St. 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 remember.
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 feast.

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 competitive season.
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 The Brassmen.
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 solo.
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 willing.
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.

Written by Ted Schwartzberg