The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #155747 Message #4150338
Posted By: Bob the Postman
15-Aug-22 - 02:54 PM
Thread Name: ADD: I Remember Loving You(from Priscilla Herdman)
Subject: RE: ADD: I Remember Loving You (Priscilla Herdman)
I live in Luigi del Puppo’s home town of Nelson, B. C. . For the last few years I have been asking local folks for their memories of Luigi. Nobody recalled “I Remember Loving You” but a couple of people quoted lines from another of Luigi’s songs which Phil Thomas recorded on August 13, 1970, “North To Krestova”. This song, a parody of the Johnny Horton hit “North To Alaska”, pokes fun at local Doukhobors, as do several of his other songs. The private Facebook group "People of Nelson, BC" contains plenty of Luigi pictures and stories including the baby-in-the-beer-parlour story, the potted pot plant on Baker Street yarn, hustling pool in Kamloops, the whiskey-raffle scam, and Luigi’s patented pick-up line.
I haven’t been able to find any information on the co-author of “I Remember Loving You”, Tino Chumlevich. One or two people say they recall the name. The city directory does show a Frank T. Chulumovich who worked at the plywood plant in 1967. It’s a safe bet that Luigi worked there too at one time or another. Everybody did. (The plant closed in the early 1980s.)
I have heard Luigi referred to as a rounder, a bit of a rascal, a bit of a jerk sometimes, and an open-hearted guy who loved doing things for people. He had friends in the Kaslo Air Force, a coterie of hang-glider pilots who flew their delta-wing gliders off mountain-tops in the vicinity of Kaslo, B. C.. Luigi was the guy who was always happy to drive the truck down from the top of the mountain. Someone told me that it was Luigi who introduced live music to the Ymir Hotel, where there is still a weekly country music session/open mic. He enjoyed taking people out on Kootenay Lake in his DUKW, a war-surplus amphibious landing craft. One year the DUKW featured as a float in the Kaslo May Day Parade. As the parade passed the boat launch, Luigi turned left into the lake and he and his passengers completed the route aquatically.
Luigi was born around 1933. His family had a hillside dairy farm on Mountain Station Road, just south of the Burlington Northern tracks and just outside city limits. Luigi built an outdoor stage in a corner the property, using timber growing on the site. It was called Luigi’s Log Pile and the events held there were known as Log Jams. The bass and drums could be heard a mile away at Lakeside Park. It was an ideal venue for a bush party because you could only get to it by hiking down a trail, which made things awkward for the police when they had to come and shut things down. Luigi was frequently at loggerheads with the authorities, it seems. He was one of the town’s Sunday bootleggers (another was Doukhobor Mary) and sold beer without a license at Log Jams. (In those days B. C. was almost completely dry on Sundays.)
Apart from the usual frictions involving noise, alcohol, and/or traffic, Luigi had two serious run-ins with the law. In November 1959 he was sentenced to a year in the provincial jail after several hundred-dollar bills belonging to a drinking companion were found in Luigi’s possession. Luigi had a reasonable explanation but the judge didn’t buy it.
A decade later he was in court again. According to the Nelson Daily News of May 27, 1971:
"DEL PUPPO GIVEN JAIL TERM FOR ATTEMPTED BOMBING
Luigi Del Puppo, 38, of Nelson, convicted Friday on a charge of placing explosives beside the Creston court building, was sentenced Wednesday to two years and eight months in the B. C. Penitentiary.
Del Puppo was arrested Dec. 9 in Nelson and charged with placing 10½ sticks of dynamite beside the court building and being in unlawful possession of dynamite in the early morning hours of Dec. 5."
Luigi denied having anything to do with that particular dynamite, saying he was only in Creston to buy Christmas trees to ship to St. Louis, Missouri, where Blues hockey player Bob Plager would use his celebrity status to market them. I don’t know what Luigi’s connection to Bob Plager the Penalty King was but Luigi definitely cut and sold trees whenever Christmastime rolled around. But two Crown witnesses said they met Luigi in the beer parlour on the night in question and he talked about almost getting caught placing the dynamite. One of them further testified that Luigi said he had been offered $2,000 to blow up the cop shop in order to destroy evidence being held there. And Luigi was known as a guy who could handle explosives. Whoever placed the dynamite, it never did explode.
Luigi disappeared on the night of May 6 – 7, 1985. His body was never found. Nelson bluesman Mr. Aardvark, frontman of The Flaming Aardvarks, recalls:
"One afternoon Luigi showed up at the Zoo [i. e. the pub at the Civic Hotel] with the Duck and asked if anyone wanted to go for a ride. My band and a few other local musicians took up the offer and away we went. We got high-centered on a shoal about twenty feet from shore around Six Mile. Duck made a ton of noise trying to dislodge itself with a very stubborn Captain. Soon the RCMP showed up to investigate. A beautiful redhead showed up in a canoe and ferried the boys to shore. Luigi was staying with the ship. We all buggered off back to the Zoo. The next day I found out that they found the Duck washed ashore and no Luigi."
On May 9 the following appeared on the front page of the Nelson Daily News:
"HUNT GOES ON FOR CITY MAN
Assisted by divers and a helicopter, Nelson-area RCMP are searching for Nelson resident Luigi Del Puppo, 52, one of the city’s more colourful characters, a spokesman reported Wednesday.
He was last seen on the evening of May 6. After voyaging about a bit with two friends on his Second World War surplus amphibious land-sea vehicle, he waved goodbye to them from the craft about 11 p.m. at Four Mile on Nelson’s North Shore. The vessel was located later at One Mile."
I talked to another guy who was with Luigi on the day of his final voyage. He said they found the DUKW with the engine running at the idle, doing slow circles in Nasookin Bay. He figured that Luigi fell off the boat while taking a leak. Others say Luigi had cancer and decided to leave the party on his own terms. Of course, a story arose that he hadn’t drowned at all but had only disappeared and was living the good life on a beach in Mexico. Someone said that Mr. Aardvark wrote a memorial song about Luigi called "Sleeping With The Fishes" but Mr. Aardvark says it wasn't him.
When I first started asking around about Luigi I’d couch it in these terms: “I know it’s a long shot, but would you by any chance happen to have ever heard of a guy named Luigi del Puppo?” By now I know that, with anyone who was in Nelson from the 60s through to the 80s, all you have to say is, “Tell me about Luigi.” Folks here remember him well, and for the most part quite fondly.
There are stories about Luigi del Puppo in the following editions of the Nelson Daily News: November 26, 1959; November 27, 1959; April 27, 1971; May 20, 1971; May 22, 1971; May 27, 1971; and May 9, 1985.
More information about "I Remember Loving You", Luigi, and Doukhobors can be found in a blog post by Karl Kroeber, a writer who lives near Nelson. Of particular interest to me was Karl's recollection of having encountered one of the songs from the Phil Thomas recording "Hubba Hubba" when he was a child growing up in the Nelson region.