REMEMBERING ALLEN GOVE
by Jerry Pollack, July 2016
Al was already in the orchestra when I arrived in 1954, and his time there extended beyond mine. He was an absolutely first-rate cellist and an extremely generous person. For many years, he gave cello lessons to a large number of learners, perhaps 15 to 20, charging only $25. When I last visited, two years ago, he had cut the number of students down to perhaps a dozen, but he was still charging $25. I recall that at some point he acquired a Peccate bow, and I asked him years later whether he still had it. He said that a colleague, another cellist, had admired this bow, so he simply traded it for the other fellow's bow. I recall also that, at Patch Barracks, he occasionally played the Mozart A major flute quartet in our off hours with Jake Berg and, I think, Ron Valpreda and Paul McEnderfer. Al, who in real life was a quiet and low-profile kind of guy, essayed an obstreperous, non-conforming role in the Army. He let his hair grow long, mocked and ridiculed the Army, etc. Legend has it that, upon returning to Patch Barracks from a tour, the bus was met by Captain Rodriguez, our CO and nemesis. As the men got off the bus, Rodriguez was enraged to see Al Gove with overly long, bushy hair. Rodriguez made everyone wait while Al was marched off to the barber. Only after he returned, suitably shorn, were the men allowed to disband.
I'll never forget the bicycle trip he, Jake Berg, and I took to from Zurich to Lucerne, and have written about it before in Remembering Jake Berg. Here are a few more details. My bike, and probably Al's, was bought at a PX in Stuttgart in '54, a Rudge bike manufactured by Raleigh with a 3-speed Sturmy-Archer gear shift, and a hub generator for a headlight and tail light. I still have mine. It was a memorable ride with our 3-gear shifts, some 55 km, along a hill-and-dale road. It was a beautiful day, and our trip probably started around midday. We got pretty hot and thirsty along the way, and when we got to a town named Zug, about half way to Lucerne, I remembered that I had met a girl in New York from Zug, and somehow I knew her address. So we bicycled there, and found her mother at home. She sized us up, 3 sweaty young Americans (of course, we were in civilian clothes), and I recall that she fed us some cold milk and maybe additional goodies. Then we went on. When we got to Lucerne, we could hardly walk. An account of our boat adventure the next day appears in the earlier account. Well, that was then - a long time ago, when we were young.
The bulk of his career was in the California higher education system, and he did a lot of freelancing in the Bay Area. One of his gigs was with Tony Bennett.
Al was a very good friend and we managed to keep up with each other despite his being on the west coast and I on the east coast. Two years ago, I was visiting a cousin in Half Moon Bay and drove over to Castro Valley. We played cello duets together, he master of the instrument and I, a middling amateur. I always left his and Muriel's house with a goodly supply of fresh lemons from their trees.