life and times
hiram who
birth of the auto
border cities
sports heritage

Anyone Seen Cecil? (from Issue #20- March 2002)

My brother, sisters and I (Patti, Mike and Sue – students at WCI in the 70s and 80s), were chatting the other day and we remembered an older fellow who was always at the various WCI sporting events. I believe he walked with a limp and his name may have been Cecil. We remembered that we used to see him at the football, hockey and basketball games, but I don’t think we ever knew the story behind him.
If anybody has any information, it would help the four of us.
Steve Hodges

Mr. Walkerville

As always, the latest issue of The Times evoked many memories for this born-and-raised-in-Walkerville senior. Regarding the letter about Cecil the sports fan – I remember Cecil Gawley well as he and I shared many Latin classes with Mr. Fred Burr at Walkerville C.I.

Cecil had a congenital problem that resulted in a severe limp and thus the inability to play sports. Cecil rarely missed a sporting event however. He was a real fan. He was also a clever person hampered by poor communication skills. In retrospect, many people chose to ignore him rather than be a friend probably because of his disability and the fact that he was “different.”

For those who attended W.C.I.’s reunion in the 70s, you may remember that Cecil was recognized for his contribution to the history of the school as its most devoted sports fan.

Do people remember The Busy Bee ice cream parlour at Ottawa St. and Kildare Rd.? How about the grocery store on Ottawa at the Kildare/Chilver alley with wire baskets of fruit out front which made it so easy for the roughnecks from Argyle Rd. (who shall remain nameless since I married one) to sneak up the alley and lift oranges! Does anyone remember Mrs. Hughes penny candy store on Ottawa St. right across from Hong’s restaurant with its great banana cream pie? Remember Doug Hong’s smiling face lost forever in a WW2 fighter plane? Thank God for all the great memories of a childhood that began in the Depression years. You know, I never knew deprivation because my aunt in New York sent my mother $5.00 every week.

Thanks for the opportunity to share with you.
Winifred Auld Sinclair, Windsor

#1 Tartan Fan

I have just finished reading the latest Times. What a wonderful magazine you are putting out. As I live and work in the Walkerville area, I look forward to each edition.

A recent letter to the editor from Steve Hodges inquired about a man named “Cecil” who attended all the Walkerville C.I. sports events. The gentleman’s name was Cecil Gawley. He attended Walkerville in the early 40s and for many, many years was the #1 Tartan fan.
Glenna Houston, Office Staff, Walkerville C.I.

Cecil Gawley as a student at Walkerville Collegiate in the 1940s (left)

Mr. Walkerville: Cecil in 1997 at
Walkerville C.I.’s 75th Reunion (right)

From Cecil’s Niece

Steve Hodges inquired about a man named Cecil, who attended all Walkerville C. I. sporting events. I am enclosing a few facts your readers might find interesting. Cecil Gawley was my uncle. His older brother, Edwin, was a teacher and later became audiovisual coordinator for the Windsor Board of Education. His sister, Elsie, was a homemaker.

Cecil loved sports. He was born with a club foot and could not participate, so he became a super fan. For years he went to all Walkerville’s games, home and away, even after graduating. In appreciation for his loyalty, in the mid-nineties, he was named “Mr. Walkerville” and received a free pass to all Walkerville sporting events. He was also invited to ride on the Walkerville float in the Santa Claus Parade.
Cecil died in 1997 at the age of 71.
Irma Gerard, Windsor

He’s Got DESIRE!

I really enjoyed Richard Lidell’s last article in The Times (March 2002, Issue 22), especially the part about Willie Palko, Walkerville’s “Fonz.”After getting to know Willie as a real human being, a few of the guys in grade 12-13 would go to Drouillard Road for our lunch with him and “the gang.”We would spend our lunch hours and our spare periods in the pool hall in old Ford City. The loser always paid for the game.

After spending big bucks, I finally realized why I was invited to go on these outings. I never was very good in geometry and the angle of attack on the coloured balls was a mystery to me. The other guys were more than honoured to have my presence in their midst.

Willie later became a neighbour of mine in St. Clair Beach in the late 60s and early 70s. He REALLY was a super guy. Richard’s recollection of his basketball times with Max Karcz and how he ended up playing reminded me of my time on the Walkerville Tartan’s football team. As he did for Richard’s basketball career, Max made my football career memorable. I was one of the 4th - 5th string blocking dummies. We all tried to gain glory by competing with the likes of Tom Tomlinson, Jack Cowan, “Killer” Kilpatrick, John Henry Smith and others. Our main goal during practice was to become the defensive line so the BIG guys could practice their plays. Most of us spent more time on the ground than on our feet. This gigantic line of humanity swarmed over us on every play.

One time when I was playing on the right side and a play commenced, I knew the fullback was going to be coming my way so I tried to get at least in the general area of the action. Suddenly, someone blocked me from the side and my body flew into the air. My outstretched arm (unbeknownst to me) hit the leg of the fullback and he came down.

Suddenly I heard Max hollering from the sidelines, “Who made that tackle? Get his number! I want him in Friday’s game! He’s got DESIRE!”

