Friday, November 27, 2009

More Jalopy Stories and Fort William stuff.......

My friend Shaun Hopkins(hope I can call him that...LOL) as far as I'm concerned and many others will agree, is the best car painter here in Thunder Bay Ontario(formerly Fort William and Port Arthur). Shaun has painted most of my Hot Rods through the years and I am grateful for the wonderful workmanship(don't blush's true...I've seen Ron's roadster).
Shaun received his talent naturally as his dad painted cars for many years as well, firstly at Graham and Whybourne, then at Northwestern Body and Fender and finally moving on to other shops here in Thunder Bay.
The photo shown just above of those three handsome young men is that of Shaun's dad Gerry on the left, Shaun's uncle Mel on the right and in the middle, none other than that guy that we all knew who raced that model "A" jalopy in the '50's #54 above, Wally Prokosh. More about that #54 car click here or scroll wayyyyyy down
Shaun said that his dad was 5-6 years younger than Wally but had gone to all the races in later years, and his dad having his 74th birthday this year would give us an idea of the age of the photo(sorry Gerry for divulging your age...hope you don't mind!) The Prokosh family and the Hopkins' lived in the east end of Fort William then(where the actual original Fort William was originally established) at the end of Mctavish Street, which was not too far down from where this photo was taken.
This photo was taken in front of Smerges' Pool Hall at 702 McTavish Street and the building still exists today as a private residence. Thanks Shaun and Gerry for the wonderful photo and story...this is the stuff I really like, and with photos to back it up.......GREAT!

The Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, just left of the Royal Theatre(see below) was one of the most beautiful structures in downtown Fort William. The top left photo shows the bank in its heyday and the Victoria Ave picture to its right was taken in about 1910 with only 1 horseless carriage shown in the photo and shows the bank building on the right. At that time, the Royal wasn't quite there yet as the sign shows Clarke's Drugs on the awning.
The latter two photos show the outside and inside of the skeleton of the Bank as it stands today. A tremendous fire a couple of years back destroyed the old bank(it had already been closed and boarded up for years), but some very wonderful person had the foresight to save the facade of this beautiful structure for someone in future years to hopefully develop.
The Royal Theatre photo at the left was taken near the end of WWI in 1918 and was on 407 Victoria Ave. The after photo at the right is actually the same basic building done over with a new facade and is now Madgical's Golf Kingdom. The Royal in the 1950's was the place where you could bring a quarter and it would be enough to watch a number of serials such as The Three Stooges or Laurel and Hardy or even some Roy Rogers or Hopalong Cassidy, watch a full length feature or two, a bunch of cartoons and would even be enough for a Coke and some popcorn. I don't have a 1950's photo but it looked pretty much like it does in this photo. I suppose the red crosses had something to do with the war effort at the time.
Be sure to click on all the photos to enlarge them!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

ICONS of the corner store......

Smith's Confectionery, on the corner of Franklin and Donald Streets in Fort William(now Thunder Bay, Ontario) was very close to where I lived as a kid and the bus in front of the store would drop kids off to go to St. Patrick's High School which was just across the street from here....we didn't have 100 school buses picking us up at our doorstep like kids have today. I met my future wife going to St. Pat's after a stint at Selkirk High, but the main thing was all the great things we remember as kids especially at the corner store......and how it also became a meeting place....."I'll meet you at Smiths a 7pm and we'll go to the show!"
This is just a small sample of what we may find at "The Corner Store".
The 4 half pint dairy bottles from my collection were the main dairies that would supply chocolate, white, and sometimes cherry milk to the stores here at the lakehead. The Dixie Cup lids from Kellough Bros. Dairy and Dairybest Dairy(the owners and family of Dairybest Dairy were close family friends with my parents and my brother and sister and I...Hi Liz!) were quite collectible at the time as the picture ones could be saved up and sent in for a movie star poster(WOW). However if you kept some of the lids you could order up a 3-D viewer to view them if 3-D of course....Sorry the stuff isn't for sale :-)

Wow...All this great stuff and CANDY CIGARETTES too. We could practise smoking just like dad, but would never smoke the real never!! They may as well have had fake beer bottles with orange or cola in them too!
Real Coca Cola was fantastic and this Orange Crush bottle came in about the 60's. Awwww, Creamsicles...I can taste it now!
Remember all the different gums, and gumball machines. There was nothing like blowing bubbles with Dubble Bubble...remember the great taste!

Cool Aid stands, Fudgsicles, Pepsi, Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, Tony the Tiger, Hershey Bars, and Wonder Bread(which still exists today).
Just a way to tweak your mind and bring you back to the good old days in the 1950's and 1960's
Thanks for looking an be sure to click on each one to enlarge for your enjoyment.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

More and More and More Then and Nows in Fort William and Port Arthur, Ontario....

