|Birth: ||Feb. 13, 1910|
|Death: ||Aug. 24, 1989|
Removed to Manhattan, Kansas in 1926.
My on-and-off gathering of information the last two and a half years carried me further back in musical history than the origin of the Betton orchestra. In seeking people and sorting through rafts of accounts of persons, places and things, I stumbled on the June Layton Orchestra which apparently headquartered in Manhattan from sometime in the 1920s until the early 1930s. The band was advertised as "June Layton and his Varsity Club Orchestra."
I know little about them, but they traveled, played at resorts in Colorado, locations in Topeka, Kansas City and at KU, and must have been an aggregation of some reputation, noting the band's long existence. The information about this band came from Connie Brewster Johnson, a native of Salina, Kan., who attended K-State and was the daughter of Hilmar Mills Brewster, known by most in his life as "Pee Wee."
He was born in Altoona, Kan., Feb. 13, 1910, and died in Salina Aug. 24, 1989. He took up the trumpet early in life and played as a teenager at silent movie theatres in the Chanute, Kan., area. Around the age of 16, he arrived in Manhattan, the victim of a broken family, to fill a job as a bandsman and continue his high school career. However, the economics of the era dictated he work full-time and he never finished school. I've included Pee Wee's history to provide background for Matt's arrival on the Manhattan musical scene.
Brewster's whereabouts are uncertain from 1927 to 1929, but he was probably playing at locations from Salina to Kansas City because we know he met his wife-to-be in Salina in 1928 and he joined the June Layton band in 1930. He married in 1932, and for whatever reason, took over the Layton band Sept. 1, 1933, and it was known as "Pee Wee Brewster and His Varsity Band." His bandsmen were popular on and off campus, and the band was made up primarily of fraternity members. In fact, an advertisement referred to the group as " America's Most Panhellenic Band."
As a non-student, Pee Wee joined TNE so he could be included as a fraternity member. The band thrived, but Connie's mother Lucille had given Pee Wee the word that as of Connie's birth in Salina in 1935, it was time to settle down. Brewster's recruited Matt from KU to come to Manhattan and join the band around 1933. After Brewster gave up the band to Matt, Pee Wee's family returned to Salina where he became a clothing salesman at Stevenson's Clothing for many years.
Although I shopped with him as a teenager and in fact played with him at least one summer in the Salina Municipal Band (because we were paid as members), through Pee Wee's grace, humility and modesty, I didn't learn of his involvement with the bands until after his death. His lack of education was never apparent, and through his influence Connie attended, and her brother Jerry, who died in 2005, and two of Pee Wee's grandchildren all graduated from K-State. I knew Mr. Brewster as a gracious, gentlemanly individual, who as so many of the Betton background, lived a productive life.
Glen Carleton Brewster (1886 - 1962)
Kathleen Lorena Cottrell Bynum (1886 - 1969)
Lucille D. White Brewster (1910 - 2001)*
Jerry Vernon Brewster (1942 - 2005)*
Kenneth Murrel Brewster (1906 - 1959)*
Hilmar Mills Brewster (1910 - 1989)
Roselawn Memorial Park Cemetery
Created by: Member#47194125
Record added: Aug 14, 2010
Find A Grave Memorial# 57036173