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Letter to the Editor:
CAPS Member: Jeff Healey

On Saturday, July 7, The Toronto Star published a guest column of mine, an advance story about the July 15 Records and Related Collectables Show and Sale held in Toronto's Queensway Lions Centre. The Star courteously pointed out that I was the paper's movie critic from 1971 to 1980 and that I have been the CBC radio host of "Gilmour's Albums" since 1956. Regrettably, however, several details about the Canadian Antique Phonograph Society were dropped from the printed article, presumably for space reasons, although I had kept the total length slightly below the length agreed to by the entertainment editor. (He was away on holidays by the time the article was handled for publication.)

Jeff Healey identifies a record
at a CAPS meeting

The piece in print did tell the reader that CAPS members are "among the most dedicated browsers" at Lorne Van Sinclair's Queensway shows. Bill Pratt was quoted on the widely scattered whereabouts of the society's 242 members. Mention was made that the CAPS president, Lynda Black, and her husband, John, would "display ancient record-playing equipment at their Queensway booth" and that the spot would be identified by a Nipper statuette. The article also referred to the admiration and respect felt by Van Sinclair and the two Blacks for the youngest member in CAPS' history, the blind rock star Jeff Healey, who was 12 when he joined. Healey himself was briefly quoted about his main interest as a collector (not rock, but jazz and pop 78s from the 1920s and '30s) and as agreeing with Louis Armstrong that "there are only two kinds of music - good and bad".

As an outsider who has long applauded CAPS and its activities, I was delighted to see that much actually get into print in Canada's largest newspaper. But I wish they had not dropped this sentence: "There is no direct link between the society and Collectables, other than their mutual interest in recorded sound and its paraphernalia."

And I was disappointed by the trimming out of these 18 words about the history of CAPS: "This group of ardent hobbyists was founded in 1968 by John Steffen, now 55, a pharmacist in Oshawa."

Because female presidents in such groups as CAPS are still rarities, I'm sorry the article did not particularize Lynda Black (as I did with my typewriter) as "an energetic and amiable resource teacher for the Metropolitan Separate School Board." The rest of that unprinted paragraph would have added: "She is not a bristling feminist, but she says she has had to learn how to get along with male egos". President Black is on cordial terms with her predecessor, John E. Rutherford, 62, an English-born aficionado in music and theatre. He retired at 56 after teaching art for 34 years in Toronto schools."

Likewise tossed into Cut-Out Limbo was the next paragraph: "Lynda's husband, John Black, a droll and scholarly ex-Winnipegger, calls himself 'an interior designer by trade', but his hobby takes up most of his spare time. An audio buff since boyhood days, Black has edited the Canadian Antique Phonograph Society's newsletter for the past two years. It appears every six weeks, September through June."

Jeff Healey and Steve Barr mine a box of records

As an old pro in the press business, I take it for granted that the eliminated CAPS details were dropped in good faith by a hardworking editor under deadline pressure.

Less easy to forgive is the brusque discarding of a human-interest paragraph about Jeff Healey. This was a bit that The Star's entertainment editor especially liked when I was outlining the material to him on the phone. That, of course, was before he left on holidays. The sadly aborted chunk would have quoted Bas Ingrouille, "at 80 the oldest member on the CAPS roster," as having said this to me about Healey, who has been blind for 23 of his 24 years:

"Jeff is a wonderful young fellow and we all think the world of him. He can delicately touch a shellac 78 disc and tell you its label and the serial number - and where a strong trumpet solo occurs. If I don't see him for two years I just have to say, 'Hello, Jeff,' and right away he grins and says, 'Hi, Bas.' It works every time."

Lynda Black's clear uncredited photo of Jeff Healey at one of CAPS' meetings was cropped so that the reader could not see the blind rocker holding a 78 and making one of his marvellous analyses. Tsk!

I'd be less than fair to my alma-mater paper if I neglected to add that Lorne Van Sinclair and the dealers at the July 15 Collectables had a successful sale and were immensely grateful to The Toronto Star for the publicity. The Joint was jumping all day.