Sunday, April 20, 2014

Old Spring Memories in our home town of Fort William, Ontario....

Here in Central Canada we are finally supposed to get some Spring weather.  It is already April 20th and there is still tons of snow here in what used to be called Fort William and Port Arthur, Ontario.  This is just a short post to wish you all a Happy Easter and hope you have a wonderful summer.
This first photo is one of my sister and I on Easter Sunday way back in 1957 in front of our grandmother's.

The next one here is of myself back in 1954 with my new bicycle.  My father would put one together with used parts and have it painted up at Kam Motors by "Canary" Trevisan, the painter at Kam in those days.  You could never buy a bike as cool as mine and I would get one like this about every couple of years to the envy of all my friends.  My custom bicycle was the beginning of my gear-head years that actually has never ended.

The Fort William Bicycle plate here was used 10 years after the photo on the left.  Be sure to click on all the pictures for enlargements.
The picture on the right (George Bott on the right and myself  on the left) was taken in June in 1950 at a rented cottage at Oliver Lake.
You can't buy wonderful memories like these and as the snow finally melts, we can be sure that summer WILL come.
Here's one of Bill French (driver) and myself back in about 1958 on Cuthbertson Place in Fort William.  Push mobiles or "buggies" as we called them were commonplace in many neighbourhoods back in the 1950's and ours was no exception.  If you were the tallest guy like me, you would be the pusher and the smaller you were, the driver of course.
The following picture was taken many years later in 1971, the second year that Fort William and Port Arthur became Thunder Bay.  It's hard to believe that I actually pulled my trailers with my brand new 1971 Chevelle SS 454 and clamped trailer mirrors to the front fenders.  Geez, what was I thinking.  I loved that car but as my family grew, I did sell it in favour of a 1974 Chevrolet Camper Van.....WHAT was I thinking again?

Finally a much older photo of a card game we had around the house for years that we played while travelling with our family.  My parents always saved their pennies during the winter months so that we could have a wonderful summer trip each lucky were we!!

Monday, April 14, 2014


We have used it for years and years.  It is an icon of a simple, maybe better time wherein we lived a simpler life...well, maybe for some.  
Here on Hot Rods and Jalopies, it's nice to deviate from the usual local history and vintage race cars and this post is no exception.  Lots of interesting reading here to scroll on, and click to enlarge as you need to.

45's as we knew them, formally called The 45 RPM Record was developed by RCA Victor in 1949 right after the invention of "vinyl plastic" and the 12" LP record, developed by CBS engineers in 1948.  The 45 RPM speed was the only one to be decided on by the most cost effective procedure.  Calculus was used to show that the optimum use of a disc record of constant rotation speed occurs when the innermost recorded diameter is half the outermost recorded diameter (hope that makes sense).  That is why a 7" single 45 has a label 3 1/2" in diameter.  Given the CBS LP vinyl groove dimensions and certain thoughts about bandwidth and distortion, a speed of 45 RPM comes out of the it?
To sell their idea against the current "reigning" 78 RPM and the CBS 12" LP, RCA released a series of very low priced 45 RPM "only" record players in the late 1940's and early 1950's.  Both amplified and non amplified models were manufactured.  The player shown here was sold in the early 1950's
and was equipped with a ceramic cartridge and an "RCA" jack, also invented at the time.  The model here did include an amplifier and a speaker but others were meant to be plugged into a corresponding female RCA jack in an RCA radio or early TV, and use that product's amp and speaker (something we later called a "deck").  If you are aged 60 or older, you may remember quite a few of these players by 1955, sitting on TV sets.
In spite of LP's popularity, the sales of 45 RPM records continued to increase from the 50's and well into the 70's.  In their peak sales years from 1973 to 1976, more than 100 million were sold in the USA and Canada each year.
All 45's since 1971 have been pressed in STEREO and actually have had the same fidelity output as CD's (20 Hz to 20,000 Hz)......a credit to the RCA engineers more than 60 years ago.

Many varieties of centers were made so that 45's could be played on a number of different styles of turntables, as you can see here and below.
The metal ones are the most collectible today.


On the record label to the left, the triangle center actually came attached to the record and could be knocked out to play on large spindle players.  They were produced this way mainly for use by DJ's throughout the 45 RPM era.
Here are some of your favourite 45 RPM record jackets.  A regular 45 would have one song on each side, and as time went on, record labels produced EP's which were extended play 45's and would have 2 songs per side for a total of 4 songs per record.

People who check out HR&J from time to time know that we have to add something to do with transportation to the blog posts.  The ad shown below was a very popular one in pretty much all hot rod and custom car magazines throughout the very early years of the 45.
$54.95 was a hefty fee for this back in the early 1950's.

The following article in two parts pretty much explains all about the under dash 45 RPM record player.  Be sure to double click on each of these to enlarge them for reading then come back for more!!


This collage shows some of the ways you can protect your 45's during travel or bringing to a friends place....

I have always had a special place in my heart for the lowly 45 and because of that, I have a huge collection of my own and a wonderful 1952 Seeburg M100C Jukebox I purchased from Howard King of the old King's Stereo to play them on.
Double Click on this last record for a tongue in cheek, never actually produced 45. 
Thanks for looking and hope you enjoyed this post.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Untouchables Car Club - The Northern Ontario Timing Association - MEMORIES OF THE 1960's in our own home town....

As a past member of the Northern Ontario Timing Association, it is a pleasure to bring this post to everyone with tremendous thanks to Dennis Winko for the great article, Art Lee, and Gary Ager for the wonderful photos and information.    .....Dave
We ask that you PLEASE do not copy these photos to another blog or facebook page, as they are from a private collection. Thank You.

These are the club cards that were handed out to people that were assisted by members of the Untouchables and later the NOTA.

