I was eight years old. Our school did a Christmas production in the Town Hall in a little prairie town called Lanigan. My friend Brett and I were chosen to sing a duet. How and why this came about is unknown to me, but the result of that chance occurrence will remain in my memory forever.
That spring, there was a very popular radio program coming to our town to do a live talent contest. It was called the A.C.T. CFQC Amateur Show. CFQC was the big Saskatoon radio and TV station at the time. (There was only one) The idea was to hold the live amateur contests in about dozen communities in the listening area, declare a winner in each show, and have a finale in the TV station at the end, to declare a winner and present a prize.
Brett's mother was the big push for the two of us to compete. I was compliant so I went along with it. The big night came and each contestant sang or played (it was all musical) two numbers. Brett and I sang "The Happy Wanderer" and some song about clouds and silver linings. What else? As I recall, we were even wearing 'lederhosen' and had these little back packs as if we were indeed, happy wanders. It was our signature song.
It was a blur of backstage rehearsing, Brett's mom coaching us on how to behave, a nice man who was the MC, and the crowds of people on the other side of a very big microphone. There was thunderous applause and then we were whisked off home and to bed.
The votes were tallied, a combination of phone in votes and audience votes, and the next morning we were informed that we had won, hands down.
Fast forward to the TV studio a few months later. That was nerve wracking as I recall and this time there was no big crowd, but many station technical people, very hot lights, and no familiar faces other than Brett's mom. By this time I was being a bit intimidated by her constant nagging. I had a sense that we did not do very well, but that is only a vague impression in my memory. I do remember watching some of the other talent numbers and thinking that we were out of our league. Indeed we were. We did not win, however, we received the above certificate for our participation.
We were home town celebrities for about two days, and then life returned to normal. My notoriety, however, in my extended family, lasted until the following Christmas when my Great Grandfather tried to talk me into singing for a very large family gathering at his home in Hague, Saskatchewan.
I begged off because, as I explained, we were a duet and my friend was not there. The two part harmonies would not work without him there. My smiling Great Grandfather would have no excuses and suggested that if I go out in the porch/sun room and just sang to myself, with the screen door closed, he and the relatives would just carry on their conversations and would probably not even listen. I sensed a con job, but what convinced me to concede, was the shiny silver dollar he held in his hand.
I went out there all alone, had trouble remembering all the words, but gave it my best. I returned to polite applause and back slaps, headed straight for my Great Grandfather, took the warm silver dollar from his hand, and went to play with cousins. My moment of fame was over. Thirty seven cents more and I could buy a Tim Horton's coffee.