Various Veins

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Halloween 2013 is history. Christmas music will be flooding the town soon, if it hasn't already begun. The Tillsonburg Senior Centre Singers are practicing for the annual Christmas Concert at the Lion's Auditorium. The show is set well ahead of the rush, November 15. Mark your calendar and get your tickets early.

Before we know it New Year's Eve will give party animals a chance to show off new clothes and to dance and maybe quaff a few for auld lang syne.

For us oldsters, New Year's Eve brings nostalgic memories of Guy Lombardo and his Royal Canadians filling the universe with liquid music. The sons of London, Ont. were known across the world. Martha and I once danced to their music in the Stork Club in Port Stanley.

The Lombardo family has faded from memory, the Stork Club went up in a blaze years ago. There was a Lombardo Museum in London which fell into neglect and was closed. I could never understand why, in a nation that depends heavily on tourism, Londoners didn't advertise their heritage treasures to the world.

Lombardo had a second interest that made him world famous. He loved courting death attempting to set the speed record for water craft in a series of hydroplanes. For some time Tempo VII was on display outdoors, risking the fate of another famous watercraft designed by Alexander Graham Bell and his company of young inventors at Baddeck, Nova Scotia.

Bell is known as the inventor of the telephone, but he was interested in many adventures, including flying machines and a boat that flew on the water. His hydrofoil was built of rough lumber and fence rails, but powered by an aircraft engine with a propeller on a frame above the water it made such speeds Bell wouldn't risk riding in it. He watched from a seat on a tower as it roared across Bras d'Or Lake. His wife was more courageous. She rode in it.

The odd craft was left to decay on the shore until someone had the sense to bring it into the Bell Museum.

Londoners stowed Tempo VII in a depot surrounded by blue boxes. At least, although it produced no income from tourists, it didn't decay.

It was great to read a letter to the editor of The London Free Press from Barry A. Wells that announces city council recognized the value of the boat three years ago and since spring it has been on display at the Jet Aircraft Museum near the London airport. Wells is chairperson of Tempo VII hydroplane sub-committee. Another of Lombardo's boats, Miss Supertest III is also on display.

Londoners are debating the pros and cons of a new arts centre. Someone commented that no such centre has ever made a profit. That remark took me back to a party in a house near Delmer when the same discussion dealt with the value of a sports complex in Tillsonburg. Irv Horton, host of the party and my principal at Maple Lane Sr. Public School, explained that such an amenity should not be expected to pay for itself in hard cash. The quality of life it would provide for the community can't be measured in dollars and cents.

Horton's point has been vindicated many times over in the intervening years. Visit the Sports Wall of Fame in the Tillsonburg Community Centre to get a sense of effect the complex has had on some outstanding people. There's a host of others who haven't got their picture on the wall, but their lives have been equally enriched.

The complex is critical to the keeping of people of all ages in good health, physically and mentally. The statisticians can't measure that, either.

Don't forget to get your tickets for the Nov. 15 Christmas Concert. It's only days away.



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