Musical memories from Saturday mornings long past

So there I was the other day, driving home from work and minding my own business, when my current favourite local deejay (not that there are very many local deejays to choose from, but still) played a piece of vintage music that took me back to the very earliest days of my childhood. The deejay is, of course, Freddy Vette of good old CJBQ 800 AM out of Belleville, whose weekday-afternoon show of songs from the ’50s and ’60s is hugely popular. Freddy was doing one of his frequent audience-interaction things, inviting listeners to come up with the next few words when he lifted the needle – what? you mean deejays don’t actually spin vinyl records any more? Well, you know what I mean – on the recording of the theme song from none other than the Saturday-morning cartoon show Tales of the Wizard of Oz. (Which, thanks to the wonders of YouTube, you can watch and listen to at the top of today’s post.)

Now, I have to tell you that until that little radio interlude the other day, I had probably not thought of The Wizard of Oz Saturday-morning cartoon show for – well, let’s just say it was several decades.

vintage TV set

Yes, I know I’m dating myself, but it can’t be helped. This looks a lot like the TV in my grandparents’ living room on which, as a tiny child, I used to watch The Wizard of Oz and Hercules cartoons.

The Wizard of Oz may very well be the first TV show I ever watched, back in the days even before my family moved to the Manse in 1964. While my father completed his divinity studies at Emmanuel College at the University of Toronto, we lived with my maternal grandparents in the leafy Toronto suburb of Leaside. And it was there, on the big old black-and-white TV that stood in a corner of my grandparents’ living room, that a very tiny me sometimes watched The Wizard of Oz – about which I can today recall absolutely nothing except its theme song. Let’s just say that if I hadn’t been driving, I could have called up Freddy with the correct response when he stopped the record halfway through: “Oh the world of Oz is a funny, funny place where everyone wears a funny, funny face; the streets are paved with gold – ”

“And no one ever grows old!” I enthusiastically told the radio. (The radio did not, by the way, respond.)

That entertaining exercise got me thinking about other ancient Saturday-morning musical memories – not so much the cartoons themselves, but the theme songs from them. And I thought that you readers – especially the ones old enough to remember and hum along with me – might get a smile if I were to bring a few of those melodies together in this instalment of Meanwhile, at the Manse. So come along for the musical ride.

We’ll start with another cartoon that is, in my memory at least, of the same very-early-’60s vintage as The Wizard of Oz. I think this because I remember watching it, too, from the comfort of the yellow upholstered armchair in my grandparents’ living room. How thrilling the theme song for The Mighty Hercules was!

Next I’m going to show you one that’s a bit of a mystery to me. I have always had the dimmest of memories of there being a Saturday morning cartoon show featuring The Beatles, but for all my adult life I thought I must be confused about that because I never found any reference to such a show. That is, until just a few weeks ago when someone posted this on one of those Facebook pages dedicated to funky stuff from back in the day:

ABC cartoons

You’ll notice that the ad’s listing of the cartoon shows does not include mention of The Beatles, but the images of the four chaps front and centre are so distinctive as to leave no doubt. So I realized that my dim memory was right! And then I proceeded to search out the opening theme for the show. I suppose I must have watched it back when I was a kid at the Manse (the glory days of television, as I have argued before), but I confess it brought back no memories whatsoever. Does it for you?

Gotta love And Your Bird Can Sing, though.

Then there was The Jetsons, which has a theme song that’s not terribly catchy but, in my opinion, possibly the best cartoon opening sequence of all time. So mod! So futuristic! Orbit High School! The flying car that folds up to become George’s briefcase! A guy who starts his workday with his feet up on his desk! Man, those were the days – or should I say, those will be the days…

And now, because I was really more a child of the ’70s than the ’60s, I’d like to move forward a few years to when the cartoons featured shaggy-haired kids wearing bell-bottoms, playing in fake bands, and constantly solving mysteries. Here’s one that you kind of had to love:

And speaking of Scooby, let me show you an utterly useless thing that I scored in a fundraising yard sale a couple of years ago at the wonderful Tweed and Area Heritage Centre. Stupidest thing ever, but it makes me smile every time I see it. Note the “SD” on Scooby’s collar – as if everyone wouldn’t instantly know who he is!

Scooby

Okay, back to theme songs. This show may have been more of an acquired taste. Early girl power, though:

And finally, because I want you to leave this blog post with an irresistible pop song in your heart, a classic that was not a theme song, but – well, swing it, Betty and Veronica!

Engelbert Humperdinck. Yes, you heard right.

What can I say, people? Lately I’ve been thinking about Engelbert Humperdinck.

And no, I don’t mean the 19th-century German composer. I mean the crooner (although apparently he hates having the term “crooner” applied to him) who was ever so popular in pretty much exactly the time period (mid-1960s to mid-1970s) when I was a kid growing up here at the Manse in Queensborough.

Engelbert Humperdinck Another Time, Another Place

The only Engelbert Humperdinck album the Manse had ever had – until recently.

The Sedgwicks were not big Engelbert Humperdinck fans. I believe we owned exactly one of his records (and being a detail person, I’ll tell you that it was this one). And I’m fairly certain that it entered our household only as a result of us having had to order a certain number of albums from the Columbia House Record Club, or another of those “get-15-albums for 99¢!” record clubs that were so popular back in those days. Since the last time the last song on that album (which was I’m Holding Your Memory, But He’s Holding You, if you must know) spun its way around the turntable on the old Electrohome (or was it RCA?) stereo here at the Manse in 1974 or 1975, I doubt I’d thought of Engelbert Humperdinck more than three times. Until about two months ago. But weirdly, he’s come across my aural radar screen several times since.

