My father was John Daniel Bond.

He was an electronics technician by trade but was a musician at heart and played any instrument that he could get his hands on. His favourite thing to play was the trumpet.

When he began high school, his mother, thinking little of his music aspirations, determined that he would work in an office and enrolled him into a business course. He learned (very reluctantly) Pittman shorthand and touch typing but escaped to jam with his band mates when he could. He struggled his way through his business course. “I could draw a picture of a horse faster than I could remember the shorthand symbol for it,” he told me once. “The poor girl behind me had to transcribe my shorthand notes and there were more sketches than squiggles. I guess she was pretty happy when the year ended and she could escape my dictation notes.”

About a year before his death, at the age of 79, my father suffered a heart attack and a series of strokes. After he returned home from the hospital, he was very frail and had a lot of problems with his memory. Things that had been simple and straightforward before his last illness became increasing difficult and I visited most weekends to help my mother care for him.

One Friday night, I arrived after a three-hour drive up from the city and found him in excellent spirits and brighter than he had been in a while. My mom fixed me a quick meal and my father offered me an after-dinner beverage and we all sat in the living room together. We began to chat and somehow, the conversation turned to my father’s first job and he began to reminisce. I, of course, reached for a pen and paper and began to write.

In 1936, when he was only 16, my father got a part-time job as a car Jockey for Ontario Automobile. It wasn’t a paid job, but he often got tips for moving the cars. When he was 18, he got his first paying job and worked as a tester for Mohawk radio for 25 cents an hour. He enjoyed the work and learned to love electronics and within a year, he was promoted to the repair department and his wages increased to 42 cents an hour. By 1940, he had really become passionate about electronics and he managed to land his first full-time job as a radar technician for Research Enterprises in Toronto, with a wage of 50 cents an hour. He left briefly to work for Toronto Ship Building Company as an inspector for 75 cents an hour but by 1942, he was coaxed back to Research Enterprises with the offer of $1 an hour.

While working at Research Enterprises, he met my mother, and on 30 April 1943, they married. As WW2 ended and the demand for radar equipment fell, Research Enterprises began laying off their employees and, finding himself unemployed, my father decided to start his own company. He called it Sound Appliance Co. Ltd. and after struggling for a few years when his company did not prosper, he eventually joined the ranks of the unemployed and collected unemployment insurance while he looked for a new full-time job.

During all this time, he and his band mates traveled throughout Ontario every weekend and some weeknight evenings, playing the big band music that was so popular at the time. “Come and dance to the music of Jack Bond and his Golden Trumpet” the signs would say, and the people came. Although he managed, one way or the other, to keep food on the table for the family, he was relieved when he landed a job with Canadian Arsenals at $1.50 an hour. By 1948, he was promoted to supervisor and worked on salary for $7000 a year. He worked there until the plant closed in 1963.

Unemployed again, he finally began to devote himself full-time to his music. He played every weekend with his band at the Avenue Road Club in the Yorkville district of Toronto and by day he taught music lessons in a studio. He sold organs at the Lowery Organ studio. He made several record albums and then got involved in the Pig and Whistle and the Calling All Britons television shows. He became the business manager of the Avenue Road Club. He played trumpet in telethons, demonstrated organs at the Canadian National Exhibition and wherever he could find a gig. He taught private organ lessons and wrote his own music course books and continued to hustle his music until he retired.

All of this came pouring out as I struggled to write it all down. There were no doubts at all in his mind when he told me the years he worked at each job and exactly how much he made. He went on to list every car he had ever owned by make, model, colour and year and told me how much he paid for each one. He then recited every address that he had ever lived at and how long he had lived there.

I only wish that it had not gotten so late that we had to finish up our conversation and go to bed that night. I’m not totally certain that my father’s job history is correct, but I was able to verify most of the address information that he gave me using the city directories and the family photo album confirmed the cars he owned, so I’m pretty confident that his work history was spot on too.

So when you get a chance to sit down and chat with family, always be ready with the pen and paper or a recorder. You just never know when the stories will start flowing and you don’t want to miss a word!

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  1. Barbara, this remembrance of your dad brought back memories for me. My dad was a musician, too. While he tried his hand at other jobs–like banking and selling insurance–his first love was always music, and he also thrived in that big band era.

    You are absolutely right: when you have that opportunity to capture a reminiscing moment with a family member, it is precious. I’ve heard so many times the regrets of family members who wish they had known to ask questions years before. Of course, we never think that way when we are young. It is only afterward that we realize what we’ve lost.

    I just found your blog today, thanks to GeneaBloggers. Looking forward to reading more!

  2. Thank you Jacqi!
    My mom is thankfully still with me and I try every week or so to get her chatting about the old days. When I can get her going, I casually turn on audio or video recording while she thinks I’m ‘fiddling with that darn phone again!” The stories are really beyond price.

  3. I thoroughly enjoyed this story of you and your Dad. Neither of my parents were much into “sharing,” although Dad would tell stories about his time in the military service. Luckily, some of my older cousins told me bits and pieces of their own recollections of my folks, so that’s been helpful.
    Best of luck with your blog, and I’ll keep you in mind because there are some Canadian connections in my father’s family that will one day bear exploration.

    • Thanks for your comment Donna! The fact that my dad wasn’t really into ‘sharing’ was part of what made this evening so memorable for me. I’ve heard lots of stories from my mother’s side of the family but my dad was always just too busy to sit down and chat about the old days. If I can help in any way with your Canadian connections, be sure to let me know. Happy searching!

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