Me a Dollar To Spend On Wyandotte St. in the 1930s
from Walkerville Times, Issue #6
my daughter Cathy came back from Mexico, she brought quite a collection
of jewellery with her. To add to the leather coat she had purchased
in Spain- to add to the new outfits she bought in Vancouver.
the early 1930s my world of stores (apart from the occasional
visit to Detroit) was confined to five blocks along Wyandotte Street
East in the Town of Walkerville. Come along for a little tour with
me, Gentle Reader, and well look in on some of the honest
merchants, who are no longer with us, to listen to the tinkle of
the little spring-held brass bells above their front doors.
my boyhood home on the northeast corner of Wyandotte and Devonshire
Road, walking west along the north side of Wyandotte, past Lanspearys
Drug Store #1 and the CP telegraph office (Mr. A. C. Donaldson,
manager) into the John A. Jones grocery store. Mr. Jones, with his
white cotton apron tied in back (before World War II shortages put
him out of business), reaches into the bins in front of his counter
and brings out handfuls of cookies which cost 15 cents per dozen.
And the free aromas- fresh ground coffee, spices and tea in large
open tin foil-lined boxes.
past the offices of the Walkerville Land and Building Company (where
my mother pays her $35 per month rent) and the Walker Insurance
Agency Ltd., we come to A. H. Blacks Jewellery Store where
Mr. Black will one day sell me my first watch one of the
best in his exclusive store for $39.
A. J. Stevens and Son Bicycle Shop (where I will buy .22 ammunition
during my brief and fruitless hunting career as an 18 year old,
skipping classes at Walkerville Collegiate Institute on magnificent
October mornings to walk country lanes in search of elusive crows).
Coles Book and Stationery Store at the corner of Kildare Road.
The proprietor, Mr. Charles F. Cole and his assistant, Mr. Jacobs,
exude the dignity befitting genteel merchants and tell us of the
window display of impressive (and expensive) toys planned for next
Christmas. The Border Cities Star will carry a photograph of the
display a battlefield scene with tin soldiers attacking, real
barbed wire, tanks, field guns and exploding shells (little white
lights flashing on and off within cotton puffballs).
Kildare past the barber shop in the old brown frame house where
Mr. Snowden cuts my hair for 15 cents. Past lean and grey Nate K.
Cornwall (the areas first curler) standing in shirt sleeves
and bowler hat in the April sunshine in front of his real estate
the Chinese restaurant, the Victoria Café and on to the tiny
BA service station (always looking and smelling of oil and grease).
Where the proprietor tries once again to lure us into the large
leather armchair he has wired to give neighbourhood boys a mild
Victoria Road (Chilver) to the vacant house where we defy ghosts
on our nocturnal visits and into Nessels Department Store-
old Mr. Nessel with his head of steel wool sells me my new pair
of $1.98 Sisman scampers every spring. Scampers conveniently left
at home throughout most of the long hot barefoot summer.
in to see Mr. G. W. Dickie standing on the sawdust-covered floor
of his butcher shop- hoping he will offer us a raw wiener. On to
visit Mr. Zakoor at the Sunshine Fruit Land on the corner of Windermere
Road. Where my mother is shocked to see large cabbages offered for
sale for five cents and wonders how much of even that minuscule
sum reaches the farmer.
Windermere, past the familiar red United Cigar Store and James Meat
Market to the Walkerville Flower Shop where I buy my annual Mothers
Day plant for 35 cents and dream of the day I will be able to walk
in with a dollar and order the best in the house from the proprietor,
Miss Lucretia J. Bamford.
Gascoyne Soda Fountain (with its mouth-watering display of Easter
chocolate bunnies and chickens). Past the Morris Funeral Home and
the old grey frame house at the corner of Lincoln. Across Lincoln.
Past the Imperial Bank of Canada. Past Loblaws, with not its
name but a huge sign reading "We Sell for Less" across the front
of the store. Past the Tivoli Barber Shop.
to the Tivoli Theatre (formerly the Walkerville) managed by a young
man named J. J. Lefaive (of future Cleary Auditorium fame). Who
once caught us trying to sneak in to see Jackie Cooper and Wallace
Beery in "The Champ" but changed his mind about sending us to jail
for ninety-nine years and let us go with a warning.
is the west boundary of Walkerville and the end of my world. And
so across to the south side of the street, keeping a wary eye out
for crawling streetcars. Across from the Tivoli we glance at the
Dandy Bar-B-Q and Economy Lunch.
so east along the south side of Wyandotte Street. Crossing Lincoln
again we pass Patersons #4 Drug Store. And come to the M&P
(for Mailloux and Parent) where I will one day deliver groceries
for 15 hours on Saturdays for $1.25. (Thats right, it works
out to about eight cents per hour.)
Bernhardts Furniture Store (where all of the rich people buy
their furniture), across Windermere, past Pleasance Jewellery Store
and into the old red and gold decorated F. W. Woolworths emporium,
where I bought my first school bag for 25 cents. Past the Walkerville
Bakery and Tea Room (in the Bates Building-1914) where my mother
buys Saturday donuts for 20 cents a dozen on Monday mornings.
the Bank of Montreal ("Established 1799"), across Victoria, past
Lanspearys #12 and so on the southwest corner of Devonshire
and Wyandotte, where the large, screen-porched home houses the office
of Dr. G. Gordon Little. On the second floor Dr. L. D. Hogan tries,
with limited success, to straighten my crooked teeth. Across Devonshire
to the Royal Bank of Canadas Walkerville Branch and north
across Wyandotte. And so home.
Mexico? Vancouver? As shopping centres, theyre all right,
I guess. But give me a dollar to spend. On Wyandotte Street. In
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