Plans for the Future

“I just found out that I’m getting Good Friday off tomorrow – you’d think they’d have given me more than a day’s notice,” grumbled Helen. “I didn’t say anything though and I guess I’m not doing much anyway.”
“Boy, planning ahead doesn’t seem to be a strong point of the Motor Division, but the TTC in general is thinking about the future. Look at these plans.”
Helen and Kay were browsing around the building drawings on display in the foyer on the seventh floor of Eaton’s College Street.
“The Rapid Transit Plans for Toronto” – my that does  sound grand,” Helen commented.
“I wonder if they will ever be implemented?”
“Hard to imagine subways travelling underground through the city. Here’s a photo of the Bloor Viaduct - it looks like they made provisions for tracks on the lower deck below the bridge when they built it back in 1918.”
“Well, they need to do something to improve traffic flow, the jams last winter were really something.”
Bloor Viaduct
“Look at this one Kay – they’re modelling the new Toronto subway on London’s Underground – Harry will feel right at home when he returns.”
“It all seems so fantastic.”
“Yes it does. We’d better go into the auditorium now, the Commissioner is about to speak.”

Toronto, March 29/45 excerpts
My Sweetheart Harry,
Look around – it’s me again just to tell you that I’m fine and taking care of myself almost as well as you will be able to someday darling. I’m even going to be able to sleep in tomorrow. I was informed just before I left that I would have the holiday; they could have let me know sooner but not a word did I say. What will you be doing, I wonder. Playing an Easter Parade in the morning no doubt. 
            What are you hearing these days, darling? At present there is somewhat of a news blackout on the Rhine front, which they presume means a fast-moving advance. We all hope the climax is very close, - the great news that will be!
            We saw “The Rapid Transit Plans for Toronto” last night at Eaton’s College. This will really be “The Queen City” if they ever have them in operation. They plan to have natural parks and more beauty spots. They were showing many pictures of the London subways, the interior of the cars, etc. I could see the Palladium was situated on one of the corners. Then there were shots of the traffic jams here last winter; it seems unbelievable that they could have been that bad. The subway is to extend to Eglinton with a big station there.
Proposed Eglinton station
            Kay and I went down from work, and after that, had a lunch and went to “Shea’s” to see “For Whom the Bell Tolls”. It was a good picture.
Bing Crosby sang a couple of songs from “Star Spangled Rhythm” tonight. “Black Magic” was one. You remember when we went to that? “My Dreams are Getting Better” has been No. 1 on the Hit Parade for some weeks now.
Well honey, hope you’re cheerful these days. We’ll have so much to be thankful for when we can look at each other again. When I’m sleepy you just seem to weave into my thoughts. Nite nite. Always my love.
Helen. xxxx

My Dreams are Getting Better All the Time
Writers: Curtis Mann, Vic Mizzy

Well, what do you know, he smiled at me in my dreams last night
My dreams are getting better all the time
And, what do you know, he smiled at me in a different light
My dreams are getting better all the time

To think that we were strangers a couple of nights ago
And though it's a dream, I never dreamed he'd ever say hello
Oh, maybe tonight I'll hold him tight when the moonbeams shine
My dreams are getting better all the time

To think that we were strangers a couple of nights ago
And though it's a dream, I never dreamed he'd ever say hello
Oh, maybe tonight I'll hold him tight when the moonbeams shine
My dreams are getting better all the time

