[Here is the house Dad grew up in – 99 Lonsdale Road, Hammersmith, London, England.]
My father, Ivor Hugh, who would have been 89 today, was born on May 1, 1927 in London, England, in the neighborhood of Hammersmith. He came to this country in the late thirties, served in the U.S. Merchant Marine during World War II as a “sparks” (or radio operator) where he acquired “the radio bug” as he put it. And radio was what he got into, along with a few forays into children’s television as Flippy The Clown on Channels 8 (in New Haven) and 18 in Hartford, and “Ring Around The World”, with my stepmother Beth Hugh on Channel 30 in West Hartford.
[On left: Dad as Flippy The Clown; On right: Dad and my stepmother Beth Hugh on the set of their show “Ring Around The World”.]
Dad was a well-known classical radio host in the early “golden days” of radio, starting on WCCC, which broadcast from the basement of the grand old, red-carpeted Bond building on Asylum Avenue in Hartford. He interviewed all the acts that performed upstairs there in the Bond Ballroom – people like Frank Sinatra, Rosemary Clooney, Tommy Dorsey and Duke Ellington. I remember even meeting the Mousketeers on his show. (I had a bad crush on Darlene..) He was also Host for the Hartford Symphony Young Peoples Concerts, introducing countless people to the beauty of Bach, Brahms, Rachmaninoff, Prokofiev, Bernstein, Copland and Stravinsky with his deep British- accented voice.
[The early days at WCCC in Hartford, Connecticut. Here Dad is joined by his alter ego Leroy The Duck, one of the key characters in The Friendly Forest. My father came up with the stories, the characters and did all the voices.]
These were the days that radio stations actually had grand piano in a studio next door, where you could even record an acetate disc on the spot. Many family interviews with visiting aunts, uncles and cousins were recorded there, after his work hours ended. I still even have a recording, long since transferred to digital format, of a 7 year old me reciting a poem I wrote, and an impromptu interview of my South Carolinian Aunt and Uncle who had come to Hartford to visit us.
TO HEAR THE POEM CLICK HERE.
TO HEAR THE FAMILY THANKSGIVING RECORDING CLICK HERE.
My father instilled in me not only a love of music, nature and stories like “Wind In The Willows”, but the importance of treating others with courtesy and kindness, and always looking on the bright side of life, with courage, British cheer and humour. His artistic dreams kept him going and young, as they do me. He was, quite simply, my hero. When I felt down and discouraged, he really did say to me “Cheer up and carry on”, reminding me that, with a positive outlook, we can survive all the challenges we encounter in life.
So in honor of my dad’s birthday this May 1st, I’d like to also share this wonderful interview he did with WNPR Host Colin McEnroe in July of 2013, just two months before he, in his own words, “made the transition”.
His spirit is always with me. I hope you find it entertaining and even inspiring. Happy Birthday Dad. We will all carry on!
TO HEAR THE INTERVIEW ON THE COLIN McENROE SHOW CLICK HERE.