Friday, May 3, 2019

Ralph Darling's Service Station 1954 and it's Significance at 906 Victoria Ave in our home town of Fort William, Ontario....

Looking back through photos and documents in my archives I had some photos that mentioned Darling's Service and I knew where it was located but the best help was in finding this photo clipping of Darling's Service Station's Grand Opening from a local Facebook page (Sorry I don't recall whose...but thank you).  The address at 906 Victoria Ave. has had a plethora of service stations including the most important in my life span as Ray Charles Texaco owned and operated by old friends Ray Defoy and Charlie Miller.  But on to this May 22, 1954 clipping that someone saved from our Fort William Times Journal.  Those years were extremely significant due to the resurgence of organized Stock Car Racing the year before in 1953 by the Lakehead Stock Car Club.

Mayor Gordon Carson was the Fort William Mayor of the day, and here we see him cutting the ribbon with Ralph Darling and staff for the grand opening with the old Pilkington Glass building in the background. 

Here is a clipping cut from the main one showing the expertise of the lessee and his staff all under the Texaco Sign.  “You can trust your car to the man who wears the star, the big bright Texaco star.” ....remember that one?
Ok now...It's important to know a few things here, Ralph Darling ran the service station for the owner Bud Heidrick.  Bud personally sponsored Barry Kettering's first and many stock car jalopies with the number 47 on the side, hence the words "Bud's Thing" on all the #47 cars that Barry drove.  When Barry changed his colour combination to red and white and his number to #57 in 1957, was when Norm Hogan (noted here as a member of the staff) took over the 47 number, then no longer sponsored by Bud.  Hope this makes sense...and the story continues.
Click all pictures to enlarge.

Below is one of or possibly the first Barry Kettering piloted "Bud's Thing" #47 with an unknown person at the front.  If you know who this person is, let me know.  The tall building in the background is Chapples Ltd and you can read Hurtig Furs on the sign just across Victoria Ave.  This is the present day corner of McKellar St. and Victoria Ave.  The original name of McKellar St. was John St. which was changed after the amalgamation to Thunder Bay in 1970.  The similar photo directly below this is one with the one and only "Bud" Heidrick, and as mentioned, the owner of Darling's Service and the sponsor/owner of the #47 car.

"Bud Heidrick" with his sponsored Barry Kettering car

Here's a fairly recent photo of the old Hurtig Furs building with the light green trim and the new courthouse being built behind the old Chapples building and sitting partially on the old YMCA property.

This photo of the "Bass Ackward" #47 was taken along what was John St. in the day, now McKellar with a number of old homes which were removed to build Centennial Plaza...this would be the rear portion of the stores originally with a bank building on the corner.  The photo to the right shows how the street looks today.

This one was also taken along McKellar St, with none other than Norm Hogan looking on to the right.  In 1957 Norm would then drive the famed #47 himself.  Also in the picture on the right behind Norm is the original Fort William Clinic....later to be rebuilt then after that moving in recent years near our new Regional Hospital.  Royal Triton Motor Oil was THE racing oil of the was actually purple in colour and was actually endorsed in commercials by Marilyn Monroe.  There is much more about Marilyn and Royal Triton in another post here on Hotrods and Jalopies.
This is how the very spot looks today with the newer Fort William Clinic building in the background now I believe empty.  Most of the trees that decorate the above photo are long gone.

Here's one last photo of Norm Hogan sitting in Barry's car parked a little closer to Victoria Ave.  The old home in the background was replaced by the Bank Building on that corner.

The next phase of this story is the #10 car which was driven by Ross "Pappy" Fowler.  Here you can see it parked right in front of Darling's Service.  Pappy's #10 car was directly sponsored by Darling's Service, so both the #47 and the #10 cars resided here for a year or two.  Pappy drove the #10 car for a couple of years then also a #98 car.
Pappy would later quit racing and be the flagman for a few years as well.  When Pappy quit driving the #10 car, it would be taken over by Don Marsh who had tremendous success with his #10.

While looking at the pictures of Pappy's car here, you can see other landmarks such as Billboard row on the north/east corner of what was called John St. and Victoria Ave. with the YMCA in the background...of course now long gone to accommodate the court house downtown Fort William.  Be sure to click on all the photos big and small to get them screen size.

There have been many tenants in the old Safeway building that was on Victoria Ave., including Canadian Tire.

Here is the last photo of Pappy Fowler's #10 again on the original corner of Victoria and John St. in Fort William.  There was also a small grocery store called Star Fruit and Vegetable Market just a little down the street toward where Victoriaville is today and you can just make out the large Buckingham cigarette sign on the side of that building, and right on the corner a Mr. Bill Smith lived.  (Information from Henderson's Directory)

How Darling's looked from the front....

Darling's model "B" service truck with R "Pappy" Fowlers name.

How the property looks today....The building is the same structure.