The following article in its entirety was written by my friend Dennis Winko, originally to be published in the "Old Cars" newspaper a number of years ago and never was.  Thanks Den for holding on to it all these years.  This is a "must read" not just for car enthusiasts but for anyone interested in local history.  Click on all pages and photos below (sometimes twice) for screen size enlargements..... We apologize that some print is fuzzy in some articles.  Put on your bifocals. 

           Above is Art Lee's Untouchables Car Club Jacket in the window of his Oldsmobile.
The following three 1963 pictures are of the "Untouchables Car Club" in a 1963 Winter Carnival parade.  The photos (thanks to Art Lee) were taken near the corner of Finlayson and Simpson Street across from the then original Gilbert's furniture store. 
This truck belongs to Brian Koski.

Above are some members of The Untouchables Car Club - left to right are Eddie Neimi, Joey Doles, Vic Amadeo, Terry Cuff, Ron MacDonald, Terry Christianson, Bobby Nichols, Jack Mallon, Wayne Cameron, Brian Koski and Ed Bottan.
NOTE - The Gilbert's Furniture store across the street.

In this photo left to right is Jack Mallon, Ken Hacio and Art Lee.  The '34 Ford on the float belongs to Ken Hacio.

     The photo on the left is how the property across the street in the above photos look today, actually just before "Music World Academy" took over the property from Gilbert's furniture.


The photo on the right (once posted already to HR&J) is a Lakehead Stock Car Club float with Albert Massaro's Popcorn Special showing the year (1963) of the carnival on the side.  This photo was taken a couple of blocks to the south of the ones above.


The three articles shown here are also well worth the lets you know pretty much what was going on in young guys minds back in the 1960's....oh!... and there were girls too!!
The article to the left is a bit fuzzy and a small portion is not shown to the right of it, but it still can be read.
I believe the title reads "Highway Drag-racing Is Illegal...But It Still Is Fun".

Front and Back of one of Brian Phillips' jackets.  This is the second edition jacket style......The club had a design contest and I actually won my jacket for the above logo design.  The jacket in the photos below were the first edition jackets.

     With special thanks to Gary "Peachy" Ager (that's the young guy in the bottom right hand corner) this picture turned up recently.  I have been searching for this photo for years and Gary's wife Margaret put it up on her face book page asking if anyone knew who all the guys were.  Well Margaret, we know most of them now....just a couple of last names are left out.
     Sadly, I missed the club photo above and this one as well (I was sick or something)....well, I wasn't the only one, as you can read below who was missing from the photo.
     This was taken at the Blue Swan Inn where most of our meetings were held when the EMO building on Waterloo and Victoria Ave. become too small.
     My jacket went missing during the years and Brian Phillips graciously donated one of his two jackets to me....Thanks Brian!!
Here is what the Blue Swan Inn looked like in the 1960's
Thanks to everyone that helped with this post, especially Den Winko, Art Lee and Gary Ager.   HR&J hopes that you enjoyed it..........Dave

Friday, March 28, 2014

Happy Birthday Clyde Ditmars - One of the Boys Who Started Their Engines at the CLE in 1953......

A little clipping in this past Thursday's newspaper brought back a ton of memories of the one and only Clyde Ditmars (Mr. Texaco)......Happy 80th Birthday Clyde (March 27, 2014) from all your old buddies and Stock Car fans from 1953 and later years.  Clyde was one of the Boys of the summer of the 1950's who started their engines at the old Canadian Lakehead Exhibition race track right here in our home town of Fort William, Ontario.  Their isn't a gearhead my age that would not remember guys like Clyde.....these jalopy jockeys brought us more entertainment as kids than any venue in our home town.  These were our movie stars, our idols....the guys that we admired most back in the early 1950's
There was no name printed on the ad, but who could not remember
 that face from the CLE days.....Happy Birthday Clyde Ditmars!

Picture of Clyde from a 1953 CLE racing program

Unfortunately you'd see Clyde upside down once in awhile......he did that to entertain us....Check out the Coliseum building in the background at the CLE which still stands today.

 Here's a close-up of Clyde's #77 Car upside down with a very cool checkerboard paint job.

Above and to the left and right are pages from the 1953/1954 program showing Clyde Ditmars right in the middle of all the action including two newspaper clippings from 1953 to the right.  Be sure to click on all the photos and clippings here once then twice to enlarge to screen size so that you may read them in detail.
It is totally amazing to read this 1953 article from the Port Arthur News Chonicle paper dated Aug 27, 1953.  It states that there were 5,500 fans taking in the races at the CLE grounds that day.  I don't remember any entertainment in our city in recent history that brought out that many fans for a single event.....and there, down near the bottom is Clyde's name in black and white........those were truly the good ol' days.

Clyde ran a Texaco Service Station in Kakabeka Falls for many years and hauled his jalopy numerous times from Kakabeka to the fairgrounds for the ever popular Wednesday night racing.  Here is a clipping from a 1959/60 Fort William Ontario phone book showing the garage.
.....and would you think that there would be a street named after the Ditmar's family in Kakabeka Falls today......see for yourself!

Finally one more thank you to living legends like Clyde Ditmars for the entertainment he and others gave us young guys and for the inspiration and determination to carry on a great sport be it on the track or not......once more, Happy Birthday Clyde!
Clyde now lives in Fort Frances Ontario and by all reports is doing quite well even after all the thrills and spills at the old CLE track.  Thanks to Clyde's friend and my old friend Glenn Carson for filling in some of the blanks, and thanks to those photographers who took all those incredible pictures back in the day, for us to enjoy now!
Now, before you go......Click on each of these following links, then come back.  In each of these links there are more stories about Clyde...check them out.....