|Jean, Jim, Yen in 2012|
It was 'The Modernes' formed at Chapleau High School in 1945, just as World War II was ending, by Chapleau High School students, and it brought the popular "big band sound" of that era to Chapleau and some other communities despite
its short life.
Yen, who played drums in "The Modernes" tells about it in the souvenir newspaper published for the 60th anniversary of CHS in 1982. Anyone in the school could join but they had to provide their own musical instrument, so most joined the Chapleau Brass Band at the time under the direction of "two strict bandmasters -- Rev. Howard Strapp and Mr. D.O. Payette."
Under the leadership of Marion Wedge at the piano, the new orchestra was launched. Yen wrote that "Marion and Norman Cohrs did much of the arranging and practices were held almost every day after school at the Legion Hall ... and in the Spring of 1946 the band made its debut playing for the Spring Prom for the Chapleau High School Cadet Corps."
"The Legion Hall was beautifully decorated, the boys were all in uniforms, the girls were in long dresses and the music added a touch of class," Yen Wrote.
Turning to the annual inspection of the Number 1181 Chapleau High School Cadet Corps, another article in the newspaper notes it "was favoured by a beautiful sunny afternoon in May 1946. Following the inspection, the girls bugle band led by Janet Thomson took the cadets on a march through the town."
The company commander was Foster Collings and platoon commanders were John Thomson, Barbara Muske and Frances Hamelin. C.M.S was Keith McKnight and O.M.S was Barry Mitchell while the platoon sergeant was Jack Burrows. Signalling was under direction of Cpl. William Austin and knots and lashes under Cpl. Ronald Barty.
Back to Yen and the Modernes. Word spread that CHS had "a swing band with a professional sound and once again the school colours hit the big time."
"Wow... Cartier and White River here we come," Yen wrote.
"Mr. Tom Spears invited the group to open a new hall in Cartier. Then Mr. Bracci invited us to open his new hall in White River. What a thrill in those days for a young person to be able to get a trip anywhere out of Chapleau."
Because many of the band left Chapleau to attend institutions of higher learning at the end of the school year, The Modernes never played again but Yen of course, played with many popular Chapleau bands over the years.
Band members included George Tremblay and Pat Serre on coronet; Jim Hands and George Payette on trumpet; Norman Cohrs on trombone; Bill Austin, Dorothy Speers, Evelyn Speers and Charlie Cohrs on saxophone; Greg Lucas on clarinet; Jack Welch on guitar; Yen on drums and Marion Wedge on piano.
Although The Modernes were a bit before my time, I googled to find out some of the songs they may have been playing in 1946. According to Wikipedia, the five most popular hits were: Prisoner of Love - Perry Como; Five Minutes More - Frank Sinatra; Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow! - Vaughn Monroe; (I Love You) For Sentimental Reasons - Nat King Cole and To Each His Own - The Ink Spots.
Some other popular songs according to www.mostpopularsongs.org were: Rumors Are Flying - Frankie Carle; To Each His Own - Eddy Howard; Personality - Johnny Mercer; Ole Buttermilk Sky - Kay Kyser and Shoo-Fly Pie and Apple Pan Dowdy - Stan Kenton
Maybe the next time you have coffee with Yen in Chapleau, ask him if the above were some of the songs they played or maybe you were at the CHS Prom in 1946.