Here it is...
In 1982, I was a third-year nursing student, a Nurse Intern as we were called then. In my class was a great friend of mine, Dianne Walsh, as she was then, before she married David Brown.
|Dianne (r) and me at our 25th Anniversary, Class of '82.|
In 1st and 2nd year, Dianne would invite me to visit her hometown of Gander, to meet her family and friends, who soon became my friends. By my Intern year, I was routinely going back and forth to Gander on my own, while Dianne and David were 'courting' in St. John's.
Dianne's sister, Mary, was still in high school at the time. One day, while waiting for a friend to get off work, I picked up Mary from school. We went to the "Goose", an Irving gas station and restaurant just west of Gander out on the highway, for coffee and a chat.
When we pulled into the parking area, we both spotted a van gassing up at the pumps. The thing that made this van so attention-getting was that it was covered from bumper to bumper in Wonderful Grand Band logos and artwork. They had played a show in Gander the night before and were, presumably, heading to Grand Falls for their next gig.
ANYONE who knows Mary knows that back in the day, she was IN LOVE with Jamie Snider of WGB. I mean, "run-away-from-home-and-have-fiddling-babies" in love. I suspect she still is!
|The object of Mary's affection!|
We walked into the Goose, and it dawned on me that, gee, wouldn't it be fun to follow them to Grand Falls, and see where they go?!?! Mary was high school age, and I was only 21... as much up for an adventure then as I am now!
Needless to say, Mary was up for it too, so we dove back into my car and spun out onto the highway, heading west! They were already well ahead of us, so I had some catching up to do.
This was before "stalking" actually had a name!
|Mary and me, 1996. The photo has been cropped to protect the innocent!|
We eventually got the van in sight, and continued to follow them for the hour it takes to get to Grand Falls.
We had no idea about a lot of things - firstly, if it was actually THEM in the van, and secondly, where they were going. They could have been going to a restaurant, or someone's home... We didn't know and we didn't care. We were both just along for the ride!
Once they arrived in Grand Falls, we were THRILLED to discover that the van was going straight to the Arts & Culture Center. This just might work!
The van had gone around to an entrance in the back. I parked the car, and as we were getting out, we realized we had nothing with us to use to get autographs - no pen, no paper. For someone just having gotten out of class, Mary was very poorly equipped!
We went somewhere, a drugstore I think, to buy a notebook and pens, and hurried back to the Arts & Culture Center. We went in the main entrance. The place was deserted, except for a lone security guard, and the sound of music coming from the auditorium. Were we really going to have to tackle a security guard in our quest?!?! Not what we wanted, but girls gotta do what girls gotta do!
We tackled him with our charm, begging to be allowed to go in to listen to them practice, just for a minute! He was equally charming, and let us in without a moment's hesitation. It WAS 1982, after all. Chances were good that we had come in peace.
We walked in, and proceeded down the aisle on the left side of the theater. They were onstage, all casual, playing random bits of songs, tuning up.
We got to the bottom of the steps leading to the stage, when they noticed us. They stopped playing, and we started babbling!
"We just followed you here from Gander because we saw you at the Goose and we're huge fans and saw your Gander show and we really just want autographs and we'll leave, we promise!!" Very smooth. HA!
They told us to "come on up", and lo and behold, Margaret Harris and Mary Walsh (no relation) were sharing a stage with...
Kevin MacNeil (photo not available)
...and... of course...
Ron Hynes. The Man of a Thousand Songs. Buried yesterday at 64 years of age.
It was a total thrill then, and for the past 33 years it's been a thrill to remember. We stayed about 10 minutes, chatting, making sure they knew that they were adored!! They were all so gracious and kind, and not at all annoyed for being interrupted.
The conversations I'd have NOW would be so much different than the infatuated silliness we felt then, but it was honest, and our admiration and appreciation for the Wonderful Grand Band hasn't ebbed, even after all these years.
I'm so glad I got to see them again six years ago, especially now, when such a reunion won't happen again.
Rest in peace Ron Hynes. You will be remembered for the small moments, too.