The Lidkeas help anchor Scott Street

While much of Scott Street is changing as our main business locations either have closed or drifted westward out to the highway, it is encouraging for oldtimers such as myself to see certain dependable services remaining steadfast, including Dr. Bob Lidkea’s optometry headquarters.
Our banks have remained in place, but the old scene along there is vanishing except for such satisfied stalmarts as the Lidkeas, including son, Bruce, the bagpiper who chose his father’s profession and helped look after me last week.
Today, their offices are packed with the latest equipment for their trade and two smiling ladies also are employed there. The Lidkeas’ continued presence helps stabilize the old two-block-long area where even our reliable Rainy Lake Hotel has been shut down for too long.
Not being much of a shopper lately, I would make a poor guide for that part of our town that is changing so much. But I find it sad to contemplate several closed stores and too few replacements!
The familiarity of years and years is missing today—and walking along there is mostly finished, too. Scott Street never offered parking lots and the curbs now are frequently filled today while almost everyone drives.
Our business thoroughfare was always busy until lately, with two hardware stores, two drug stores, and several clothing shops plus the eating places, and, of course, Ray S. Holmes’ newstand, tobacco store, and confectionary that gave me fond memories.
Because, while leading our 17th Forestry Battalion into the Second World War in 1939, Ray rivalled Walter Gagne’s two pharmacies and Bill Noden MPP in importance.
Bill managed Gillmore-Noden Hardware, across from the post office, while competing with Wells Hardware, one of our business pioneers along there whose founder—the Scott family—gave the street their name.
As small boys, we could be given big city papers containing the funnies to peddle on Saturdays, when our earnings might even pass a dollar!
There was always Safeway for summer employment when we reached high school age, and I gained 35 cents an hour plus the use of a long green smock for handling hundred weights of sugar, flour, and potatoes.
Meanwhile, across the street, you could watch John O. Herrem making windows, doors, and skis in his lumber and paint store, and later, George Turner in his locker plant and meat store after he returned from the war.
Then there were Brockie’s, Gledhill, Wilkins, Selrite, and Elliott’s jewellery and novelty, gift, and dishware stores for birthdays and other giving.
There was never a shortage of products to buy or merely admire as we passed along the Scott Street that did a good job of helping to raise and educate all of us.
I cannot believe our next business street will be any busier—or do a better job of persuading us to spend our money at home.
The shoemakers, barbers, and other tradesmen (electricians and plumbers included) were popular from end to end of old Scott. They offered us much of what we always needed, realizing that the adjacent bridge serving the American stores was only a dime away—and we usually walked over there, also.
• • •
The exciting high school boys’ hockey tournament of the past week, featuring the top teams from across Ontario, is highly reminiscent of our Allan Cup senior hockey days when we eventually dominated amateur hockey in 1952 with our one-year-old rink.
Along with its young brother now alongside, and the rink in Emo, our district again proved its ability to meet whatever came at us. And let’s hope we can manage all that again in future years!
Our Allan Cup champion Canadians not only had a great line-up of players, but also a top coach!
While imported coach Gordon Fraser helped raise our sights, an entire community and local committee, led by Alf Russell, was very much with us while Glen Steele served as team manager.
In addition, there was the mostly Minnesota league year after year preceding our Canadian conquest. Then the fiery local coach, Joey Bolzen, stepped in!
Our old wooden Northern League rink on Nelson Street and its rafters ring in all our games and crowds out to see Duluth, Hibbing, and Eveleth—and later International Falls—all going down before our talented local lads.
It took every winter between 1945 and 1952 to prove our Canadians’ supremacy in senior hockey and we know their descendants in high school hockey will continue to carry our banner proudly.
Yes, we can be a famous hockey hotbed again. It’s in our tradition!
• • •
On meeting Amie Wreggitt (nee Burrell), I happened to have known her family connections. Her father was Roy Burrell, well remembered as the office manager for J.A. Mathieu’s sawmill on Rainy Lake while her mother was a former American borderite from near Ranier.
Twice widowed, Amie’s first husband was Roy Wreggitt, who came from Farrington, near Mine Centre, and I was acquainted with her father-in-law, Willy Wreggitt.
Her second husband was a DeBenedet of the accordian-playing DeBenedets, Claude and his dad, Angelo.
• • •
Locally famous fliers Rusty Myers and Vern Jones, as well as possibly our busiest businessman, Clark Robertson, all were recalled during a telephone call from Rainy River by a former co-worker who described Rainy Lake incidents of heroism from the ’50s, naming a nurse, Amie Kitzul, as well as other pilots, including A. Nastiuk, Glen Canfield, Bud Mallory, Bud Craig, and Alex Luczyk.
• • •
Few might believe Jerry Martin is among the youngest survivors of our 1952 Allan Cup champions of senior hockey, but get him talking and you could easily believe Jerry is among our town’s best talkers!
• • •
Daily we are saying good-bye to local citizens moving to Alberta, along with many other Canadians attracted to high-paying jobs out west around the oil fields.
Leaving last week was Sue Peltonen, formerly of Crozier, and now Mrs. Bob Deslauriers. Her new address will be R.R.2, Fort Saskatchewan, Alta.
• • •
Herb Snow reports among our most skillful curlers is still Glenn Rostie at age 89! Glenn still proves the best out there, Herb insists!

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