That first time, a couple of months ago, I was driving to Kingston and amusing myself by listening to the Jim Wright oldies show (I love that show) on good old CJBQ radio, the Belleville-based station of my youth that I’ve written about many times before. Just as I turned off the Marlbank Road, an unintroduced easy-listening-type song by a guy with (I soon decided) a really great voice came on. The voice was oh so familiar, and yet I just couldn’t put my finger on which of the crooners of the late ’60s/early ’70s it might have belonged to. Tom Jones? Not rough and sexy enough. Frank Sinatra? Way too modern-sounding (well, mid-century modern) for that. Pat Boone? Perish the thought. It was a little too cool for that. Elvis? No, not the distinctive voice. By process of elimination, I decided that Engelbert Humperdinck was my best guess. And when Jim got back on the mike, I learned I was right!

But then I almost immediately forgot what song it was, which tends to be the case with those interchangeable midcentury crooner songs. I think it might have been this one – which I will tell you, at the risk of getting ahead of myself, has now become one of my favourite Engelbert Humperdinck numbers because of its sheer hummability:

Or maybe it was this one, which is, frankly, pretty great:

But anyway, it got me thinking after all these years – nay, decades! – about Engelbert Humperdinck. And not just thinking about him, but re-evaluating him. Because I’d always considered him a lower-end Tom Jones, a showboat at whom women even more desperate than were Tom Jones fans would fling underwear at concerts. (And that was true; that did happen.) But what I’d failed to appreciate in my younger days, when I was listening to the Beatles and Bob Dylan and (embarrassingly) the Partridge Family, when I was so (I thought) much smarter than anyone a generation or more older than I, was that Engelbert Humperdinck had – and has – an amazing voice, and an insanely great way of delivering a song.

And so when I happened across an album called Engelbert Humperdinck: His Greatest Hits in the used-record bin one recent Saturday at the wonderful thrift shop in downtown Madoc, I snapped it up, cheesy cover photos and all:

Engelbert Humperdinck's Greatest Hits front cover Engelbert Humperdinck's Greatest Hits back cover

And I took it home and listened to it. And, well… have been humming Les Bicyclettes de Belsize, and Spanish Eyes, and Release Me, and The Last Waltz, on and off ever since.

(But not Quando Quando Quando. That is a terrible song, and I defy anyone to say otherwise.)

Then a couple of weekends ago, I came across still more Humperdinckia!

Engelbert Humperdinck Souvenir Song Album

Yup, it’s an old, battered and stained collection of Engelbert songs, though not really his greatest hits; this one is more about songs made famous by others (Gentle On My Mind, for instance) that he had also covered. But still, it is a great piece of midcentury nostalgia, and I love it.

And hey! Should I ever need to know the chords for A Man Without Love – well, I’ve got them.

But meanwhile, let’s leave with another great song by Engelbert Humperdinck from back in his prime. Heck, let’s go all out and have his greatest hit ever. It’s got emotion, and a love that’s grown cold, and a hot new love waiting in the wings. Not to mention one of those sleek and funky late-1960s microphones. What more could you want?

Have you heard the one about the terrific DJ’s goofy joke?

Oh my my: can anything make you happier than the songs that were on the radio when you were 14 years old?

That’s the question I’ve been asking myself on this springlike day in Queensborough, as I’ve been searching out suitable songs to share with you as part of a post that technically isn’t about music at all.

Or at least, it is about music, in that it’s about a radio disc jockey. But really this post is about a joke: a silly, long-drawn-out joke with an unexpected punchline that a long-ago fan of that radio DJ remembered all through the years – and that, thanks to the power of friendship and the internet, I am able to share with you all, including that long-ago fan, right now.

Our story begins – well, where does it begin? That’s a good question.

Does it begin with a post I did here at Meanwhile, at the Manse three years ago this month, looking back at the great songs that one used to hear on AM radio in my childhood and early teen years? (When I was living right here in the Manse in Queensborough where Raymond and I now live once again, and where those songs came to us via good old CJBQ radio out of Belleville.)

Or does it begin with a landmark followup post in October 2014 when I proudly announced that I had found and made contact with Joey Edwards – the very guy who, as CJBQ’s weekday-evening disc jockey, played many of those songs for us?

Or does it begin with a comment on that post that I received only recently, at the start of this month, from a another person with fond memories of the music and voices and stories and hijinks of Joey Edwards?

Actually I think our story begins in about 1974 in the kitchen of a home in Tweed, Ont. (which is just down the road from us here in Queensborough; Tweed is one of two villages that vie for the title of being “town” to Queensborough folks). Let me take you back to that kitchen, where a teenager named Iain is plugging away at his homework while perhaps his mum is finishing up the supper dishes and maybe his dad is reading the latest issue of the Tweed News. In the corner of the kitchen is a radio, and out of that radio come songs like Takin’ Care of Business, and Then Came You, and The Joker, and Let Me Be There, and Top of the World, and Annie’s Song, and Midnight at the Oasis, and Sundown, and… oh, I have to stop. This is just too, too good, music-wise. Let’s take a pause and listen to one of the catchiest of those 1974 hits:

Anyway. Back to that warmly lit kitchen on an early-spring evening in Tweed, a little more than 40 years ago. In between all those great the songs on the AM radio comes the voice – or more correctly, voices – of DJ Joey Edwards. Joey was great at funny voices and imitations (notably of various Beatles), and his between-song patter and jokes were easily as entertaining as the music he played. Here’s how Iain put it this month when he came across my blog post about Joey:

“That is SO COOL! Growing up in Tweed we listened to Joey Edwards doing our homework in the evening… His stories were always great – ask him if he remembers the one that ended with “tag – you’re it!” … Thx again for the memories!”

Now, my response to Iain was that I had a feeling I should remember the “You’re it!” story – but I just couldn’t quite. Since I am fortunate enough to be in contact with Joey, however, I promised Iain I’d ask him about it.

