By Rita Button

Molly Raher Newman teaches ukulele at New Horizons a few days a week. Sounds like a perfectly normal thing to do. But then you realize that you’re in Victoria where the ukulele isn’t exactly a mainstream instrument. And it’s perfect because Molly isn’t exactly a mainstream person. To understand this, you have to understand a part of Molly’s life.

Molly is an artist. Not only is she able to play twenty musical instruments, but she also acts, writes and creates visual images in water colour, acrylic and oil.

First, the ukulele. Already an accomplished musician, she was learning to play the harp when her husband was in a near fatal accident. While he was in intensive care, Molly played her portable harp for him three times a day, every day for eight weeks. The harp is a difficult instrument to learn, Molly explained. She had just been learning how to play it when the accident occurred. As a result of the continuous playing at the hospital, she became proficient.

When her husband started his return to the temporal world, Molly continued to see him every day. As he progressed, he was transferred to different care centres, finally finding himself at Aberdeen where Molly was given the choice of looking after him or putting him into a home where professionals would look after him.

Molly wanted to look after Rod, but she didn’t know if she’d be an adequate care-giver, so she called her friend Lindsay who lived in Hawaii, who suggested that she could learn—the two of them should visit, and among the sand, the sun, the sunsets, the surfboards and the music, they would find a way to nurture each other. 

So Molly did.

In the back of Lindsay’s truck where surf boards created a roof to protect Molly from the afternoon sun, Molly taught herself how to play the ukulele, an instrument that is less complicated than the harp she had been using to make music.

With Lindsay’s help, Molly learned how to care for Rod, and she continues to be his main connection to living in the material world. The music helps them to enjoy each other, creating harmony in the physical and spiritual world.

So now, Molly shares her love of music with others who enjoy the classes at New Horizons once a week, but what you probably are really wondering about is the origin of her name, Diamond Tooth Molly.

She has a diamond on her tooth. And it wasn’t because diamonds were more plentiful than dentists in the Yukon where she lived for six years. It was because she was invited to play the role of Diamond Tooth Gertie, the proprietor of a hotel in Dawson City who had a diamond inserted between the gap of her two front teeth. The front of the hotel was respectable and law-abiding, whereas the back was a gambler’s paradise. Although Diamond Tooth Gertie had no difficulty in maintaining order in her hotel, the law intervened by outlawing gambling in Dawson City.

It was a retired RCMP officer who, in 1957, discovered a way to re-install gambling at the hotel, and as a part of that initiative, the revue of Diamond Tooth Gertie and the dancers was re-introduced.

Molly had been living in Dawson Creek before she had been selected to play Diamond Tooth Gertie, and since the revue was to be a total surprise, she changed her name to add to the mystique and allurement of the drama. 

The role of Gertie suited Molly, who loved the drama and the music as much as the audiences loved watching her. 

To be an authentic Gertie, Molly had a diamond attached to her tooth, and it’s still there!

At the end of the conversation, Molly played both the ukulele and the portable harp. Her low voice and masterful playing of both instruments combined to create an emotional experience. 

If you’d like to learn to play the ukulele, you don’t have to go to Hawaii as Molly did. Instead, take the classes that Molly teaches at New Horizons!