User login



In March 1965, the band was booked for five weeks at the NCO Club in Goose Bay, Labrador and another week at the Argentia Naval Base in Newfoundland. To say that the band got a “cold reception” is an understatement.  Will Alger led the band on trombone, Kenny Davern was on clarinet, Johnny Windhurst, trumpet; and Danny D’Imperio, drums. Frank Frawley wisely opted out saying he didn’t want to be away from his wife for five weeks.  Will was able to recruit a piano and bass player.

Danny later remembered  that the Goose Bay patrons “HATED” the band.  “The reception was much different than what the band had received in the 50’s. The dixie fad was OVER. 

“They must have shipped every southerner they could to that frozen tundra. By the 5th week, the room was empty. To this day, Kenny Davern can remember a southern sergeant walking across the empty dance floor in front of the band and yelling, “Why don’tcha all go DAH (die).

“The booze was so cheap (martinis were 10 cents during Happy Hour that Will proclaimed, “We can’t afford NOT to drink on this gig.” We went on for a week at the Officer’s Club in Argentia and the reception was much more enjoyable.”

Will Alger left the band after Goose Bay for health reasons and was replaced by Jim Butler with Jack Maheu as leader.  Will returned to the band in the 70’s. I next saw him with the band at the Dinkler Hotel in Syracuse in Feb. 1978.  Later at Sandy’s Club in Beverly, Mass., vocalist Carol Leigh had joined the band much to the audience’s enjoyment. ]

Finally, in April, 1978, the band split up. Will had had a malignant kidney removed and went home to Lockport, N.Y.  In May, he returned to the Dinkler for a SCS reunion.  The biggest thrill for the audience was when he took out his trombone out of his case (which he left to Mimi Osmun in his will) and played sitting down (as the front line also did in deference to him.) Carol Leigh regaled the audience singing, “Won’t you come home Will Alger, won’t you come home .” I sat with Spiegle Wilcox - then 75 - the same man who took Tommy Dorsey’s place with the Jean Goldkette Orchestra and sat alongside Bix Beiderbecke and Frank Trumbauer. Spiegle died in 1999 at age 96.

 And many places elsewhere I would add.


(Turns out Hank WIlliams, a longtime fan of the band was the one who got WIll Alger to come to the Dinkler that night.   Hank writes, "A saw blade manufacturer from Burt, NY used to call on me in Syracuse and one time he invited me to use their motel room in Burt for the weekend and have dinner with him and his wife. He said there was an excellent trombone player at the local restaurant. When I asked his name, he reported "Will Alger". We went and when the musicians came in, they passed by our table and I asked, "Are you the famous Will Alger?" He answered, "What's left of him." Now, I know that he and Jack had at times been at odds (especially about the racehorse tempos Jack would set)  but Jack always respected his playing so I said, "Jack says you're the best tailgate trombonist that ever lived!" ""Jack said that?", WIll replied. "Yes, and the Salt City Six is going to be playing at the Dinkler in Syracuse next month -- you ought to come and hear them." A couple of weeks later my wife and I went down to the Dinkler and lo and behold, Will was sitting at a table with a friend. At intermission, Jack came over and said, "I want to introduce you to someone." I said. "I already know him, I told you that I met him in Burt a couple of weeks ago. Go over and ask him to play." Jack replied, "He can play if he wants to." I said, "He's not going to get up and  play, now don't be an jerk, go over and ask him." Jack did and Will rejoined the band that night to our jubilation!" )