And what a response I got! First, some more memories from Joey about his CJBQ gig all those years ago:

Joey Edwards on the job

Joey Edwards, the star DJ at local radio station CJBQ back in my childhood days at the Manse, and my new friend, thanks to Meanwhile, at the Manse. (Photo courtesy of Joey Edwards)

“I am still amazed that so many people remember my little radio show. Every night at 7 p.m. as I sat in front of that CJBQ microphone, I was never thinking about how many were listening or who they were. There was only ONE question on my mind: ‘I wonder how much fun I’ll have tonight?’ I figured if I was having a blast, so were the listeners. Every night when I did my show, I was like a little kid with a new toy. Even today I am still VERY much in touch with my ‘inner child.’ Now if only I could get in touch with my ‘inner adult!

“But I digress … Nightly on my show I presented my ‘Joke de Jour’ which was very popular. Below is the infamous ‘YOU’RE IT’ joke … It was one of my favourites.”

Upon which Joey proceeded not only to share the text of that kooky joke, but also an audio file of him telling it. Which means that – drum roll, please – Iain and all you other Joey Edwards fans out there (including me) get to hear the story all over again, straight from the source. Without further ado…

Oh boy. I don’t even know what to say, and I bet you don’t either. Except that those were simpler times, and it makes one smile to think that that ridiculous story made kids having a go at their homework in Tweed and Madoc and Queensborough and Belleville and Trenton and Stirling and Frankford and Marmora and Picton and Ivanhoe all stop what they were doing and have a chuckle.

To be followed with another great song from that totally great era of pop music. Let’s pick one with a title appropriate to what we’re doing right now: Reelin’ in the Years. And hey: Thanks, Iain. Thanks, Joey. And, as Joey always said at the conclusion of his show (in a Liverpudlian Beatles accent): Thaynks, Muum.

Bonnie Hart, that is one heck of a 1960s music scrapbook!

John, Paul and George

I believe you know who these gentlemen are. It’s the yellowed, scotch-taped pages on which I found these photos that I want to tell you about. Remember scrapbooks?

“What should I write about for my Thanksgiving-weekend instalment of Mondays at the Manse?” was the question on my mind last Friday afternoon as I drove home to Queensborough after a long week at work. I was admiring the beautiful fall foliage as the northward-on-Highway-62 miles sped by when the answer came to me out of my radio, courtesy of an old Beatles song – I think it was Please Please Me. Freddy Vette, the hugely popular host of the afternoon/early evening show of 1950s and ’60s hits on good old CJBQ radio, was devoting the whole program to the music of John Lennon. Why? Because Friday would have been John Lennon’s 75th birthday. Wow.

(If you’re in the mood for a lot of John Lennon music, Freddy has posted the whole show on his blog. Click here for a listen.)

Anyway, those great old songs – many of which, I should add, date from the years when I was a kid growing up here at the Manse – got me thinking about something I’ve been wanting to share with Meanwhile, at the Manse readers. It is a treasure that came in the form of a gift from Raymond on my birthday this past July, and it was one of the best gifts ever. And appropriately enough, it came from a little antiques and collectibles shop in the hamlet of Ivanhoe, through which I zoomed on Friday on my way home as Freddy played Stand By Me and Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds and Norwegian Wood and so on.

It was a scrapbook, people! Remember scrapbooks? Yes, I know that “scrapbooking” is kind of a thing once again, but I confess that as a grammar nerd I am put off by the fake verb alone. So whatever people (and I believe it is grownups, not teenage girls) are putting in scrapbooks in 2015 – well, you’re on your own, folks. Not my thing.

Bonnie Hart's scrapbook

But this was a real scrapbook, a 29¢ product from the venerable Canadian company Hilroy, one in which a teenage girl of the 1960s – perhaps growing up somewhere in the Ivanhoe area, i.e. right here in Hastings County – had taped and pasted and otherwise preserved photos and news clippings and bubble-gum cards featuring primarily the Beatles but also a treasure trove of other 1960s bands and performers, including some rather weird and obscure Canadian ones. To flip through this scrapbook’s fragile, yellowed pages is to enter a lost world; it is an utterly delightful exercise in nostalgia.

Bonnie Hart

But before I show you some of those pages, a question: does anyone know who Bonnie Hart might be? I ask because Bonnie Hart was the maker and keeper of this scrapbook. I know this thanks to her signature on the front cover – along with the handwritten notation (though that might have been added later, perhaps by an antiques dealer) “67 Beatle Cards.” I imagine it’s eminently possible that teenage Bonnie Hart now has, these several decades later, a different last name because of marriage, but I would be tickled to death if any reader might be able to steer me to her. I’d like to say thanks for putting together such a fantastic scrapbook, and to assure her that it has found its way to a good home here at the Manse.

Anyway, I’m sure you’d like to see some of the pictures that Bonnie collected, and enjoy your own little trip through some musical nostalgia. So let’s go, starting with black-and-white Beatles bubble-gum cards:

Black-and-white Beatles cards

Wacky Beatle card

The Beatles as you’ve rarely seen them!

Paul and Ringo

Now we move into colour bubble-gum Beatles cards. Groovy!

Beatles cards in colour

And now we start to move on from the Beatles to some other classic bands. I’m feeling Glad All Over!

The Beatles and the Dave Clark Five

Ah yes, the competition – the Stones. And one of my own personal favourites, The Monkees!

The Rolling Stones and the Monkees

Peter Tork of The Monkees

I think Peter was Bonnie’s favourite Monkee. Me, I’m a Micky girl.

All right. Shall we move into the heady days of life in the canyons of Los Angeles with the Mamas and the Papas and friends?

