Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Mallorcan Countryside

Chapter 20

sheep & lamp(Click photos to enlarge)

Going for a drive in the country was a favourite pastime for many in those days when country roads were quiet, save for the occasional flock of sheep, horse and cart or neighbours passing on their bicycles.

Mr. G. enjoyed a Sunday drive out into the Mallorcan countryside, where once out of Palma city one could notice the scents of olive wood smoke, freshly turned soil and wild thyme growing on hillsides.

shapherdWe would go with Helen in the Citroen deux cheveaux to join the domingueros or Sunday drivers as they exited the city to take in the warm Mallorcan sunshine by perching on a hillside under a pine tree, or by spending the day on a beach with a picnic basket. Some families would scout the woods for wild asparagus after a spring rain. Others could be seen unloading a carload of equipment for not just a simple picnic, but a full cooked meal in the woods, with camp stove or bonfire, tables, chairs and cooking pots brought for boiling the Sunday dinner al fresco.

shepherd leaving Mallorca was an island full of stones. Stone walls, stone castles, stone fences and fincas, or country estates were constructed from native stone.

women on bikes
countryside gI had been accustomed to the rainforest greenery of Vancouver Island and so this Mediterranean island was a sharp environmental change. Pine trees lined mountain ridges, their rounded crowns like soft green puffs painted on a gentle landscape.

Photo of Deià by Adrian Pingstone

I felt sorry for the poor dogs tied to the back of horse-drawn carts who were expected to keep walking even when tired.

cart and dog

Continue on to Chapter 21......Loli

Go back to Chapter 19......Eurovision 1968

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Eurovision 1968

Chapter 19

Massiel (Click photos to enlarge)

My arrival in Palma (Chapter 1) was a turning point for me. So now I'll leave Vancouver Flashback and continue with Memories of Mallorca where I left off in Chapter 12.

While walking around any street in Palma during the summer of 1968, one could hear music emanating from cafes and bars, and it seemed to be always the same song. Not the strains of a flamenco 'cante jondo', or a stirring pasodoble , but rather it was the voice of Massiel who had recently won the Eurovision song contest for Spain with the tune La La La. Having never heard of the Eurovision song contest I was surprised at how ubiquitous this one piece of music could be, but its popularity was probably due to Spanish pride that their candidate had won over England's Cliff Richard with his song Congratulations. In later years it was rumoured there had been some questionable negotiations in the voting process.

I was more interested in continuing with my guitar, teaching and learning to speak Spanish. Somehow I managed to communicate with my Spanish music students but I needed to increase my vocabulary. Helen was a great help as she had been back and forth to Mallorca from England and Canada so she spoke the language well and did her best to teach me. She suggested that I practise learning to roll the double rr by saying the word 'arriba' (up) over and over again, so I set myself to the task.
I'd heard the expression 'Arriba España' often on the radio at the end of speeches so I practised saying that too.

It didn't take long for me to start enjoying the life of downtown Palma. The Borne was the social centre of town, a place to meet friends and stroll under the immense, leafy plane trees. There one could see young couples followed by mama, older sister or aunt acting as chaperone. It was frowned upon for respectable señoritas to be seen walking alone with a young man without the vigilant eye of a close relative watching over them.
The Borne Businessmen were seen in hot weather wearing 'guayaberas' the Cuban-style men's dress shirts worn loosely over trousers in place of a suit jacket, often clutching a leather 'carpeta' or thin briefcase under their arm as they walked to and from their offices.

guayaberaGuayabera photo from cuban market website

The streets of Palma were beautiful.
It was customary for many ex-pats to pick up a copy of The Mallorca Daily Bulletin at a kiosk and have a coffee and ensaimada on the patio of the
Bar Bosch (Link to photo by Francisco Diaz on Photo.Net.) That was one of several places where the waiters were older gentlemen dressed in white shirts and black waistcoats, who wore long white aprons down to their ankles and carried small white towels over one arm as they maneuvered their round trays of coffee through the narrow doorway.

Bootblacks, 'limpiabotas' were to be found along
The Borne shining the shoes of businessmen as they sat and read their newspapers.

El Limpiabotas Ivan Petrovszky "El Limpiabotas"

Continue on to Chapter 20...... Mallorcan Countryside

Go back to Chapter 18......Off to Mallorca

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Off To Mallorca

Chapter 18

Girl With Guitar Girl With Guitar - Richard Emil Miller USA 1926
(click photos to enlarge)

I needed a life change and yearned to visit Europe for the first time, especially after hearing of Bill Lewis' experiences in Mallorca. So after learning from George Bowden that there was an opening for teaching classical guitar in the guitar centre in Palma de Mallorca, on the Spanish Balearic Islands, I decided to save up the plane fare and leave Vancouver. Bill Lewis had talked about The Pueblo Español and the Bowden guitar factory, “Los Guitarreros de Mallorca”, as well as the life style on that Mediterranean island and I was keen to experience it myself.
Spain map My daughters would stay for an extended holiday with my parents while I tried out life in a foreign land, calculating whether or not I could survive there, while my husband, by mutual agreement, would be going his separate way.

