I had a nice chat with a reader last week who gently chided me because the Daily Herald didn’t mark the 69th anniversary of V-E Day, which was the official end to the Second War in Europe.
That date, of course, is May 9. It seems almost impossible that it will be 70 years next spring.
The reader said she pretty much danced through her shoes with the announcement that the war had ended. Her husband had fought in the war and would come back to her intact.
Naturally, thoughts of the celebration back in 1945 led me to our archives, a place where time magically disappears as you flip through history.
Prince Albert held a massive parade and service followed by a dance.
Here’s part of that Daily Herald report on May 9, 1945.
“The city turned out virtually in a body to witness yesterday afternoon’s parade and to participate in the city hall square ceremony which had its theme remembrance to those who gave their lives for a victory and thankfulness that a new peace has dawned on Europe.”
The event began in the afternoon as school children, veterans and other citizens jammed the square. Thousands of flags were held aloft during the singing of O Canada.
Mayor G.E. Brock made special mention of those who made the victory possible with the sacrifice of their lives. At the same time, the war with Japan remained.
Later a bugler played the Last Post, and after two minutes of silence were observed, the crowd sang God Save The King.
The initial ceremony was over at 4 p.m.
Pictures taken that day show a group of teenagers from the Collegiate, a massive crowd at the city hall square and a group of youngsters from Connaught School
Despite cool temperatures, the dance began around 9 p.m. A crowd estimated at 3,000 was inside the roped-off area, dancing to the “peppy music” of Jerry Nicholson and his orchestra.
The report went on to say that after the event ended at midnight, cars and trucks jammed with people drove up and down Central Avenue with their horns going full blast.
In more innocent times, police reported no arrests, although they did mention looking the other way as one drunken reveller weaved his way home.
Other stories on the page noted the capture of Herman Goering and Albert Kesselring, two of the top-ranking Nazi officials.
Russia entered Prague, an area where the Germans hadn’t yet surrendered.
The peace treaty was signed in Berlin.
Canadian Prime Minister MacKenzie King was planning a trip to Prince Albert to visit his constituency.
A riot in Halifax led to part of the city’s business section burning.
Birch Hills, Domremy and Leask led the way in buying war bonds.
Other briefs noted progress against the Japanese and a pair of suicides by top Nazi officials in Oslo.
Much of the rest of the paper carried reports from around the globe on their reaction to the end of the war.
I can look out my second storey window at the Daily Herald and see where the celebrations took place 69 years ago. And I can hold in my hand the newspaper that told those stories that would otherwise be lost to history.
• • •
Last week I was sad to learn of the death of a Canadian musician who was virtually unknown to most people in the country.
Even I had no clue what he looked like.
Nash The Slash was the stage name for a gentleman named Jeff Plewman. You may have a vague recollection of the man if I tell you that his stage gimmick was playing with bandages wrapped around his face.
He played in the 1970s and ’80s with a band called FM, scoring Cancon hits with songs like Just Like You, Dream Girl and Magic (In Your Eyes). He also had a long solo career in which he pushed the envelope in different genres.
He was a masterful magician with the added ability of being a terrific showman. His musical output spanned punk, new age and the synth-heavy pop that was all the rage in the 1980s.
If you ever saw him play his electric violin in concert, you didn’t soon forget it. I was fortunate to see him twice in 1986-87.
It was hard to take your eyes off him as FM performed their hits and covers like Eleanor Rugby by the Beatles and We’re An American Band by Grand Funk Railroad.
He put out a statement on his website a couple of years ago to say that he had retired from the music industry.
This is my favourite part of what he wrote.
“Creativity in all its facets should be inspirational, and as such should be absorbed, its subtleties appreciated, understood and then woven into the fabric of some other person’s creative vision. I’m very pleased to have shared my creative endeavors with so many people around the world. I hope I’ve left a few breadcrumbs in the forest, to inspire others to find their own path.”
Mission accomplished. Rest in peace Nash/Jeff.
• • •
As a final note, I’ve shared before in this space about how hard it was to leave some of the people I’m closest to in Brandon and Winnipeg. While you always hope that distance won’t put space in the friendships -- and in most cases it hasn’t -- I’m sometimes a little behind in the news.
Last week it was a few days before I learned that a very close friend had lost someone he treasured; it was crushing to me that I couldn’t be there in his time of need.
I was able to make it down to Moosomin for the funeral on Saturday but it wasn’t nearly enough.
There’s very little in this life that’s harder to accept than our inability to help the people we love when they are grieving.
All I can do is hope that better times lie nearer in his future than he thinks.
Perry Bergson is the Daily Herald’s managing editor. You can reach him at 765-1302 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org