John and Michelle Phillips

It looks like Bonnie was keen on The Lovin’ Spoonful‘s Zal Yanofsky, very probably because he was Canadian:

Zal Yanofsky

And now we start to get photos of bands that are (to put it mildly) not quite as much household names as the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Monkees, the Mamas and the Papas and the Lovin’ Spoonful. The Fiends, anyone?

The Fiends

How about the Wee Beasties? Evidently a Toronto band; don’t you just love that the chaps’ outfits are by another venerable Canadian company, Tip Top Tailors?

The Wee Beasties

Okay, here’s The Trackers, apparently out of Rochester, N.Y.:

The Trackers

The Trackers

And The Westbury Union. Anybody know anything about them? Great outfits, guys!

The Westbury Union

I think we are now seriously into Canadian, and more specifically Toronto, bands. Ah, the Yorkville scene

The Last Words

Little Caesar and the Consuls

The Quiet Jungle

And here, people, is the absolute best. Have you ever heard of Marshmallow Soup Group? Well, neither had I. But after this photo from Bonnie’s scrapbook. you’re unlikely to forget them. After all, their slogan seems to have been “M.S.G. until eternity” …

Marshmallow Soup Group

Really, you could not make this stuff up. And I don’t just mean the weirdness of Marshamallow Soup Group. I mean the great days preserved in Bonnie Hart’s scrapbook: when Yorkville was a musical scene; when the Mamas and the Papas were living the Summer of Love in California in 1967; when the Monkees were starring in a goofy TV show and producing great pop songs; when the Dave Clark Five were hitting it out of the park with catchy, memorable stuff.

And when John Lennon was a young Beatle. Happy birthday, John, wherever you are.

And to Bonnie Hart (and Raymond): thank you so much for the memories!

With autumn closing in, time to say so long to sweet summertime

Going fishing

Looking a bit Norman Rockwell-esque, two young Queensborough people head “down’t street,” fishing poles in hand, to go fishing on a perfect summer day. That would be summer in Queensborough at its best.

Happy almost fall, readers!

Did you know that fall officially begins this coming Wednesday, Sept. 23? No? Well, neither did I – until CJBQ radio host Jim Wright dropped that fact during this past Saturday’s broadcast of ’60s and ’70s oldies, a show that (as you can imagine, knowing as you do my feelings for that era) I love.

In fact, one of the things I love about the era of the ’60s and the ’70s is that those were the days when fall started on Sept. 21 – every year. Just as summer started on June 21, winter on Dec. 21, and spring on March 21. There was a kind of reassuring certainty about those unchanging seasonal start dates, despite the fact that blizzards were known to dump several feet of snow on the first day of “spring,” and we’d often been suffering through a weeks-long heat wave by the time summer “started” on June 21. Now that science and technology and whatnot have got us all fancy about precision when it comes to the start of the seasons (as with everything else) – well, you just never know (unless Jim Wright tells you) when autumn might officially begin. And where’s the usefulness of that? Thank goodness for Jim.

Anyway. I’ve ranted about that topic before here at Meanwhile, at the Manse, and I probably will again. Had to get it out of my system. But let’s go back to where we started: Happy almost fall!

Boxes of books

Some of the many, many boxes of books that had to be moved from Montreal to Queensborough.

I hope your summer has been long and languorous and happy, filled with family times, and perhaps with travel to new places, and with some seriously good gardening. I am painfully aware that one thing your summer has not been filled with is reading posts from yours truly here at Meanwhile at the Manse. Raymond and I have spent our summer truly, finally and completely getting our stuff  – primarily books – moved from our former home in Montreal to our new home in Queensborough. This has involved many, many long trips between the two places, much packing, much stress, much expense. I’ll spare you the details, but I hope you’ll be understanding and excuse my absence from your internet space.

And hey, here I am again! I don’t think my busy schedule will allow a return to daily posting, but I think once a week is highly doable. What do you think: does “Monday at the Manse” have a bit of a ring to it? I shall aim for a post for you every Monday (with perhaps some occasional extra posts when I can manage it or feel particularly inspired) for the foreseeable future. And hey, this is the first one!

And so now, as the air turns crisp and cool, the leaves on the trees turn to scarlet and gold – autumn closing in, as Bob Seger once sang – I’d like to show you lots of pictures of what summer 2015 has been like for Raymond and for me and for Queensborough. It was great! If you weren’t here, you missed a lovely quiet rural old-fashioned summertime. Sweet, sweet summertime, to quote Bob Seger once more. Here it is – or at least, was:

Welcome to Queensborough planter

Welcome to Queensborough! The beautiful flowers and plants at one of the entrances to our hamlet, courtesy of the Queensborough Beautification Committee. Note the Canadian flags in honour of Dominion Day.

Helping a turtle on Barry Road

Summer isn’t summer without turtles crossing the road – something we all should try to help them with, to save their lives. Here’s Raymond helping a tiny one cross Barry Road between Queensborough and Cooper.

Bee balm

Beautiful bee balm in the Manse garden. Good for the bees and pretty to boot!

Wild parsnip

Wild parsnip – a problematic, invasive plant that is, unfortunately, taking over the roadsides in our area. Watch for a future post specifically on the subject. And in the meantime, avoid touching the wild parsnip!

Johnston's before move

The interior of Johnston’s Drugstore in Madoc just before the old store on the main street that’s been there for so many years finally closed and moved to a new, larger location. Johnston’s is a truly great local family business of many decades’ standing.

New Johnston's

An employee cleaning the windows of the new Johnston’s location, just before the opening. It’s a nice big store! But it’s still sad to lose the old one.

Historic sign planter

Another beautiful planter in Queensborough, this one around the sign by the Black River telling a bit of the history of our hamlet.

Bob Hudson Queensborough painting

A lovely painting of the bridge over the Black River in Queensborough by Bob Hudson, a talented artist with strong ties to the Madoc area. This original painting is now in the Sedgwick-Brassard collection: it was my gift to Raymond on his birthday this past July 30.

