Old Hallowe’ens well remembered

Nope, Maggie Gordon’s coveralls don’t hang there any more!
After every Gate Night (when the real pranks began) and Hallowe’en, you probably would see our cranky old Robert Moore School janitor’s clothing apparel or tools, such as his wheelbarrow, up in the air atop the school flagpole.
The kids were having their revenge for his regular persecutions.
If Maggie caught you at something he did not approve, which might have been anything from disobeying his commands to stop throwing lunch on the floor to misuse of chalk on the school walls, sometimes with his name spelled wrong but always “Maggie!”
Most of us never knew his full name. We believed he was just a mean old bachelor with no kids of his own.
But leave Maggie alone and also check with Police Chief Louis Camirand on the other fun local kids have been up to over Hallowe’en. Some years you could get a earful, especially involving his unpopular Cst. Sid Wall, a fellow who could be considered Maggie’s rival in kids affections.
Old Sid was known as the kids’ cop, more so than any other patrolling the town—and he was known to fill several jail cells on a single night!
The pre-war years could be hair-raising overnight, but most of our young friends were much more concerned with filling their sugar sacks and pillow cases with plunder from every household they stopped at for treats—maybe the first candy and apples the kids had enjoyed in months.
This was during the Dirty ’30s when the generous “good ladies,” as we called them, year after year got ready to give us all they could. Then their names went down the streets to help other kids find the right doors to knock on.
For few homeowners ignored Hallowe’en and all helped bring us through the hard times. Some of those great givers even handed out toys or sports equipment their own children had left behind.
Looking back, I guess there was never a happier time, or greater community friendship celebration, than our old Hallowe’ens.
• • •
Back home next to my old River Road farm for a few days until I can get relocated, I looked around a neighbourhood in Crozier that has undergone few changes since I moved away after my wife died.
My big barn is still standing tall and straight, and the newcomers, Girhards, have been busily renewing parts of other buildings.
But here comes Bill Mutz, my next-door neighbour for 45 years, hand outstretched as he passes on family information. His brother-in-law (Ann’s husband), war veteran Arie Lahti, has gone ahead of us but his son, Ralph, Bill’s nephew, is using the farm now in addition to his own.
Further down the road, the Gerbers are keeping busy with their multitude of farm chores and son, Andrew, one of a dozen children, is carpentering.
But Cleave Wilson, who helped butcher my first steer to fill our freezer when our first winter came along, has quietly disappeared, along with Sam Koski, another neighbour I went to high school with, although his wife, Iva, continues to come out for coffee.
Meanwhile, around the corner, our good friends, Ann and Wilson Barr, also are missing. The Alberton school, which my four children attended, is on the corner next to the Spuzaks, across from the Jankiewicz acres.
Time has cut down some of my former friends but it’s always good to see any of those folks, some of whom you can still meet yet.
• • •
Going blocks out of your way when a mudslide briefly closed the CNR subway on Portage Avenue last month was the rule before 1959 when it was installed.
I can well remember how mothers had to lug their shopping bags around or through the trains, and their closest level crossing was a block away on Victoria Avenue.
We lived only a few doors north on Portage Avenue. And because my parents never owned a car, if there was a train on the track, my mother and others sometimes climbed over the boxcar couplings—or even crawled dangerously under them.
There was no guarantee on how long a train might stay in that spot or start to move!
Shoppers today mostly have cars to take them around and over the level crossings.
• • •
Along comes Harold (Bo) Armstrong again to shake hands, back from a busy time at Toronto, where he once cuffed others around in a boxing ring.
• • •
I was sorry to notify Gabby Hanzuk to cancel my wonderful Meals on Wheels deliveries when I moved. But I when I relocate, I’ll sure phone her again.
• • •
Everyone here should appreciate pharmacist Kim Metke, who, in effect, threw the town a lifeline before council decided to finance the purchase of the Fort Frances Clinic, which he stands ready to take over if the next council finds fault with the town’s decision.
• • •
After all our doubts, apparently King’s Highway in the west end will be completed after all. For too long it appeared the contractor was in trouble with slow progress while winter came ever closer.
Although not yet completed, the surface is at last entirely useful, at least today.
• • •
It’s a while since my family took on much furniture moving, but a pair of lads were obtained through Manpower and looked after the heavier items for me.
• • •
Much of my TV entertainment is confined to the popular western fare on Lonestar. But it was not always found on every set, so my son managed to have it installed for me at his home while his wife Laureen put up a handrail.
Spoof those old westerns all you wish, they could alway grab many of us ever since the old Royal Theatre here would present Tom Mix and Ken Maynard, and later Gene Autry and Roy Rogers.
• • •
We’ve all been missing that corner corn patch at the Lowey and Vanderhorst farm at the river, but Blair Lowey expects to try corn again next year.
He lost sales to a widespread blight a couple of harvests ago.
This is the same field, I told him, where his father-in-law, Joe Vanderhorst, installed hundreds of feet of irrigation pipe with Harry Cavell and me under his supervision, with the late Fred Beck of the taxi Becks installing the pump from the river alongside.
It has always done well as a producer and everyone hopes Blair can continue bringing in his corn. But those old pipes were sometimes buried after many years plowing and cause problems today.

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