Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Twin City Gas, Kings Stereo and The Tropics.......

Most guys will say that the most important things in life when he was a teenager was Hot Rods, girls, rock 'n' roll and burgers 'n' fries, and in no particular order. When the Twin City Gas building was torn down last year to accommodate the new court house in downtown Fort William, a ton of memories came flooding back.


Here was the Twin City Gas building, actually not that old as it was built in the late 1950's. It eventually became known as the King's Stereo building, as owner Howard King purchased the building that housed his forever remembered stereo store.

You would walk through the main doors and go down the stairs instead of right into King's Stereo, then you'd be in the Tropics Restaurant, well known for its excellent cuisine, including the typical standards as well as Chinese. The Tropics was a great spot to go for a first date......a little better than the Lorna Doone but still on the affordable side. It was also frequented by many folks that attended evening functions at the Fort William Gardens, and then wanted a good place to go eat and gab after the event. It was also a favourite spot after attending movies at the Capitol Theatre or the Odeon here in what used to be a thriving downtown Fort William.

Next: The Menu


Scroll Down....don't miss all the story....

.....and WOW...check out the prices...a club steak for $2.85, and a hamburger steak sandwich for only 40 cents.


I met Howard King back then as many young guys had, as he had some of the best stereo equipment in the Lakehead, and also the best prices. Howard was quite a gentleman too, as you could also cut a good deal on the latest stereo supplies. I had purchased a number of items from King's through the years and when the Tropics closed, everything kind of remained like it once was down the stairs for a few years until I got wind that Howard had purchased all the inventory. Being in the store one day it got out that Howard was going to sell the Seeburg M100C Jukebox that I had listened to in the tropics a number of years before. It was going to auction until I made Howard an offer that he couldn't refuse and it has been in my rec room ever since. It needed some restoration and a tweek every so often, but remains to this day as the favourite item I have collected over time. In later years I had also acquired a complete soda fountain that was also in The Tropics from Mr. King, which was so heavy that four guys couldn't even lift it. I had it stored at a friends place and it basically disappeared over time.

Here is my Seeburg M100C as it is today, with all the old 45's inside. This specific model was the one that you saw at the beginning of every Happy Days episode and it also appeared in many Elvis films. I had read somewhere that this particular model was Elvis' favourite Jukebox.

Next: The End!

So, We all miss King's Stereo(T.C. Gas building), and the old Tropics restaurant.....and like everything else good in our lives, it all has to come to an end. Thank you Howard for the privilege of knowing you and the joy that was preserved by selling that Jukebox to me. Sorry...It's NOT for sale!

Click on all photos to enlarge!

4 comments:

Jim Farrell said...

The Tropics later became the Sea Palace run by a couple named Sonny and Vinnie where I used to write most of my scripts for CBQ. I became such a regular in the mid-70s, that they rarely bothered to ask what I wanted but just brought me tea with a slice of lemon and an order of chicken egg foo young.

I later learned that Neil Young (during his Lakehead sojourn) had been a regular in the building, using space upstairs for rehearsal. And I seem to remember that Ray Dee was involved, as well.

In any case, the place is now just one more lost location. So, thanks for preserving some of the photographic record and inspiring those who recall the place to contribute their oral history.

Dave said...

Thanks for the additional data...

ken wasky said...

The Tropics had the best Boston Cream pie in the world. We would go every week and enjoy this heavenly treat. It was a great restaurant!!

Dave Cano said...

Thanks Ken...I totally agree that the Tropics was a great restaurant...