Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Old Cars, A Great Find, Go Karts, and Some Surprises in Our Home Towns of Fort William and Port Arthur

   We'll start off this post in Kam Motors used car lot in about 1939.  Here is my father Jonnie Cano in the front trying to look cool sitting on the fender of a who knows what, with a couple of co-workers taking a break from filling oil bottles or replacing a windshield on an old Chevy or Oldsmobile.  It looks to be a mild winter day.
   The "Kam Motors" proof is the portion of the sign in red and shown close up after.  Obviously the houses are no longer there as that whole area to the lane way ended up being a car lot in the day.
I always say it, but it is a reminder to click on every photo once or twice to enlarge.

Here's an old circa 1950 Kam Motors brochure showing where the lettering was at the top of the building front, and a fairly current photo of the same building on Leith St. today.

We've talked about Dinty's many times in the past on this blog site and of course you know by now if you are a reader of this blog how Gordie Crompton came to use the word Dinty's.
Below we have more to add to the story beginning with Dinty's Sea View Motel....The Sea View still exists as shown in the following photo but not called Dinty's.

We talked about how Gordie was offered a neon sign from a sign company left over from an unpaid customer.  It didn't have Gordie's name on it but had the word "Dinty's" on it and he ended up taking it, then obviously making some of his future business ventures called Dinty's.
Below is a photo of #57 Jalopy Stock Car built by the Provincial Paper Mill who actually hired a guy named Barry Kettering to drive it.....pay attention now because many of HR&J's stories are inter-twined.  The race car is parked on Cumberland St., right in front of the first Dinty's (red square around the sign).....and you know later that Gordie ran a few KFC's (Kentucky Fried Chicken) places after the Dinty's ones finally closed.
Today's KFC is two properties just to the left of the original one.  When you do research you have to look hard at old photos....the backgrounds tell many other stories.
There are two different photos here to see the original neon Dinty's sign.  The person standing and the kid in the car are unknown.  If anyone recognizes them, please let me know.


Here you can read Dinty's very well....
 In this photo...car U2 with well known American driver Dean Harrington in the foreground, Dinty's is the building on the left with the upright facade, and the building on the right was a McEwen Husky Fuel depot then.  That building still exists today and the original Dinty's is now an empty lot.

This is how the property looks today...the empty lot was Dinty's and as previosly noted, the KFC is two properties to the north of the original.
.....the building on the right was Ron Wilson's Lakehead Speed and Custom shop in the 1960s.

Here's a truly historic then and now.  The then photo of course are those great jalopy stock cars that we write about from the 1950's kicking up dirt along the backstretch of the old CLE racetrack.(I can name them all.)  Behind the race cars is a tall fence to keep out freebee onlookers.  Behind that is the old bus turn around between Fort William and Port Arthur remembering at one time one would have to change buses to go to Port Arthur or back to Fort William.....
At that same time the Electric brill buses existed which powered themselves from the overhead trolley lines.
The bottom photo is taken basically in the same location as the one above it.....that corner of the CLE grounds of course is paved now and is to the east of the now damaged golf dome....all at the corner of Northern Ave and Fort William Road.

Here is some 1950's memorabilia from the Lakehead Stock Car Club days(human and other..LOL)...The handsome guy on the left is Merv Dove and if you remember, he ran the famous white #31 Maple Leaf Service car in the 1950's, was more than once or twice voted The Most Gentlemanly Driver at the CLE and later became one of the top flagmen at Riverview Raceways....A guy that could jump higher than a car while waving the checkered flag.  Merv is wearing his original jacket from the day...and to the right is a closeup of the Lakehead Stock Car Club logo and a closeup of Merv's crest.

Below are samples of the club cards from the actual Lakehead Stock Car Racing Association from 1957...the white card being the driver's card and the red being the pit crew's card.  The first card is circa 1953 and actually called the event a Jalopy Race.  The light blue one is from 1963 and was likely one of the last racing cards from the CLE days.

GO KARTS....those little 4 wheel powerhouses that started something which was considered a fad in the late 1950s and has continued over time to be an important tool in race car driver training.
Well, yes we did have go karts in those days and yours truly had one too...already written about in this blog, but most people don't remember guys racing them in the Sears parking lot in the day.  Parking lot racing ended with businesses having to kick everyone off their property because of insurance issues....they didn't want the liability of someone getting seriously hurt and making a claim against the businesses or company's that had large paved parking areas.  After that, specific Go Kart tracks had to be built designed for their type of racing and had to carry some serious liability insurance.  The last parking lot organized racing was in the late 1970's at K-Mart on Arthur St.

I don't know the source of these following photos, but they are truly incredible.  In the Go Kart below is none other than Ross "Pappy" Fowler well known in the 1950's for his #10 Jalopy Stock Car and racing at the old CLE grounds.  These photos were all taken at the Intercity Plaza parking lot in the early 1960's.  Most of the faces I don't recognize, so if you know anyone else in the photos please let me know.
Ross "Pappy" Fowler #10 CLE

I don't know for sure but it looks like it could be Barry Kettering on the far left....he used to wear that type of hat.  Here the photo faces north and you can see the northern end of the Intercity Plaza property showing the bank and the life insurance company....to the left would have been Loblaws Grocery Store where I worked in high school.

My son Darren at K-Mart 1980
Pappy Fowler here again....and also the south end of the plaza...

The last part of this post is a memory of Red Top Cabs.  I've had a large door decal around my house for years and here it is along side one of their business cards

Here is where Red Top Cabs was in the day on Simpson Street......Hope you enjoyed this post and always remember you can make comments....it's easier than you think.  Thanks for watching....Dave


Boris Krystompol said...

Great work again Dave these always put a smile on my face....so how much do u get paid(joke)

Dave Cano said...

It would be nice to get paid....but that's alright as long as I put a smile on yours and everyone else's faces...I enjoy writing these posts, and if I didn't they wouldn't be here!! Cheers, Dave

Lawrence D said...

What were the two buildings on Fort William Road at the end of Northern? Seem out of place.

Dave Cano said...

All I know for sure Lawrence is that one of them was a store....not too sure about the other....this would call for some research for sure...Thanks

Jim Anderson said...

The building on the left was a large shop that made campers and trailers.

Dave Cano said...

Yes, that's right Jim, but I think it was much later, I think in the 1970's?