Last modified: 2006-01-14 by ivan sache
Keywords: hamoir | lion (green) |
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Municipal flag of Hamoir - Image by Arnaud Leroy, 2 June 2005
The municipality of Hamoir (3,407 inhabitants; 2,776 ha) is located in the province of Liège. It is made since 1976 of the former municipalities of Comblain-Fairon, Filot and Hamoir.
Hamoir is the birth village of the artists Gilles (painter) and Jean (sculptor) Del Cour (XVIIth century). Jean Del Cour is famous for his sculptures of the Blessed Virgin with Infant Jesus. The roman church of Xhignesse (XIth century) is one of the oldest churches in the region.
Filot is the birth village of the musician Edouard Senny (1923-1980), composer of sacred music.
Fairon is a concentric village surrounding its church. It has three mills, the oldest dating from the Middle Ages. In the XVIIth century, there was a Justice Court in the village, with competence on administrative matters and small offences, which depended on the High Court of Stavelot-Malmédy. Fairon is the birth village of Dom Célestin Thys, last Prince-Abbot of Stavelot in the XVIIIth century.
Comblain-la-Tour is named after the tower built by Mayor Robert de la
Marck in the XVIth century. It is the birth village of Joseph Huberty
(1886-1957), a Walloon poet, writer and chansonnier.
There was in the past a famous jazz festival in the small village of Comblain-la-Tour. The origin of the festival traces back to the Battle of the Bulge, as explained on the website dedicated to the saxophonist Julian Canonball Adderley:
A mud-spattered soldier from Brooklyn USA wandered, late in December 1944, into the little town of Comblain-La-Tour, Belgium. It was a village, really, with fewer than 1,000 inhabitants. The town was battered by buzz bombs and artillery, and only a handful of people had clung to it.
Joe Napoli, a Brooklyn boy, was at this stage just plain homesick; he was also wet, cold and generally miserable. He wanted to forget the Battle of the Bulge for a few hours. He wanted to talk to somebody who did not wear a uniform; somebody who did not have "kill or be killed" on the brain; somebody who would not keep reminding him that Von Rundstedt had to be stopped.
On that cold, foggy day in Comblain-La-Tour Joe got his wish. The first man he met simply said, "Would you like a hot drink? Or a chance to warm your feet?" It was the first real kindness Joe had encountered in a long time. All he could do was nod. The man led him into one of the few houses that had escaped the flying bombs. Right behind the house was a big kitchen where shining pots were hanging and a glowing stove was giving out a wonderful heat. Joe was introduced to half a dozen people who were talking about crops and what the priest had said at mass - all just as if the war had never existed! "They took me in," Joe said later in awe, "as though I was one of them. They fed me and gave me a place by the stove and suddenly I wasn't homesick anymore. Man, it was wonderful!"
After that Joe's love affair with the little Belgian town blossomed rapidly. He came back to visit his new friends as often as possible, and they always welcomed him like a long lost son.
Eventually, Joe Napoli, like millions of other G.I.'s, was shipped back to the States. Yet even then he never forgot Comblain-La-Tour, and he never stopped asking himself one question "How can I show my gratitude?"
The answer was a long time coming. Joe had to earn a living first of all. It took him almost 10 years to become established as a manager-producer of bands, and an as agent for singers. But in 1955 he was solid enough to make his first trip back to Europe, managing bands touring the continent. Before the tour was over, Joe found time to pay a quick visit to Comblain-La-Tour. Most of the homes had been rebuilt and the fields and mountains seemed more beautiful than when he'd seen them before. "But all I could do," he remembers now "was go around shaking hands and say how glad I was to be back." Then early in 1959 he got his big inspiration, "I heard," he says, "that the town needed money to rebuild its church. That's when I knew I couldn't let the people down. My business was music and handling bands. I decided to get some bands together and stage a big festival to raise money for the church, and stage it right there in the village square!"
From any point of view, it was a crazy idea. Nobody outside Belgium had ever heard of Comblain-La-Tour. The town was too small to accommodate hordes of people - even if they did come. Joe had never staged a big festival in his life.
But his enthusiasm worked wonders. Paul Gabriel, chief of the newspaper La Meuse, got behind the project and became its sponsor. Two others who worked closely with Joe were Willy Henroteaux, ace publicity man, and Madame Raymonde Lismonde, a genius on plans and details.
Working together, the group decided that August 2nd, 1959, would be the big day. Then they beat the publicity drums in a non-stop effort to let the whole of Europe know that the International Festival of Jazz would soon be coming up in Comblain-La-Tour.
The mayor, the priest, the postmistress and schoolmistress worked overtime to make the town pretty. Joe scouted around and lined up some pretty good talent: Romano Mussolini, the George Gruntz trio, Lilian Terry, and Rolf Kuhn.
Then, when everything was ready, it rained. "But," says Joe, "the Lord was with us. The rain slacked off a little in the afternoon. Before the programme was over, 8,000 people had showed up."
With the help of his friends, the ex-GI had made history, and it would have been hard to find a happier man. For, in the end, there was not only money to start rebuilding the new church, but also enough for a bell. And the best was yet to come.
Joe and his associates were so jubilant they decided to try it again. For 1960 they picked some name attractions - Britain's Petula Clark, France's Charles Aznavour, America's Bill Coleman and Kenny Clarke, among others. They gave the festival a two-day run, and when the final count was made, they discovered that 22,000 spectators had joined in the fun More encouraging-more than 100 journalists had been on hand to Write it up, and a dozen radio and TV stations had spread the message throughout Europe.
It kept on getting better. In 1961, just over 30,000 were in attendance - and the one-day record (16,000) held previously by the Newport, R.l., festival in the U.S.A. was broken.
By 1962 Comblain-La-Tour was the place. On Aug. 4-5, visitors came from all over Europe, with a few even from the U.S.A. America's Cannonball Adderley and Frankie Avalon were the top stars - but there were also bands and singers from France, Germany, Holland, Denmark, Switzerland, Italy, Great Britain, Belgium, and Yugoslavia.
Attendance in 1962 set a new record: 42,000 in two days. And right now Joe's adopted town is the most envied and talked-about little place in Europe. It isn't hard to figure out why. In four years, Joe Napoli's efforts have attracted 102,000 visitors to Comblain-La-Tour.
Joe is the first American to be made an honorary citizen of Comblain-La-Tour. Because of him, the town's main square has a new name, Times Square, plus a genuine Times Square-sign sent over from New York in 1961.
There had to be something in this story of the war that brought Joe and Comblain-LaTour together, but mostly it is about how sudden fame came to a little-known village because a man with a debt of kindness just had to pay it off.
The festival was suppressed in 1967 due to lack of funds and conflicts among the organizers, the municipality and the sponsors. The legend says that "all the great names of jazz played in Comblain", which is exaggerated, even if John Coltrane, Chet Baker, Stan Getz, Jimmy Smith and Cannonball Adderley played there!
Source: Municipal website
Ivan Sache, 2 June 2005
The municipal flag of Hamoir is white with a green lion with red claws
According to Armoiries communales en Belgique. Communes wallonnes, bruxelloises et germanophones, the flag follows the proposal made by the Heraldry and Vexillology Council of the French Community:
Blanc au lion vert, la langue et les griffes rouges.
It is a banner of the municipal arms:
D'argent au lion de sinople armé et lampassé de gueules.
Argent a lion vert armed and langued gules.
Arnaud Leroy, Pascal Vagnat & Ivan Sache, 2 June 2005