Toad before disappearance

This is a toad that showed up in the Manse garden one summer afternoon and commenced to doing something quite amazing: it disappeared into the ground! See next photo …

Toad after disappearance

Can you find the toad? Neither can I! it parked itself in a corner of the garden, and proceeded to bury itself and just … disappear! I looked into it on the internet and discovered that this is actually a thing with toads. Amazing!

New Queensborough sign front

The Queensborough Beautification Committee undertook an excellent project this summer: erection of a new sign at the northern entrance to town on Barry Road. The sign was designed and made right here in Queensborough at the Pronk Canada Queensborough Machine Shop.

New Queensborough sign back

Here’s the back side of the new sign. Beautiful! And – thank you for visiting!

Ray's Famous lobster and crab salad

Raymond and I did actually take a holiday this summer – two weeks in Maine, where we love to go. Here is one supper from that vacation, Ray’s Famous Lobster and Crab Salad (one scoop of each, on top of a bed of greens). It was inspired by a similar dish at the wonderful Kennebunkport restaurant Mabel’s Lobster Claw, and Raymond pulled it off smashingly.

Dominion Day planters

The lovely planters throughout the village (with Dominion Day windmills as of July 1), installed and tended to by hard-working volunteers with the Queensborough Beautification Committee.

Colourful carrots

Colourful (and delicious) carrots from the garden of our friends and neighbours Jen and Ed. Pretty as a picture!

Farm equipment at Jos's

Kind of a classic photo of summer in Queensborough: farm equipment in for repairs at the Pronk Canada Queensborough Machine Shop – the former Sager’s General Store. Jos Pronk’s work is much appreciated by local farmers for his ability to repair all manner of equipment.

Camaraderie at Hazzard's service

The wonderful local music group Camaraderie performing at the annual summer service at historic Hazzard’s Corners Church

War of 1812 ceremony at Hazzard's

… and a ceremony honouring a War of 1812 veteran buried in the Hazzard’s cemetery that was part of the same summer service.

QCC yard sale

The giant fundraising yard sale held by and at the Queensborough Community Centre (the village’s historic former one-room school).

Moving Chuck's shed

An exciting late-summer afternoon: loading a heavy old shed from the property of our friends and neighbours Chuck and Ruth onto a big truck owned by Smokey’s Towing of Queensborough. We all came out to watch this interesting (and eventually successful) operation. Good Queensborough entertainment!

Queensborough rainbow

Full-bow rainbow over Queensborough after a midsummer rainstorm.

Croissants on the back deck

A breakfast that, sadly, Raymond and I can’t get in Queensborough (until that patisserie – French bakery – eventually opens up here): croissants and pain au chocolat with morning coffee and reading on our back deck in Montreal. Probably for the very last time, given our move to Queensborough.

Red truck at 780 de l'Epee

Raymond’s red truck in front of our former home in Outremont (Montreal), during one of our many trips back there to move stuff this summer. That’s our place with the green door.

Not-quite-ripe tomatoes

The heirloom tomatoes in our garden at the Manse that didn’t quite turn ripe and red in time for Raymond to live his dream of entering them in the vegetables category at the Madoc Fair. Maybe next year!

Fair teacups

Hey, and speaking of the Madoc Fair – you know it’s coming when the teacup ride shows up in the parking lot at the Madoc arena in mid-September.

Honey Bunny

The big news for Raymond and me at the end of this summer was the arrival of our two new kittens. Here is Honey Bunny…

Teddy

… and here is her sister Teddy – who we initially thought was a male, and hence the name. Now Teddy is short for Theodora.

Tired kitties

And here are both Teddy and Honey Bunny, exhausted after a day of chasing each other around the Manse. They have brought much happiness to the Manse, which was a sad place after our beloved Sieste died at the start of the summer.

Unloading boxes of books

The end of the endless move! Just this past weekend, our books from Montreal were unloaded from the great big moving truck into our new acquisition: the historic Kincaid house next to the Manse.

Yes, people, the end of Summer 2015 for Raymond and me was the excitement of being able to become the new owners of the great old house next door, a funky place even older than our 1888 brick Manse. It is the new home of our many, many books. And one of these days we hope to restore its interior, along with that of the Manse – and maybe there’ll even be some sort of commercial enterprise there. Like, say… a bookstore? Bosley Road Books, Queensborough? What do you think?

Memories of my father, on a late-winter drive on Rimington Road

Rimington Road and Cedar School Road

Rimington Road and Cedar School Road, a main intersection on the back-roads drive between Queensborough and Eldorado – and a place my father would have known well, having driven that route hundreds of times.

Dad

My dad, The Rev. Wendell Sedgwick.

I was reminded of my late father, Wendell Sedgwick (or The Rev. Wendell Sedgwick, if you prefer) in a nice way today. But before I tell you that story, I’ll explain for possible newcomers here at Meanwhile, at the Manse that the reason my husband, Raymond, and I are living here in this old manse in Queensborough, Ont., is because we decided to buy the house I grew up in; and I grew up in this house because Dad (The Rev. Wendell Sedgwick) was the minister of the United churches in this area when I was a kid. And the minister (and his family, which included me) would of course live in the manse connected with the churches on the local pastoral charge.

Okay, that’s the back story; now we return to me being reminded of Dad. I was driving home from work in Belleville, and after stopping to do errands in Madoc I decided to head homeward out of that town via Highway 62. It’s not my usual route, but I like to vary things a bit; sometimes I take 62 north and then cross eastward over to Cooper Road (and thence Hazzard’s Corners and home to Queensborough) via Riggs Road or Hazzards Road or Public School Road. (If you’re not from here and are having trouble following the geography, don’t worry. It doesn’t matter all that much in the overall scheme of my story).