Across the street is the old Safeway/Canadian Tire photo

Next is an overview of the area to help you recognize the area as it looks today and what was there.

Finally a huge thank you to the people who took the marvelous photos so that we can spend time reminiscing about our past.......
.....“You can trust your car to the man who wears the Star, the big bright Texaco Star” It would be nice to have real "service" like we had in the day.    

As once mentioned, I don't do as many posts as I used to do, but they are much longer with more story content....hope you enjoyed this post.  thanks, Dave

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

113-119 Leith St., 234 Park St., Destroying Vintage Cars? and The Powder Puff Girls in our Home Towns of Fort William and Port Arthur

I am off to a great start in the last few days doing posts for my own facebook page and the Canadian Lakehead Exhibition Memories facebook page, but MOST importantly my premier site HR&J desperately needed this post that I have been working on for quite is fairly lengthy but interesting with 25 photos.

The first photo here is extremely interesting.  The photo actually came from Richard Mark's FB page and as soon as I saw it I instantly knew what it was.  Sellers and Jones was an automotive dealership back in the late 1910's and into the 1920's.  I vaguely remember my father telling me a bit about the history of the original Kam Motors Limited building on Leith St., and the words Sellers and Jones had come to mind.  Incredibly the tall part of this building still exists to this very day, and through the years it was doubled in size by getting rid of the Sellers and Jones old wood tire store structure and adding an identical structure to the west of the original, making the address 113-119 Leith St.  That address is the same today.  The cars you see in the photos are likely 1918 Studebakers, or maybe Essex, or maybe is truly very difficult to tell as many looked so much the same near the end of the Brass era.

However, before this became Kam Motors Limited, it went through another era from which there are no photographs or at least none found as yet.  I do have a few old invoices that tell their own stories as you will see.

Caption: 113-119 Leith Street, Fort William Ontario.  At the very end was a large Elevator and where the street lights are is Simpson St.

This is how the modern building looks recently and you can still count 6 large windows across the structure, and 3 across the old photo above, because as I mentioned, the building was doubled in size.  The only difference in the new photo to an actual today photo would be that the old Palace confectionery building still stands down at the corner of Leith and Simpson St.  That spot is a Used Truck dealer now. we go...If you click on this 1927 Grain Port Motors Limited "Ford" Dealership invoice it oddly reads 113-119 Leith St. as a Fort William address with a phone number of S.1000.  Therefore Grain Port Motors occupied this space for awhile in and around 1927.

Grain Port Motors claim to fame was that it was likely a sponsor of sorts in the day for the famed local race car "The King's Special" a story about this car was written on these pages some time ago.
Below is a close-up of whats called a Moto Meter and sometimes called a Motor Meter, vividly displaying Grain Port Motors, Fort William and Port Arthur.
The photo next to it is none other than Frank Colosimo driving the "King's Special" here in the 1920's, sporting the Moto Meter shown below from the restored Kings Special.

So here is a pretty fuzzy photo of what Kam Motors looked like after Grain Port Motors short lived time there.  The building of course, as mentioned above is the Sellers and Jones building when it was doubled in size, but taken from a different angle.  It lived to be Kam Motors Limited owned by the Hubert Badanai family for well over half a century until the family decided to close the Kam Motors and Port Arthur Motors and open a new establishment on Memorial Ave. called Badanai Motors.  The very rear portion of the building today houses the Badanai Motors Auto Body Shop.
The Kam Motors Building still stands today even with part of the original signage and original wall on the east side of the building still showing as seen in the photo to the right.  It's still 113-119 Leith Street, and owned by Diamond Taxi.

My father gave Kam Motors Limited 33 years of his life as the Body Shop Manager.  The body shop was originally upstairs and there used to be a huge automobile elevator to bring the cars to the top level.  You can imagine dragging a total wreck onto the elevator and having to drag it back off once upstairs.  Kam also sold thousands of Chevrolet's Oldsmobile's and Cadillac's, but actually once sold Fords in the beginning and Hudson and Essex cars before General Motors cars were sold.  Kam also sponsored and built a Jalopy, or stock car which was driven by a few different guys in the day such as Canary Trevisan and Bill Chepil.  My father even raced it a couple of times.  In the photo to the right note the large doors that were for repairing large trucks, which you can see in the photo with the #34 Chevrolet 6 cylinder powered Jalopy below.

Here's a photo of my father taken in the brand new body shop which was built behind the main Kam building with none other than and Oldsmobile Tornado in the background.  My dad always wore a hat and a tie while at work managing the shop.

 we go again...what was at 234 Park Street in Port Arthur.  From the following invoice it says Campbell Motor Company of Port Arthur, Limited....Central Garage.  The Invoice was made out to Pigeon Timber or in long terms it should say Pigeon River Timber, as in Pigeon River Minnesota.....or at least named after that.  Campbell Motor Company did reside at 234 Park Street as mentioned which is now the North parking lot for our Casino.  You can click on all these items to enlarge and see them better.
This is the logo for Pigeon River Timber...the client shown on the invoices.

