Night Managers

As much as I wanted to be at Le Hibou all the time, my work schedule didn’t permit it. Since I worked on the production of different programmes at the CBC, my work schedule varied. Sometimes it was during the day, in the evenings or on weekends. This provided me with flexibility to do the buying, office work, publicity, and bookings for Le Hibou. When I had an evening shift, I would never go directly home, I would drop in at the coffee house to see how things went.

To cover the evenings, I hired a night manager who would manage the staff, do the night’s tally, as well as clean and secure the place before leaving. The number of people who worked there was considerable, from night manager, kitchen staff, staging when required, to floor cleaners. Over the years, I’ve had a number of people who would say “Hi, do you remember me? I worked at Le Hibou” and they’d provide the date. Sometimes I would recall and other times I had to admit shamefully that I barely recalled. Over the years I had some splendid and very dedicated night managers, such as Catherine Boucher, Lois Wraight and Carolyn Petch who, without a doubt, worked the longest time—along with my brother-in-law Alan Knight.

At one time, even Bill Hawkins pitched in for a number of weeks, in particular when Penny and I traveled to Central America in the Volkswagen bus for six weeks. I remember calling Bill from Mexico wondering if the coffee house was still there or if it had burned down. I was always concerned about fire since we had candles on top of Chianti bottles. That was one the important tasks to be done before closing: Check the candles and the ashtrays for fear of a fire starting in the middle of the night.

Many of these night managers even if they had stopped working would pop in on a regular basis. Local performers would also drop by. The most regular visitors were Bill Stevenson, Sneezy Waters (Peter Hodgson), Sandy Crawley and, of course, Bill Hawkins. They were considered part of the furniture, and they thoroughly enjoyed meeting the performers.

Harvey was quite happy with me doing the nitty gritty. I would see Harvey occasionally. He would pop in to see a set and on some occasions would bring a group of friends. I recall bumping into him once after not having seen him for some time. I was visiting Alan in New York city, and one evening we went to a jazz club to see Gary Burton. To my surprise Harvey, who I had not seen for a long while, was there. I often wondered why Harvey was not present very often. I presumed that with his store, The Treble Clef, he had to travel extensively, or maybe he was just afraid that I would ask him to work the door.

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