Wednesday, March 18, 2015

letter from a tour

H. Westbrook and His Orchestra
The letter is written in pencil on very aged yellowed paper.  I am straining to read it as I transpose it to this post. For those of you just dropping by, H.Westbrook Finlayson had polio as a child and remained on crutches for the rest of his life.  In his early days, he started up an orchestra to help pay for college which led to some success.  Being on crutches had it's limitations, but the fellow that later became our Dad rarely allowed life's inconveniences to hold him back.

Monday Evening

Dearest Mother-
I got your letter today written last Friday.  It sure was welcome.  Pat wrote too. - As I had written Evelyn the details etc. and told her to pass the letter around.  I guess Pat will get all the news from her.  However, I'll include a few notes in here for him.

I'm out of ink so you'll have to excuse this pencil.  You'll also find you $5.99 here - and Thanks!  By the way, Wofford was to have given I.S. Funderhurke the money for that tire.  Did he?
Mother, the hotel here is nice.  A big resort hotel with all conveniences - and my room is right among those of the heads of the various departments.  I'm perfectly safe here.  The night watchman (a swell old fellow) looks after me every night, fixes my windows, opens my doors and everything.  You can rest assured nothing could happen to me.

Bill Cantry has only played with me a couple of days.  He's been in bed every day for the past four days with a strep throat. I'm going to send him home when he gets able to travel.  He's better now but for awhile he was pretty bad off.  We have a Boston C(?)ns man playing piano for us now and he's only 18 and jives. Tell Pat I've added two very fine men to the band.  One trumpet man and a bass.  Tell him we're playing a Hal Kemp style with tenor playing under staccato, cup-muted trumpet.  It sounds swell and the crowds have increased tremendously over the other bands.

Have I been writing you enough?  I've been awfully busy but I've tried to keep you informed.  We went to Canada again last night.  It was fun but I believe that will be our last trip.

Our southern drawl is going over pretty big!  I play all the tunes that they request and that makes them like us.  I tell them that will get their request if we haven't got it and they are flattered into coming back.  The old people are the ones that are more on our side and will fill up the table with people from 40 to 75.  Three old people (one old man and two old women) never miss a night and they rave about my band and voice every time.  I talk to them.  It embarrasses me. - I met a very nice couple from Maryland, their mother and father, their daughter, son and son in-law.  He came up in a 16 cylinder Cadillac- and they were real nice to me.  He invited me to call on him when we drive through Baltimore - and to dinner.  He asked me to come to the races there, too.  It seems he owns a race track. Gosh!

One lady and gent tipped me $15.00 for playing the "Beer Barrel Polka".  (Don't tell the fellows, however, 'cause I use that money to run the band on.  They might think differently.)

There is so much to tell that I'll save some of it till we can talk it over.

Tell Evelyn when you write that I saw Ora Sherrill Poulnot in Charleston and I mean to tell her but I forgot.  She asked me to dinner, too.  That was while we were in Folly.

Thanks for telling Elizabeth Stricklyn about it all.  Let me know what she wrote.  And tell Pat to keep me posted on the baseball.  I never see a paper.  Tell Evelyn to mail me a State sometime if she has the money.

I shan't go in boats.  I did, however go to Burlington, Vt on the "Streamline Ferry". to see Ing's sister but that's perfectly safe.  Lake Champlain is beautiful.  It freezes over in the winter and is it big!  It gets 35 degrees below up here, they say.  I can understand that.  It's cold here now.  We ay catch some of the real cold before we leave.  - cause we'll get away about Sept. 3 or 4th and we sure are North!

Be sure and let me hear from Rutha.  Florence nor J.L. have written.  Did Wofford and Edith move?  What are British sailors doing out at the Lake?  That "chicken egg" business sounds like Canada.

I used my French - and believe it or not - I read the entire front page of a Canadian friend's newspaper last night and ordered my  food in French.  One English-French waitress said I did real well at French.  How 'bout that?  Wouldn't Mme Sweeney be proud of me?  Oui?

Mother, the work here isn't easy and I have to stay in a hurry - but enjoy it all and I'm managing real well.  Laundry is high and I could certainly use someone to keep my clothes hung up and straight - but otherwise everything is swell.  The food is fine, I have a nice room and all the people here are wonderful.  My chief and only worry at this writing is for Bill Cantry.  I'll be glad when he can start home where he can be cared for properly.

Guess that's all the news so tell Pop and the rest "hello".

-Love Westbrook

P.S. Maybe you'd better send my mail to Henry Westbrook.  I don't want to take the chance of missing any of it.
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