Saturday, February 27, 2016

The 1962 GRAND OPENING of Blake's Texaco, 147 W. Arthur St., at Brown St., in our home town of Fort William, Ontario.....

It's very rare that quality photographs and great subject matter turn up at the same time especially after 54 years.  They have shown up on facebook pages before in the Thunder Bay Memories pages, however I felt the need to expand on them somewhat, so with a sincere THANK YOU to Elizabeth and Al Dixon for letting Hot Rods and Jalopies use these wonderful photos, I will do just that.
The large black and white pictures are the original ones, and you can click once or twice on each photo and all graphic pieces to enlarge them.....also this is one of the largest posts I have done for quite some time, so be patient, read it all, and tell your friends.  Thanks D.

As they would say in the ever popular hot rod cult movie American Graffiti...
"Where were you in '62"

In this first photo of the Blake's Texaco grand opening, we see firstly Blake Landversitch owner/operator in the Texaco Uniform, then to his left in the majorette uniform, our photo donor Elizabeth Dixon's sister Linda....the other majorette is unknown and cutting the ribbon is none other than my old boss Alderman Bill Spicer of Spicer's Tire Service days....more on Bill next.

Bill Spicer was a well known Alderman in Fort William for 16 years and was a Hydro Commissioner for 15 years.  He devoted many years of his life to the city of Fort William.  Bill passed away on May 2, 2004 at the ripe old age of 100 years.
I had the privilege to work for Bill in the early 1960's as an inventory clerk at Spicer's Tire Service.  He was a very fair and likable person to work for, and the entire Spicer family was always helpful, teaching a young guy the ropes.

The second and third photos are shown together here with the square dancers having a great time attracting spectators to Blake's Grand Opening....

Here is how Blake's Texaco looked from Arthur Street (at 147 W. Arthur).  It was a typical Texaco Service Station design for the 50's and 60's era and stood exactly where the Petro Can station stands today.  Recognizable vehicles in the photo are a 1959 and 1960 Chevrolet as well as a 1960 Dodge off to the right of the station.  People were fueling up and starting to gather for the attendance prizes and free entertainment. 
Don't forget to click on all these pictures to enlarge them....
1959 Chevrolet
1960 Chevrolet

1960 Dodge
The Petro Can today where Blakes stood in 1962

In photo #5 you can still see the 1959 and 1960 Chevrolets, all the folks waiting for the prizes and many other memories you might recognize.  In the mid to late 1950's most of the gas pumps had glass or glass and metal advertising globes on the top such as the 3 pumps together shown in the photo below, but the particular pumps at Blakes had the globes removed.  Many of the globes were broken, vandalized or stolen in the day, so Texaco and many of the other stations opted to remove them and replace them with a metal plate over the opening.  This solved many problems for the stations and also made the collectible value of the original globes skyrocket in value over time.  Tire and oil stands and racks with advertising were used then and have also become very collectible as well. 

The striped building off to the right is the Spud's Burger Major Building.  My sister-in-law worked there in the early years and is still known to have had the best burgers in The Lakehead cities of Fort William and Port Arthur.

The most well known manufacturers of pumps in that era were Wayne, Gilbarco, Tokheim and Bennett.  The particular pumps shown above on the pump islands at Blake's were the Bennett Pumps.  Their most recognizable attribute was the spear shaped emblem on the top as well as a horizontal viewing window.  The regular (Fire Chief) gas pump was all red and the premium (Sky Chief) pump was all silver.  They both had very beautiful porcelain advertising signs and again very collectible today.                   The pump on the right is actually a Bennett with the original style globe with incorrect colours of white and red and does not have the correct porcelain sign below.

The pumps here I believe are also Bennett pumps but a bit later version than the Blake's Texaco pumps.  They have a solid stainless steel strip near the top, and the "Regular" Fire Chief ones have a little glass window stating "Fire Chief".
....and don't forget the air powered rubber hose that ran across the concrete that would "Ding-Ding" when a car ran over it to annouce the arrival of a new customer.

Photo #6 is also full of some great memories, starting with the "Spud's Burger Major" sign in the distance, as well as another service station, a B/A and by a local 1962 phone book was called Wood's B/A.  There was also a number of interesting road signs which we will touch on later.
In the foreground is a Firestone tire rack and on the island a Texaco oil rack.
The cars are...firstly on the left, a 1953 Chevrolet Belair with small fender skirts.  Behind him is a 1951 Plymouth and on the right is a 1951 Chevrolet.

The tire that you see in the picture stands on a rack much like the one here, and the white square that you see on the side of the Fire Chief gas pump is a sign that states that the fuel contained lead shown enlarged here.                                                         

1953 Chevrolet Belair with skirts

1951 Chevrolet

1951 Plymouth....a little beat up....could be the actual one :-)

Photo #7 was likely taken from the roof of Blake's Texaco.  It shows the south side of W. Arthur Street the pumps, many interesting cars and a few other things that we will see.
The '59 and '60 Chevy's are at the pumps, another couple of Plymouths or Dodge's, a foreign car at the curb as well as nice 1961 Chevrolet Sport Sedan and on the other side of the street a very nice also nearly new 1961 Chevrolet Station Wagon.
1961 Chevrolet not a Sport Sedan but a 4-door Hardtop.

