Learning to drum at age 86

Joyce had never drummed before she came to live at George Pearson Centre. But that didn’t stop her from picking up the drum sticks at music class and learning to drum along to Jingle Bells (piano played by Laura)

Joyce started drumming when she accompanied her friend Olga, who also lived at George Pearson Centre, to music class one day. Olga was taking drumming lessons to try to strengthen her hands. Joyce says, “I gave it a try and I was hooked!” Other than a break during the summer, she plans to continue drumming.

Joyce is 86 years old. She grew up in the Marpole area, the same neighborhood she now lives in. She has seen a lot of changes to the neighbourhood. While she has never played drums before, she did play violin when she attended Magee Secondary School in Kerrisdale. Another McGee alumni who loves music is Dal Richards, Vancouver’s ‘King of Swing’. He graduated about 7 years earlier than Joyce.

In the 1950s both Joyce and her older sister contracted tuberculosis disease. TB is an infectious disease that develops in one out of 10 people who are infected with TB bacteria. TB can be spread through air-borne particles. Due to this, Canada built isolated facilities called Sanatoriums, where patients would have a regimen of rest and good nutrition. This was the best known treatment until a drug cure was found in the late 1950s. Joyce lived in the King Edward Sanatorium, known as Tranquille, (near Kamloops) for 2 years.

King Edward Sanatorium, now called Tranquille

After leaving Tranquille, Joyce worked part time while she regained her strength. Once she was strong enough she started working full time at the Canadian Fishing Company as secretary to the treasurer, and worked there for 18 years.

In addition to residing here now, Joyce has a history with George Pearson Center. When her sister contracted TB, she ended up living at the very same facility where Joyce now lives — George Pearson Centre. Pearson was built in 1952 in order to provide more beds for people with TB. Next year in 2012, Pearson will mark its 60th anniversary.