St. George's College
Part 4 of 4
Just My Views
We lost a few great Georgians this year. Some, I
didn't know at all, but others left a mark in my life, and in My View, yours
too. I will begin with The Rev. Fr. Quinlan S.J., because he is the one whom I
spent the most time with as a teenager, being within 100 yards of me, 5 days a
week, 6.5 hours per day for 6 years. He was ordained in '45, and came to Jamaica
in '49, taught at George's for 11 years, and was Headmaster for 8 years after
that, right up to 1970, as a matter of fact. He then worked at a number of other
posts on campus through to 1980.
He taught me Latin and Religion back in the early
60s, but alas, I wasn't one of his favourite students, as my schoolboy ethics
weren't what he wanted them to be. It wasn't until I became involved with the
O/Bs here in Canada back in the 80's that we became close, as I had to speak to
him on a number of occasions re a variety of school issues for the newsletter.
Many-a-time he would call me on the phone from Boston, and with that whispering
voice he seemed to have to squeeze out from deep within his body, he would say
in his make-believe Jamaican accent, "Hello up de, maun!!" He wrote me many
letters too, mostly indented with humorous little quips. He forever used an old
key-stroke typewriter that had a couple keys missing, making his letters
difficult to read at times.
At Fr. Quinlan's funeral:
L-R Clem McCalla, Fr. Larry OToole, Fr. Jim Hosie, Del Chai Onn,
Howard Shearer, Heather Vernon, Fr. Carl Clarke, Robbie Vernon
As he became frail in his latter years, his last
letter to me was on Aug. 26, 2005 and he addressed the envelope to "The Right
Hon. Neil Dalhouse, Director, School Liaison & Other Things," another funny
little quip of his. He ended many of his statements with "Don't it?" Fr. Q, or
"Quintus Uponus" as he was respectfully called by many of us, was a great
teacher, one who left his mark on all those who came under his tutelage,
especially the many whose weddings he presided over. He passed away July 10,
2008 at Weston Centre, Boston, was a fatherly figure to many of us during his
tenure at school, and will be sadly missed by many.
God bless Robbie Vernon and his dear wife
Heather, for traveling all the way down to Boston, representing us all at his
funeral. Fr. Q would have loved this one: When I got home last night, my wife
demanded that I take her someplace expensive.....so, I took her to a gas
station..... and that's how the fight started.....
Another memorable Georgian was
and like his brothers, was an athlete who excelled in track & field while at 2
North Street, especially at the 100 yard dash. Fast! That's what he was, or so
they told me. Del, as he was known to us, graduated before I dreamt of crossing
the threshold of the school, so I didn't have the privilege of seeing him in
action. But I really got to know him when he served with me on the board of
Directors of our O/B chapter here in Canada.
He was a great guy, just happy to be able to wake
up every morning and be wherever he was on any given day. He hid his Jamaican
accent under a make shift twang I have never heard anyone else use to this day.
Many a Canadian, (and sometimes Jamaicans too) had no idea where in the world he
was from, when they heard his accent. He loved life, loved to sit and
chat over a few pints with several of his favourite friends, two of whom were
Lloydie Chung and Uncle P. (Ferguson).
He loved his music, especially Jazz, and had a
fantastic collection of music of all sorts. Like many of us, he enjoyed sharing
old school-yard stories with whomever would listen. I especially loved to watch
him throw back his head and have a hearty laugh, one that would cause him to
cough and gasp for breath after a long 30 seconds of laughter. Some 5 or 6 years
ago, Del moved out to a little town called Newcastle, beyond the nuclear plant
in Oshawa, with his lovely wife Cheryl and daughters. He called it God's
country, a place where he said Torontonians would have to go to confession
before being allowed to enter.
Sadly, Del passed away this summer from a long
bout of illness. I miss him already. Don't laugh too long at this one Del - I
rear-ended a car this morning. So, there we were pulling over to the curb when
his door flew open and the other driver got out of his car, mad as hell. I
couldn't believe it.... he was a DWARF!!! He stormed over to my car, looked up
at me, fist in the air and shouted, 'I AM NOT HAPPY!!!' So, I looked down at him
and said, 'Well, then which one are you?' And that's how the fight started.....
