ABOVE: A young Jimmy Pattison polishing his car and on his way to band practice.
Above: December 27, 1946 Kits Band banquet at the Hotel Vancouver
Here is the account that George Kyle sent me of his recollection of the 1947 Kits Band trip to Hollywood:
Regarding the Kits Band, I have the photo of the banquet at the Hotel Vancouver. However it seems that I can’t locate it at the moment. I have moved twice in the past 18 months and it appears that I put it in some place that seemed logical at the time but is no longer logical. But I have no other pictures of the band. I retired in 1983 and moved to Europe where I stayed for 11 years. A lot of things got jettisoned with my many moves, and the photos were tossed when I crossed the Atlantic. I regret it now, but I had to lighten the load. The banquet photo stayed with me all along the way. I’ll let you know when it turns up.
The LA trip was truly a Hollywood trip. We stayed at the Hollywood YMCA on Wilcox Avenue between Hollywood and Sunset Boulevards, and which is still standing. Wilcox is about three or four blocks west of Vine Street. It is a rather gritty part of town now. While we did not play a concert there, we did play a radio broadcast in a studio on Highland Avenue — it wasn’t a network studio, but the program was supposed to be broadcast regionally. It was not broadcast live, and I think Mr. D tried, but was unsuccessful in getting a copy of the transcription. Our only concert there was the one at the Shrine Auditorium. I also remember that a lot of us received some tickets for a big benefit show at the Shrine with Jack Carson as the MC.
Here are some of the details as I can recall them. We left Vancouver on a couple of Pacific Stage Lines buses and were transferred to another private carrier in Seattle. Our first stop was Olympia and I think we did a concert there in a park and spent the night in a hotel in the center of the city. The next stage was to Portland and I believe our concert was at Swan Island naval station there (not San Francisco, which I will comment on later). From Portland we continued on Route 99 to Eugene and then crossed over on 58 and picked up Route 97 which took us to Klamath Falls, where we played, I believe, for a local social club.
We then followed Rte 97 south to where it joined back with Route 99 (which we took for the rest of the journey south) and our next stop was at Redding where we had a lunch or early afternoon date and I believe we stayed there for the night. If we didn’t stay there, then it was on to Sacramento where we stayed at the local YMCA, but I don’t remember anything about playing there. The next day we played a noon concert in a park at Fresno and continued thru the valley, over the Grapevine, getting into Hollywood around 10 that evening.
As I recall, we were in the LA area for about four or five days, maybe more and we got a lot of sightseeing in. Ed Hardy and I had lunch with some friends of mine at Clinton’s cafeteria in downtown LA (the last Clinton’s cafeteria closed about five years ago, a victim of the popularity of the buffet restaurants). We also went to Santa Monica on the red line street car that made the trip on Santa Monica Boulevard all the way out to the pier. I also remember visiting the Southern Cal campus and the Coliseum.
One of the big events was going to the Hollywood Palladium and seeing the Gene Krupa Orchestra. The best I can make out, Gerry Mulligan was with Krupa at that time. I think some of the guys went to the Ken Murray Blackouts that played in a location on Sunset Boulevard on the other side of the street from the Palladium. Just about all of us caught at least one radio broadcast. One of the most difficult tickets to find was for the radio broadcast of the Victor Borge Show which had Benny Goodman’s Band on stage.
You are right about taking different routes for the two directions, at least as far as it was possible. We returned north by taking Highway 101 that went thru Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, Paso Robles, etc on the believe Mr. D’s efforts were unable to get us a concert there. We did have a band portrait (in uniform) taken in front of City Hall. I remember that I went over to Oakland with, I believe, Norm Mullins to visit some of his family’s friends.
The return trip crossed the Bay and joined up with Route 99 which we took all the way back to Vancouver. It was on this leg that we did the concert in Ashland. We also stayed in Portland again, but no concert. From there we went straight back to Vancouver. I think Norm Mullins should be able to fill in and/or correct some of the details from my failing memory. You probably remember that Ed Hardy’s father was sort of the band father for us. He was a nice gentleman.
Enough for tonight, I have enjoyed our correspondence. More!
Dear Gordon: Again your diary has brought back some memories and reminded me of others I had forgotten about. Here are a couple of notes that might remind you of other incidents.
Regarding June 20, you referred to Clem David’s Chapel. His correct name was Clem Davis. I wasn’t able to pull up the link to Glen Buckley’s article about him. From my memory, Clem Davis was a very active preacher in Vancouver for a number of years during the depression, I believe, and into the 40’s. He had quite a following there. Then sometime after the war he moved his operation to LA. Apparently he had gathered a rather large following there, too by the time we got down there. I don’t know of the nature of Mr. D’s connection with him, but Mr. D was in contact with him and this led to Mr. Davis being somewhat of a sponsor of our stay in LA. Our concert on Sunday, the 22nd at the Shrine Auditorium followed his service there (the Shrine Auditorium seats about 6,000 and the audience for the service filled about half the main floor. It has been used for many years up to 2003 for the Academy Award ceremonies). Most of the congregation stayed for the concert. There was no admission charge but a collection was taken up for our concert and I remember Mr. D being amazed at the amount raised (I was one of the counters).
