazing. Eventually, we would have to have closed practices.
The die was cast and our destiny was apparent. One of our memorable
shows was the New York State Championship in Buffalo NY. Carman had
drilled us to a fine edge. We executed a great show and took 4th place
out of 23 corps.
Our biggest achievement was yet to come. At the end of the year we won
the “Greater New York Circuit Championship.” We realize that all our
hard work was apparent to even the judges. What a feeling of
satisfaction. Our toughest competition at the time was the Milford
Shoreliners. Ironically down the road, many of the Shoreliners joined
Our music had a sound that was so unique that it could have only had
been that of Mr. Music himself Hy Dreitzer. We achieved the Dreitzer
sound, which could never be duplicated. Our marching and maneuvering was
the style and precision of the master himself Carman Cluna. In 1966, we
played the Circus song and were the first color guards to twirl
flagpoles. In 1967, as the difficulty of our music increase so did our
execution causing the horn lines reputation evolve even further. Another
first in Drum Corp. was Hy Dreitzer writing the horn music to the drum
Sadly, 1968 was the last year for St. Joseph Patron. As we began
competing at, more and more Drum Corps. shows, the expenses escalated.
Unfortunately, the church of St. Joseph Patron could no longer afford to
meet the cost of uniforms, equipment and travel expenses. This church
couldn’t in its wildest dreams comprehend what Drum Corp. really was, or
the expense it entailed. St. Joseph Patron Drum Corp., would best be
described as a clean, sharp and innovative Drum Corps. They executed
some of the most difficult music and drills matched by very few Drum
Corp’s. They were a marching machine in a class all their own. That
transition season Carman Cluna, again being the master of staging touted
the change in a name in a throw away leaflets at stand stills and
quartet and individual shows as ?“What’s in a name?” The famous St.
Joseph’s Patron Cadets were changing their name. St. Joseph Patron Drum
& Bugle Corp. now needed a new sponsor to survive and St. Rita’s was
Our new name became St. Rita’s Brassmen but within our hearts and souls
forever, was our love and appreciation of St. Joseph Patron Cadets.