Gootch is Gone to Heaven

PopBrysonIMG_20141002_074706_284I went to Joseph Bryson’s viewing today. So, did the rest of the planet.

It certainly feels that way as more than a thousand people filed into the Edward O’Malley (EOM) Athletic Association hall in South Philadelphia Wednesday evening and Thursday morning to pay respects to Philadelphia Shooters and Mummers Association Hall of Famer, Joseph “Pop” Bryson. Pop passed away at the age of 81.

Byrsonfuneral 2014-10-02 at 1.56.58 PMIn a manner that would fit Pop, also known as “Gootch,” the viewing was a celebration of his life, a restatement of his belief in his large family (can you say 30 great-grandkids?), and displayed the fun, spirited attitude that is the hallmark of a great Mummer. The evening and morning were filled with conversation about Pop. Music, too. Quaker City and Woodland String bands serenaded. The Spartans and others visited. Brass bands played. All wanting to comfort Pop’s children, Renie, Lou, Joe, Jr., Michael, Ed, and Paul and the whole Bryson family.

Joe Br2012-12-23_16-57-02_586(1)yson also embodied at least three of the great spirits of Mummery: Fun, Family, and Independence.

Joe started in the Mummers Parade when he was 5 years old, strutting with his Uncle Harry in Murray Comic Club. The year was 1938. He missed the 1951 and 1952 parades while serving overseas in the U.S. Army.BrysonArmyIMG_20141002_074441_955 Gootch loved the parade. He would march with several clubs, including Golden Crown, Hammond, Goodtimers and Golden Slipper.

BrysonhatIMG_20141002_074803_282In the mid-1970’s he raised the stakes, creating his own brigade called the Bryson New Year’s Brigade. The emphasis would be on family.


LucilleIMG_20141002_074735_259Bryson and his late wife, Lucille, loved children. He would never say no to a child who wanted to be in the parade. He was famous for ordering a suit to be made at the last minute for a kid who wanted in and many who could not afford the suit. BrysonsuitIMG_20141002_074627_608He was also a stickler for how the suit was constructed. “Trim as you go,” he would say. “Trim as you go.”

He drove a truck for much of his life. He played football while in the Army and later volunteered with kids on the athletic fields. He was an EOM Man of the Year.


Brysonprocession2014-10-02 at 1.57.12 PMThis love of life was capped off today by a funeral procession from EOM near Front and Moore to Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Roman Catholic Church at 3rd and Wolf. A horse drawn carriage carried his body. Brass bands led the procession. Scores of family and friends followed. New Orleans and Philadelphia Mummery have always had connections. Joe Bryson knew that better than most of us.

To the Winners!


The 2013 SugarHouse Casino Mummers Parade launched the new year, Philadelphia-style! Thousands of strutters celebrating the new year and writing another chapter in the history of the Mummers tradition.

2-2013-Mummers-9906-150x150A salute to the Murray Comic Club for another big win and to Murray’s winning Captain Dennis Pellegrino.

The Goodtimers Comic Club scored in the comic brigade category with Rabble Rousers NYB and their theme, “Scrapitalism.” B. Love Strutters and Jesters take 2nd and 3rd. Last year’s winners, Two Street Stompers finish a strong 4th.


Congratulations to Jackie Bam Bam of Golden Sunrise. The Alice Cooper of Mummery takes 1st Prize for his “Black Magic” in the Handsome Costume category of the Fancies.  John Lucas builds a great suit.

2-2013-Mummers-0556-150x150Hog Island takes first prize among the Fancy Clubs.

Golden Sunrise’s Matt Glovacz with that awesome engine and box car takes 1st Prize Fancy Captain.  The Hog’s “Polynesian Volcano Dancer” with Bryanne Hornung takes 1st in the King Clown category ,“Flight of the Monarch” with Bill Chischnijak wins King Jockey, and “Guardian of the Crown” with Jesse, Tabitha and Shannon win Handsome Trim.


Bryson wins! Congrats Pop, and a tip of the bonnet to Bryson Captain Eddie “Gootch” Bryson for winning 1st  Prize Captain in the Wench Brigade Division. Bryson NYB takes 1st Prize among the wenches for their “Fight Like A Lady” theme in beautiful pink and white. Great job, great cause, heart-felt.

JHJ Saints finish a good 2nd; George Stewart’s Pirates a strong third.

2013-01-01_17-12-13_876In the String Band Division, Fralinger overcame the fire and last year’s un-Fralinger like finish in results and came “Back From the Dead” to win 1st Prize with their haunting, zombie like theme.  However, it was close. Just 6-tenths of a point separates Fralinger and number 2 Quaker City String Band, who delivered a textbook performance that will have fans of each club debating for years. Woodland performed as Champions and finished a strong 3rd this year. South-Philadelphia-String-Band-Mummers-Parade-2013-0916-150x150

South Philadelphia comes in 4th; Ferko 5th.  Hegeman with its exquisite 1960’s London love story finishes 6th. Avalon-7th; Aqua-8th; Polish American 9th and Uptown 10th. Rounding out the field are Pennsport, Duffy, Broomall, Durning, Greater Kensington,Greater Overbrook and Trilby.  Congratulations to Felicia Kaminski and Anthony Mulzet on their engagement!

Congratulations to Fralinger Captain Thomas D’Amore for winning 1st prize Captain again. Jack Hee takes 2nd prize again. Wonderful entrance, Jack, from the elephant.  Denny Palandro takes 3rd. Great performance by Ryan Radcliffe lifts him to 4th. Charlie Roetz takes 5th, followed by Charlie Nicholas, John Baron, new Captain Nick Magenta, and Ron Iannacone who completes the top ten.

Congratulations to South Philly Vikings and to new Captain, Gerald Roccia for finishing 1st in the Fancy Brigade Finale and 1st among Captains with their performance of “RU Game.” Downtowners take 2nd and Saturnalian 3rd. Avenuers are 4th and Bill McIntyre’s Shooting Stars are 5th.  Bob Fitzmaurice takes 2nd in the Captain’s category; Frank DeVito ,3rd.

Enjoy the moment!