Live Radio

“I’m glad you were able to come with me Helen – this is so exciting,” Elaine said as they made their way to their seats in the CBC studio on Jarvis Street. [Elaine was married to Harry’s younger brother Ross.]
“Yes, I haven’t seen them play live before – look, there’s Harry Cable, the announcer, off to the side,” Helen said. “Doesn’t Ida’s new gown look nice?”
“Yes, she bought it at Ira Berg’s.”
After a few minutes, Cable came to the microphone in the centre of the stage.
“Good evening ladies and gentlemen in our live audience as well as our listeners across the country. Welcome to Canadian Cavalcade. Our special guests tonight are the two-piano team of Claudette and Harry Culley, Toronto-born veterans of the variety stage and radio.”
Harry and Ida [stage name Claudette] Culley
He paused while the audience clapped.
“Tonight, as a special treat, we will be interviewing this noteworthy duo before they entertain us. Would you both please come over to the microphone? Harry, I understand you do all of the arrangements for your performances.”
“Yes, after the publisher sends us the music, I go through it and write out a second part.”
“How often do you and your lovely wife practise?
“Usually about two hours a day, one after the other, as we only have one piano at home.”   The audience laughed.
“Where did you find the score for your performance tonight?”
“When we were over in England before the war, we picked up a lot of music there that hadn’t been released here yet.”      
“How would you describe your genre?”
“We call it Music for Moderns – it hovers somewhere between symphonic music and the popular hit parade melodies, songs like Kitten on the Keys, Dizzy Fingers, Marigold, novelty pieces like that.”
“And Claudette – when did you start playing piano?”
“Oh, I’ve been playing by ear since I was three years old – I guess you’d say it’s in my blood.”
“I understand you both play popular hits on your other show.”
“Yes, we play songs by Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra on CFRB once a week.”
“Well, we’re certainly looking forward to your show tonight. Please welcome Claudette and Harry Culley and their first piece ‘Dizzy Fingers’ by Zez Confrey.”
Elaine and Helen sat back to enjoy the piece, but before it ended they saw a script assistant rush over to Howard Cable with a piece of paper, and as he read it, his face darkened. After the applause, he stepped back to the microphone.
“We are interrupting this program to bring you the news that Franklin Delano Roosevelt*, the 32nd president of the United States, popularly known as FDR, has died at the Little White House in Warm Springs, Georgia. 
Franklin Delano Roosevelt
We now go to our reporters at the CBS station in New York City for more details . . .”
At this announcement, the audience groaned as the live radio show ended.

*Franklin Delano Roosevelt became president in 1932 and led the U.S. into World War II in 1941 after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour.

Toronto, April 12/45excerpt
My Sweetheart Harry,
I have so many things on my lips to tell you that I have written often before, but if I could say them, they might sound different. Don’t you think they would honey? I still haven’t heard from you, and no one else seems to be receiving mail either. Eventually, something good must come of all this. I hope you are getting ours though.                  
Elaine phoned tonight and wanted me to go to see “Canadian Cavalcade” with her as your Mother and Dad were on. I felt somewhat tired, but wanted to see them, and was wishing you could have too. There was a short interview and they were asked how they practised, etc. She’ll probably tell you about it. They played a “Concerto” and it sounded fine. The news came through about President Roosevelt at 5:00 p.m. Guess you wouldn’t hear it until the morning. It seems tragic at this critical time, and in a short time he may have seen the end of it. He didn’t look well in those pictures taken at the Yalta Conference**,did he?
(l to r) Churchill, Roosevelt & Stalin at Yalta Conference

            Where did I leave off – oh, we came back to the house and after sitting awhile I felt more like lying down, so I did for a half hour in your room. I felt funny in there in the darkness when I thought of you darling. The others had gone when I got up, and we had a cup of tea. I didn’t mind coming to work then.
            Well, I hope you’re all right honey and think about me a few times. All my kisses are for you only and my love. x x x x Helen

**The Yalta Conference took place near Yalta in the Crimea from February 4 to 11, 1945 where Franklin Roosevelt U.S., Winston Churchill from Britain, and Joseph Stalin Soviet Union met to discuss how Europe would be reorganized after the war.

