April 2, 2009

Reading your latest column, I remembered something Pete Blackie told me when we were organizing the Gander Reunion. He told me that he had a tape of some of the Solidaires music, and he did tell me where he got it, but I can't remember right now (probably an age thing). I asked for a copy but he said that the condition of his getting his copy was that he would not allow it to be reproduced. Too bad, I was hoping to hand out a copy or two at the reunion. We were going to play a sample at the Saturday night dance, but it slipped my mind and, I guess, Pete's too. I guess he knew everyone would want a copy.

 I have fond memories of attending the Teenage dances at the Airport Club (as do probably all other Ganderites) when the Solidaires provided the music. I also worked with Ted Oke after I left school. 

Jim Butler, Class of 1959


Claude Blackmore & Jane Dempsey win the spot dance


On musical memories, someone mentioned the Solidaires....they were a big part of our Christmas dances that usually were held at the Airport Club for the teens. Ed Goff (who was from Carbonear and grew up with my father there) was the band leader and such a great guy. His son Brian and I were also friends growing up in Gander. One thing that sticks out in my mind about the Christmas dance was that Eugene and Les Simms would invariably come to the stage and sing White Christmas with the Solidares providing the music. Mind you, this was done with considerable prompting at times as they were a little shy about it. Actually, they sang it without backup more than once. They were great...nice young and rich baritone sound that projected so well with good harmony. Lost track of those boys. Their younger brother Randy, is mayor of Mount Pearl and a very popular radio talk show host on VOCM. I can still see and hear them now.

Angus Taylor, Class of 1962



I especially  appreciated all the little gems about the Solidaires. I had forgotten for example who the regular drummers were and that Goff had worked as manager for Air Canada.

R. G. Pelley, Class of 1962


As a followup to the last visit, I've been thinking...music performances being one thing, but were there other things like variety shows etc. that people in Gander would put on? I know in the days before TV there

 used to be quite a few such talent shows, esp. on air force bases where we lived.

 I recall one such ‘show’ where my friends an I were doing a tap dance number at the recreation hall (oh we thought we were really great). My brother had curtain duty after each act he would pull them shut.  He was on a chrome chair with one leg off the stage and as he was about to pull the chair went toppling, almost tore down the curtain in the process. There were adults doing numbers in the show as well--sort of a talent showcase.

And before that, when we lived in the a fishing village, such shows were regular events that we looked forward to. There would always be a fudge sale during intermission as part of the fundraising. I think the proceeds all went to benefit the local Oddfellows Lodge. My aunt and her girlfriend would play the guitar and accordian and sing together (I was about 7-8 years old and thought they should be on Broadway, wherever the heck that was??) One of their songs was: /Mockingbird Hill/..."Tweet, twiddle de dee dee it gives me a thrill--to wake up in the morning on Mockingbird Hill ...." And of course there were comedy skits, again, with adults males dressed like women in one. One, a mock wedding, my grandmother was the father of the bride with a cap gun, forcing a ‘shotgun wedding’, and the bride (a big fisherman dressed in a gown and carrying spruce boughs). Probably pretty hokey by today's standards but we thought it was the funniest thing, because it was so out of character, esp for some of the people in the skits.

So what did the people in Gander do for entertainment? Anything like that? I know that there were School Christmas pageants, and parades, but don't recall attending any in the year that I lived there in the new town? I know we put on a figure skating show with Mrs. Morgan, Liz' mom. Again, we thought we were almost ready to turn professional. Jack Pinsent recalled in his earlier writings about how he enjoyed himself immensely, putting on a clown performance while on skates, to entertain the crowds. I don't  remember that, so it must have been after I left Gander.

Liz Morgan Marshall, sort of followed in her mom's footsteps, now directing plays to showcase actors and raises money for good causes--esp. the restoration of a Halifax Bomber for a museum in Ont. where she lives. Isn't that neat!

 Faye Lewis Raynard, Class of 1959


Morning Faye.

I remember pantomimes that were put on by the "Avion Players" way back when I was VERY young. I recall that these were awaited with great anticipation. It was done once a year and all who were interested could join and audition.

If memory serves I believe they were hilarious spoofs, using local influences, on opera, novels, plays etc.

I recall Ted Henley having a role in some of these productions. One they did required a young person to play Dick Widdington's cat. The roll was played with scurrility by one Wayne Anstey. As a result of this he was saddled with the nickname "The Cat", and the moniker has followed him to this day.

