'Up the Down Chimney' news flash!


Composer/musician David Mahler has kindly sent us copies of our holiday music faves. What follows is a capsule history of his seasonal sings:

“David Mahler’s holiday sings first fluttered wings in December, 1982. Old songs remembered lined up side by side with new songs discovered.

Perhaps a dozen warblers raised voices at the initial three sings that year, held at 906 E. Highland Drive. The flock grew, and followed the music five years later to 2616 E. Ward, and the following two years to 89 Yesler Way. In 1989 the sings hit the road, with two sessions guest hosted. The red book discovered its green cousin. From that year onward, through floating bridges that sank, presidential elections, and Sundays that stretched into January, the song books grew and the swell voices swelled, until David’s departure to Pittsburgh in 2005. Twenty-four consecutive years of December sings nested into memories.”

stu-dempsterIn other news, Stu Dempster is bringing along his legendary trombone! Be prepared for a real treat as we raise voices against the darkness on the darkest day of the year. Death shall have no dominion at “Up the Down Chimney“!


While searching, typically, for something else I came upon this heartening piece of Kodachrome from the winter of 1943.  The original 35mm slide has a caption written the flip side from the “Kodachrome”  stamp.  It reads, in toto,  “Jan. 43  Our favorite spot to rest in summer under trees on shore E. Green Lake Way. Beautiful in Winter as well!!!”


For the moment I do not know where this slide came from, although I think it was mostly likely picked (by me) from one of two large collections of slides.  One I purchased in a basement sale from a home near the east shore of Green Lake.  The other I got from Lawton Gowey, a since deceased friend, who shared with me many images, stories and enthusiasm for regional history.  Earlier he was given the collected slides of Horace Sykes, a long-time member of the Seattle Camera Club,  and Lawton passed the collection on to me.

Sykes’ work is often wonderful and we should show more of it in this blog and will.  But for the moment the image reminded me of Jean’s frequent early morning visits with his camera to this shore of Green Lake, which is also near his home, and the results that he has published here.  So this is my first “Jean Challenge.”

Can he – or rather, you Jean – repeat this shot with a “now.”  A warning through.  It may be more difficult than we think.  There have been some changes on the east shore since 1943.


Here’s my best effort, slightly wider than the orginal, but pretty close I think.

I emailed the Sykes original to Kathy Whitman, Aquatics Manager for Seattle Parks and Recreation and she replied:

I can’t be certain but I think it is the northern shore of Green Lake looking across the west. West Green Lake Beach would be located just outside the area of vision to the left side the distant shore… the wading pool located to right side outside the area of vision.  It is on the shore about 2/3’s of the way toward the wading pool when leaving Evans Pool.

That had been my best guess as well, as this spot has always been a favorite of Green Lake strollers. As I recall, the trees in the ’43 photo were cut down and replaced by smaller trees, to general opprobrium, but I can’t recall why.  As can be seen, they’ve grown up a bit.




Jean and I have made a change.  We are now calling it UP THE DOWN CHIMNEY (although actually it’s not a chimney but the Grotto on the Good Shepherd campus. We take the place of Mary, although neither of us qualifies).

And it is an even BIGGER SHOW celebrating Mumbles Wales, Very Long Hair & Vest Pocket Watches, Red Ryder BB-Guns, Down of a Thistle, and composer David Mahler.

It is THIS COMING Monday, the 22nd at 7:30 in the restored Chapel at the Good Shepherd Center in Wallingford.  (pictured below)

It has fine acoustics too and can be easily reached by stairs or elevator.

(The Good Shepherd campus has a big and lovingly landscaped parking lot off of Sunnyside Street, between 46th and 50th Streets.)

We will be reading 4 CLASSICS.

* GIFT of the Magi  –  O.Henry

* A CHILD’S CHRISTMAS in WALES  –  Dylan Thomas

* Twas the Night Before Christmas


up-the-down-chimney(Here’s a way to remember all this.  Jean Sherrard reads Jean Shepherd in the Good Shepherd.)

Mixed with the readings we will all sing together – songs that include but are not limited to…

* Jukebox Christmas Eve (Mahler, David)

* Christmas Island (The Andrews Sisters)

* Hanukkah Candles (Grossman and Goldfarb) Hanukkah begins Sunday at sundown.

* The Pathetic Birdy Song  – (The Dorpat Bros) may become a classic.  Click the link and hear for yourself.

… and other Holiday selections from composer David Mahler’s beloved Christmas Red and Green Books!

The Chapel at Good Shepherd photographed by Jean during the “Ashes to Ashes” exhibit.  Imagine yourself singing and listening to a good story in place of those 21 biodegradable caskets hanging from the ceiling.  (For more on this now-closed show read Sally Anderson’s review of it in our archives.)

Versailles in Winter

It was holidays  for three days, and we have been very good tourists with my Uncle Claude and my Aunt Yanick who came from Périgord. Their  dream was to go to Versailles, but we didn’t foresaw the icy wind, so we missed the poetry of the garden in winter with its wrapped sculptures, its empty pools and a fatal good cold … We enjoyed the empty castle.  It seems the more I am going there and the more I am discovering the place.

(click to enlarge)



Back a few insertions or entries in this blog we put up seven, if memory serves, panoramas of Meridian Park from the same prospect as the one attached  here, and recorded this afternoon, 12/14/8.  In the now 28 months I have been walking through the Good Shepherd campus, sticking snow has been rare indeed.  This is the third time.  Another of the three is included in the mentioned group below.

(Please click to enlarge)


A Dorpat Brothers Singalong

Paul writes:

In March of 2005, my oldest brother Ted celebrated his 80th birthday with a banquet for kith and kin at Ivar’s Acres of Clams.  It was a family custom that whenever the Dorpat boys returned home for a reunion or whatever, they would join with their father, a robust bass, in another singing of the song “What Will the Poor Birdies Do Then.”

We never knew the actual title for the song, but that may well be it for the line appears in all four verses, which follow and may be named for the four seasons. Ordinarily we began with the Winter stanza.

There are two important tips for the performance of this pathetic song.  First, whenever possible, Norwegian pronunciations are substituted for English – e.g. “Vinter” for “Winter”.  Second, with the singing of the same last line in all four verses, “…and put their heads under their wings”, the singers are obliged to do just that: bend or dip their head and crook their arm over it, as if protecting themselves from something falling from the sky.

So here, left to right, are Ted, David, Norm and Paul, the four sons of Rev. Theo Dorpat and Eda Gerina Christiansen Dorpat, singing in a kind of unison “What Will the Poor Birdies Do Then.”  It was the last time, for before they could meet and sing and raise their arms again Ted and Norm passed.  Actually, Ted never confessed to singing, and if you listen closely, at the beginning of this clip you will hear him announce, “I can’t sing.”

(For those planning to attend ‘Up the Down Chimney’ with Paul and Jean at the Good Shepherd Center on Monday the 22nd, please use the preceding video as a rehearsal tape.)

Now & Then here and now