At Mrs. Alexander's memorial
; Eva Lue, Robbie Vernon, Beverley Valentine (nee Alexander),
Mary Ann Alexander, Neil Dalhouse
Mrs. Phyllis Alexander was the school's secretary
for many years. I remember waiting on many occasions to see the Dean of
Discipline for demerits received, and was always embarrassed to answer to her as
to why I was waiting. She would then say, "Naughty Neil, Naughty!" Mrs.
Alexander was like a mother to us boys, and as a result, was never given a
nickname. She was always "Mrs. Alexander" to us, a dear lady.
Sadly, on October 18, 2008, she too passed away.
I wasn't able to go to her funeral, but did go to her memorial service. And what
other Georgian did I see there as well? Robbie Vernon. And brother, did he give
a heart wrenching speech about her after the service. It brought tears to the
eyes of many a family member. No wonder the man is a Hall of Famer. Know what
the law of Biomechanics is? The severity of the itch is inversely proportional
to the reach…...
All Jamaicans will miss Jamaica's first
Ambassador of Music, Byron Lee. What a character! What an athlete! As a
Georgian, he was feared in the boxing ring. He knocked out a great (JC old boy)
friend of mine during an inter-school boxing match back when StGC had Fr. Hannas
as trainer for the sport.
Byron was also a great footballer, and those of
his era will remember the many goals he used to score on the Manning or Old Boy
teams he played on. He also played on the National Team as well. After attending
StGC, he taught himself to play the bass, and never looked back.
Forming the Byron Lee & the Dragonaires band, he
took Jamaica's music to all corners of the world, made Ska a household word long
before the name Bob Marley was ever posted in a newspaper. A shrewd businessman,
he kept a very tight band together and commanded respect from all those he
worked with in the music business. Byron was also innovative, constantly
creating new music business ventures, creating new sounds, and acquiring gigs
all over the world.
His band backed almost every prominent vocalist
Jamaica produced, from the '50s right up to the present. As well the Dragonaires
backed other International Stars like Harry Belafonte, Chuck Berry, The
Drifters, Sam Cooke, Fats Domino and many others. He even sometimes allowed the
band I used to play in, The Virtues, to play during his band breaks while they
played at "The Glass Bucket." Amongst his other musical achievements, The Dragon
as he was known to many, received the Jamaican Order of Distinction in 1982,
which was upgraded to Commander class in 2007, and on Oct. 26, 2008 received the
order of Jamaica from Gov. General Sir Kenneth Hall. The day after, he received
the Knight of St. George Medallion from Archbishop Burke. Byron was simply an
institution that made a massive impact on the lives of many. The Law of Close
Encounters: The probability of meeting someone you know increases dramatically
when you are with someone you don't want to be seen with!! Which one of you
dares to challenge me on that one???
It was recently discovered that the O'Hare building
is now considered a safety hazard, as many parts of the ceiling and walls have
crumbled, and some pieces have fallen to the ground. The building is overrun
with termites. The entire building needs to be gutted, sprayed, sealed and
rebuilt on the inside. Carl Chang has been leading the charge to refurbish the
building completely, and has had old boy Tommy Lyew, a structural engineer,
create the plans to rebuild. This has all been done, free of charge. Carl has
been actively seeking donations towards this great project as well. For those of
you, with even $50 to spare towards restoring this historic building, please
send your cheque to the school, addressed to Principal Margaret Campbell, with a
note indicating the cheque is for the restoration of the building. Law of the
Alibi: If you tell your boss you were late for work because of a flat tire, more
than likely, the next morning you will have a flat tire.
This is the saddest MY VIEWS column I have
written to date, but it is my way of remembering some very important people,
Georgians that played an important role in my life….. I must end however, on a
positive note by congratulating Bertis Bell for taking the Manning Team to the
winner's circle after a 16 year drought. I am told the game was fantastic to
watch. Congratulations, too, to the members of the team who worked so hard to
capture the coveted Manning Cup. Good on you Lads!!! The Law of the Theatre: At
any event, the people whose seats are furthest away from the isle, usually