My friend Pat, remembers Warren Allmand.
"Good morning Phyllis. I too was saddened to learn of the death of Warren Allmand. He was a good man who served his country well all of his life. I did not know of your personal link to Mr. Allmand. You must feel his loss more than others.
I particularly remember the years he spent as the representative from Loyola on our NDG/CDN borough council as I am sure you do as well. I always felt he was treated with a huge lack of respect particularly from Mayor Applebaum. Do you recall that at the end of the meetings Mr. Allmand would have something to say about the FHL and whilst he was speaking Mr. A. would be stuffing papers in his briefcase in preparation of his leave taking. What a boor he was/is. Mr. Allmand's considerable background in so many fields both nationally and internationally was seldom acknowledged. I did not know Mr. Allmand as a friend but our paths crossed often enough that he recognized me at various meetings—sometimes at the Coop Verte or the meeting room at Benny Sports Centre--and he never failed to say "hello, how are you?"
When we see some of the people in public office today people like Warren Allmand are more needed than ever. Mayors left, right, and centre arrested for multiple charges of fraud—and the list goes on. We have lost a great man who lived his life true to his beliefs. How typical of him to ask that in lieu of flowers donations be made to the NDG Food Bank.
Thank you so much for sharing your memories of Warren with me, Pat,
It really helps to know that you remember the experiences we shared. Living alone, I am thinking all the time, day and night, remembering so much, but it is as if it were all a dream or my imagination. When someone else remembers, it gives substance to my memories. It makes them tangible and real. It is like being in a court of law and giving testimony and everyone else denying it. And then someone stands up and says, "I saw it too. I heard it too". It really is a breath of fresh air.
The way Applebaum and his cronies treated Warren really hurt me. But when I told him how I felt about it, he was so gracious. He took it in his stride. It reminds me of how my friend, Percy Rodrigues and his wife Almeada responded when I told them about how I had first heard of Percy.
When I attended a drama class at the YMHA, the director of the Y suddenly came into the class, interrupting the adjudicator, Eugene Juisse, who stepped aside letting Harvey Golden take over.
Golden told the class that one of the men taking the course - I can't recall if it was Jack Zoloff or George Bloomfield or Howard Rhyshpan - I think Zoloff - all well established in theatre - one or two of these men were friends of Percy Rodrigues. They had invited Percy to join the class.
WHAT A CLASS !
Harvey Golden came to tell the class - in which I was a new student and unaware of all this - that Percy would not be allowed to join the class in the YMHA because he was a Negro. Right out, just like that.
He said that if a Negro was allowed in, the Jewish mothers would pull all their daughters out of the YMHA.
I was horrified ! I was very young at the time - fourteen or fifteen - and I don't remember if I said anything. But I never went back to the YMHA again. Ever.
Many years later, when I was with Cliff, I learned that Cliff had known Percy since 1947, when Cliff first came to Montreal to play at the Clover Cafe across the street from the Montreal Forum. Percy was the doorman at the Clover Cafe at the time, and they became good friends.
And so, in the 1980's we had the honour of being invited to the family Christmases at Percy and Almeada's Montreal home, and I had the great pleasure of getting to know them and sharing some happy times together. I have precious photos of those occasions. I am not able to put my hands on my photo albums, but they are here and I cherish them in my memory.
It was at one of those Christmas parties, when I found a moment to speak with Percy and Almeada alone with Cliff. I wanted to tell them what I had witnessed at the YMHA when I was a girl. I wanted to tell them how I first heard of Percy and what it meant to me.
Percy and Almeada were not surprised. They said that Negro people had that kind of experience all the time. They were so gracious. No anger. No recriminations. Not a bad word. That was the way it was. But I still feel the rage in my own heart.
I still miss Percy so much. He was a brilliant, talented, gracious gentleman and yet, so simple. He was so famous but, at home, he was a normal person, like my Cliff. No airs, no boastfulness. Just a nice family man enjoying his friends. But his specialness was like an aura. You could feel his greatness.
Many years after Cliff died in 1992, I received a phone call one evening. I almost dropped when I heard the beautiful voice. I hadn't heard that voice in a decade, but I knew. It was Percy asking for "Sheba". He was calling me from his California home, just to see how I was doing.
I have never forgotten that phone call. It still takes my breath away when I think of it.
And this was the manner of Warren Allmand. Gracious. A rare and precious gentleman. As I face all my health problems and my worries about the world, I thank God that I had the rare privilege of knowing men like Percy Rodrigues and Warren Allmand and my darling Cliff Carter.
I have been blessed by knowing many special people through the years. I had brief but precious moments with Lorne Greene, James Mason, Paul Robeson, Jan Peerce, Maurice Chevalier and many others. They left deep and important imprints on my heart.
Thanks for bringing up these memories, Pat. We will not see their likes again. We have lost so much. We are blessed to have known them and they should be remembered. In a world full of corruption and suffering, their sweet memories comfort us.
PERCY RODRIGUES AND WARREN ALLMAND