Lives may have been much richer

I was wondering the other day if by living in a simpler time, in a remote area of the province, our quality of life and lifestyle was greatly improved over today.
Back in the 1960s when I was in high school, almost everyone had an after-school job that often carried on through the year.
If you were a male and 17, you probably already were on the spare board at the mill. Working there was like winning the lottery today.
The best retail jobs were at Safeway. But back in the late 1960s, almost every retailer had a student working for them. Several businesses had more than one.
The radio had several student DJs and several went on to careers in the business. They played and queued up records all night long shortly after the church services were finished.
Those DJs seemed to know what every teenager wanted to listen to. Of course back then, you only had two choices on the radio dial while eight-tracks and cassettes just were coming into existence.
Perhaps the busiest place on Scott Street was Murray’s Music and everyone dropped in weekly to get the latest 45.
Meanwhile, everyone’s favourite place to eat was the New Lunch Café, where “Shorty” Labbé served up the most wicked fries and gravy. From every booth you could play the jukebox, with the 45s upgraded weekly.
Most shopping took place in Fort Frances. The Electric Bakery had the best “Long Johns,” Persian rolls, and doughnuts around. If you were first in line at the high school cafeteria, you stood a good chance of buying one of those “Long Johns” for a quarter while a Persian was only a dime.
When summer was over and school about to begin, everyone headed to “Bud’s” for school supplies. You had a big binder with all your subjects separated by tabs and each section filled with three-holed punched loose leaf pages.
If you were a guy, your school clothes came from McTaggarts or Lerman’s or Mike Kosowick at the Esquire shop or from Bert Forsberg. They all sold shoes, too.
Young women had even more choices to buy clothes. They shopped at Niznick’s, Silvers, Betty’s, or Lerman’s.
Stedman’s “Five and Dime” had a lunch counter and was our first department store. The three biggest stores were Safeway, Shop Easy, and Stedman’s, with Lerman’s running a close third in floor space.
We didn’t travel out of town to buy clothes, though we might have ordered through the Eaton’s or Sears catalogue. It took almost two weeks to receive what you had ordered and often you were advised that the item was out of stock.
Everyone bought their car or truck from one of the five automotive dealers in Fort Frances. Out in Emo, there was a Chrysler and Ford dealer. Japanese and Korean vehicles were not even seen on the horizon in Canada.
Farm equipment was purchased from several district dealers.
In many ways, we were an isolated area but we seemed able to find everything we needed within our community.
Everyone seemed to know every family on their street. Churches were packed on Sundays. The posh eating establishments included the Rainy Lake Hotel and the Gourmet Restaurant (now known as La Place Rendez-Vous).
The best milkshakes could be had at Ray S. Holmes or Smitty’s Drive In. The first fast-food chain to arrive was the A&W and they had car hops.
The “Teen Burger” and root beer were perched on the driver’s window.
On Friday nights, you cruised in your dad’s car with the windows down and parked at Seven Oaks. Every weekend, a local band played at the arena and it only cost a dollar to get in.
By today’s standards, the high school generation would figure we lived dull lives. We didn’t have all the electronic toys, the social media, travel, and experiences that are afforded today.
Our lives, however, may have been much richer.

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