Toronto, April 15/45excerpt
My Darling Harry,
 Most of the scheduled programs have been cancelled the last three days. I’ve just been listening to the Trans Atlantic call; people from various parts of Great Britain were telling how the news of the President’s passing affected them; maybe you heard it. It was all very sad. Even the people in those countries felt they knew him well. One of the reasons he was great was the way he overcame his physical handicap, that in itself required courage. I heard Duke Ellington’s program last night, and he played some of his [i.e. Roosevelt’s] favourite numbers on the piano.
            Well, what do you think of things in general, darling – hopeful or otherwise? I’d like to know you so well someday that I’d always be able to read your thoughts – you might not like it though!
            I sent a parcel to you yesterday; made Georgian Date Squares along with those raisin cookies. Have you received the others yet?
            Don’t forget to vote on June 11th twice [I believe once for the MP and once for PM.] Tell me who you are voting for. I know very little about it, to tell you the truth. I hope we don’t see the Liberals get in again though. I believe my Dad is still for the C.C.F., at least he used to be.
            Kent is supposed to be the most bombed area of Britain. They haven’t had a bomb there in over three weeks, that’s good, isn’t it?
            Goodbye sweetheart, you know how I miss you and want you back. My best love, Helen.

Happy Days are Here Again by J. Yellen and M. Ager

[Campaign song of F.D. Roosevelt when he became president in 1932, during the Great Depression]

So long sad times
Go along bad times
We are rid of you at last
Howdy gay times
Cloudy gray times
You are now a thing of the past

Happy days are here again
The skies above are clear again
So let's sing a song of cheer again
Happy days are here again

All together shout it now
There's no one
Who can doubt it now
So let's tell the world about it now
Happy days are here again

Your cares and troubles are gone
There'll be no more from now on
From now on

Happy days are here again
The skies above are so clear again
So let's sing a song of cheer again
Happy times
Happy nights
Happy days
Are here again!

Heavy Costs of War

In early April, 1945, the true horrors of the Nazi regime came to light, when the Allies liberated the Ohrdruf, Buchenwald and Bergen-Belsen concentration camps as well as prisoner of war camps. The gruesome findings revealed the millions of inmates who had died or were deliberately killed and buried in mass graves. The Stalag Luft prisoner of war camps run by the German Luftwaffe held air force prisoners, many of whom were captured when their planes were shot down in enemy territory.
The war seemed to be coming to an end as the Allies overpowered the German armies near Bologna, Italy, on April 24 and when the Belorussians and Ukrainians surrounded Berlin on April 27. Still, the Germans refused to surrender.
The Welcoming Committee 

On their way back from playing concerts in Birmingham, the RCAF band was transferring trains at Waterloo Station in London, when they encountered an impromptu celebration on the main platform.
RCAF band members with instruments & baggage
There was cheering and crying as some held up “Welcome Home” signs, while others waved Union Jacks. A group of half-starved men in ragged RCAF uniforms wended their way through the crowds.
“What’s going on?” Bill asked an onlooker.
“Some POWs have just returned from Germany. Are you boys in the RCAF band?”
“Yes, we’re on our way back to Bournemouth.”
“How about getting out your instruments?”
Bill checked his watch. “Sure, we’ve got 15 minutes till our train leaves.” He beckoned to Jonesy, who was on baggage detail, to push the heavily laden wagon over. The nearby band members unpacked their instruments and launched into “God Save the King” followed by “Roll Out the Barrel”. Everyone joined in singing and hugging the returnees.
            Bill said they should get going or they would miss their train. As the band members took their seats, they realized the POWs were on the same coach.
“Where are you guys headed?” Smitty asked.
“Southampton. We’re booked to go home on the Queen Mary, leaving for Halifax tomorrow,” one of the stronger fellows said.
“That’s good – you guys deserve special treatment.”
Throughout the two hour journey, they heard tales of the horrific experiences the men endured. The lucky ones worked hard on construction projects on meagre rations such as watery soup and black bread. The ones who hadn’t survived had been shot while trying to escape, or had died of starvation. A couple had been on a forced march across Germany, before the Russians arrived, and had been rescued by the Allies.*
Upon reaching Bournemouth, Smitty and Harry walked home in silence, each pondering what they had just heard and feeling grateful for the relative safety of the work they were doing. Harry was happy to find a letter from Helen waiting for him, and settled into the wing chair by the fire to read it.

