Wednesday, August 26, 2015

DINTY'S, Gord Crompton and the Rest of the Story in Our Home Towns of Fort William and Port Arthur....

Icons of our past get lost in in our memories, but certain ones remain all our life.  We still have KFC because they are afraid to call it Kentucky "fried" Chicken anymore because saying that sounds like it's full of "fat"....Well folks, it still is!!!
Enough of that.....Kentucky Fried Chicken was always "DINTY'S" back in the day...and that's the name we will always did that come about??
Gordon "Gordy" Crompton was quite an entrepreneur (still is), but his claim to fame were a few interesting things as we will see....and many more I don't even know about......

Firstly it was DINTY'S Kentucky Fried Chicken.

In the phone book page from 1962 you can see quite a few Cafes and Restaurants....but one of the big two at the bottom was the well advertised "Dinty's".  Many ads were in school yearbooks, IODE recipe books, in the TV guide etc. etc.

"DINTY'S" as we see was a well known name....scroll down to see how it became Dinty's... sure to click on all the ads in this post to enlarge them and read this right to then end...It's a good story.
OK.....Told by his daughter (yes his daughter) Sam.....Gordy always liked a good deal, and all his life he was well known for that.  Back when Gordy wanted to start the Kentucky Fried Chicken business, he went to purchase a Neon Sign that would have his name on it as well as the KFC logo.  He ventured to Deluxe Signs on Cumberland St., and found that it was a little expensive for Neon especially since his name was quite long and the price was likely by the letter.  Management of Deluxe signs offered Gordy a great deal.  It seams as though there was a sign made that was never picked up, but had something other than Gordy's name on it......You guessed it........ it said DINTY'S.  Gordy could not pass up the deal ......and now you know the rest of the story.  By the way, the TV above with the ad is thanks to my facebook friend Gary Spence.

The Fort William location was where the "Burger Barn" is today on the corner of Walsh and Syndicate streets.  That is the intersection where you would travel up the Jacknife Bridge to cross over to Island #1 and #2 as we called them.

 The Port Arthur location was at 303 N. Cumberland Street.  The actual location is the next photo, but when Gordy gave up the business Kentucky Fried Chicken was moved a little further north down Cumberland St.

Now if you look back at the ad in the phone book page at the beginning, you will see that in 1962 it said there were 3 locations.  The last location is actually here at 380 John Street....John and Banning Street to be exact.  This is the location as it is directly across from Kangas Sauna and there address is 379 John Street.  This Dinty's location also had offices on the second floor.

Now for argument sake, many people think there was a Dinty's at the corner of Waterloo and Arthur St. in Fort William....the answer is no.  The property at 2013 Arthur Street in the day belonged to Percy Dacey, and was called Dacey's Drive Inn....later to be a Kentucky Fried Chicken.

Gordy also ran a place called the 4D (The Fourth Dimension) which was a coffee house and the areas first folk club.  Gord Crompton opened the coffeehouse in 1962, which was formerly called "The Club Seaway" near the corner of George and McVicar St. (later the Simpson Street extension).  He couldn't call that Dinty's because it was part of a coffeehouse chain with locations in Regina and Winnipeg.  The building over time was demolished to make way to join Simpson Street to Arthur Street.
Local folk and entertainment groups played at all three locations of the 4D's such as The Rovers, Tom Kelly, and The Ramblers.  In April of 1965 Neil Young and the Squires opened for Stephen Stills group called "The Company",  Stills was impressed with Neil's band but the Squires broke up in the summer of 1965.
Many other groups and bands played there until it closed such as The Vendettas,...who returned in Sept 1966 with a new drummer from a local group call The Bluestone Five.  They left Fort William in October before the 4D closed for good.
The following maps show where "The Fourth Dimension" was.  Click on each.

Here is an excerpt from the Thunder Bay News Watch in 2012

Oh, and Yes there was a Dinty's Motor Inn on Cumberland Street called the Sea-View which still exists to this day without Gordy's DINTY'S name.

