August 30, 2013

Sepia Saturday #192: The Music Man: Wild Bill Davison



This is a picture of my father, taken in Toronto in the mid 1970s,  in front of Daniel's lounge on Richmond St. West.  It would have been taken on a day when he was working just the other side of Yonge Street at the Revenue Canada building on Adelaide St.

This photo was always a source of merriment for my father because his name was also "Bill Davison", and to happen upon a billboard with not only his name, but the correct spelling of it, would have been a monumental event in his life.  He was forever correcting people about that spelling - both on the phone and in letters.  He was very proud that there was no "d" in the middle of his last name, and would be rather dismayed to learn that back home in the old country, there really isn't much concern about whether or not you get that detail correct. Davisons are pretty much interchangeable with DaviDsons!

The subject of this lettered sign was not known to my father prior to coming upon this board, but after doing some research, I have learned that the two were virtually poles apart in manner and ability.

My father was a nice family man - devoted to his wife and children. He was a social drinker, who loved a good party with his Catholic friends.  He couldn't read or play a note of music, though he had a strong, melodious tenor voice. The only time he could be described as "Wild Bill" was if he lost his Irish temper and raised that voice in anger.

Wild Bill Davison, the musician, was a talented cornet player who played with many of the famous jazz musicians of his time.  He was born in 1906, and died in 1989, leaving a trail of four wives, and a legendary reputation for womanizing and drinking.

He would have been 11 years my dad's senior, so I'm guessing at the time of this photo, he was about 68 years old, and still playing hard.  My father was just a few years older than I am now.



Only once can I recall my father making an attempt at playing a musical instrument.  In the late 1960s, "Santa" brought him a guitar which he strummed on haphazardly for about a day.  Ever after, it hung on the paneled wall of our family room as a grim reminder of his failure to master it.  It should be no surprise to you to learn that I have a ukulele that I bought last Christmas, tucked away in a corner in MY family room, out of sight.

On the other hand, my mother's side is very musical, and I did take piano lessons for years as a kid.  I still tinkle the ivories once in a while.  My father, never got beyond some playing-by-ear on our piano, but he did enjoy a good round of "Chopsticks" or "Heart and Soul". Oh there was also the harmonica ...

Regardless of his lack of talent on the instrument front, I know which "Wild Bill" I would rather have had for a father.

As for the Sepia Saturday image, there were always newspapers in our house.  My father could always be found behind one, whether it was reading something with which he took issue, or just working away at his (and my) favourite pastime, the cryptic crossword puzzle.  When I saw the photo for this week, I immediately remembered THIS picture - another of my father's little jokes.



For more fun and illuminating Sepia Saturday posts, please click this image below. Why not join us?

26 comments:

  1. That's a wild tie your father has on, standing in front of the sign. In the 70's I bought my husband a light purple (not to be confused with lavender) shirt with a wild purple tie to go with. They both hung in the back of the closet for a long time until he began playing drums in a combo & the other members told him he needed to jazz up his image so out came the purple shirt & tie & then I wasn't so sure I should have bought them for him because he said the gals really went for all that wild purple. Dang!

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    1. I don't think my dad ever had a purple tie, but I do remember him having a pink sport jacket! Those were the days, huh?
      Thanks for your visit!

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  2. How nice to have another piano player who now has a uke! I'm loving this ukulele business; the hardest part was transferring what I saw -- I kept forming piano chords on the uke -- it doesn't work! I love your father's pumpkinhead...

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    1. Ha! Did I say I play it? No, it's hidden away for a reason.

      Thanks, Deb.

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  3. I love the photo with the pumpkin head.... Funny
    Jackie
    Scrapbangwallop

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  4. Your Dad looks so very chuffed in that first photo Kat. I remember my father getting a guitar for his Christmas or birthday once too. That guitar wasn't played either and we ended up giving it away.

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    1. "Chuffed" is the word, Alex. He was also puffed up about it for some time. At least yours gave it away for someone else to use. My dad's just hung on the wall in mockery. Ha!

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  5. Great post. So our connections.. I live in Toronto I know exactly what building your dad worked in.
    We just returned (today) from our first driving trip around Cape Breton.
    I was born in Ireland.

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    1. Very nice to meet you, Jackie!

      I noticed the Toronto reference last week, Jackie. I was born in Toronto and raised in the suburbs. I graduated from U. of T. (Erindale Campus), but spent my last two years on the downtown campus, and lived there from 1994-96.

      Did you enjoy Cape Breton? My family have homes on both sides of the Bras'd'Or lake at East Bay and Ben Eoin on the Cabot Trail.

      It's a gorgeous place, isn't it?

      I have a very strong connection to Ireland, and have been there a few times as well. We were in Belfast and Dublin on our honeymoon in 1994.

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  6. It's not just musical instruments which get bought and remain unused or only used once. Bought with the best of intentions, in my case usually an impulse buy.

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    1. I'm curious boundforoz: what DID get bought with the best of intentions? You never said.

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  7. Wild Bill Davison has long been one of my favourites and he appears time and time again on my Spotify playlists. And now I will never be able to listen to him without thinking of you Kat.

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    1. Ah, well then my plan worked, Alan. I would never want you to forget me!

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  8. I love the picture of your father with the sign. It would be a good picture even without his name.

    I bought a ukelele once, but I was too unmusical to learn how to play it.

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  9. A fun post Kat, perfectly on theme :)

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  10. It is great when posts bring back memories; My father reading the paper every week day morning while waiting for his breakfast to be served!

    Kat, I love your header photo and the progression from black & white to color.

    Sharon

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  11. I can sympathise with your Dad at failing to master the guitar. I had a similar experience with piano/keyboard. I like that he at least politely strummed away for as much as a day!

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  12. A splendid post that found another angle to view the theme. I've spent a lifetime correcting people who hear my name and then mis-remember the name of the jazz pianist, Dave Brubeck, and ask if I am a relation! And for some odd reason, maybe associated with his first name, people frequently call me Dave when they can't recall my real name. Not Steve or Bill but Dave - ever time.

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  13. What a great photo of your dad, in a flashy tie, completely the Jazz theme as well. Great family photos, of happy times, and how cool to add Mr. Pumpkinhead too!

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  14. Apologies for not responding to all of your comments. Of course, it is the long weekend, and my husband also has the week off, so it's difficult to be on the computer. Will catch up with you all later! Kat

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  15. Indeed, I believe you got yourself the "better" Bill!!!
    Does seem to have a good sense of humor.
    Love that last one...
    :D~
    HUGZ

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  16. What a nice tribute to your father, Kat. No matter that he couldn't play an instrument: he could sing anywhere.

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  17. That last photo is very funny indeed. Great memory!

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  18. My dad had a tie in a very similar colour and shape - similar age too I think.
    My maiden name is Grenfell - frequently misspelt - I can remember visiting the town in NSW and us all having to have photos taken in front of signs. My brother has just taken his kids there - same thing!

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  19. I don't know -- your dad had a little bit of "wild Bill" in him to create that pumpkin daddy.

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