Today my plan was to take Public School Road. But due to my daydreaming, enjoyment of the late-afternoon springlike sunshine, and singing along to Petula Clark singing I Know a Place (on Freddy Vette‘s excellent radio show of 1950s and ’60s songs on CJBQ, 800 on your AM dial), I completely missed the turn. No worries, I thought; I’ll head north to Eldorado and take Rimington Road.

Now, Rimington Road is an east-west route that my dad used to use when travelling between Queensborough, where home (the Manse) and St. Andrew’s United Church were located, and Eldorado, where there was Eldorado United Church (also part of his pastoral charge) and its parishioners who lived in the surrounding area.

Late-day late-winter sunshine, Rimington Road

Late sun on a late-winter afternoon, Rimington Road, Madoc Township.

And so it was natural that I was thinking of Dad as I travelled that old country road, which – it struck me as I drove – probably hasn’t changed all that much in all the years since Dad last travelled it in one of our family’s old and always-breaking-down Pontiacs or Chevs. The farms that are along that road are the farms that were there then. It was lined then, as now, by the split-rail fences built by pioneering farm families:

split-rail fence, Rimington Road

So I tried to look at the road, and my drive, through Dad’s eyes. And as I did so, I also remembered how he would have felt had he been driving home to the Manse at that very hour of the day (shortly before 6 p.m.) on a late-winter afternoon. He would have been feeling: full.

Here’s why. In those long-ago days when Dad was a young minister and I was a very young child, ministers used to go out “visiting” – stopping in at the homes of parishioners to say hello and offer spiritual or material help if needed, and just generally be sociable. It was an expected part of a minister’s job, and something he (or, very rarely back then, she) did several days a week. The families the minister would be visiting, here in our area, were by and large farm families, remember; so both husband and wife would probably be home, or at least on the property, when Dad stopped by of an afternoon.

(Just the other day a longtime parishioner of St. Andrew’s United was telling me fondly about how, when Dad showed up for a visit at their home, he’d head out to the barn or the fields where her husband was working and happily help out as they talked. I wrote here about how work was the primary theme of my dad’s life; he grew up working hard on a farm, and he continued to work hard on that family farm even when he became a minister. And as a minister to farm families, he was more than happy to help out on parishioners’ farms when that help was needed.)

Anyway, here’s the thing: at every house Dad would visit, the wife would insist on him having tea and food. Perhaps savouries like sandwiches and pickles and cheese; but absolutely and without question sweets like homemade cookies and squares and tarts. And “No thank you, I’ve already eaten at other homes” would not be an acceptable response when such goodies were offered. So Dad’s afternoon of visiting would entail consuming gallons of strong tea and endless cookies and squares and sandwiches and pieces of cheese.

He would arrive home at the Manse – having followed my route today along Rimington Road, if he’d been visiting in the Eldorado area – practically groaning with repleteness. And there on the kitchen table, right inside the front door, would be: dinner.

I have to give it to my father: as full of tea and cookies as he might have been, he always did justice to whatever my mum served up. Dad was not one to see food wasted, or anyone’s efforts in preparing a meal underappreciated. But oh, how he did moan sometimes at how very much he’d felt obliged to consume that afternoon.

Not in a bad or complaining way, though. Dad was always extremely appreciative of the kindness and hospitality he’d received on his visits, and the friendly exchanges he’d had – perhaps with a bit of forking manure or repairing of a tractor thrown in.

All of that came to mind this late afternoon as I drove home to the Manse, in the last of the late-afternoon winter sunshine, along Rimington Road. And even though I wasn’t full of tea and sweets, I too felt appreciative: of how past and present come together in this place for me; of the beauty of the landscape; and most especially of my memories of my dad.

On this Friday night, let’s talk about Ringo

Ah, Friday night. Best night of the week! Regular readers will know that I often devote Fridays to musically themed posts, because I figure that both you good people and I need a diversion that doesn’t require too much brain power, or reading, at the end of a long work week. On Friday night, it’s nice to just sit back and relax and listen to some music.

On this particular Friday night, I’d like to feature a friend of us all (that last bit being a turn of phrase that George Harrison used to introduce Bob Dylan at the Concert for Bangladesh; thanks, George): Mr. Ringo Starr.

Why Ringo? Well, mainly because his classic song Photograph has, for some unknown reason, been running around in my head, day and night, for much of the past week. (Click on the video at the top of this post and it can be running around in your head too!) It’s a song I hadn’t thought of in many a year, and suddenly I can’t stop humming it. I know it well because it was played often by everyone’s (well, everyone around here, anyway) favourite 1970s radio DJ, Joey Edwards, on CJBQ-AM (Belleville and TREN-TONNNNN!, as the jingle went) back when it was a new release in 1973. Which just happens to be the era when I was a young teenager right here at the Manse in Queensborough, tuning in to the hits Joey played every weeknight on his popular show. (Would you like to know more about Joey Edwards – who, I am very proud to say, is a reader of Meanwhile, at the Manse – and how I made contact with him after all these years? Click here. And for a little more, here.)

And thinking about Photograph, and what a simple but great pop classic it was, and is, got me also thinking about some of Ringo’s other post-Beatles hits, which also coincided with the years when I was a kid here in this house that, through a happy chain of circumstances, I now live in once again with my wonderful husband, Raymond.

