by Ziba Fisher
May 29, 2001
Some Personal background
I probably first learned about Mr. D and his showcase band from school chums at Kitsilano Junior/Senior High, the first school I attended when my family moved to the coast from Calgary. Both ‘music’ and ‘orchestra’ were held as classes there. Arnold Emory, (who made his first impression on me by correctly distinguishing between 3/4 and 6/8 rhythms), was enrolled there, as was Eric Foster. I was often sandwiched between them in adjacent chairs.
The names, I guess. Our orchestra teacher announced a school horn to spare, and offered to teach me a scale. If I learned it, and could play it, I could take that class. That was my start with the horn.
The Kits Band was to play a concert in our Dunbar area church one Sunday evening. Accompanied by my mother, whose love of music had encouraged me through a few years of piano lessons, I went for my first time to hear the music of our band. I was 13.
At concert’s end, Mom nudged me towards its leader, an impressive personality – snowy hair, steady eyes, dark navy-blue uniform pressed within an inch of its life, an aura of inner energies, and, to me at least, a somewhat enigmatic smile.
“May I join the band, sir?”
“Would yer like to do that?”
“Well then, what notes are in the C chord?”
“Uh, C, E, G and C, sir.”
That smile again.
“What did you say your name was?”
“Well, ok, Ziber, you come to Gordon Public School tomorrer. We practice Mondays and Thursdays.”
And so began my experiences with Mr. D, and the band. I’m grateful to have had them.
March 5, 2000
Memories of Glasgow
Well, do I remember Glasgow! Say now…
- a) We were quartered in a somewhat less that prestigious part of town with a Canal near-by. One of us (escapes me just who….) tossed a pair of shoes into it.
- b) Glen S. started a friendly punch-up, (was it with Buck.?) and there they were, hammering each other’s shoulders and , well, hurting more than had been planned
- c) We played the parks, rain or shine, and it rained to beat the band (to beat the band!) all week. Policy was, if 3 or more were in attendance, we were obliged to provide a full concert. Same lady came every day, with her teenaged granddaughter, and there was always one more from somewhere, so play we did.
- d) Our trip away from Glascow took us on an overnight train — at least I think it did. We stopped in unknown station in middle of the night, and all we could get at the canteen was coffee. No sugar, no milk. Rationing! So I tried it ( my first) and have drunk my coffee black ever since.
Thanks, Gordon, for the good work you are doing with the Kits page. You have no idea how much it means to me.
Ziba [Fisher] was a member since 1947, although I missed going to Hollywood. Couldn’t blow my nose…
A Night in a Dublin Bus Yard
June 12, 2004
It was late in the summer of 1950, just a few short years after the close of WWII. The 39 young musicians known as the Vancouver Boys’ Band were nearing the end of a working tour that had brought them 6000 miles by rail and by sea to Eire’s largest city, Dublin.
They had been earning their keep since leaving home the previous spring by giving performances in stadiums, parks, and theaters. They and their leader had traveled throughout the UK and Holland for nearly five months, on a shoe-string budget.
So it came as no surprise to the band that, once again, they were quartered in a hostel. It was a bus-ride away from the city center, inside the margins of an industrial area. Like other hostels in which they had stayed, access to its austere facilities was limited to morning and evening hours only. It closed its doors at midnight.
One night, following the band’s final performance in the theater, a 15 year old band member elected to spend a wee while in a public house close by. He had discovered a few pin-ball machines there, along with a relaxed attitude of a pretty waitress concerning his newly acquired taste for Stone’s cider. Some local lads took notice of the maple-leaf emblem on the sweater he wore, and that tipped them to the fact their pub was being paid a visit by a Canadian. Conversation developed, concerning the political ramifications of the dominance of Canada by the English crown.
“When are you going to throw off the British yoke…?” was a question which clearly required careful consideration, not to mention a few more rounds of Stone’s.
When ‘time, gentlemen, please’ ended that part of the evening, it was our hero’s plan to catch a bus to the hostel. He realized, however, as he waited in the cool rain of evening, that the hostel doors were by now well locked.
It was time to explore other possibilities.
After the bus conductor had sold him his thrip-pny ticket, he made inquiry as to the possibility of using the long seat at the rear of the coach as his bed for the next five or six hours. At first, the conductor was more amused than interested. He was obliged to refuse permission. But, after a glance at his young passenger’s sweater, he stroked his chin, then smiled.
“Tell you what, why not ride to the end of the line here, it’s not too far beyond where your mates are bunked in. We can put you up in the tea-room. Nice and warm there….”
And so it was that the boy from Dunbar in Vancouver spent the night tucked away on a bench behind a pot-bellied stove in a Dublin bus-yard, a driver’s greatcoat for his blanket, and a warm muuga at the top of the morning and bade farewell to another day away from home.