James’ Brand New Blog

Where was I on June 12? A cryptic diary offers clues*

- June 12th, 2012

dumbell (2)

Red Newman
Source: Library and Archives Canada/Music Collection
© Public Domain
nlc-4413

JBNBlog can’t remember the name of his first-year landlady at Trent. She was the widow of a Dumbell. Which means a lot to me now. So here is a great photo of Red Newman, representing the Dumbell memories which got away.

 

Bought “Revolver”

Psy. appointment called off.

– June 12, 1967

Finished Poll.

– June 12, 1968.

Accepted at Trent & Toronto.

Downbeat & 20 Cents.

Found my copy of “Blue Suede Shoes”

– June 12, 1970.

This was a big day in my life & not because of Revolver (a year late, maybe, but Mad Men has made it cooler than ever in 2012) or what must have been Carl Perkins’s Blue Suede Shoes (then being reissued by whoever controlled the Sun catalogue).

No. This was the day Trent University entered my life . . . as for other universities somewhere on the list: Toronto was too big, Western too close, Queen’s unimpressed by my mediocre marks. Trent was in the home town of the Peterborough Petes who had just been beaten by the Knights in the Junior A playoffs. That was intriguing. So were its small classes, tutorial system & the presence of friends of my parents who had gone to Trent a few years before when it was founded.

Trent wanted me? Cool. So that fall, after a summer of misadventure at Trois Pistoles mercifully unrecorded because I stopped keeping the diary on June 29, 1970, it was off to Trent and its late & lamented Peter Robinson College.

Just 17 and immature when I arrived, I left in the spring of 1974 as slightly more mature & with a lifetime of memories . . . & much gratitude for my v. patient professors & inspiring classmates. Trent shaped me & 42 years later, it’s still a marvel to think of its effect.

Maybe I should have tried to parlay the awarding of a president’s medal for academics & a Peter Robinson College male athlete of the year trophy (both pretty miraculous in retrospect) into a Rhodes scholarship application.

Disappointed about that? Nah. My real disappointment is having the widow of one of Canada’s legendary Dumbells as a landlady. For months in first year & never realizing what that meant . . .  the Dumbells. Back then, JBNBlog was a dumbell, eh?

Here is something from collectionscanada.gc.ca:

“The Dumbells, a group of Canadian soldiers turned singers, rose from humble beginnings on a makeshift stage of packing boxes in First World War France to become the toast of the nation for over a decade. They became arguably the most famous of the Canadian Army “concert parties,” those entertainment units that were devoted to building the morale of the troops on the front lines.”

*An occasional series based on a v. cryptic diary kept as a pen&ink forerunner to JBNBlog during the late 1960s, when our family lived in London, Stratford (parts of summers of 1966 & 1967), Victoria, B.C. (July 4, 1968-July 4, 1969) and then London again until June, 1970 when I was in Grade 13.

Categories: Entertainment

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9 comments

  1. TRY THESE DUMBELL NAMES, DEATH DATES, TOWNS says:

    Dumbells. ..10 members under direction of Merton (Wesley)
    Plunkett , d Toronto 21 Dec 1966 brother AlberPlunkett, d Toronto
    19 Apr 1957);
    Ted Charters, assistant manager and comedian;
    Ross Hamilton d Halifax 29 Sep 1965) and Allan Murray
    Jack Ayre, pianist and music director (d 1977);
    Bill Tennent, tenor; Bert Langley, bass baritone; and Frank (later Jerry)
    Brayford and Leonard Young, actors. … increased to 16.
    Other soldiers associated in various capacities early Dumbells
    included Bill Redpath, Elmer Belding, George Thorne, Andrew Catrano,
    J. McCormick, and D.L. Michie.
    You could also check with that citiy’ library for information on who lived
    at hat address in that year. Pity not to name the lady…
    You are a product of the Tom Symons era?

  2. Newman of the Dumbells says:

    It seems that Newman was the only ex-CEF associated with the
    group who was not born in this country, Native of the Town of
    Dover, Kent, of white cliffs of..fame.

