Parrywinkle March 16, 2017

Never thought I would say this folks, but our small town of Hudson is fast going to pot. And no, I'm not talking about the use of medical marijuana or illegal grow-ops in our little community by the lake.

Rather, I'm talking about cavernous potholes and zigzagging down the middle of the road to avoid being swallowed up in a sink hole and becoming the next client for major repair work at Pierre Auto Body, while watching for other motorists doing exactly the same thing coming the other way. And that's not even talking about dodging dog-walkers, pedestrians, school buses, and kids.

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WHOSE FAULT IS IT? - Sheesh, if I didn't know better, I'd think that Hudson was located just above crashing tectonic plates with its resultant devastation. Like Los Angeles on the San Andreas Fault - a crack in the Earth's crust - extending roughly 800 miles through California which experts predict will see an inevitable major earthquake possibly in our lifetime. Obviously depending on how old you are as you read this.

But now that spring is on the horizon, it's becoming even more glaringly obvious that our roads are in one hell of a mess. Thought Elm and Lakeshore - which many motorists are now avoiding unless they live there - were bad until I tried to navigate Fairhaven where some residents are likening it to Aleppo.

And then there are all the lawns and front gardens throughout town, particularly at corner intersections, that have been scraped clean as if they had been bulldozed. Leaving affected residents fuming and wondering who is going to fix it. And who gets priority when it comes to repairing the damage and making them green again.

One thing is for sure. Many of our roads will not survive another winter, let alone the summer. They are hazardous, unsightly, and - to be blunt - a sheer disgrace! And now that I've got that off my chest, on to more positive stuff.

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FATHER ROLAND O'DEMERS HONOURED - Speaking of green, and with Hudson's 8th Annual St. Patrick's Day Parade all set for this Saturday, March 18, starting at 1 p.m., what a grand night it was at the Hudson Legion last Friday, March 10. When 'Irish eyes were smiling and the world was bright and gay' for the blessing of our new Irishman of the Year, Father Roland Demers who has lovingly tended his flock at St. Thomas Aquinas Church on Main Road for the past 32 years. Or, as he himself announced, to be known for the next 12 months as Father O'Demers!

PHOTO BY JAMES PARRY

Father Roland Demers of St. Thomas Aquinas Church (left) receives the traditional Tim Snow Memorial Shillelagh from two former Irishmen of the Year, Pat O'Grady (centre) and Frank Hicks at the Hudson Legion's Dinner & Dance on Friday, March 10.

Also that evening, three donations from the Legion Poppy Fund were presented to the Hawkesbury General Hospital, Lakeshore General Hospital, and Manoir Cavagnal in Hudson by Eric Connor.

Introduced by two former Irishmen of the Year, Pat O'Grady and Frank Hicks, to great applause, the popular priest with people of all faiths confessed at the outset that he did not have a drop of Irish blood in his body. “But it seems I have been surrounded by Irish people all my life,” he laughed. “I grew up in a small town south of Quebec City called St. Patrick. From 1979 to 1985, I was Pastor and Parish Priest at St. Patrick of the Island in Pincourt. And now this great honour has been bestowed on me.”

Added Father Demers, “What is more, Pope Francis has encouraged all priests to 'smell' their flock. Well, I smell Irish, that's for sure. I love their music and their culture. I have always kept it in my heart. And I hope that I will be a good representative of the Irish people from throughout our region, and around the world, in my new role as Hudson's Irishman of the Year.”

Of that there is little doubt. We have faith in you Father Demers. Or should I now address you as Father O'Demers!

And a big bravo to entertainers for the evening, songstress JoAnne Mitchell and the incredible Bernadette Short Irish Dancers. Oh yes, also the aformentioned Frank Hicks, of course, whose traditional irreverent welcoming address covered everything from Donald Trump's new Irish-dominated cabinet and his plans to build an Irish pub at the White House, to Brendan Behan, Saint Brigid of Kildare, Oscar Wilde, and even the late actor Peter O'Toole who he quoted as saying, “The only exercise I get is walking behind the coffins of my friends who exercised.” Kaboom!

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INTO THE WOODS – Now not sure if there are any Irish in the cast and crew of the latest production at Hudson Village Theatre opening this weekend and running through March 26, but it is certainly a not-to-be-missed show folks, if you love Broadway-style musicals on stage, right here in our little hamlet.

It's the Hudson Music Club's production of the Tony Award-winning epic musical fairytale for grownups, Into the Woods : The Musical with music and lyrics by the legendary Stephen Sondheim.

Produced by André Marchand, directed by Philippe Gobeille, and with musical direction by Pier-Luc Fournier and spectacular costumes by HMC president, Gail Marchand, it's another stunner from the oldest English musical theatre group in Quebec currently celebrating its 65th Anniversary in fine style.

PHOTO BY JAMES PARRY

All set to step into the forest on stage at Hudson Village Theatre in spectacular costumes created by Gail Marchand is the talented cast of Into the Woods: The Musical, the latest production of the Hudson Music Club opening Friday, March 17, and running through March 26.

As always, HMC will be making a generous donation to a local charity following the run at HVT at 28 Wharf Road in Hudson and, again this year, it will be Le Pont/Bridging food bank. Tickets are $25, $22 for seniors and students, and for reservations with special rates for groups, call the HVT Box Office at (450) 458-5361. And now, music maestro please!

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A GRAND DAME - And still on music, albeit of a much different era, I was thrilled to learn this week that one of my favourite singers in the whole wide world - although I wasn't even born when she was in her heyday - is turning 100 years young next week. Who? Well, here's a clue. “There'll be bluebirds over the white cliffs of ….”

Yup, Dame Vera Lynn, forever known as the Forces' Sweetheart and a veritable legend for her inspirational songs and performances during the darkest days of World War II while travelling thousands of miles to entertain the troops in harm's way, celebrates her centennial on Monday, March 20. And in her honour, Decca Records has just released a new album of re-orchestrated versions of her most famous music along with original vocals.

On a personal note, I will never forget the time about 25 years ago when my beautiful Sunshine and I, at the request of legendary impresario, Françoise Chartrand, spent a weekend entertaining her in between performances at Place des Arts in Montreal.

Obviously in awe at meeting such a living legend and a Dame of the British Empire no less, I respectfully asked her how we should address her. “Oh, call me Vera luv. Everybody else does!” she laughed. Tell you folks, after both sold-out performances, we were also in awe as we watched her for over an hour on each occasion chat with Veterans both men and women - many of them in their Legion blazers and wearing medals - while signing autographs and making each one of them feel so special when many of today's so-called stars would have been bolting for the exit, their entourage, and their waiting limousine!

Said Vera in a Decca press release while describing reaching 100 as an incredible adventure of song, dance, and friendship, “It's truly humbling that people still enjoy these songs from so many years ago, reliving the emotions of that time. I was after all just doing my job as a singer. And so it's wonderful to me to hear my songs again so beautifully presented in a completely new way.”

So a big Happy Birthday Dame Vera Lynn - excuse me, Vera - and I'm sure there will be a special toast to you at Hudson Legion Branch #115, 56 Beach Road, on Monday. Would love to think that we'll meet again, don't know where, don't know when, but I know we'll meet some sunny day! Meanwhile, cheers and have a good one!

And that's a wrap!

E-mail: creation@videotron.ca

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