Friday, February 21, 2014

Winter Memories of our home towns of Fort William and Port Arthur, Ontario plus a few other tidbits......

With the accumulation of snow this year, it brought back an abundance of winter childhood memories.  At our coffee/gearhead weekly meetings we talked about the fact that the snow that has fallen with the recent storms is pretty much the same type of weather we remember having in the 1950's and '60's.  
As the streets get narrower around town due to the heavy snowfall, the city has been clearing many of the snow banks on major streets. I remember as a kid seeing these incredibly large snow blowers sucking up the banks around town and in turn blowing the snow into large trucks to be dumped down at the waterfront, either in Fort William and/or Port Arthur.
This is what one would have looked like in the 1930's....and would be a spectacle to watch to the delight of many kids and also adult kids.  Unfortunately this is not a local photo, as Fort William and Port Arthur wouldn't have a snow blower until the late 1940's and early 1950's, as you will see in next photo.

This next photo is in fact Fort William's first snow blower dutifully working on south May Street.  You can vividly see the O'Brien and Son's sand and gravel truck hauling the snow to somewhere along the Kam River or the Waterfront.  In those days, the city would contract out these trucks for their need. 

The next picture here is the actual location today, just across May Street from our City Hall, and just south of Blake's funeral chapel.  Blake's can also be seen just to the top left of the above photo.  As usual, click on all the photos for enlargements.

The next winter photo is of myself and my little sister (no I wasn't sleeping) in front of our home on east Arthur Street in Fort William.  The big building is St. Joseph's Boarding School (well...that's what they called it back in the 1950's).  They had huge skating rinks there and welcomed any kid that wanted to come over to play scrub hockey any evening or weekend.  Also, the Canadian National Railway line came down Arthur Street right through the city of Fort William.  The tracks turned east from the main line, came down Arthur, then started to turn north at Mark's Street and continued to the CN station which was just south of the Fort William Gardens along Vicker's Street and finally reconnected to the CN main line at the end of Vickers.  Notably there was ton's of snow back then, pretty much like we have today in Thunder Bay. 
This is how the same property looks tracks, no St.
Joseph's Boarding School and not very much front yard anymore
where we lived there on Arthur Street.  Off in the distance on
the left is Pope John Paul school and the tall building on the
right is Arthur Square on the corner of Marks and Arthur.  The
Pope John Paul property was the old St. Patrick High School

The following winter photo was taken about the same time as the one above and is my little sister sitting on a small sled.  I posted this photo to show you that every home in those days had a 45 gallon drum incinerator in which we burned (burnable) garbage or discarded building materials or what have you and only placed non burnable garbage items out for the city to pick up.....It was a great way at the time to reduce the buildup at the city landfill site, and you didn't need a permit to do so.  Also, most people still hung their clothes on the line even in the cold weather.  I remember my dad's frozen long johns standing up on their own.

Here is a wonderful picture of the corner of Victoria Avenue and Syndicate Avenue taken in the winter of 1917.  You know that if you stand where this picture is, you would be smack dab in the middle of our favourite indoor mall in our town....the one we love to hate, "Victoriaville".  The building on the left is the north/east corner.  A wonderful Trolley Street Car is headed for a turn south on Syndicate Ave.

Screw Driven Vehicle
The following few photos are not taken locally but are very interesting to say the least.  The first vehicle here is a screw driven sled which would be pretty versatile and very innovative back in the early part of the 20th century.  The little film below shows its concept in 1929.  It's about 4 1/2 minutes long but worth the look.

Propeller Driven.
The mail must go through with this model "T" Ford conversion.

Finally here, we have the same version of the mail vehicle above, on a Ford Model "A" chassis, taken in Alaska....what a great way to get around on the snow.  I would love to own one today.
HR&J hopes that you enjoyed this and thanks for watching.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

BUCKET LIST #1 NOW CHECKED OFF - My Good Friend Dennis Winko and I were in Pomona California Jan 22-30th 2014 for the 65th Annual Grand National Roadster Show.

This post is a little diversion from what I usually do on my blog but feel that it would be nice to share.

To go to an event of this magnitude and to take over 1300 photos, it was extremely difficult to decide which ones to use and which ones to leave to help things out, I grouped a number of them together which are of common interest, but sadly reducing their clarity.  Be sure to click on each of the photos and groups of photos twice to get a full screen or larger, then you can scroll around to view them all. 
My good friend Dennis Winko and I spent an incredible 8 days in the Los Angeles area, not only to attend the 65th annual Grand National Roadster Show, but to visit some hot rod shops and automotive museums in the area and take in some of the local sights as well.  These photos however are all from the show and taken by myself.
...oh...a little side note "AMBR" means America's Most Beautiful Roadster.

This is the main hall and largest of 9 buildings.  The photo was taken from the center of the building so it only shows half the length of the hall.

We were there on set-up day and these two photos show the contrast of what you could see and everything in between.  That's Dennis beside a very cool deuce roadster barn find and the one on the right is an AMBR contender owned by Ron Goodwin.  Ron's car was one of our first choices to win.

