Those were the days, my friend

by Claude McIntosh
Those were the days, my friend


The other night while our group—coined Mutts of the Round Table by member in good standing Rick “Nash” Kalil—was enjoying a sumptuous Italian dinner at Billy Petepiece’s pad on Island 17, talk, as it always does, got around to the good old days, or as Brian “The Cat” Rouleau likes to say “Back in da day.”

As the song goes, those were the days my friend.

That got me thinking about the question presented by one of the rug rats few years back, “What’s a baby boomer?”

Well, a baby boomer, or someone in the older division, remembers soft drink machines that dispensed glass bottles. Milk was delivered in glass bottles with cardboard stoppers. Kids “smoked” flavoured candy cigarettes. Two cents got you a wax Coke-shaped bottle filled with coloured water. We drank Kikk cola.

Having to write out “I will not be bad in class” 100 times, standing in the corner for 20 minutes, receiving a detention or not being allowed out at recess was doing “easy time”. The real punishment was arriving home and learning your parent(s) received a call from the principal. That’s because, in almost every instance, parents sided with the teachers. It is why the pupil-teacher ratio wasn’t an issue.

When a kid headed out in the morning on a non-school day and didn’t return for lunch, nobody considered organizing a search party. They were having too much fun over at the park. Everything was okay as long as you were back when the street lights came on. The city had a curfew for kids under 16.

A kid with a pocket knife didn’t cause a school lockdown. The “weapons” of choice were pea shooters and sling shots tucked in a back pocket.

Friends weren’t collected by the dozen on Facebook. Friends were earned.

Texting was slipping a classmate a note.

We had party lines and telephone numbers with three digits. After 20 minutes, a mother would yell, “You’ve been on the phone long enough.” The Bell Telephone Co. was nicknamed Ma Bell.

Clothes were washed on Mondays in a wringer washer—Beatty was the big seller – and hung to dry clothes on a clothes rack or clothes line. Thursday was grocery shopping day when the bread winner was paid by cheque. Families bought potatoes in 50-pound bags.

Being old was anyone over 20.

And the older we got, the smarter our parents got.

THIS MONTH CIRCA 1958—one of Cornwall’s oldest family-owned and operated businesses was sold to two Cornwall businessmen. George Kaneb and Ralph Whitehead were the new owners of Beach Furniture, established at Sydney and Eighth streets in 1908 when C.A. Beach purchased Cornwall Furniture Co. At its peak, the company had 88 employees turning out bedroom and dining room furniture. … It’s not every day a prime minister shows up for a wading pool ribbon cutting, but Prime Minister John Diefenbaker cut the ribbon for the new Kinsmen wading pool at Memorial Park. …After several weeks of gingerly digging on Cameron’s Island in the St. Lawrence River, a team led by Royal Ontario Museum archeologist Walter Kenyon uncovered three ancient native settlements. The dig recovered dozens of artifacts that included pottery, arrowheads, and flints. Kenyon believed the settlements were hundreds of years old. … Royal Canadian Legion Branch 297 held the official opening of its new hall built at a cost of $90,000. …North End Fastball League pitcher Doug Taillon was in fine form as he hurled a three-hitter and slugged two home runs, as Brookshell Motors routed Hodgins 20-0. …Bob Turner, a former professional baseball player, was Cornwall’s new recreation director. The 31-year-old Turner, a graduate of New York University, was recreation director in Colbourne, Ont. for four years before landing the Cornwall job. He had a stint with the Chicago White Sox as a catcher, one year after Jackie Robinson broke the colour barrier, and played in the Mexican and Pacific Coast leagues.

1958 PART TWO—A busy weekend for the Cornwall Police traffic department saw all three of Cornwall’s ambulance services used. Exclusive Ambulance, Miller’s Funeral Home and Boulerice, and Payette Funeral Home ambulances transported injured persons to hospital. In one incident, a four-year-old girl was transported to Montreal Neurological Hospital with head injuries. In the day, funeral homes provided ambulance services as a sideline. …Billed as Cornwall’s only dine and dance club, the Oasis (former The Wonderland) held its grand opening with the Jimmy Thompson Orchestra performing. The club was owned by Ed Andrews and Eric Richardson. … The new community of Long Sault had a new restaurant. The Long Sault Restaurant in the shopping plaza was owned by John Touchette, Lionel Touchette, and Jimmie Hickman. They also owned the Long Sault IGA and Paul’s IGA at 854 First St. E. in Cornwall. … The Brunet brothers, Gerald, Arcade, and Agnos, opened the new Cardinal Motel at Highway 2 and Power Dam Drive. …Louis Emard Gas Bar on St. Andrew’s Road re-opened with gas selling for 38.9 cents a gallon. Montreal Road east of St. Felix Street had the heaviest peak-hour traffic with 1,323 vehicles. … CKSF on-air personalities included John Larocque, George Heath, George Williamson, Bill “Night Train” Gallant, Bill LaSalle, Don Passerby, and Hall Lee Jr. Heath later became the voice of the Cornwall Royals, calling the 1972 Memorial Cup victory.

HERE AND THERE: The other day at the gas station a guy filling up his pick-up truck yelled over to me, “Do you have a cell phone?” I said yes. He said “Will you call 9-1-1.” I yelled back, “What’s the problem?” Pointing to the pump, he said, “I want to report a robbery.” …A local conspiracy theorist claims Queen Elizabeth died just prior to the big anniversary celebration and news shots of her attending a couple of the events were faked. Hey, why spoil a good party.

TRIVIA ANSWER: ESSO used the slogan “Put a Tiger in Your Tank”.

TRIVIA: This event on July 1, 1958 in Cornwall attracted a crowd of 70,000 people and received national and international media coverage.

QUOTED: “An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.”
– Winston Churchill.

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