It’s a musician’s duty and responsibility to keep people up, keep them smiling.
So says Harry Hull, Duncan’s piano man, who can be found seven days a week pounding the ivory on an old upright piano on Station Street in downtown Duncan.
You could say its Hull’s full-time job because he can’t work because of a groin injury. He doesn’t have a pension of much more than $50 a month because of a crooked employer who kept Hull’s pension deductions instead of sending them to Ottawa.
There’s a small box on the corner of the piano for donations that Hull says averages him about $10 per day.
Hull, 63 years of age, started playing a long time ago when he was just 10 years old. He got six years of formal piano lessons and ended up playing in the Cecil Bonner Band before he made it into his teens.
For many years before he sustained his work-related injury he worked in construction and tree planting. He married somewhere along the way, but that relationship ended almost 20 years ago. He has three sons; one in Duncan, one in Victoria and one working in Grand Prairie, Alberta.
“They sure make good money in Grand Prairie,” Hull said.
Personally, Hull makes do. He has dinner three evenings a week at the United Church and has lunch the six days a week that the soup kitchen off of James Street is open.
His one luxury is electricity but the only light bulb that is ever on in his house is the one he is using, “just something my parents taught me”, he said. “Its a good thing I don’t have an addiction because I couldn’t afford it.” He does his clothes washing by hand and uses that water for his garden.
Hull spotted the piano outside of the Duncan Showroom on Station Street maybe two years ago. He asked John if he could play it, John said yes, and Hull has been coming back to play seven days a week for between three and four hours a day.
Hull makes the three mile walk from his home in Glenora, a painful exercise because of his injury.”It a musician’s duty and responsibility to keep people’s spirits up,” Hull said. “We have to keep them smiling.”
Hull has no plans to stop any time soon and he is there on Station Street come rain, shine or snow.
Partick Hrushowy is a forty-five year veteran of journalism and the communications field and he is the Editor of the Cowichan Post.