I got into one play on Friday against the Kennedy Clippers facing Dick Dupuis. Needless to say I was yanked after the play and never saw action again.
I look forward to more of Richard’s stories.
Jim Trofin, Windsor

Sink or Swim

When I saw the picture of Ford City Beach in your April photo issue, I remembered going there with my older brother and some other friends for a swimming lesson. Well, everything was going great until I was held under water and thought I was going to drown. From that day on I would not learn how to swim.
Bob Harvie, Windsor

Hand-Made Homes

Fred Chappell of Windsor, a retired customs excise officer, contributed this letter containing fascinating memories from his days growing up in the 500 block (now 900 block) of Curry in the west-end of Windsor. He begins with a detailed account of some home construction techniques employed prior to 1930, continues with a humourous description of fighting it out for free fertilizer and ends with an ode to the bricklayer.

The Robinet brickyard in Sandwich circa 1900. The Lucielle Becigneul Collection,
from Windsor 1892-1992, A Centennial Celebration by Trevor Price & Larry Kulisek

Ever wonder how cellars or basements were dug out back in the old days?

First take a large wheelbarrow and remove the top barrel and arms. Then cut out the front portion of that bowl so that it now remains open. Now fasten each arm, one on each side of the bowl, and drill by hand (no electric drills then of course) one hole into the front portion of each handle, so that a horse or team of horses could usually be attached there.

One man then drove the horse or horses back and forth across the ground for the hole, piling the dirt both in back and in front of the house well away from the hole.
Naturally, the scoop could only pick up a small amount of dirt with each pass taking days or weeks to dig that hole deep enough for the basement.

To finish off, the men then put a ladder into the hole, climbed down and did the ramp and corners by hand and shovel.

Mixing the cement back then was also all done by hand in a box about 8 feet by 4 feet with 8-inch sides all around. All the ingredients for the cement went into the box with some water, while the person mixing it had a hoe with 2 or 3 holes in it. He would then drag it back and forth through the cement until it mixed well, which could take a good half an hour more. Building a home back then went very slowly, and if only a small amount of cement was needed, it was often done in a wheelbarrow. The men often worked 10 or 12 hours daily for 6 days a week.

When it came to placing the bricks on the outside of the home they would be carried from the truck to a pile near the working place by a grappler which could lift only 6 or 8 bricks at a time.

From here they were carried in a hod, which could hold about a dozen bricks at a time. This hod was made of 2 pieces of lumber about 10 inches wide by 2 feet long and 1/2 an inch thick. It was built V-shaped, joined long ways, and closed at one end only. Then a round pole about 3 feet long was fastened underneath near the centre. The man filled this hod with bricks, placed it on his shoulder, and holding onto the handle underneath, carried it to the site.

Free Fertilizer Fights

At one time a horsedrawn cutter, sometimes called a “boat,” used to go up and down the sidewalks clearing the snow. Now this horse, or the one pulling the milk or bread wagon, or even the Sheeney Man’s horse, did their business anywhere, and it was not uncommon to see the neighbours all run out with their pails and shovels to gather it up and take it to their backyards and bury it when they could. It was always good fertilizer, considered the best.

Then of course, there was always that person coming out and meeting someone else at the same time. Right away they would yell and argue: “I saw it first.” “No you didn’t!” So while they argued someone else snuck in and scoffed it. It was funny to watch and quite true.

Who was the Sheeny Man you ask? He had a horse and an open wagon, and would go up and down the alleys and streets blowing a horn, picking up any old junk for free or small price to you, so that he could sell it later for a better price.

Long ago there was a very humorous song about a bricklayer who couldn’t find a job in Ireland, so he went to England to find one in London. He found one on a big construction site and he went to work every day for a year. He was first to arrive every morning and the last to leave every night.
One day he did not show up for work. A letter arrived from the bricklayer to his boss explaining why he wasn’t at work.
This is how it went...

The Bricklayer’s Lament

Now dear sir I write this note
to tell you of my plight.
For at the time of writing it,
I’m not a pretty sight.
My body is all black and blue,
my face a deathly gray,
And I write this note to say why
I am not at work today.
While working on the 14th floor,
some bricks I had to clear.
But tossing them down from such a height
was not a good idea.
The foreman wasn’t very pleased,
he is an awkward sod.
He said I had to carry them down
the ladder in my hod.
Well moving all those bricks by hand,
it was so very slow,
so I hoisted up the barrel
and secured the rope below.
But in my haste to do the job
I was too blind to see
That the barrel full of bricks was heavier than me.
So when I untied the rope, the barrel fell like lead,
and clinging tightly to the rope,
I started up instead.
I shot up like a rocket, and to my dismay, I found
that half way up, I met the flaming
barrel coming down.
The barrel broke my shoulder
as to the ground it sped,
And when I reached the top,
I banged the pulley with my head.
But I held on tightly, numb with shock
from that almighty blow,
While the barrel spilled out half the bricks
some 14 floors below.
Now when the bricks had fallen
from the barrel to the floor.
I then outweighed the barrel
and so started down once more.
Still clinging tightly to the rope,
my body wracked with pain,
and half way down I met the
flaming barrel once again.
Well the force of this collision
half way down the office block
caused multiple abrasions
and a nasty state of shock.
But I clung on tightly to the rope
as I fell towards the ground
and landed on the broken bricks
the barrel had scattered ‘round.
As I lay there on the ground,
I thought I passed the worst,
but that barrel hit the pulley wheel,
and then the bottom burst.
A shower of bricks came down on me,
I didn’t have a hope.
As I lay there bleeding on the ground,
I let go of the bloody rope.
The barrel then being heavier
it started down once more.
It landed right across me
as I lay there on the floor.
It broke three ribs and my left arm,
and I can only say,
I hope you’ll understand
why I am not at work today.
traditional Irish pub song

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