 *A Time of Heroes, by Stephen Franklin

Easter Sunday, Toronto, April 1, 1945
My Only Darling Harry,                                   
I’ve been sitting here for about five minutes just summing up the few things there are to tell you tonight. It’s funny, all day I’ve been wishing you could see me and walk down the street with me, pretending in a way. Maybe I won’t feel strange when you do. There was no letter yesterday, and I thought there would be. The holiday may have delayed the mail slightly.
            As I told you, Friday was a holiday for me, . . . so Kay [her friend from work] and I went to the hospital to see a couple of boys, and Bill Stewart from the office is also in there. He’s the one I mentioned, who was overseas for four years. He suddenly became paralyzed one night, from a heart condition and can’t even feed himself; he’ll be there indefinitely. I always feel so glad that I’m able to walk around when I leave a hospital. Kay came up with me on the Oakwood bus and we noticed that the show “Bowry to Broadway”, or some such name, was on at the Oakwood so we went in. We got a few laughs, and felt better.
[March 25, 1945] The reports of the combined offensives sound very good, then there’s always a column of warning about the enemy going full strength in some sections. They’ll hold out, but the leaders all say this is the last round.
It’s late, late again honey, always after I write you I feel I’m back with you and there’s just the two of us looking ahead, as we were meant to do.
 My best love, Helen.

Bournemouth, April 13, 1945
My own Darling Helen,                        
I have that awful empty feeling again tonight sweetheart for which you are the only remedy. Oh darling I miss you so much! It seems like a life time since I saw you last and it was for such a short time. I don’t think either of us realized what a test this would be for us that night at the station. All I remember is that I was rather dazed and that I rushed off before my feelings got the better of me. I may add that rushing off didn’t help much. Oh if I could only see you for even a minute or two, sweetheart, you’d know what your love does for me. I’ll never leave you again sweetheart honest. Seems to me all I’ve been doing is talking about “I” so it’s about time I changed the subject.
[April 25, 1945] There was a regular home-coming for some Canadian RCAF POWs at Waterloo and they got on our coach. They had just been freed a week ago and had been flown here and were all excited. Our fellows got out their cameras and took pictures of them behind a big Nazi flag. One boy had an iron cross around his neck and nearly all of them had souvenirs of some kind. Their stories tally pretty well with what is in the papers.
Was terribly sorry to hear about Bill Stewart’s condition, darling. Canada will be forever indebted to men like him. It makes me feel ashamed when I hear of cases like that really how little I am doing for the war effort – but I guess we can’t all be engaging the enemy. It’s rather hard to believe that the war is practically over after all these years and believe me the poorer people of London will certainly be relieved when it is. They’re taking down most of the wire bunks in the tube stations where old women and kids have been sleeping for years. The trouble is they’ve been terribly slow in putting up these boxes they call prefabricated houses due to the labour shortage so there’s bound to be a muddle for several months after V day.
Well, sweetheart, Smitty has just come in and we are making some sandwiches for our 12 hr. trip tomorrow to South Wales so will say good-bye for now dearest. My eternal love angel.

Roll Out the Barrel
There's a garden, what a garden,
Only happy faces bloom there,
And there's never any room there,
For a worry or a gloom there
Oh there's music and there's dancing,
And a lot of sweet romancing
When they play the polka
They all get in the swing.

Every time they hear that oom-pa-pa,
Everybody feels so tra-la-la
They want to throw their cares away,
They all go lah-de-ah-de-ay
Then they hear a rumble on the floor,
It's the big surprise they're waiting for
And all the couples form a ring,
For miles around you'll hear them sing...

Roll out the barrel,
We'll have a barrel of fun
Roll out the barrel,
We've got the blues on the run
Zing boom tararrel,
Ring out a song of good cheer
Now's the time to roll the barrel,
For the gang's all here.


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