Mahlon Dolman with a picture of his stepfather
On a sunny afternoon in September, 1998, I visited Portland, Oregon with a Dutch film crew. Purpose of the visit: to see Mahlon Dolman, owner of the Roy Shield Music Company and son (from a previous marriage) of Leroy Shield's wife, Katherine. Mr. Dolman and I had corresponded since 1992 but never previously met. He, his wife Virginia, their daughter Barbara and I gathered around a picnic tablein a local park, exchanged gifts, looked at family photographs, and talked at length about their personal recollections of "Roy" and "Kay."

PS: First of all, do you pronounce his first name as Leroy or LeRoy?
Mahlon: We always called him Leroy, or rather Roy; I didn't use the "Lee."
PS: In a
newspaper clipping Roy is described as a "Belle Plaine boy," but he was born in Waseca, Minnesota.
Mahlon: I think that if you look at a map you'll probably find Belle Plaine and Waseca are practically right across the street. Just small towns, you know.
Virginia: These are telegrams that help date a few things: personal telegrams that he sent to Kay, before they were married.
Mahlon: This one's off our mantle.
PS: I found a newspaper article mentioning Roy's "intention to marry Katherine Williams Dolman, wealthy divorcée… It is his first and mrs. Dolman's third marriage."
Virginia: Well, everything is true, but she was not wealthy! She was a working woman.
Mahlon: She worked for Shell Oil in the Bay Area. She lived in a part of Oakland called Piedmont, sort of up in the hills. It'd be nice to know how they met. They were married in, what, 1930? I lived with my grandparents then. I never knew Roy until she came out west with him in 1932, so my memory is not real good on this. I used to listen to the "Roy Shield Revue" on the radio, on a crystal set. They used "You Are the One I Love" as a theme song; a beautiful piece.
Virginia: He wrote it for Kay.
Mahlon: This is a real nice picture of Roy.
PS: I guess this must be when he first came to Chicago in 1932.
Mahlon: My guess too. He looks pretty young.
Virginia: My favorite newspaper article is the one with that bashful-looking picture of Roy. They wanted him to speak to the audience, so finally he said, well, I will. And then he said "Hello." One word.
Mahlon: When he worked for the Phil Baker show, they tried to get Roy to participate more, but he just wanted to stay with what he was there for. He didn't like the idea of getting in front of the group and trying to act like a straight man.
PS: Would you classify him as bashful?
Mahlon: I don't think he cared for public attention as an individual. He was very outgoing and all that, but I think he didn't like to have the cameras on him. I think he just as soon be leading the orchestra. But he had a very warm way about him. Anybody that would see him and meet him would classify him as a really intelligent, classy, gentle, sweet person.
Virginia: When he worked for Hal Roach, Kay and Roy socialized with Stan Laurel, because there is a Christmas card from Stan and his wife. They were also friends with Harlan and Virginia Walker.
Mahlon: We've made notes of what we remember of Roy's visits—not that we saw him that many times.… I didn't live with him, but we used to see him periodically. He and Kay would come out from Chicago and, later, from New York. He was out here in Portland in 1937. There used to be an airport here called Swan Island, down on the water. It no longer exists. I was pretty young, but I clearly remember him taking off in a United Airlines DC-3.

Loved Golf

Mahlon: You can see here that Roy was about 5'8".
Virginia: Yes, I think I saw that on his passport. One of the things he was proud est of and enjoyed the most were the pop concerts in Grant Park in Chicago. There's a program here for the concert of August 18, 1940—the first performance of Shield's Gloucester.
Mahlon: Roy and Kay were here again in 1941. My mother's twin sister had a ranch down in southern Oregon, and they'd all meet there. It was a fun place. We saw him in Denver when he came out for that big deal about the seventy-fifth year of the Union Pacific Railroad, in '44. He wrote this special music. The orchestra he used was made up of employees from Union Pacific; it was a company group.