Here's one older one I added today Nov. 23rd 2009...the same view as the two photos below on Cumberland Street, but in about 1920. I wonder what that debris on the road near the bottom right side is....could it be horse puckies?...probably!..LOL....and oh yes...streetcar tracks!...more street car photos to come.

Cumberland Street, just north of Pearl Street in Port Arthur(now Thunder Bay, Ontario). The left photo is circa 1950 and the right photo was taken this summer 2009. The best part of the old photos is of course the old cars but also the great overhead advertising signs, most of which were neon.
May and Bethune Street , Fort William(now Thunder Bay, Ontario). This building is kitty-corner to where Spicer's was on May Street(see prior post). The first photo of Twinport Auto Service(love the whitewalls on the Studebaker) was taken in the early 1950's and the second present day photo is of the same building without the second story at Johnathon's Liquidators.
Here's a 1950's photo taken of Doran's Brewery near the ravine on Algoma Street in Port Arthur(now Thunder Bay, Ontario). This was where the beer was manufactured. The sister company was Doran's Beverage Company(no photo here) which was on Cameron and Marks St. in Fort William. They manufactured Pepsi, Orange Crush, 2-way and Golden Spray Ginger Ales.
The present day brewery site now has luxury condominiums.
POST SCRIPT added Nov 23, 2009. I must give credit to my friend Ron Limbrick for the renovation design that you see here on the old photo of the Doran's building and also for the great photo!....Hey Ron, just proves how old you are....LOL!
The Memorial Ave. sign dilemma has been solved(sort of!!) The original sign "Memorializes" citizens of Port Arthur that gave their lives in The First World War and was erected a decade after the 175 Laurel Leaf Willow trees were planted along Memorial Ave., north of the "Welcome to Port Arthur" arch. The trees were actually planted in 1926.
The new plaque is actually on High Street(but still states "Memorial Avenue"). No wonder no one knew where it was until recently. It is situated on the triangle of grassy land which borders Memorial Ave, High Street and Beverly Street. In the last photo you can see the Community Auditorium in the distance. The new plaque has been there since May 1991 in a re-dedication ceremony in the 75th anniversary of the Rotary Club. The new plaque explains why the trees were all removed but with no thought of re-planting them. We still, however don't know the whereabouts of the original sign.
Thanks to a recent article in our newspaper by Tory Tronrud, we at least know where the new sign is. Click on photos to enlarge!

Why White-wall Tires??

Whitewall Tires are ones that have a stripe or entire sidewall made of white rubber. Early automobile tires were made entirely of natural white rubber, however the white rubber did not offer enough traction or stamina, so "carbon black" was added to the rubber used for the treads. Using "carbon black" only in the tread produced tires with inner and outer sidewalls of white rubber. Later, entirely black tires became available and the still existing white sidewalls were covered with a somewhat thin, black coloured layer of rubber. Should a black sidewall tire have been severely scuffed against a curb the underlying white rubber would be revealed. It is in a similar manner that raised white letter tires are made.
The status of whitewall tires versus blackwall tires was originally the reverse of what it later became, with fully black tires requiring a greater amount of "carbon black" and less effort to maintain a clean appearance these(black) were considered the premuim tire. Since the black tires first became available they were commonly fitted to many luxury cars through the 1930's. During the later 1920's gleaming whitewalls contrasted against darker surroundings were considered a stylish, but high maintenance bit of "flash". The popularity of whitewalls as an option increased during the 1930's. With skirted fenders and automotive streamlining, the two-sided whitewalls became obsolete, and the single sided whitewall became a hallmark of "traditional luxury" through to the late 1960's. The addition of port-a-walls or so called snap-on whitewalls were also popular to add a hint of luxury to an older vehicle.
In the mid '50's whitewall width began to diminish as an attempt to reduce the perceived height of the wheel/tire. By the late 1950's and into the early 1960's, the whitewall width generally reduced in size to about 1 3/4" wide. In the mid to late 1960's red stripes and also combination red/white ones were also added, while the tire wall slowly became black again.
As time would move on, the full fledged white sidewall tires had made a return within the "pimpmobile" culture and then on to the rod and custom culture as a retro look taking them back to the Bonneville salt flats days or the "traditional luxury" days to get "the look" again.
Wide whitewalls on any hot rod would be my favourite option to add a bit of class to your vehicle, and the added maintence is well worth "the look".
Thanks to the incredible photographers for these great white-wall tire photos!
Click on photos to enlarge!