Regarding Saturday, the 21st, you mentioned our visit to the Hollywood Palladium, which in that era was one of the main dance halls in the country where the big bands regularly played. Several of us went there to see Gene Krupa’s Orchestra.
Your notes also mentioned our having breakfast regularly at the Ontra restaurant, a popular place for locals on Vine Street between Hollywood and Sunset Boulevards. One morning the group I was with noted Guy Kibbee and Percy Kilbride having breakfast a few tables away.
Another favorite activity in our free time was to try to get tickets for the radio broadcasts at the NBC and CBS studios on Sunset Boulevard. You had to wait in line for tickets, particularly for the more popular shows (many of which were taken and never hit the box office). You mentioned one show which I think a lot of us got to see.
A few of us (but not me) were lucky enough to get admission to the Victor Borge Show — this was at the time when he was just getting started in the US.
Also a few (very few, I think) got to see Ken Murray’s Blackouts staring Marie Wilson — t his was a review which played in Hollywood for several years. I think minimum age limit and price kept most of us from even thinking of it..
I think nothing really needs to be added to your notes on the return back home thru San Francisco, Portland etc. The trip was effectively a direct trip home and there were no concerts after we left LA.
Sorry I can’t come up with any more. Do Ed Hardy or Norm Mullins have any info to add?
Here is another account, with a different emphasis, by Glen Buckley, one of our “Baritone Players”:
My recollection of the trip to L.A in 1947 or was it 1946 is as follows: In 1947 the Kits band travelled south for a one week engagement in Los Angeles. Our last stop before reaching California was Klamath Falls, Oregon. It was over 100F when we arrived in the late afternoon for a concert that evening. The humidity was incredible and the hall in which we played had no air conditioning and the open windows caught no breeze. There was a constant flurry of hankerchiefs and fans as the uncomfortable crowd watched our performance. Our discomfort was much worse. Dressed in black pants and white shirts we wore a crimson/black cape around our shoulders and tightly clasped at the throat. The music stands flashed in the glaring light and seemed to intensify the heat on stage. Mr. “D” in his white suit was perspiring freely as he conducted us through the final opus. There was generous applause from the audience, quick praise from our host and then a mass exit to the cool darkness outside.
We returned to a school gym later in the evening to bed down on old army cots. It had been a long day and that combined with the humidity had sapped all of us. Normally on such a trip there would be some horsing around but fatigue ruled the night. Lights were extinguished and soon the labored sleep and snores of a tired band punctuated the night. It was perhaps 2am. when the first thump was heard followed by a quiet curse. And then seconds later three more thumps jarred the blackness of the night. “What the hell is going on?” someone yelled. “Turn on the goddamn lights” shouted another. The gym lit up and we gazed upon the clutter of cots and the four guys that had fallen clear through to the hard floor. The room erupted in laughter and then more cots disintegrated followed by crashing bodies with legs sticking through the ripped material. Within minutes there was nary a one left. It was absolute bedlam. That morning, as we dressed blurry eyed for the bus trip to L.A., it was learned that the cots had been made years before to help the Japanese who suffered many casualties in the 1923 earthquake. The cots never reached Japan but languished in storage until the Kits massacre.
We arrived at L.A. and billeted at the Y.M.C.A. Our stay was for one week with nightly concerts at a Pentacostal church. Mr.”D” knew the minister who, some years before, had a parish on the east side of Vancouver. Prior to our journey south, oblique comments had been made by Mr.”D” suggesting that our host had been forced to leave the east side because of his flamboyancy and misuse of collection funds. The good minister, aware that his exceptional talents would likely be appreciated by the State of California, drove south. He was not mistaken in his belief and his church flourished.
Each evening before the concert began he ceremoniously placed on the stage a large basket containing countless ampoules filled with water. The huge crowd was left to wonder as no explanation was given. The band played for precisely one hour and fifteen minutes followed by a thunderous ovation from the audience.
The lights dimmed and onto the stage swept the minister in a crimson flowing robe. He soon mesmerized his flock with his deep voice which crescendoed to the ultimate praise of God Almighty. And then he paused and said, “This band is also the voice of God. These young and talented musicians have come all the way from Canada to entertain you tonight.” He then proceeded to the overflowing basket and removed two ampoules which he raised above his head and said, “I bless one for the congregation and the other for this splendid band of young men. Before you depart my good friends take two capsules of this holy water and double your generous contributions.” And they did.