The first meeting at the Folk Song Circle as the VFSS was then called was at the Alma YMCA on the first Wednesday of July 1959. The five people who were responsible for founding the Folk Song Circle were Albert Cox, Jeannie (Cox) Moss, Phil and Hilda Thomas, and Rolf Ingelsrud. Of those founding members, Jeannie Moss, now 97, has dementia. She and Al Cox are the last remaining members. Jeannie perks up when she recognizes a song being sung to her and often sings along. Al Cox is presently 99 years old and is now a resident at Kerrisdale Crofton Manor.
That first meeting featured the Folk Song Circle’s resident group, the Highriggers, which consisted of Hilda and Phil Thomas with Al Cox as the main performer. Here’s a recording of the Highriggers from 1961 singing the The P.G.E. Song:
Al Cox is singing the lead. This song was played at the VFSS 62nd anniversary (Zoom event) and a recording of the evening was sent to Mr Cox.
His daughter, Elli, reports that Al suffered a “mild” heart attack recently, from which he recovered fairly quickly, but while in the hospital for the heart attack he caught pneumonia. While in hospital, Al was shown the YouTube clips, as were various family members who have been visiting him. His daughter says the recordings have been a huge hit with Al and all the family (and the nurses!). Al’s grandchildren did not know about the VFSS side of Al’s life and were dazzled by his singing in the Highrigger’s clip. Elli was effusive in her thanks to everyone who helped to make this possible.
[Editor’s note: The P.G.E. Song was written in 1949 by Keith Crowe. The words, music, and historical details are found in Songs of the Pacific Northwest, by Philip J. Thomas, edited by John Bartlett. The book is available in Vancouver libraries and for purchase from the VFSS.]