Thursday, December 20, 2007

Friends from the Past

Originally uploaded by drapert
Yesterday, I GOT MAIL. Real mal. The kind that gets sent through the what is now called "snail mail". The following are pictures that my friend Ray mailed me to carry on the history of bagpiping music.

This is Drum Major Duffield Vaughn. He is a Canadian resident who lives part time in the Detroit/Pontiac area. He was in the war, but heaven help me to recall which one. Was it Korea? He is a friendly face and a really nice guy with a bit of an argumentative streak when he disagreed with you.

He lead the 42nd Highlanders in their performances. Drum Major is the position that holds the staff in the front of the band, and leads the band down the street, and tells the drummers (and pipers) when to stop playing. He takes some of his queue's from the pipe major, and together they work to keep the band looking "ship-shape" as far as deportment is concerned. He also led the McLeod of Lewis "BumbleBees" Band and the Glen Erin Band of the Mid-Michigan and Lansing areas.

Ray and I played with his little group of pipers (picture following) on several occassions. Do you remember the song "Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald"? Well, the 42nd Highlanders used to play in the same church "in a musty old hall" the song talks about--called "The Mariner's Church", which is now shut down, I believe. Every year close to November 11, when the Edmund Fitzgerald went down, "The churchbells chimed and they rang 29 times for each man on the Edmund Fitzgerald." I can personally tell you that actually did happen for many years. Gordon Lightfoot, who recorded the song "Edmund Fitzgerald", actually came to Mariner's Church and performed at the 20th anniversary of the memorial. Unfortunately, I couldn't make it that year, but I hear that it went splendidly. The area's tugboat captains who still sail the channel in Detroit would also remember those lost on the Great Lakes over the previous year at the same time.

Lots of pomp. Let me tell you. The brass in one was something. But the Mariner's Church, if it's still standing, sits on a corner across from the Radisson Hotel, and if legislation to make the church a historical monument was not accomplished, it may now be a condemned building. There were many attempts to take the property away for renovations--which the mariners didn't want. The place was loaded with history, but the balcony was in disrepair and the entire place was not "up to code", but renovations would mean shutting down, and maybe losing the property due to emminent domain. I haven't been there in years, but if it was successfully labelled as a historical monument, it's fate would be sealed forever in the anals of time. I have no idea if the administration was successful. If they were, then renovations would support the repair of the balcony and make it safe for the coming generations. In fact, the next picture was taken outside the Mariner's Church--about a block from Woodward Avenue!

Originally uploaded by drapert
This fuzzy picture, and if you think it's fuzzy now, you should have seen the a picture of the 42nd Highlanders Pipe Corps. With Duffy in front, if you look to the left and behind, you'll see my friend Dorothy. She and Duffy went everywhere together, very much like Ray and I do today. Everyone expected that someday Duffy and Dorothy would marry--but I knew it would never happen. Duffy being somewhat of a packrat and keeper of the historical documents, while Dorothy was neat as a pin, everything in it's place. I really believe that living with Duffy might turn into a life with one big argument as she tried to make Duffy become the orderly person he will never be. Duff---don't take that the wrong way--I still think you're a nice fella and will love ya forever!!

To the left of Dorothy is Gerald Pierce. Anyway, the guy on the far left, he was Pipe Major for the 42nd, and he could really tell a joke. To the right of Duffy is Vern Matthews and to Vern's right is another piper that played often named Larry.

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