My father, Harry Culley, never talked much about the war, I think because he felt he got off easy compared to many others. He seemed to be embarrassed that he wasn’t a heroic pilot flying missions over enemy skies, or a gunner at the front facing the Germans. He served as a musician, occupying, in his opinion, a lower rung in the military hierarchy.
Some of his fellow bandmates made self-deprecating comments about their status, such as Al Smith who said that he “fought Hitler with his French horn.”
During the Depression years, Harry cobbled together part-time jobs to make a living. By day he was a bookkeeper at a smoke shop on
Yonge Street in Toronto. By night he played saxophone and clarinet in downtown venues such as the Savarin Club and the Royal York Hotel.
When the war started...