Tuesday, January 5, 2016

The Happy Gang

Happy Gang

“Knock, knock. Who’s there? It’s the Happy Gang! Well, come on in!”
In Canada between 1937 to 1959 as many as two million listeners were tuning in at 1 p.m.(EST) Monday to Friday to hear the Happy Gang on the CBC  It was a great upbeat program of music, variety and humour at a time when everyone needed some sort of a boost to get them through their day.  Canada was just coming to the end of the great depression and suddenly found itself at war World War 2. This after the world believed that the Great War was the war to end all wars.  From crop failures and joblessness of the dirty thirties to facing a new world conflict in 1939, Canadians were seeing vast numbers of their young men heading off to war in Europe.  The music of the Happy Gang was a respite from what was a difficult period in our history. 
Bert Pearl seated at front
There were radio soap operas, Ma Perkins, Our Gal Sunday and others which held our attention just as the evening radio shows did, but the Happy Gang was Canadian and in a class by itself.  The leader was Bert Pearl and he and his band all became common household names, it was as if they were family.
In today's fast moving electronics world of iPads and television and cell phones it is hard to imagine how one program could so mesmerize a nation as this one did.  Anyone visiting Toronto the first question they would be asked is, "Are you going to see the Happy Gang?"  I know because I, as well as many others made my way to the CBC studio in Toronto to join the audience for the live broadcast.  
One of their CBC shows:  Listen to an episode from 1946,