I'm sorry I don't have more, the old memory is beginning to fade a little. Ah well, perhaps this will tweak someone's memory and they will be able to expound a little more.

Dave Robertson, Class of 1961


I thought I would pass on my memories of the Avion Players. My parents were very enthusiastic supporters and helped get the productions underway. Daddy did lighting and Marion Pagniez was the director. Seems to me that Mr. Martel who was manager of the cbc station and also from England was involved, as was Ted Henley.

I remember attending several of the plays and sitting in front of the curtain waiting for the show to begin with great excitement. ‘ Dial M for Murder’ was one of the plays - you can all remember the ringing of the phone.  Somehow I am not sure of the location of the place where the plays were performed. Our school maybe?

Marion was from Scotland and her husband Ken was British and was a radio announcer for cbc - they lived behind us on  ???.. I forget the name of the street. I was in touch with them until about 10 years ago.  They moved to Ottawa where they had two girls and Ken worked for cbc until he retired. I visited them in Prince Edward County  but as I am not at home cannot give you the address. Marion subsequently suffered a stroke but made a valiant comeback although her handwriting was compromised.

Seems to me I had some of the programs at one time, but cannot think where they are now.

Michal (Crowe) Millar, Class of 1960


Greetings, Faye, and everyone.

Interestingly, I don't have much recall re talent shows, local performances, etc.  I do remember "Frosty the Snowman" performance, that Roy Wheaton was killed in a car accident.  Most of what I remember as a child occurred at the church - special programs by children for the whole congregation - recitations, stories, songs, etc.  Otherwise, what stands out are memorable events such as my brother, Gar, going to a World Scout Jamboree in Niagara Falls, George Baker winning a debating contest (can you imagine!!) and going from there to some national event; Sandra Taylor at the age of 12 going to New York City to present a UNICEF cheque on behalf of CGIT (United Church girls' group) in Canada - even going to Loon Bay camp for me felt like a BIG outing!  However, there must have been more school plays than I recall. (yes, mummering at Christmas was fun - even more important than Hallowe'en).  Maybe someone else can.

Marion Pardy, Class of 1958



Hi Faye !

 I still have two vivid memories in the "Play/Performances" area

1) In Grade 5, I was the Prince in a musical version of "Sleeping Beauty". Sleeping Beauty was Brenda Raymond (last I heard, was married to Alex Geange). I had this costume of purple velvet (made by my Mom) with a cape of the same color. There were buckles tied to my shoes covered with gold foil. I remember how in one scene where Sleeping Beauty was "asleep", and I had to kiss her, on the hand. I found it so embarrassing at that time! Of course, in later years I would have been happy to give her a reeeaallllllll kiss.

2) The other I remember was playing Peter Rabbit in a multi- skit play. I was chased out of the garden by Farmer McGregor (sorry, but I can't remember who played the Farmer). Each evening I had a newly peeled carrot. When we finished our turn, we were to get out of costume, and go sit in the audience. I remember one little boy sitting ahead of me one night saying to his mother "mommie, mommie there's Peter Rabbit". I forgot, as a growing child, I was crunching on my carrot.

Both of these were on the stage at Hunt Memorial Academy. Thanks for the memories, Faye.

Norm Hounsell, Class of 1960

Icecapades at Gander Gardens


Excellent topic Faye, but funny, I don't really remember  talent shows, local performances, etc, very much in Old Gander.

 The Avion Players was a fairly good troupe but I think that was a new townsite phenomena.
I was in Mtl for a few years in the early 60s and may have missed stuff that others might might have done.  While I was in Mtl I got involved with stage drama  (esp "Inherit the Wind" about the Scopes Monkey trial in Tennessee in the 30s) but didn't do or see that type of stuff when I came back to

 The most dressing-up that I remember was mummering at Xmas!

 But I'm sure that there were kids or adults in Gander who liked acting, etc

     RG Pelley, Class of 1962


School play


That’s it for this time. Hope you had as much fun as we did going down memory lane. Perhaps a good topic for next time would be ‘favorite hangouts’ when we were kids in Gander. This topic was suggested by Jack Pinsent.

Think about it. We have probably touched on the subject before but there is certainly much more. Could be any place really, anywhere from a restaurant, to the flight tower, to the theatre,  or wherever you spent a lot of time as a kid. Maybe it was the hockey rink, or perhaps it was just an arm wrestling bout with a fellow classmate…Think about who was there, what you did (or maybe we can’t print that part, but whatever). Talk soon. Meanwhile, email me with suggestions and well get them posted. Thanks all, Faye.