This prank backfired … literally.
It was November 1957 and a Cornwall man doing some evening bar hopping made his way to a downtown Detroit bar from Windsor just across the river.
He was about to become a front-page news item, for all the wrong reasons.
Thinking it would be a great joke, he pulled a toy pistol from his pocket and hollered out to the bar crowd, “I’m goin’ to shoot this place up!”
Dumb thing to do in a downtown Detroit bar in the fifties.
As terrified customers dived for the floor and scrambled under tables, the bartender, an army veteran, grabbed a loaded .32-calibre handgun kept under the bar, for security reasons, aimed at the “shooter” and fired a shot, striking the pretend shooter in the leg. As he stumbled for the door, another shot just missed his head.
As the man rolled in pain on the floor, the barkeep held him until Detroit police arrived to the active shooter call.
The 22-year-old “victim” was taken to hospital where he was treated for a broken leg.
Perhaps feeling that he was lucky not to have been killed, the man was not charged.
One could say that the barkeep got the last laugh.
In November 1957 the Cornwall Fire Department hired two recruits from a long list of applicants. Long list but nothing compared to today when they are breaking down the door to join the department.
The hirings were criticized by the local branch of the Royal Canadian Legion.
Branch 297 argued that veterans, especially World War II and Korean War vets, should have priority when it came to hiring at the fire department.
The fire chief said the two non-veterans were hired because they were the best applicants.
City council sided with the legion branch and the fire department was ordered to give veterans preference when hiring. Meanwhile, applications for all city jobs were amended to include a paragraph saying veterans would receive first consideration.
ALSO IN 1957 – Ontario Hydro house moving operations in the St. Lawrence Seaway/Power Project were down to nine homes, all in the Morrisburg area. In all, 520 homes had been re-located, most to the new towns of Ingleside and Long Sault. … The Eastern Ontario Development Association urged the provincial government to build a highway linking Cornwall to Ottawa. The preferred route was through Newington, Finch, Berwick, Crysler and Vars. … The Elmer the Safety Elephant campaign was launched at the Palace Theatre, the first of 10 Elmer the Safety Elephant theatre parties that included a feature film and eight cartoons along with a safety talk by the city police traffic officers. … The Bank of Montreal was celebrating its 100th year in Cornwall. The first branch opened in William Mattice’s general store. The first stand-alone branch opened at York and First streets in 1861. The branch had several other sites before building on the former Rossmore Hotel property on Pitt Street (now the arts centre). … The annual Children’s Christmas Fund Concert was set for Dec. 9 at the CCVS auditorium. It was sponsored by the Standard-Freeholder and CKSF Radio (which the newspaper owned). The list of local entertainment included Smiling Jack and His Sons of the Plain, Big Slim, the Percy Smith Trio, Richelieu Glee Club, Anna Melnyczenko, Ernest Seguin and Mayor L. G. Lavigne and the City Slickers (aka city council). … The new Champlain Service Station owned by Rolland Chatelain opened at Cumberland and Eleventh streets. Assistant manager was Louis Seguin. … Bell Telephone launched a know-how-to-dial campaign ahead of changing city Bell users to the dial system that replaced “number please” operators.
SPORTS STUFF CIRCA 1957 – St. Lawrence High School Saints defeated Brockville Collegiate Rams 28-20 to win a third straight EOSSA football title. Moe Racine and Paul Lapointe each had two touchdowns. Tony Meuiller kicked four converts. … The Richard brothers, Henri and Maurice, were leading the NHL scoring race followed by teammate Jean Beliveau. … Cornwall Chevies defeated Belleville MacFarlands 5-2 in an Ontario Hockey Association Senior A game in front of 2,800 fans at the Water Street Arena. It was the first of five win-a-car games. Fan Dorothy Carson left the game with a new Chevrolet. Local players in the Cornwall lineup were Neil Burke, Moe Savard and Bob Bingley.
THIS AND THAT In 1888 Cornwall won the National Amateur Lacrosse Association (NALA) championship and the team’s most valuable player was Albert Frederick Lewis, the team’s only Black player. In fact, he might have been North America’s only Black lacrosse player. He was the son of a Cornwall barber and white mother. Upper Canada Village researcher Milton Kooistra is gathering information on Lewis for a Black and indigenous display at Crysler Hall. He secured a team photo from Cornwall Community Museum. … Can’t recall when another upper level politician got involved in a municipal election campaign the way Sen. Bernadette Clement did in the Oct. 24 Cornwall election. She openly supported two council candidates but avoided publicly supporting one of the two leading mayoral candidates, Glen Grant and Justin Towndale. Grant not only threw his support behind Clement in the 2018 mayoral race, which she won, but campaigned for her. It was a big disappointment for some in the Grant camp who felt she owed him a public show of support. … Big bouquet for city CAO Maureen Adams and her senior administration team for twisting Bank of Montreal’s arm for a $250,000 donation to the arts centre.
TRIVIA ANSWER Long before he got into politics, former Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry MP Guy Lauzon owned a scrap yard near Sudbury. It was called Scrap City Auto Wreckers.
TRIVIA Before becoming a Hollywood star, this actor drove a New York City cab in the 1970s to make ends meet: 1) Chevy Chase, 2) Robert De Niro, 3) Al Pacino, 4) John Goodman, 5) Dustin Hoffman.
QUOTED – “Politics has become so expensive that it takes a lot of money even to be defeated.” – Will Rogers
ONE FINAL THING Rest in Peace, Murph. You are gone too soon from our sight, but not our hearts.