Here is another invoice for Campbell Motor Company on 234 Park Street and shows that they sell Dodge Brothers Motor Cars and Graham Brothers Trucks.

Here are two advertising pieces that would have been in Campbell Motors Showroom in the day, as of course they sold these vehicles.  Check on the above invoice for this data.

.....and this is what 234 Park Street looks like today

Stock Cars:  In the early days of racing here especially the 1950's, so many possible hot rod projects got destroyed on the race track such as '32 Fords, '40 Fords and many old Chevrolet's, Chrysler products etc, but in the day that was only considered junk in someone's back yard.  When I started racing at Riverview raceways, the junk in the back yards were '55 to '57 Chevrolet's, Pontiac's early '50's Fords etc., and we destroyed those vehicles then just as they did in the '50's.  I destroyed 3 '55/'56 Pontiac 2-door sedans, one of which was so nice, I drove it home before we proceeded to tear it down for a race car and weld in roll bars.  I also did that to a '66 Dodge Charger in the early 1970's to race at are the examples.  Now everyone wants these cars....the cycle will never end....BUT, what cars from today will people want in 20 or 25 years.  They all look the same just as they did in the 1910's....funny how history repeats itself.

Finally:  A subject in this post that I always wanted to bring up...that is, The Powder Puff Gals from the 1950's.  The promoters from our Canadian Lakehead Exhibition race track always wanted to please the fans....they never wanted fans to get bored just watching the same old thing, so they promoted events such as stock car drivers staging fights in front of the old grandstand that sometimes turned into the real thing or grudge racing between two rivals...and it kept the fans coming in and proof in the pudding was that there were many race days with five to six thousand fans in the 1950's.
One of my favorite promoted events was Powder Puff Racing.  Some brave young women, some being wives or even mothers of the drivers there at the CLE would take to the track in their sons or husbands cars in all out daredevil competition.  I was great to see but in the mind site of the car owners and drivers they were sitting on tacks hoping that their cars wouldn't be destroyed before the race was over, as they had to continue racing the same day.  Eventually they would race last on race days so that if there was ever an accident, the car could at least be repaired for the next race day.
The first photo series is actually a page out of the 1953 racing program at the CLE showing those brave gals putting the pedal to the metal in those to enlarge.

The second one here is a newspaper cut out showing a nice photo of the winner of the day Leona Baarup.  Another newspaper group photo is shown below.
How I miss those simpler times and days and many times wishing they could still be around....but thank goodness many photographers took pictures and many writers for the newspaper wrote incredible re-caps of the racing days back in the times of Hotrods and Jalopies.

The writers of these articles were can see in the top corner here July 9/1953
Hope you enjoyed this post......let us know if you did, and join blogger so you don't miss any posts.  Thanks, Dave

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

THIS Fort William & Port Arthur Ontario, now Thunder Bay's FIRST History Blog/Web Page Celebrates 10 Years of History and Over 1 Million Views

I am incredibly grateful for everyone's support over the past 10 years, as without the many readers of the Hotrods and Jalopies blog pages, I would have likely never continued with it.

HR&J is also posting history on the Dave Cano Facebook page as well as The Canadian Lakehead Exhibition Memories Facebook page.  In the beginning it was a little overwhelming and when I took on my personal Facebook page and the group page CLE memories, it has become almost a daily task to keep things up.

I also receive many photos, news clippings and ideas locally and from former residents of Fort William and Port Arthur/Thunder Bay, and I sometimes have difficulty keeping it all in some order.  I plan to carry on as long as I can, and my hopes are that by preserving our history this way, it will continue on long after I cannot.  I get letters from as far away as New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Los Angeles California, and eastern and western Canada, saying how much they like the blog.  Some people think it's only about cars and racing but as most of you know, it is a mixture of local history and racing.  On the Internet the blog comes up as Hotrods and Jalopies, but on the home page I added a few words to remind people that it's also about local history, therefore reading "The Hotrods and Jalopies Generation" which covers it all.
Many thanks also to Gary Spence and Richard Mark for continuing with the local history on Facebook in their own special way.  We also exchange photos and information continually.
Many thanks to all the contributors of photos, stories and memories.  Also many thanks to my friend Al Yahn for being my proof reader for 10 years, and to my family for their patience.

Today I am posting 25 of my favourite then and now city history racing in this bunch.  Some of the "now" ones have become "then's" already...that's how fast our history progresses.  I am not adding any writing to them or hints as to what and where they are.  See if you can remember.
In addition I am adding one personal favourite of myself(sorry for that) which will start off the posts. sure to click on each and every one for a full screen enlargement, then come back.