Five came along at just the right tim

Maybe five men couldn’t make the world go around, but our oldsters—Billy Walker, George Henry, Bob Taylor, Bob Readman, and Louis Camirand—could look after practically everything concerning our old town hall for more than half-a-century.
They could all handle authority, these leaders of our main municipal departments. They carried on like they enjoyed the responsibility as they established and held our community together come wartime or high water, which were regular crises!
To identify the remarkable personalities banded under the same roof here, start with Mr. Walker—and here the “Mister” still sits well on him for his masterly grasp on so many subjects.
This could be attributed to this slim Englishman’s background upstairs in the old Legion building (Fort Frances Museum), our first high school.
Walker and his wife took interest in development of our longstanding music festival where two trophies still bear their names.
But if you wanted a grave set aside in the town cemetery, Walker would look after that on top of his day’s work. Or delegate his faithful assistant, Wilema Runkowski (Clark), to help him.
Away back in antiquity, the real oldtimers recalled one town treasurer piling the town’s taxes into a rowboat and attempting a getaway down river. Nobody around today could check on that story, but Mr. Walker definitely was not involved—although for years he also looked after the treasurer’s duties before Earl Calder arrived!
Second busiest people in the aforementioned group might be either the public works or utilities department.
George Henry, with his able lieutenant Buster Saunders, took on the town streets, waterlines, and sewers and, it was said, knew all the underground lines so well that he could direct his diggers on exactly where the holes would be needed for repairs.
His talent with a willow when witching—which is when the hand-held wand dips towards an underground stream and can indicate a broken waterline—is still marveled at today.
Meanwhile, there would be Bob Taylor out with his linemen to install fresh power lines after construction with the papermill providers, and also to keep the town humming despite lightning storms.
Here he would be grateful for helpers such as Chick Grinsell and Shorty Breckon, who also coped with the telephones.
Bob headed a talented family that included school teachers and nurses, and an electrical storekeeper.
Now for a look at the legal side of town affairs, visit Police Chief Louis Camirand’s office and feel honoured to put your own feet up on his desk with him and listen to his stories. Because Louis, usually jocular, made friends immediately.
He came from Quebec and at first rode a horse as a border patrolman here. Then, across town he coped with considerable lawlessness including constant bootlegging—a favourite business.
In those old wood-burning days, the job given Bob Readman was very important as he managed a standing crew of firefighters from his street-side office.
There, if the trucks had been shined and the brass polished, and the alarms stayed silent, visitors of the day could be entertained with card games (smear or cribbage)—although there would be interruptions from truckers wanting to pass over the weigh scales outside the fire hall.
Readman, like his older brother, Cap, lived close to the river because they were familiar with water travel from many years earlier.
The old town hall had introduced the community to five very gallant servants. Others were deserving credit right along, but this was the bunch that undertook to develop most of what was considered important.
And their fellow citizens might holler loudly today, “Well done!”
• • •
At close to 91, Tony O’Neil is saying his new hip suits him well!
• • •
There may be others to challenge this statement but it is generally agreed that Mabel Glueheisen, with her 101st birthday, just has left us all in the shade. She came originally from Wisconsin and knows this district very well. She still occupies her own apartment!
Getting along also is another Mabel, Mrs. George, whose son, Joe George, is very proud of her, especially for her memory of local history. She is now 94.
Moe Henry of Stratton stopped to comment on Don Law’s letter last week from White Rock, B.C. because he has visited Don and Norma out there.
• • •
It’s said the corn enjoyed free at the Sister Kennedy Centre last week comes from Jim and Blair Lowey’s farm on River Road—but I didn’t believe it was ready for harvest yet after being pummelled by a wild wind over a week ago.
However, it won’t be a long wait because the crops looks good again.
Meanwhile, I marvel at Safeway keeping us so well supplied with cobs for months now and bringing on such great blueberries, too. And at a great price when our own wild berries didn’t make it this year because of the extreme heat.
Blair’s greenhouses also sent in all those pots of petunias for the West End highway.
• • •
Hopefully, some of our more determined pickers managed to strike out in the right direction. My parents would refuse to stop picking until they passed probably a 100 pounds years ago, either at “Blue Mountain,” which is around the rocks where town garbage goes today or, later, at Turtle Tank, east of Mine Centre.
There, with luck, we could be offered a ride home later with Sonny and Maxine Patten.
• • •
Lonely and forlorn but so full of memories, big old Fort Francese High School seems destined soon to become known as the town’s most famous folly.
But I can’t imagine, in a community that has been plenty lively in the past, how little interest seems to be showing! We all share the shame and could be attracting embarrassment if some outsider comes along to turn our big, beautiful building into a tremendous success!
But how?
• • •
Bill Adair, the retired high school teacher turned priest, reported he has now conducted 16 wedding ceremonies. You’ll find Bill on Finger Point Road at his bed-and-breakfast business.

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail
Posted in Uncategorized