Loved Ice Cream

Virginia: He loved sweets and ice cream. He used to say, "My audience gets the rear view,so I can't eat too much of that ice cream." I remember he said that when we saw him in Denver, at a place called Bower's.
Mahlon: He loved that stuff!
Virginia: He always got a "Black 'n' Gold" — chocolate ice cream, orange sugar, andchocolate syrup over it.
Mahlon: He also loved horse riding, golf, fishing…
Virginia: They both loved those things. I just don't know where they found time!
Mahlon:
Here he is with their dog, Kerry. It was a Kerry Blue Terrier, that's why they called him Kerry, I guess. They'd gotten it from my mother's sister, who moved and had to do something with the dog, so they took him. This was probably when they lived in Kenilworth, near Chicago.
Virginia: This is a picture of Kay and Roy and a friend. They had this little budgie, and he just loved the darned thing. He'd put raspberry seeds around the room and it'd come and pick them off. He liked tell ing about it. So he liked animals all right.

Toscanini's Assistant

Virginia: He was assistant conductor for Toscanini for years and years, and someplace we have a record of a rehearsal when Roy was directing and Toscanini was sitting by. I don't remember ever seeing it, but Kay did. It must be filed under "miscellaneous."
Mahlon: I just love that laughing picture. Mahlon: We saw him again in 1957.
Barbara: He knew I was a novice piano player, so he brought me this book, Piano Pieces the Whole World Plays, from the NBC Library (I'm sure they were through with it). He sat very patiently with me by our piano, and went through some of these horriblelooking things, which weren't too bad after he worked with me, and we had a real good time. Then he'd play, and of course then you'd feel really humble, because he was so good. I thought he pushed down every key at once—he was amazing. Considering he didn't have kids, he acted like a good grandpa.
Virginia: He enjoyed that. And in 1958 he picked out her first formal evening gown.
Barbara: I went with him on a shopping binge. He bought me a gorgeous formal. It was lovely. I still have it; it doesn't fit. But that was a lot of fun.
Mahlon: I know they went back and forth to Mexico in 1959, and earlier. They had friends they spent time with down there, and for about a year they had an apartment in Mexico City.
Virginia: He was going to open a branch of his music company in Mexico. They were calling it "Cemusa." But after looking into all of it, they decided not to.
PS: They moved a lot: to San Francisco, Chicago, New York, New Jersey… Do you recall the address 122 East California Avenue, Beach Haven Park, N.J.?
Mahlon: Yeah, they lived there. And later in Vera Beach, Florida. Katherine's twin sister Marguerite moved to Florida and lived with them.
Virginia: The last time they visited us here in Portland, in September 1961, he wasn't well. He went to rest outside; we put an army cot out under the cherry tree and he slept out there in the afternoon. The women probably all went shopping. He was taking some type of medication, so he already had the problem that he died from not six months later. He had cancer of the liver or the spleen or something like that, and I don't think they realized what it was. They had a doctor that they liked in Chicago. Kay took him from Florida back to Chicago to see the doctor and he had surgery there. She never mentioned cancer to us. And then—he passed away.
Mahlon: After Roy died, Katherine and her sister moved out west in '65 or '66. They moved to Oakland because they'd lived there years before, and they really liked the climate there. They stayed there till Kay died, in February '76.
Virginia: Then we brought her sister up to Portland.
Mahlon: Her sister outlived her for a year.

The Roy Shield Music Company

PS: Who created the Roy Shield Music Company?
Mahlon: Roy did, I think in about '58. Maybe somebody advised him that he should have a music company.
PS: This music company was bestowed upon you through inheritance, when your mother died. That must have been unfamiliar territory for you.
Mahlon: Yes, totally. I got acquainted with it as I went along, but I'm not a musician, I don't play any instrument, all I do is listen to music, so they really had me at a disadvantage there. It would have been easier if Katherine had told me anything about it, but she was a very secretive person in lots of ways. She kept things to herself.
Virginia: And I don't think Roy was secretive, but Kay didn't know much about it when she got it from Roy. He had always worked alone, and there hadn't been any reason to be telling her all about it.
Mahlon: Roy ran the household, in a sense. I remember Katherine saying: Well, he came home today and he'd bought a new car! I never knew what color it was going to be, or what kind…
Virginia: It's a man kind of thing!
Mahlon:
He was from an old school where the man did all the major stuff. Not like today!

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