1961 Chevrolet Wagon

You can see this item in the picture above beside the Sky Chief pump.  It is a battery service box with two syringes, similar to a meat baster.  It had a compartment for distilled water to add to your battery and another compartment to hold a voltage meter both shown below. 
Autolite Battery Service Box

Enlarge to see a close-up of the nice porcelain pu

Taken yesterday showing two homes now in the empty lot across from Blake's Texaco in the 1962 picture.  Also, there is no curbing in the original picture...basically just a ditch.

Photos #8 & #9 show the crowd getting larger and larger, patiently waiting to see who won all the attendance prizes at Blake's Texaco Grand Opening.....

In photo #10 Blake Landversitch (owner/operator) is shown on the left with a Texaco representative rolling the drum for the prizes with the unknown female attendant.  It was a little difficult but I managed to add a nice little Texaco star to the photo.

Here is Blake again cut from the photo above with enlarged colour photos of what the oil cans looked like in 1962.



If Blake was wearing his hat it would look like this.  The next insert is a list of prizes given away at Blake's Grand Opening and who sponsored them.

Attendance prize list

Don Adams (Get Smart) is a Texaco Dealer.  LOLOLOL  Click on the centre.

Photo #11 has a couple of nice 1957 Ford's in it as well as a '59 Chevrolet again and an old (maybe Fargo pickup), but the best angle for the ultra rare Spuds Burger Major sign is this picture enlarged below.  I have never seen a photo before with the Spud's sign in it, and in this post we have two.
You are also looking east down Arthur Street near the Arthur and Edward intersection, and if you squint you can see the Safeway sign and the B/A sign at "Wood's".

1957 Ford 2-door post

1957 Ford 4-door sedan

Here I added a few coloured signs to the fairly good cut from the above photo.

Marfak was Texaco's Grease

Now the Matchbooks for Blake's Texaco and Spud's Burger Major

Blake's Texaco and all Texaco dealers for that matter had the most beautiful and colourful advertising and promotional items well remembered by us are a on to enlarge.
Great magazine ads

Every young gear-head's dream.
I remember these paper Fire Chief hats
Texaco Bank

Toy snap plane

Photo #12 is a group photo likely taken in 1962 as well and the only known Texaco Dealers are shown in the caption of the photo.
Blake Landversitch is third from right at the top.  Tom Jarrett is in the front left of centre with the mustache.  Tom's Texaco was on 219 N. May St., next to the old Customs building.  
One more addition from Jim MacLean - front row 2nd from left is Frank Halabecki from Frank's Texaco which was on Brock and Ford Street in Westfort.  (Thanks Jim and Roger)
If you know anyone else please message me, Dave Cano on my facebook page.

Here is a list of the Texaco Dealers from a 1962 Lakehead Telephone Directory....maybe this my help you to remember the faces above.

The last photo #13 is of a kids baseball team that I believe was sponsored by Blake's as well.  If you know anyone in this group please let me know....Thank You

"Registered Rest Rooms"  was a program started by Texaco in 1939 to ensure that restroom facilities at all Texaco stations north and south of the border maintained a standard level of cleanliness to the motoring public.  The company actually hired a staff of inspectors who travelled all over the country to ensure that restrooms were up to standard.  This program was copied later by most other oil companies and continued at Texaco until the energy crisis in the 1970's.

Finally we have this most incredible then and now comparison to Texaco stations back in the 30's until the present day.  The top photo has been colourized from an original black and white photo.


Lil said...

Nice job Dave! Keep up the good job I enjoy the memories that come with them ! Yours and mine as well Thanks!!

Dave Cano said...

Thanks Lil....I wish more would Join HR&J and leave comments.

Bryan Sarty said...

Dave, I've been following HR&J for some time now as I'm a former resident of Fort William/Port Arthur/thunder Bay.

This post really brings back some memories for me as I grew up on S. Leland Avenue. I remember Blake''s Texaco very well and especially Spud's. It was a neighbourhood institution and it seemed that every other Saturday night we'd head over for Major and Majorette burgers, fries, onion rings and shakes. The best! The best part was when you pulled into the drive there were those speakers that you talked into to place your order. What a concept back then!

Over where Safeway's is was Green Acres Plaza where my Mom shopped. Gasgoine's Drug Store and Vic's Barber Shop. Man I hated getting my hair cut at Vic's. LOL! Of course the empty lot on the west side of Blake's was where McDonald's would end up in the 70's.

In Photo 11 I want to point out in the middle of the photo is one of the old 60's era air raid sirens. Man I remember when that thing would go off for testing once. Man was it loud!

Thanks for all the great memories over the years Dave. Greatly appreciated!


Dave Cano said...

Thanks for the comments and additional info Bryan...much appreciated. What would we all do without great childhood memories.

Alex said...

Hey Dave!

I really love your blog!

I love reading about local history and learning new things. I really like how you tie in mementos and items related to your topics.

I know how much time/research and work goes into posts, so thank you for sharing.

Dave Cano said...

Thanks for your input Alex....Much appreciated. D.

dave said...

wow some nice signs in photo 11.... texaco, esso, BA, nice safeway neon, marfak, spuds, firestone....

Dave Cano said...

Yup...Gotta love it....wish I had them all today.