A group that entertained at Cleveland Browns games in the 1940s plans to reunite for the first time since it was disbanded in 1948.
The Browns Musical Majorettes, who are now in their sixties and seventies, are planning to celebrate their 50th anniversary in August. But don't expect any marching.
"March? We'll be lucky if we can still play musical chairs," laughed Esther Wenzel, 67, of Massillon, Ohio, a majorette from 1947 to 1948.
The reunion will be held in Canton, about 60 miles southeast of Cleveland. The majorettes, who joined the corps out of high school, entertained fans at Browns games from 1946 to 1948.
The Musical Majorettes were created by George Bird, director of the Massillon Tigers high school marching band. When the school's football coach, Paul Brown, came to Cleveland to coach his namesake team in 1946, he asked Bird to join him as entertainment director.
Though a few, such as Wenzel, were veterans of Bird's old Massillon Tiger Swing Band, most majorettes were recruited from around Ohio. When not appearing at Browns games, the group performed as a stage band at dance and concert halls, county fairs and across the country.
The pay was about $25 a week, but for many majorettes the job was an adventure that included concert barnstorming by bus during the offseason.
"When you're young, you don't care," said Fern Vogt, 65, of Cleveland, a majorette trombonist in 1948. "You'd never get rich on it, but it was one of those experiences I'm glad I had. It was all very exciting."