The blind bootlegger was east-end legend

Mac's Musings—Claude McIntosh
The blind bootlegger was east-end legend

Bootlegging, as it was called, once was a cottage-type business in and around Cornwall. It flourished in the east end.

One bootlegger in the McConnell Avenue/Montreal Road area used a baby carriage to delivery the illegal product in broad daylight, sometimes tipping his hat to the Montreal Road beat cop and strolling right past the township police station.

One of the legendary bootleggers was an east-Cornwall resident called the “Blind Man”.

He was legally blind and supported his family with the illegal sale of beer and liquor. Unlike the heavily regulated liquor and beer stores with their condensed hours of operation, the “Blind Man’s” business hours were pretty much anytime somebody knocked on the back door.

The illegal operation wasn’t exactly a state secret; seemed that the authorities had a laissez-faire policy when it came to the “Blind Man”.

It was said that when it came to the exchange of money for booze, the honour system was in play. Seemed nobody wanted to cheat a blind man.

But in November 1953, a group of teens nabbed by township cops with a bottle of booze, ratted out the “Blind Man” who the cops felt obligated to charge.

In court, Mag. P. C. Bergeron expressed sympathy for the man, who was living on a paltry pension.

Unfortunately, the blind man took the teens for their word that they were of legal age.

So, after a judicial lecture, the man was fined $150. He was warned that the cops would be keeping a close eye on his home and if there was a next time, he would be spending time in the slammer.

Legend has it that the “Blind Man” took a break but after a few weeks it was business as usual, with the cops looking the other way.

NOVEMBER 1953: After one of their classmates was roughed up by a teacher, 17 students at Mille Roches Public School staged a one-day walkout. The mother of the Grade 8 student told school authorities that her son came home from school with a swollen jaw, cut lip and torn shirt. He told his mother a teacher had inflicted the punishment. Cornwall Township Public School Board said it was investigating the allegation. … Back in the day, the new Bell Telephone directory (aka phone book), usually delivered in December, was a popular read. First thing upon receiving it was to the check your name and phone number. In November 1953 Bell unveiled the 1954 directory that contained 5,800 listings. In all, 14,182 copies were produced with 11,000 distributed in Cornwall. The introductory page included a “How to Use a Dial Phone” lesson for customers in Finch and Lancaster. … The Cornwall Public Library board proposed purchasing the stately Samuel Cline home at Second and Amelia streets to replace the crowded library on the south-west corner of Second and Sydney streets. The owners, Miss Ella MacLennan and Mrs. G. C. Scarth, were asking $60,000. The sale was approved and $20,000 was spent on renovations. … June Irwin, who would graduate from Queen’s with a medical degree, was top graduate at the annual CCVS fall commencement. … Steel work on the new Hotel Dieu Hospital on McConnell Avenue, was completed. It was a $3 million project to replace the hospital at Water and York streets. … Local residents John R. McRae and P. A. Lefebvre were given a United States patent for an electronic toilet flusher to be used in public buildings and gas station washrooms. … Bob Boyd, who grew up in Cornwall, at age 18 was named chief announcer at radio station CHVC in Niagara Falls. He headed up a staff of eight announcers. … Cornwall native Dr. Leo Daigneault opened a medical practice at 171 Montreal Rd. … Unionized employees at the Dominion Tar and Chemical plant on Cumberland street signed a one-year contract that raised the base hourly wage to $1.32. … Bringloe Furniture held its grand opening at 21 Pitt St. … The Bargain Store, owned by Mrs. T. Kastner, opened its new store at 27 First St., across from the original store. It is now called Kastner’s. … Cornwall Milk Distributors said home delivery by its member dairies would not be made on Wednesdays (in addition to Sundays) to give employees a five-day work week. … Cornwall Colts star goaltender Pete Piquette was back with the team by the end of the month after leaving the club in a dispute with coach Frank Mario. The Colts were at the top of the Provincial Senior Hockey League. … Kingston Collegiate defeated St. Lawrence 15-5 in the EOSSA championship football game. Earl Blackadder had the Saints’ TD (worth five points in the day). … Armed Forces members – navy, army, air force – received a 10% pay boost. Basic monthly salary for new recruits was $92. Flying officers were paid $230 a month. … Cornwall Street Railway said its fleet of buses and street cars was on target to carry 4.2 million passengers by the end of the year.

TRIVIA ANSWER: On May 13, 2021, Greyhound Bus Line ended service in Canada after 100 years. It still operates in the United States.

TRIVIA: Dr. John Carter Callaghan made Canadian medical history on Sept. 15, 1956: 1) First successful lung transplant, 2) First successful open heart surgery, 3) First surgeon to re-attach a severed hand, 4) First Canadian surgeon to perform a heart transplant, 5) Discovered a cure for scarlet fever?

QUOTED: “A lot of people work just hard enough not to get fired and get paid just enough not to quit.” – George Carlin

ONE FINAL THING: The Wise Men (Bible doesn’t say how many) sure didn’t know what they were starting when they brought Christmas Day gifts to Baby Jesus. They laid the groundwork for a retail gift-giving bonanza.

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