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OPINION: An unruly crew of characters trip down my memory lane

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Bob Boulton

Memory is a tricky thing.

Recently, for example, I re-remembered a guy from high school named D.K.

D.K. had a distinctive way of holding his cornet, his left elbow popped out at a right angle. I see him still, standing in front of his combo, blowing lead on his own arrangement of the Ella Fitzgerald-Count Basie version of the old jazz standard, Honey, ‘Deed I Do.

Even then, the guy was good.

I played trumpet beside him in high school. He was lead horn in The Sertoma Boys Band. Me, they hid in the back row of the Sarnia Citizens Band.

We’re right there together in the records of the Lambton County Music Festival. He was usually number one. I never was.

This unexpected vision of D.K. doesn’t mean my memory is good. If “great” is a 10 and “average” a 5, mine is about a 3.

I need reminding of the name of that movie we saw the other day, you know the one with that actor who was in that other movie we wanted to see. Ask me whether I locked the back door this morning. And help me find where I parked the car in the grocery store lot half an hour ago.

Some of the memories I do retain are next door to useless. For instance, I can recall the chemical symbol for sulphuric acid is H2S04, and the intersection of Richmond Street and Fanshawe Park Road near London is called Calamity Corners. George Kell, my father’s favourite on the hot corner, batted .343 in 1950.

On the other hand, more than a few of my useful recollections have begun to hide. Some friends, even my BFF’s, if that expression had existed back then, are fading. Their faces are blurry; they wave at me from the back row.

Yet other people pop up unexpected, vivid and smiling, unlooked-for but welcome. People such as D.K.

D.K.’s father, a prominent citizen of Sarnia with a house right smack on the lake, thought his son’s music was a noisy waste of time. D.K. told me once his father made him practice on the beach, even in winter.

With grit on top of talent, D.K. persevered. His later adult life revolved around music as an accomplished jazz musician, arranger, composer and teacher. He owned a music store not so far from Calamity Corners.

I wish I’d had a chance to say goodbye to him and tell him – likely to our mutual astonishment – that he ended up playing cornet, sharp and clear, in the front row of my unruly crowd of memories.

I do remember you D.K., ‘deed I do.

Bob Boulton is a Sarnia writer and the creator of a blog for new and renewing writers,

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