Pueblo Espanol Alhambra replica in Pueblo Español, Mallorca.

After moving furniture and packing my music library, selling my beautiful guitar and kissing my children goodbye, I left on an Air Canada flight non-stop to Lisbon and on to Palma de Mallorca. Would this be just a holiday or was I on the threshold of a whole new life?

plaza de la reina Plaza de La Reina circa 1970

Continue on to Chapter 19.....Eurovision 1968

Go back to Chapter 17......Vancouver Flashback V - Bill Lewis

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Vancouver Flashback V

Chapter 17

Bill Lewis

Bill Lewis (click to enlarge photos)

Bill Lewis was my first guitar teacher and a good friend. I met him when he returned to the Mediterranean Shop after taking master classes with Andres Segovia in California in 1964. Bill was then working as a guitar teacher in the shop owned by George Bowden. He also did repairs and adjustment to guitars in the workshop located in the back of the store on tenth avenue. As I mentioned back in Chapter 13, I came to the Mediterranean shop quite by accident and decided to take lessons in classical guitar. Bill was to be my teacher.

shop front Renovated first shop exterior (click to enlarge)

He was a fairly tall man with an appearance and demeanor that was quite disarming.

Bill Lewis He spoke in a frank, self assured and friendly manner that gave confidence to beginning students while impressing them with his knowledge.

Bill Lewis He was kind, helpful and always inspiring, quick to laugh and soft-voiced when serious.

shop interior Renovated first shop interior

After I had been taking lessons for some months, George Bowden sent Bill to his Spanish guitar factory, Los Guitarreros de Mallorca, in Palma de Mallorca, where Bill was to learn more about guitar construction from the factory's expert, known as el maestro, José Ortí. Some months later, after Bill had returned to Vancouver, George sent Michael Dunn to Spain to replace him in the factory and to learn construction methods. By this time I was also teaching guitar to beginners and intermediate students.

shop interiorInterior

Fast forwarding into time, George Bowden returned to the Mallorca factory and left the Mediterranean Shop in the hands of his son. Bill Lewis decided to start up his own shop 'Bill Lewis Music' on Broadway near Dunbar St. (Vancouver). Many of his friends and teachers from the Mediterranean shop, including myself, followed him and took part in setting up his business. I remember helping to paint the walls of the new shop. Bill, in mock seriousness, sent me up a tall ladder to paint part of the ceiling, handing me a large brush and paint can.

Bill Lewis As I was gullible, I headed up the ladder determined to get to the top until halfway there, when my knees started to shake, I glanced down to see Bill laughing and motioning for me to come back down. He had a sense of humour and knew that I was easy prey for a joke.

interior Later, after I had moved to Spain and was teaching in Palma de Mallorca, I received a letter from Bill with photos of his renovated shop, a new exterior and an interior full of merchandise, as well as pictures of his workshop. By then Bill was a recognized figure in the Vancouver guitar scene.

Bill working Together with his brother Jack he was building electric guitars that were unique in their construction. Lewis Guitars were played by known performers and were treasured by those lucky enough to own one.

Bill's workbench Bill's workbench

Bill's note 1Bill's note re above photo

Bill later moved his business to new premises on the corner of Dunbar and Broadway St. My photos here are of the first location, after it was renovated.

More history of Bill Lewis and photos of his guitars can be seen on the web at these links:


Raincoast B.C.

After some time Bill turned over the shop to his brother Jack, and formed Lewis Luthiers' Supply, providing woods and materials for guitar builders. During Bill's time working for George Bowden, he had been responsible for shipping western red cedar logs to the Mallorca factory in Spain for use as guitar tops. So together with his brother, he had paved the way for supplying wood for his own business.

Bill Lewis Bill put together a cataloque of his materials which included information and tips on guitar building. He was later to sell out Lewis Luthiers' Supplies to Luthiers' Mercantile, a company in California.

Bill passed away in 1996 at an early age, leaving wonderful memories in the hearts of people who knew him. Those of us who were a part of the scene at both The Mediterranean Shop and Bill Lewis Music will never forget the warmth and camaraderie we shared.

workshop Main workshop

his note Bill's note re above

There isn't much to see on the web about Bill Lewis, nor do I find any photos of him, all of which surprises me since he made such impressive contributions to Canadian guitar construction and innovation. I give my heartfelt thanks to Bill's daughter, Lyra Lewis, who was kind enough to send me copies of these beautiful photos of her father. Thanks Lyra, I'm so happy to be able to include them here.

And I must further point out the moving comment left here below by Ship, a former student, who was so influenced by the music and ambiance at both the Mediterranean Shop and Bill Lewis' Music. Thanks Ship for such a sincere and lovely postscript to my tribute to Bill Lewis. It's very rare that we hear from former students who come back many years later and say thank you.

Continue on to Chapter 18......Off to Mallorca

Go back to Chapter 16 - Vancouver Flashback IV - Robert C. Jordan & Barry Hall
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