Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Remembering Lorne 2 – The Lost Years

Lorne went to Tech and took plumbing, following in his father’s and brother’s footsteps but didn’t stay long in the family business, instead drifting from town to town and job to job. He worked at motorcycle repair in Saskatoon and also as a hotel maintenance person in Saskatoon and Edmonton. He worked in Vancouver doing plumbing, Westburne in Calgary and was in Red Deer, doing wood working when he lost his finger in a power saw.

Lorne never missed a beat with that lost finger. Besides using it to frighten small children with the perils of searching for errant boogers, he relearned piano, trumpet and 12-string guitar and then used the gap in his hand to hold the steel and taught himself to play Dobro guitar.

Lorne could do anything but hold a job. Epilepsy and alcohol took their toll. Lorne drank to escape the demons of the Grand Mal. Nights were the worst. Lorne hated to go to bed because he knew what would be waiting for him. I remember one night in our early 20’s we shared a bed somewhere for some reason and I lost count of the seizures he had. The lifestyle was killing him and for a time I don’t think he cared. But the prayers of a faithful few, in particular his Mother and his Grandmother, kept him going. He joined AA in 1979 and started trying to turn his life around.

Rumour has it that his middle name “Beverly” was hung on him at the suggestion of his brother, after George Beverley Shea, the great gospel singer who for many decades sang with Billy Graham Crusades. If true, Lorne was well named, as music, in particular Gospel Music, filled his life, pretty much from first to last breath. He loved Gaithers and Slaughters and Cathedrals and many more groups I never heard of or can’t remember.

Where ever there was Lorne, there was music. He jammed with everyone. In Saskatoon he jammed with Saskatchewan jazz greats, Gordie Brandt and Barney Kutz. All over the country, in night clubs or concerts, after performances he would wrangle an invitation backstage and end up at a party somewhere jamming with names we’d all know. Sylvia Tyson and Tommy Banks being two; the others I can’t recall and will leave for his biographer to dig up.

But mostly he sang and played with Christian people playing Christian music. At church camp his trumpet was out at every service. Nothing pleased him more than when Doug from Nebraska brought his trumpet. They didn’t need to communicate; there was that natural flow between them that rare musicians have. They would cut lose with When the Saints Go Marching In and you waited for the walls of Jericho to fall. Then one day, his nephew joined him on trumpet and Uncle Lorne was so proud he could burst.

Lorne never met a person he didn’t like, to quote Will Rogers. Or who didn’t like him. He visited with everyone and would think nothing of driving three or four hours to visit with someone in hospital who needed some company. Sometimes visiting got in the way of gainful employment. It wasn’t that Lorne didn’t like work per se, what he didn’t like was anything that started at 8:00, finished at 5:00, had to be done every day and for which you got paid. But if someone needed something done, Lorne would work day and night to do it for them.

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