27 March 2008

My Dad born 95 years ago today

My Dad, John, who died in 1987, was born on Easter Thursday the last time Easter fell on 23 March - 1913. (Or it might have been Easter Wednesday. He was never quite sure if it was the 26th or 27th but we settled for the latter). So he would have been 95 today had he lived.

Here's a photo I took of my parents, John and Mary, in the summer of 1968. Mam died less than two years later. At the time of the photo Dad was 55 and Mam 53.

I inherited my Dad's taste in popular music. He liked a good tune, particularly when played on the piano. His favourite pianist was Charlie Kunz, an American who made his home in England and who died on 16 March 1958. I found this video of Charlie playing one of his medleys in 1934. Note how immaculately dressed he is.

One of the most popular singers in Britain in the 1930s, when Dad was a young man, was Al Bowlly, born of Greek and Lebanese parents in Mozambique. One of the bands he sang with in London in the late 1920s was that of Fred Elizalde from Manila, a member of a wealthy Spanish-Filipino family. When I came to the Philippines in 1971 Fred had a regular programme on TV.

Here's Al Bowlly singing a Ray Noble song that has been recorded by many singers, 'The Very Thought of You'.

Al Bowlly recorded another Ray Noble song with Ray's orchestra in 1931, 'Goodnight Sweetheart'. Someone put footage of a Charlie Chaplin movie to it with amusing results. Sadly, Al was killed during the Blitz in London in 1941, aged only 39.

We lived about 20 minutes walk from Dalymount Park, the main soccer stadium in Dublin, and Dad often brought me there. On big occasions the St James's Brass and Reed Band would be there and one of their standbies was 'Old Comrades', 'Alte Kameraden'. Their figure-marching wasn't quite as good as this:

The sporting highlight of Dad's life was the 1948 FA Cup Final in Wembley Stadium when Manchester Untied beat Blackpool 4-2 in what was said to be the greatest final ever until then. It's a tradition to sing 'Abide With Me' before the FA Cup Final and also before the Rugby League Cup Final in Wembley. We sang it at the end of Dad's funeral Mass.

Dad went to Mass every day of his life right until the day of his sudden death. He had a heart attack while watching cricket on TV. I wonder if he was the first to have had that experience! Someone said that when the English stopped believing in eternity they invented cricket. In Dad's case I truly believe that that final cricket match was but the prelude to eternal life.

Thank you, Dad!


Anonymous said...

Great post Fr...keep them coming!

Convenor said...

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God bless you!

Unknown said...

Hi Father Sean! I enjoyed reading your article on your Dad. You look like him! I also loved watching the video clips. Congratulations on the layout! Well done. The picture of your Mom and Dad and the video clips made the article more interesting to read. I think you have a knack for layout! =)