  3. james.reaney says:

    A comment mentioned Tom Symons, who was president of Trent for the first two years (or so) of my four at the Oxford on the Otonabee . . . he just turned 83 & so must have been in his 30s when he became Trent’s founding president. There is a profile-interview with him in the current Trent alumni magazine. He sounds as full of idealism & inspiring as he was back in the day.
    I should add the closing of Peter Robinson College in 2001 disillusioned me about Trent. For a time, I suggested former PRC students who felt angry about the closing should send back our medals etc. as a protest. This didn’t take hold & I still have mine. Which I am proud of . . . even if the decision about PRC still riles me.

  4. Tom S and Wolseley says:

    Symons wasn’t the only Founder of Trent. He was at Trinity College
    UotT late 40s and clad in his gown obviously slated for higher academe.
    Not the only man from Varsity, Dick Sadleir from UCC, John Leishman
    (just died) went off amid bets as to how long Trent would last.
    Try Trinity’s alum magazine online for references to him.
    The PRC closure means nothing, sorry, but suspect it was an historic
    person commemorative. What did you get medals for??
    Noting your connecting the pirate to the soldier, could you post an image
    of that elegant gold HS&MBC plaque, very early in the series apparently.
    Wasn’t Sy on that plaquing body at one point?

  5. Tom Symons - A biography published says:

    Online bio
    Thomas H.B. Symons was born at Toronto, Ontario on May 30, 1929,
    son of Harry Lutz Symons and Dorothy Sarah Bull. He was educated
    at Upper Canada College, University of Toronto (B.A. 1951), and
    Oxford University (B.A. 1953, M.A. 1957).
    He married Christine Ryerson on August 17, 1963 and with her had
    three children: Mary, Ryerson and Jeffery. Professor Symons has
    held many posts as an educator over the years, including assistant
    dean of Men, Trinity College and instructor of History, University of
    Toronto 1953-55; and dean, Devonshire House, University of Toronto
    1955-63. He currently resides in Peterborough, Ontario, where has
    lived now for four decades
    –Seem to have some bloodlines here, BULL and RYERSON.

  6. Thomas H.B.Symons who he? says:

    Thomas Henry Bull Symons.
    Always feel babies given 2 middle names are destined for
    greatness. Including the maternal surname is invaluable for
    family historians – Your people seem to do this too.

  7. Wolseley designation HS&MBC 1963 says:

    No plaquing date here. And see no Image.
    Think it got a French language one a while back, installed beside
    the original. one, Also lists the confusing altermative references..
    - When oh when wiil London take its Plaque collection seriously
    and pull all images, in readable size, photo date given, (and sans
    comments about them) together in one simple plaque online gallery??

    Recognition
    Statute: Historic Sites and Monuments Act (R.S.C., 1985, c. H-4)
    Designation Date: 28/10/1963
    Dates: 1886 to 1888 (Construction)
    Event, Person, Organization: Garnet Wolseley, Field Marshall (Person)
    Department of Militia and Defence (Organization) Henry James (Architect)
    George F. Durand (Architect)
    Other Name(s): Wolseley Barracks -(Designation Name)
    Wolseley Barracks, A Block (Other Name)
    Wolseley Hall (Other Name)
    Wolseley Barracks, Infantry School Building (Other Name)

  8. MISS SPICER SPEAKS 1971 document says:

    WOLSELEY BARRACKS Infantry School Building. Elizabeth Street.
    Commemorative plaque unveiled Friday, June 26, 1970. Building marked as a National Historic Site. In 1885 it was decided to establish a military school at London. London’s proud military tradition dated back to 1837. It was the home of various British units until their withdrawal in the 1850′s. “During the period 1886·1888, this fine old building, first known as the Infantry School, was erected. The new school became the home for “D” Company of the Infantry School Corps and after several name changes this unit became the Royal Canadian Regiment; a name inextricably bound with the history of London. The name of the barracks was changed in 1894 to Wolseley Barracks after Field Marshall the Right Honourable Viscount Wolseley of Cairo, who led the Canadian Expeditionary Forces at Red River in 1870 ..
    In 1968 the building received its present name, that of Wolseley Hall.” Plaques were unveiled in Gloucestershire Hall, Wolseley Barracks. The inscription on the plaques (one in French and one in English) “gives the history of the barracks, which it says is typical of the military architecture of the period.”
    -30-

  9. james.reaney says:

    It is, of course, an honour to have Miss Spicer’s research & insights to inspire JBNBlog. My hope had been to determine the date in 1894, the Wolseley naming took place. No luck so far. It looks as if Gloucestershire hall may have been renamed Wolseley Hall at some point.

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