This is a full restoration of Ed Roth's Surfite by Rick wouldn't be a California show without a surf mobile!!
 Bizarreness was the order of the day and this "Blitzen Benz" by Bob Burman was a great example.
Love the California "Horseless Carriage" plate
The theme of the show this year was 100 years of Bonneville, and there was a huge representation of Bonneville cars from over the last 100 years.  Heading to Bonneville for speed weeks is another thing we have to do to check off our bucket list.  The only photo that wasn't actually in the show is the Challenger 1.  It actually resides in the Wally Parks Drag Racing Museum just adjacent to the fairgrounds.  We did attend that on Thursday before the show, and felt that it was the best automotive museum that we had seen on this trip including the Peterson Museum.

Check out this film of Mickey Thompson breaking the 400 MPG Speed Barrier.  This is the same car we saw in the Wally Parks Museum.

Next we have Ron Main and his Flatfire engine and Streamliner.  Dennis was in his glory talking to Ron about flatheads and I just stood there and tried to take it all's never to old to learn something new.  Read this poster about his very fast flathead Ford.

The following group of photos are vintage drag cars, and we had a nice chat with Bill Corbett (originally from Victoria B. C.) who owns and restored the purple 1948 Fiat Topolino shown in the following photo group....the car is also the cover car for this months Rodder's Journal.

Exotic engines and actually mostly flathead Fords were the trend here in California.  Chrysler Hemi, Studebaker, Cadillac, Buick, Ford 4cyl and Flathead Fords were the most popular engines seen in cars at the show, many of which had McCullough Superchargers.   There were very few Chevrolet V8's, especially in hot rods and if there were they were nicely disguised as something else.

Next, you could buy a pair of deuces here....beautifully done real steel replicas.  The one from Sweden was interesting at $15,000. US dollars and we felt left a lot to be desired in detail.  The real deal as far as we were concerned was sold by SoCal and was extremely nice looking, more like an original body, but the price tag was near $28,000. and that was just for a body shell.....way over my head!!  I've had my own deuce back when but now I'll stick to the much more reasonable model "A", and having just as much fun as they are.
The one from Sweden is on the left and the already chopped SoCal one is on the right.
Next, we have some hot rods and custom cars scattered around the buildings and some even outside the buildings on drive-in day which was Saturday.  The body work and paint schemes were absolutely any gear-head some great custom ideas.

Next, we have some hot rods and custom cars mostly from the "Suede Palace".  My own car would have fit nicely along side some of these.  The vehicles in the "Suede Palace" had their own judging and awards program.  Some of the most interesting ones were the original barn finds of cars built back in the '50's or '60's which have survived the test of time and left in their patina state.  The one we liked the most was Greg Hopkins '31 model "A" roadster of unknown origin shown top left below.

We couldn't pass up the trophy girl contest that was held in the Suede Palace on Saturday night.  It was very interesting to say the least.  A few good Rockabilly and Blues bands also graced the stage there through the weekend.

One of the things I had planned to do was to get my friend Shaun Hopkins here in Thunder Bay to paint my glove box door from my custom '41 Chevy dashboard that I'm using in my next project a nice gloss black and bring it with me to have it pinstriped and autographed by George Barris and Gene Winfield.  The pinstripers would volunteer their work and you would then make a donation to Ronald McDonald House.  Other pieces of art by the stripers were auctioned off.
Well as you can see by the photos below that it all came to fruition.  Two pinstripe artists did a great job and George and Gene did sign it as well as the artists and "Deuce of Spades" film maker Faith Granger.  Thank you Shaun for painted it for me and getting this plan started.

Top left is myself with George and his grandson, top right is Gene signing the piece, bottom left is Gene with Dennis, center is Gene shaking hands, and bottom right is the artist Ric Malicoat.

Here are a few more pictures pretty much self explanatory!

They gave away 100's of trophy's and awards and we were very fortunate to have great seats for the awards and closing ceremonies.  Even though we didn't agree with the judges on their final pick for AMBR, all the cars were incredibly beautiful, and I could never afford one damn one....but Dennis and I still have tons of fun with our Model "A" Fords.

Dennis and I were very fortunate to have been able to attend The 65th Grand National Roadster Show, an event I've wanted to attend since I was in my teens.  Hey Den, aren't you glad I waited until you retired...Dennis is a great travel companion.  We had a fabulous time that we'll talk about for years.  Also thank you to my old friend Bryan Howland who was our tour guide for a day to the Peterson Museum and throughout the Hollywood area.  Bryan is a childhood friend of mine and lives in Woodland Hills, a Los Angeles suburb and we've only seen each other 3 times since 1958, but talk often and email often....great time!

Dave and Dennis in the Suede Palace.
This final group of pictures reminded me of the old Fort William Gardens car the end of the show you would stand outside to see the guys coming out of the Gardens and rapping their pipes and smoking their tires.....wonderful memories.

I hope you enjoyed this sort of unusual post on this blog !!  Thanks for watching...D.