After the Beatles busted up, Ringo had quite a good run, I have to say. Let’s take a little trip back. There was the oddball hit (written by the wondrous Hoyt Axton, whom I previously featured here) The No No Song:

And the wackadoodle Goodnight Vienna:

And the even more wackadoodle Snookeroo:

And I don’t even know what to say about Back Off Boogaloo:

And then finally, there is the utterly, indisputably great It Don’t Come Easy:

Ringo! That guy brought a lot of joy into people’s lives as the clowning but talented drummer in that British band that we’ve all heard of. But you know, in the first half of the 1970s – a great time, and I don’t care who hears me say it – he also brought us some fantastic music all on his own. Music that brings back good memories – and more to the point, makes me hum along. I hope it gets you humming too. Because, you know –

Every time I see your face it reminds me of the places we used to go …

Of memories, and old friends, and connections rekindled

Joey Edwards on the job

Joey Edwards, the star DJ at local radio station CJBQ back in my childhood days at the Manse and now a radio guy in far-off Beijing. I got the nicest note from him the other day, about having been able to renew old friendships and share good memories, and thanking me for my small part in it. It made my day! (Photo courtesy of Joey Edwards)

This evening, dear readers, I find myself ruminating, and not for the first time, on how the absolute best part of writing Meanwhile, at the Manse is the connections it has allowed people to make. By coming across my news reports on what’s doing in Queensborough, my memories of growing up here in the Manse, and the latest in our endlessly-being-revised plans for doing some renovation and restoration work on this happy old house, all kinds of people have rediscovered some of their own memories and even sometimes people they once knew.

When they tell me about making those connections, it makes me so happy. All the hours spent over my laptop in the evening, all the photos I stop to take as Raymond and I are driving along the high roads and back roads of Hastings County and environs, seem mighty worthwhile when someone says “Thanks!” or “Good job!” or, as one nice reader put it in a comment the other day: “I lived many of the stories.”

I love rekindling those memories of our beautiful and little-known part of the world, and maybe even helping people rediscover something about themselves through those memories.

One of the best notes I’ve ever got on that subject arrived in my inbox about a week ago. It was from Joey Edwards, whom some of you will remember as the star DJ of the evening pop-music show on CJBQ radio, 800 on your AM dial, Belleville and TrentONNNN! (as the jingle used to say) back in the early 1970s when I was a young teenager in this old Manse. My sister, Melanie, and I were huge fans of the great mix of music and laughter that Joey delivered over the airwaves every weeknight, and his zany cast of characters – remember Wilbur, who I believe was a mouse? – and hilarious accents, including an impeccable Beatle one.

Oh yes, and Joey was from nearby Madoc! So he was not just a star, but a local star.

Now, I have recounted before – in one of my favourite posts, I have to say, and it’s here if you’d like to read it – about finding Joey again after all these years. He was, and is, busy being very successful in the radio/audio business and happily married to Nancy, who doubles as his business manager, way off in Beijing. (Which is a heck of a long way from home, if you ask me.)

And here’s the best part: in recounting here at Meanwhile, at the Manse the happy discovery of the local area’s favourite 1970s radio DJ, it seems I was able to put Joey in touch with some old, old friends.

An email with the subject line THANK YOU! showed up on Feb. 1, and to my delight it was from Joey. He started by explaining that he’d resolved a problem with his computer that had prevented him from viewing Meanwhile, at the Manse for a while – prompting both him and me to wonder briefly if the Chinese authorities had somehow decided that stories about the Manse were seditious material and blocking them – and then went on:

Bottom line: I can access your wonderful blog again. I have spent the last few days catching upon all the “back home” news I have sadly missed. Hard to focus on some of the images and words due to tears! Your stories, photos and news about my old stomping ground make me feel like a boy all over again.

What incredible joy you have brought me and my twin brother, Bud. Because of you, MANY old high school friends have written to me and many of my radio fans have popped in. Every time I open my computer, I never know who might be showing up from CHSS [Centre Hastings Secondary School], circa 1964. My wife is stumped by her husband sitting in front of his computer crying like a baby occasionally reading a sweet letter from an old Madoc chum.

How can I ever repay you?!

You and Raymond have a wonderful 2015!

Joe(y)

Now how about that, people? Isn’t that just about the nicest letter a person could ever get? (I should mention that Joey gave me permission to quote it.)

Then a day or two later another email arrived, from an old school friend of Joey and Bud who had recently been in touch with them for the first time in 50 years!

We have been sharing many a story these past couple of days, he wrote. I was researching cheese factories in the Madoc area and “Curds” pulled up your site about DJ Joey. [Note from Katherine: That would be thanks to the comment Joey wrote, about desperately missing cheese curds, on my post here about the local cheese factories.] The 3 of us created many memories during our years at Madoc Public School and CHSS. Thanks again!

Isn’t it amazing that a brief reference Joey had made to cheese curds on a long-ago post I did at Meanwhile, at the Manse here was sufficient for his boyhood friend to come across him and reconnect after half a century?

And best of all, for me, that both of them were kind enough to write and say thanks?

You have to love it. You really do. Or at least: I sure do.

No direction home? Where Bob Dylan fits in at the Manse

This morning on my drive to work, I tuned in to CBC Radio 2 and was lucky enough to catch the latter half of what I, and many others, consider to be the greatest rock’n’roll song of all time: Bob Dylan‘s Like a Rolling Stone.

Lord, how good it felt to be reminded, through Bob’s admittedly rather impenetrable lyrics and Al Kooper’s amazing organ riff, of the thundering, snarly magnificence of that song. I remember how, when I was in my modestly bohemian late teens and wondering what to do with my life and where I would end up, it felt like Bob was speaking directly to me when he would howl out his question for the ages: “How does it FEEL?”

Dylan Like a Rolling Stone

Dylan in his super-cool Like a Rolling Stone days.

I spent a lot of time this evening trying to find a video of His Bobness actually performing Like a Rolling Stone to show you, to no real avail. (Though if you click here you can watch the astounding interactive version that Bob commissioned a couple of years ago, in which you can change “channels” on the virtual TV and watch many different kinds of characters “singing” the song. It’s quite something.) Anyway, thank goodness someone had the good sense to simply upload the audio of the song – and because someone did, you can and should click on the video link atop this post and hear for yourself all over again how great the song is, in all its original vinyl splendour.

