Mayor Brown was popular in Madeira


By Regina Villiers.  Originally published March 3, 1993 in The Suburban Life, added March 13, 2016.

Russell Brown and his wife, Loraine, at a Christmas banquet in December 1986. He died the following May.

Russell Brown and his wife, Loraine, at a Christmas banquet in December 1986. He died the following May.

H. Russell Brown was the mayor of Madeira for two terms, 1948-51. He must have been a most popular mayor, for it’s impossible today to find anyone who will say an unfavorable word about him.

His family moved to Madeira when Russell was less than a year old and he lived the rest of his life here.  His father, Herbert Brown, was a builder and bought some land on Miami Avenue.  He built the second house up from the corner of Juler Court, where the Browns lived.

He went through school in Madeira, all 12 years in the same building.  His class, 1933, was the last to graduate from the old Perin School building, before the high school moved across the street to what is now the location of Sellman Middle School.

Russell was an achiever long before he became mayor.  In high school, he started the first school newspaper Madeira ever had.  The, it was called The Blue and Gold.  His wife, Loraine, still has copies of the newspaper, including the very first issue.

He also gained local fame as a saxophone player.

Russell formed a small orchestra as an outlet for his sax playing and the band played for dances.  He was playing at a dance at the community gym at the old Presbyterian Church, where the Fifth Third Bank now stands, when he met Loraine in the crowd.  Four years later, in 1936, they were married.

Loraine still lives in Madeira.  She has saved all her husband’s papers and old newspapers from that era, and she has given me a copy of a speech he gave, reminiscing about his life.

Dated Oct. 15, 1975, it gives a good picture of life in Madeira in the 1920’s, 30’s, and 40’s.

He described the woods on the Hosbrook farm, across from the Brown’s house, and told how he and his sister, Helen, (now Helen Strifler) were allowed to roam through them, up to a certain point.

He talked about skating on the Hosbrook Pond in winter.  It was also great for fishing in summer, he said.

He remembered that there were no concrete sidewalks back then.  The sidewalks, he said, were made of 2 x 4’s, laid on edge with slates nailed between them, to form wooden sidewalks.

The north corporation line of Madeira at that time, he said, ended at the point which is now 7414 Miami.  The last house inside the line was occupied by a man named Boots Reeder.

“I don’t remember too much about him,” Brown wrote, “but he possessed the power to remove warts from people when the moon was in just the right location and degree of brightness.  I know his secret worked.  He removed one from my thumb, and it never came back.”

Russell also told about the paving of Miami Avenue, “I remember when the concrete road was laid,” he wrote, “by Mr. James Radabaugh & Co. of Montgomery.  His old homestead stood where Chester’s Roadhouse now stands.”

“There were no heavy, mechanical diggers, bulldozers, scrapers and the like used today.  It was all manpower.  Men with wagons made of wood that dropped their loads in designated spots, out of triangular-shaped bottoms of the wagons, pulled by teams of snorting mules.”

Russell Brown died in May 1987, but his legacy to Madeira lives on.

During his tenure as mayor, many important Madeira milestones took place.

The Camargo Theatre, the area’s first modern movie house, opened in 1948.

National Homes Inc. erected a prefabricated model home at 7229 Iuka Avenue.  Selling for $9,400, complete with “lot, shrubs, sod, drive and all home equipment,” it required only a $250 down payment from veterans and $1650 for non-veterans.

We take some of Mayor Brown’s achievements for granted today.

In 1940, mail started being delivered to residences – twice each day and once on Saturdays.  Before that, Madeira residents had to pick up their mail at the post office.

So, when your mails is delivered right to your door, through rain, sleet and snow, you might remember Mayor Russell Brown.

I, personally, thank him every time I brush my teeth.  Mayor Brown was responsible for getting fluoridated water in Madeira, from Indian Hill’s artesian wells.  He made an agreement with Indian Hill to provide water for Madeira.

Since moving to Madeira, I have never had a cavity.   My dentist gives all the credit to that good Indian Hill water.

So, thank you, Mayor H. Russell Brown.  You left us all the better for your stay here.