Of Memory - Dal Richard's 90th - Legs Under The SteinwayMonday, January 07, 2008
Pensó que en la hora de la muerte no habría acabado aún de clasificar todos los recuerdos de la niñez.
He thought that in the hour of his death he would not have finished classifying the rembembrances of his childhood.
Funes El Memorioso
Jorge Luís Borges
I took Rebecca to the Orpheum yesterday for Dal Richard's 90th birthday bash. The Orpheum was a full house. Rebecca and I noted that there were only two other little girls in the audience. All there wanted to experience memories of their past. We were there for a different reason. I was there to give our first Vancouver-born member (on our side of the family) memories for her future. I looked around and pointed out people who reside in my files. "That blonde woman (sitting in front of us), she used to be readhaired, almost became the premier of our province, "I told Rebecca. During the intermission we ran into others from my files. I placed Rebecca in front of a very serious and large (not fat, just large) man and told her, "He's a politician. Ask him who he is, Rebecca." The very serious man (perhaps with a smile that I was not able to discern) said, "Rebecca, I am Garde Gardom, and I was more than a politician, I was the Lieutenant-Governor of this province." "See that little lapel flower, Rebecca?" ask him what it is. "This is the Order of British Columbia, Rebecca."
I introduced Rebecca to Jennifer and Christopher Gaze. Jennifer told her, "Rebecca we know you well because of your grandfather's blog."
We then spotted pianist Robert Silverman and I introduced him to Rebecca. He seemed to be pleased that one of Rebecca's piano teachers had been Nikolai Maloff. I explained to Rebecca that Silverman was going to play with another UBC pianist a series of Happy Birthday variations in honour of Dal Richards. But when Jimmy Pattison blew Happy Birthday on his trumpet and I told her that he was the richest man in Canada she was impressed.
But if anything the high moment for me happened when boogie woogie pianist Michael Kaeshammer played a solo piece. Just a few notes into it Rebecca looked at me and said, "Hymn to Freedom, Oscar Peterson."
Rebecca wanted to know more about Jim Byrnes who sang an unusual St Louis Blues accompanied by Dal Richard's Orchestra. On the piano was Diane Lines (she also sang very well and played a mean electric piano) who wore two little dresses (one blue, one red, both tight, one for each half of the concert). My binoculars (even though we were on the 10th row) were trained on Miss Lines's legs, the finest I have ever seen under a Steinway.
Of Byrnes I said, "Rebecca, Byrnes met your mother and aunt some 15 years ago and whenever I run into him he always asks, "How are Ale and Hilary?"
It all made me think about memory and how little I remember of when I was 10. Last night Rosemary and I caught the last hour of the 1948 John Wayne film The Wake of the Red Witch with the beautiful and mysterious looking Gail Russell. I soon realized what the ending was going to be.
Memory of seeing it with my mother suddenly came to me. Perhaps then there is a faint hope that Rebecca will remember some of our good times together. As Rebecca kept her autographed program of the night's performance close to her she asked me, "Why did Dal have two lapel buttons?" "That's because he also has an Order of Canada," I explained. Rebecca who watched part of the show with one eye closed (she wanted to know what it was like to have only one eye) then asked, "Why is Dal's artificial eye larger?" "You'll have to ask him one day, "I replied. But mine were not the last words. "When I am 20 Dal will be 100," Rebecca said with the confidence of youth.