We couldn't end this story without a vintage car story....and this 1948 Buick Hearse is none other than Neil Young's Car he travelled in from gig to gig.  Gordy's daughter Sam tells one final story about the hearse being parked in front of the Crompton home particularly at Christmas, as Neil would enjoy had Christmas dinner with them.

Neil was and still is a car enthusiast, and one particular song he sung was about this hearse "Long May You Run".............Click to Play.... Many thanks to Gordon Crompton's daughter Sam for the memories, and Gary Spence for the Graphic work on the Television Set above.
We hope you enjoyed this long awaited story...thanks for checking back from time to time for new stuff.  Dave Cano at HR&J

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

A Young Man's Dreams Dashed with Tragedy in our home town of Fort William, Ontario

Thank you all for being patient....I've improved quite a bit since my eye surgery in Winnipeg and finally able to get back to some blog posts.  Thank you for all the well wishes......Dave
This is one I've been working on for some time....

HR&J doesn't usually delve into subjects like this, however this sad story is part of Canadian Lakehead Exhibition racing history, and after some research and donated photos, we can read about the most serious local accident in racing history here in our Lakehead cities of Fort William and Port Arthur.  NOTE: IT IS IMPORTANT THAT YOU CLICK ONCE OR TWICE ON ALL THE PHOTOS AND ESPECIALLY THE NEWSPAPER CLIPPINGS TO ENLARGE THEM.
We start with the dream.
In the photo below, taken in front of Wes and Jerry's Service station on 231 N. May St. (The Service Station is behind the photographer) is Wes Inkster, Jerry Whittaker, a very young Lorne Hay, and in the cockpit of Wes' 1934 Plymouth Jalopy (stock car) is also a very young Lyn McIntosh.  The car was just built and sported a new paint job with #13 and even white wall tires.

 The building in the background of the above photo no longer exists...there is presently an empty lot on the north/east corner of Cummings and May streets as shown here.
The photo below was taken at the same time as the one above, and shows that Wes & Jerry's was a White Rose station....and kitty corner across the street was Gibson's Bowladrome which still exists today as Superior Bowladrome.  Sitting in Wes' car is a very young Lyn McIntosh who would later go on to an incredible racing career of his own.

 Gibson's Bowladrome and in the today photo Superior Bowladrome, as mentioned is still there, but the restaurant that is there used to be separate from the bowling alley.  It was named Uncle Frank's Top Hat Coffee Bar and Billiards and was located at 214 N. May St.
Wes and Jerry's Service from the front and still yet another rear angle photo of Wes' #13.  The Service Station was located at 231 N. May Street here in Fort William, Ontario.

 This corner is and has been completely vacant for some time now, and will likely be used as a parking facility for the new Court House as needed.
A huge thank you to my friend DENNIS WINKO for donating the above photos for use on HR&J.
Another friend of mine who also acts as a proof reader for me, ALAN YAHN put together the following history of the addresses surrounding Wes and Jerry's Service.

Wes and Jerry's would be to the right (north/west corner), Jessiman Motors would be to the right (north) of Wes and Jerry's and on the south/west corner would have been Tom's Texaco at the time.

Here is Wes' car at the CLE track the first day he raced it.

 This is what an original 1934 Plymouth Coupe would look like brand new and the picture I edited below it is a "what if" photo.....
Wes had dreams just as we all have.  He wanted to be a great driver like all the rest of the guys who entertained thousands of people at the old CLE track such as Merv Dove, Louis Tocheri, Tom Dow, Barry Kettering, Louis Tocheri and the Massaro Brothers.
Sadly this would not happen.
Read on to see and read the clippings, well done by the editors of our newspaper back in the 1950's.  The following clippings appeared in local newspapers after that fateful night back in the summer of 1957.......


