It’s wake-up time for the downtown!

As anyone can see here today, parking is an essential part of large-scale merchandizing—and profitability won’t be returning soon to old downtown Fort Frances until Scott Street shows it can offer much more space for the growing volume of customers’ vehicles.
The present accommodations for cars along both sides of Scott do not begin to compare with the colossal scenes at the new west end malls. This is now where all the town’s money is moving despite needing to take longer for return trips!
Downtown? Whatever it can do in future compared to all those big new attractions will be dwarfed worse daily—unless some sort of parking miraculously develops between the paper mill and beyond the post-office!
Those two or three blocks have been our shopping community through good times and bad for most of the past century, and its business operators would much prefer to hang on—even if their taxes must go into parking enlarged by several acres!
Sure, the new malls offer wide open space—and their directors knew with that advantage, they had our old merchants, restricted as they were, beaten for good!
But just a minute here! By eliminating the increasingly less busy part of old Scott, say right downtown next to the banks on both sides of the street, wouldn’t it be possible to show the new giants the old town can go ahead with lots of fresh acreage for parking?
This will necessitate a complete turnover in taxes presently being swallowed without much compensation for hard-hit downtown merchants. But offering the advantage of proximity to the international bridge for our American guests, plus familiarity and close-in walking distance for many citizens growing shy about the constant need for gasoline money for more distant shopping, say where the giants wait!
This turn-around idea—repaying our Scott Street shops with more parking for their faithfulness by bestowing tax money back on them for the good of all concerned—could be the cure or panacea for all their present money problems.
• • •
Well-remembered Peter Jenson, the druggist who donated so much of his time to public service locally of all kinds, still has two sons busy here.
Doug is popular for all his assistance at Safeway while Pete Jr. operates Northwest Paving and Sandblasting here.
• • •
Having just seen the movie “Birdman of Alcatraz,” starring Burt Lancaster, I was more or less set for an introduction to the Fighting Fish of Safeway, which Bev Maki looks after so well.
These fierce-looking miniatures are kept in bowls of water adorned with plants, and Bev keeps them well-fed. Buyers obtain all it takes to help them along—and don’t be alarmed by their names!
• • •
Author and Mrs. Phil Pochailo were pleased by the local response to his World War Two book when scores of buyers found them in Northwoods Gallery and Gifts here Saturday.
But it took Nick Andrusco to explain the name “Filmore” for Phil’s east-end store here. The last half of that store came from his partner, Morris Halawaty, when they combined the sounds of their first names.
• • •
But then, Nick always has a lot to talk about, and can remember a fellow named Ole Hanson, a mill yard worker, who once made himself a heavy rowboat that he could row for the full five miles to reach Nick’s cabin on Rainy Lake.
• • •
Sadie Kowalchuk says she can sympathize with me over the problem I have remembering certain names.
I had told her that, as long as I had known her late brother-in-law, John, when his name came up recently, I had to wait for his obituary picture to appear in the Times to be sure he was the same fellow I took guitar lessons with when we were boys.
• • •
And now Willie Toninato has left us! I had learned our cheerful Allan Cupper was very ill, but Willie had always seemed so full of life. My parents knew his folks many years ago.
Willie’s sister, Santa Berry, told me about him on the day after the death.
I was with his brother, whom we called “Poochy,” when he drowned very young at the Crowe Avenue dock. His mother had lost two other sons previously in the river also!
• • •
Don McEachern, the veteran passenger plane pilot, told me he knew Max Shapiro, who grew up on northern Manitou lake. I would visit his father, Leo Shapiro, and family in hunting season, sometimes with Tony Mio, the Daily Journal photographer.
Max also followed a career as a pilot.
• • •
While I have always known Bert Oliver casually and enjoyed his stories, I never knew about his paintings of our great outdoors. A friend says Bert’s art really deserves attention!
• • •
Will our town parades in future rely for music on only records and loudspeakers?
Because I have heard of no fresh bands appearing on the local scene where we have enjoyed, for at least as long as I can remember, the stirring strains of the great town band—the big brass outfit that other communities envied—headed first by Harper Simmons and then Walter Andrusco.
Also, our parades might feature any one of several smaller combinations, such as Jack Keenahan’s Drum and Bugle band, the Sea Cadets, and the Scotties.
I trust there will always be such great music available in our community. Somewhere there must be a group rehearsing here for our next deserving event!
• • •
I trust they managed the rebirth of the border Italian suppers in International Falls quite well without me. Although I bought two tickets well ahead of time, I could not be there to enjoy them!
Next time, though, Fort Frances entertains! These suppers went well a few years back.
• • •
Devlin property owners remember their two tornadoes too well! While the bad wind in Fort Frances’ experience occurred in 1947, parts of Devlin—the Box Alder and Burriss townships—received heavy damages twice recently, in 2001 and 1988.
Keith Caul and Fran Pruys were among the heaviest losers, having homes torn apart while others in Burriss lost eavestroughs and shingles in their latest wicked storm.
Jim and Jan Andrews in Box Alder told about losing two large farm buildings, one a pole barn 90 feet long, as well as a handsome farm frontage of pine trees.
Amazingly, Jim’s motorcycle standing inside a wrecked shed never received a scratch while logs were being blown 300 yards away from their barn and a two by four was driven completely through a tire.

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