Yesterday I learned of the death, on New Year’s Eve, of one of my favourite high school teachers. A reporter from The Gleaner, the local small-town newspaper, contacted me when she saw that I had written a letter which mentioned Lindsay Cullen a while back.
I was a student of his from approximately 1972 to 1977. After being
recruited into the CVR choir by Mrs. Hooper, immediately upon entering
Grade 7, it was not long before I was able to express interest in the
I had piano experience but did not have a band instrument in mind when
I started. I also explained to Mr. Cullen that, being left-handed, I
might have difficulty with some of the instruments. His solution was
a great one, pulling out a trombone and showing me how the slide can
swing under the main part from the right side to the left and be
secured into place. Problem solved!
Eager to try something new in later years I played the tuba. This was not the huge tuba which literally wraps around your body (that would come later) but one which sat in my lap. I loved the tuba! The A&W “Root Bear” got lots of free advertising on the bus home some days. To this day I can pick out the bass line in just about any music I hear and it led me to singing bass for a number of years in choirs as an adult.
The much larger tuba, or sousaphone, came into play during
extra-curricular activities with Lindsay as I joined the Ormstown
band. This was a great experience as I met youth and adults enjoying
music together be it at the Ormstown Fair parade or at international
parades in Rouse’s Point, N.Y. and other border communities.
Finally, I was trained on the baritone saxophone – my first experience
with a reed instrument but with that familiar bass/baritone line I
enjoyed so much.
Mr. Cullen’s appreciation of me, though never in doubt, was confirmed
in a very meaningful way when the Music Prize was one of my awards at
CVR’s Graduation of 1977.
His passing leaves a rich, wholesome musical legacy in the Chateauguay Valley.