Bring on the ‘Wheelers’

It takes Bob Wepruk and his “Wheelers” to liven up Rainycrest, where they get the oldsters jumping regularly, including coming up on May 24 and again on June 28.
They also will play at the International Falls nursing home on May 17, at the Anglican Church “coffee house” on May 27, and then at Sunny Cove in July.
In other words, the “Wheelers” are well-named and always open to fresh engagements as our local entertainers really keep their show on the road.
While I won’t be included (even though Bob got my old guitar ready for action again), he brings along singer Jackie Grynol and will present other local talent right along.
The “Wheelers” can do all the old and new country stuff, and Bob keeps them on the go while everyone keeps demanding more.
It would be tough to stump Bob on any oldtime tunes as he lets them go so cheerfully and with gusto—his trademark for years. I was fortunate to be entertained by him when he returned my guitar and was treated to much of his rollicking repertoire!
I had almost forgotten my zest for the oldtime tunes until Bob tuned my music box and took over for a couple hours, joined in singing by Margaret Solomon.
Much of his music is out of the past, but will always be with us so long as this group stays around! Want to hear “You Are My Sunshine” sung well again? Tell the Wheelers!
Yes, Fort Frances can keep on supplying entertainment even though our old dance bands are not around anymore to take over the Rainy Lake Hotel ballroom or Pither’s Point Park pavilion. And isn’t that a shame?
• • •
Back from Ottawa for a visit was our popular East End grocer Phil Pochailo, who gave his first name to the old Filmore store where he partnered with Maurice Hallowaty.
Phil, still looking great at 85 with is white hair, also was a World War II flier.
• • •
Rough streets to stay off to prevent serious jarring include Sixth and Third among most others, as well as a lot of avenues here!
• • •
Oblivious to the fact he is being observed by a raven perched on a nearby fence while he buries his daily gift of peanuts, “Nutty” covers them very carefully. Although by now, he should realize they don’t stay there very long!
Nutty is by no means the most clever of pets.
• • •
I’m told this new hair style may have come from Winnipeg, but at least one high school girl is shaving her hair in strips. That golden look is just about gone among our teenagers.
Partially hairless appearance is too much for old-fashioned me, although like many men I may have helped inspire it. What’s next?
• • •
Merle McMillen: it’s been great reviewing Mine Centre with you and it’s potential to become a gold mining capital of the north by doing what its mining companies expect while area paper-making falls off.
Our small former homeplace must have what it takes or those companies would stop snooping around—and they promise to pour in millions more next year.
Someday, look out, because they say we have what it takes!
I can almost hear our prospectors of bygone years gloating in anticipation. The late geologist, Arthur Stone, and the rest knew it all along, together with such searchers as his drowning partner, Doc Smiley, as well as Angelo Paccito, Russell Cone, and all the others who led the way.
I knew them all personally when my mother operated the Mine Centre hotel dining room in the days of Sam Gallo, who later took over the Barwick hotel.
Our hotel was next to the Prideau store, which helped give the old village a main street next to the CN tracks. That street held two stores, the hotel, and a caboose for a railroad station.
One day there came a visiting jurist, C.R. Fitch of Fort Frances, who was to hear any cases brought before him in his boxcar courtroom. No doubt he kept his “overhead” costs low because there were so few businessmen around to give him their overdue bills to collect!
The boxcars also brought in the musicians and dancers to help fill a new dance hall floor near the hotel. Among visiting musicians was popular “Frog” Myers and his Devlin group to stage the square dances.
Later, George Bliss, second of storekeeper Ed Bliss’ five sons, supplied the music with his accordion.
And from all the good times enjoyed, it might have been easy to believe Mine Centre was a much larger community. Including transients, it’s doubtful, though, if the adult population ever exceeded 100, including some from a distance around the lakes when four or five mines operated.
Yet there was a sociability that still makes me wonder why we couldn’t have stayed there longer.
• • •
Evelyn Metke and all those other wonderful volunteers who perform on the Meals on Wheels circuit five suppertimes a week have won much admiration, especially because those meals keep getting better and better.
I mention Evelyn with her beautiful smile because her late father, CIBC manager W.J. (Jack) Gray, was so active in supporting this community, too.
That characteristic seems to run in some families.
• • •
Our perogie king, Mike Dokuchie, doesn’t spend as much time at his cooking as formerly and has certainly lost weight as a result.
He appears considerably slimmer than when we could drop in at his riverfront home at the end of Scott Street and order dozens of his Ukrainian treats at anytime in years past.
• • •
Recalling the few doctors of past years who served our town and district so well, I do not remember appointments needing to be booked months ahead (and we had only three or four doctors here plus Dr. Young at Emo).
Is medical insurance to blame for all the waiting necessary today? Soon after the Second World War, there were only Drs. O’Donnell, Boyle, and Leishman, serving practically the same population as we have here today!

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