By Bob Boulton
From my last column, ‘What Some Teachers Also Teach Us,’ there was feedback about Mr. Norfolk’s ‘borrowing’ of a melody for the school song Sing We of Central, The Garnet, The Grey and The Gold. Comments ranged from, “I wonder how many remember there actually was a song,” to “I knew it was the tune of some well-known piece of music, but I have forgotten which one,” to “I Googled and Googled but couldn’t locate it.”
I decided to investigate.
Along my way, the 1957 Centorama yearbook revealed a name I couldn’t recall last time. She was honoured there for 30 years’ service. My Grade 11 Geometry teacher, the one who blessed me with a ‘C’. Miss LaPiere. Remembered.
I also discovered that the pencil drawing accompanying the column was by Jim Hutchings – a well-known Sarnia artist. Some people have retained copies of his other drawings – for instance a card he did for Canatara Park’s Children’s Farm. And at least two drawings are featured in the library collection at the Lawrence House Centre for the Arts. The name of this quiet artist is mentioned admiringly by many.
And, I found Mr. Norfolk’s first name. As far as his school song’s melody is concerned, the most prevalent and engaging belief was that Bill (as I now fondly think of him) used an early version of an NHL hockey broadcast theme. An attractive legend but, alas, unlikely.
After extensive research, I can attest it was not the tune from the original 1933 General Motors Hockey Broadcast on Canadian National Railway Radio; nor “Happy Motoring” from the 1934 Esso Hockey Broadcast on early versions of the CBC; nor even since Mr. Norfolk wrote the songabout 1956, the 1952-1968 ‘Saturday’s Game’ theme which preceded the Hockey Night in Canada theme many of us are now familiar with. The mystery remains.
The comments I received further prompted me to reflect more broadly on what a creative area Sarnia is for all the arts – painting, filmmaking, performing, and writing. I am also reminded of the difference between artistic achievement and commercial success. For some of our Sarnia folks, achievement and success go hand in hand. But who knows, we may well have other Emily Dickensons hiding their creative accomplishments in desk drawers until someone else uncovers them.
I know it is natural for each of us to create fables to fill in the spaces between and around the facts we actually do know. I would have liked to replace the legendary source of Central’s melody by my making some brilliant astute discovery of the truth.
Then I think, ‘Relax.’ To quote a famous line from Who Shot Liberty Valence — “When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.
Bob contributes regularly to our opinion column. His verse, short stories, and articles have been published in a variety of small magazines. His blog, Bob’s Write from the Start, is aimed at others who are also renewing writers