Hearing it by chance on the car radio this morning also got me thinking about Bob Dylan’s place in my Manse history. I have to confess that, even though by my middle teens I’d turned into a huge Dylan fan, he didn’t have a particularly big impact in the earlier days when my family lived in this house and I was growing up here in Queensborough. I mean, I read the newspapers and had heard of him and all, but no Dylan record ever appeared at the Manse. And he didn’t get played on CJBQ-AM radio; too radical for that, I guess.

Joan Baez and Bob Dylan

Joan Baez and Bob Dylan in the early days.

Really the way I learned about Bob Dylan was through Joan Baez, who, as you are no doubt aware, was briefly his lover and always his champion way back at the beginning of the ’60s when he was just starting out and she was already a huge folksinging star. My father, The Rev. Wendell Sedgwick, was a fan of Joan Baez, partly because of her beautiful voice, I am sure, but especially because he believed in the causes she espoused in her life and work: an end to the war in Vietnam, and non-violent protest against injustice of all sorts.

So while we had no Bob Dylan records at the Manse, we had plenty of Joan Baez’s records, and rare was the Joan Baez record without a Dylan song or two on it. (Sometimes there were other connections. The liner notes on Joan Baez in Concert, Part 2, for example, were written by him; scroll down a bit here and you can read them, in full poetic weirdness.) And that’s how I got to know Dylan’s songs: Mama, You Been on My Mind; It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue; Love Is Just a Four-Letter Word; It Ain’t Me, Babe; I Pity the Poor Immigrant; With God on Our Side; A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall; I Shall Be Released; Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right; even Simple Twist of Fate.

But probably the most important of them all, to my dad and hence to me in those days, was Dylan’s antiwar anthem Blowin’ In the Wind, which of course Joan Baez sang too. Here is a lovely, very old video of a young Joanie singing that song, which I just wish my late father could hear now:

Edie Sedgwick

Edie Sedgwick, hipster extraordinaire (though dead), inspiration for Like a Rolling Stone – and no relation.

But you know, even though I’ll always love Blowin’ in the Wind – as who doesn’t? – I think that Like a Rolling Stone is the Dylan song that has meant the most to me in my own life and times. And no, it’s not at all because the subject and target of the song, the woman at whom Dylan is hurling all that snarliness, disdain and anger, is widely believed to have been Edie Sedgwick, the model/actor/socialite/muse to Andy Warhol (click here to check out a jaw-dropping appearance by the two of them on the Merv Griffin Show in 1965) – who of course shares a name with me.

(I once, in my misspent youth, wasted a perfectly good afternoon in Paris at a tiny art-house cinema watching one of Warhol’s Factory movies, a snoozer – literally – called Poor Little Rich Girl in which Sedgwick does little more than sleep and wake up. But, you know, it was art. If you’re a bear for punishment, you can watch some of it here.)

Anyway, back to Like a Rolling Stone, a powerful song that had a huge impact on me at an impressionable and important time in my life, my late teens. (That would be the time when you just know you’re going to live forever and conquer the world.)

There’s this: “With no direction home” is one of the most famous lines in that very famous song, and in fact ended up being the title of the wonderful Martin Scorsese documentary about Dylan a few years back. As I drove south this morning, listening to the song and thinking about making it the topic of my post here tonight, I was struck by the thought that I’ve managed to circumvent Bob’s pronouncement/prediction/curse.

Hey, I’ve returned to the Manse, the house I grew up in. If anyone in the whole world has found a direction home – I think it would be me.

But I still love that song.

And so, Happy Christmas.

I expect you had to have been a teenager, or at least a young adult, in the middle 1970s to consider John Lennon‘s Happy Xmas (War is Over) an essential piece of Christmas music, and an important part of the season generally.

I mean, it’s not a particularly great song, right? (But then again, with the exception of White Christmas, how many pop Christmas songs are great? Jingle Bell Rock? Don’t get me started.) Happy Xmas is not John Lennon at his brilliant songwriting best – at the level of, say, Norwegian Wood, or In My Life, or even Mind Games. (As for Imagine – well, I told you not to get me started when it comes to terrible songs. But maybe that’s just me.) Right, back to Happy Xmas: there’s one line in particular that is so dopey that it drives me nuts every time I hear it. That would be, of course: “Let’s stop all the fight.” Hello? John?

War is Over

You know, the message is as true and as good at Christmas 2014 as it was way back in the ’70s when John and Yoko released the song. Thanks for the poster, Yoko! (You can get yours, in almost any language you choose, here.)

But Happy Xmas became a huge hit at a time when I was young – when so many of us were young. (In my case, I was young at the Manse in Queensborough, so doubly blessed.) It was unavoidable on the airwaves in those days. And the music of one’s youth is the music that one always loves, is it not? In addition, Happy Xmas had a good sentiment, otherwise expressed as Give Peace a Chance. And finally, Yoko for once sounded downright tuneful and soulful when she sang on it. All of this taken together translates into my abiding affection for Happy Xmas (War is Over).

Oh, and there’s one other thing: it was a standby of the Christmas-season playlist back in the days when DJ Joey Edwards was entertaining us all here in Hastings County with his weeknight show on good old CJBQ radio (Belleville and TRENTOONNN, 800 on your AM dial). One of the absolute highlights of this past year for me (which you can read about here) has been connecting with Joey, who’s still in the audio/music business, though way off in Beijing. (Note to Joey: You should come home to Madoc for Christmas!)

Anyway, to quote John: And so this is Christmas. And so, dear readers: A very merry Christmas. And a happy new year. Let’s hope it’s a good one – without any fear.