After the accident, many fund raising events were planned to assist Wes and his family with the huge medical bills, such as raffles, dances, dinners and concerts.  The beautiful dolls below were raffled off and someone made tons of little cars to sell that kids could paint up with their favourite driver's numbers and names...some shown below....

Here's a young fellow showing off his wooden car collection all painted up.  If someone knows who built these cars for the fund raiser, I would like to know who it was.....Thanks

The above clipping was taken from the Fort William Gardens roster of 1957.  The benefit concert held at the Gardens was incredibly well attended and local artists gave of their time to help the Inkster family.  Our cities of Fort William and Port Arthur always came together to assist others through the years.

 This final clipping was taken from the 1957 CLE racing program showing a thank you from the Wes Inkster Benefit Fund Committee

Wes' #13 Car shown below with some of the damage from his accident never stopped racing however, as Junior (Fran) Speer took over the car sponsored later by Master Cleaners and Tailors on Victoria Ave.  Junior raced this car for only one year as #13, and later changed the number to #21. 

Junior Speer continued to race the car for many racing seasons thereafter and even headed across the border to race on occasion.

 A year later this advertisement with an earlier photo of Wes taken before his accident appeared in the News Chronicle.  At that time Wes was the sole proprietor.

This photo of the same car as #21 and still driven by Junior Speer may have been taken in Superior Wisconsin at their track.
Wes had moved out west many years ago.
After much research we believe that Wes passed away in Medicine Hat Alberta on October 2, 2013 at the age of 78 years.
1957 however was an extremely sad ending to a promising racing career at the old Canadian Lakehead Exhibition Track in Fort William Ontario.
RIP Wes Inkster....Your story lives on............

Sunday, April 26, 2015

"STAND BY ME" - A little taste of life in our home towns of Fort William and Port Arthur, 1955, 1947, and 1925.....

It seems as we get older, we love to reminisce more and more about our childhood years, be them bad or good.  I am no exception to the rule.  As I get closer to my birthday this June and feeling a little melancholy...I looked through some old family photos and came across one that stood out from the rest.  You will see it below, but it reminded me of one of my old favourite films shown in the two posters below.  Being only 11 years old in the photo I could put myself in the same place and time as these kids were in "Stand By Me".

I was very fortunate as a child to have happy loving parents that let me experience all the wonders of growing up.  This following picture was taken on my 11th birthday with "Stand By Me" friends sitting at my birthday table.  They are left to right.  Myself, Robert Cameron, Donald Wheatley, Mike McGuire, and Meyer Toole.  These were my bosom buddies when I was 11.  I told my mother that I didn't want the typical family, and female school friends in attendance, just the guys I hung around with at that age....I was growing up, you know!!

So now...looking closer at the photo (I love to enlarge small old photos to see all the detail), We are all drinking "Mission Orange" Soda Pop with the motto "Naturally Good".

We are also eating my mother Noreen's famous burgers - what else what a kid want on his 11th birthday but Mission Orange, my mom's great burgers and a nice little birthday cake.

I truly enjoy the old ads too, but also at the back of the table in the above photo you can see my mom's little windmill napkin holder.  I actually found one for sale on an on-line auction shown below.  It is identical to the one I remember.
Click on all photos to enlarge them!!!

Here's the same crew again with my 3 year old sister.

The photo below shows our old home and the exact steps where we were sitting in the above photo. We enjoyed many play days at Vicker's Park at the end of the block, and made our own fun without any cell phones.  I remember spending most of the 4 seasons outside, no matter what the weather man dropped on us.....and YES - The two family photos above will be 60 years old this June.

GOING BACK FURTHER - 1947 - When my father was discharged from the Army, we lived in a little apartment on Ogden Street.  Here is a picture of me in my Melton Snowsuit in front of Ogden Street School (long gone now) - you know, the one like the kid wore in "A Christmas Story".  We all had them.  The photo below shows pretty much the exact spot where this photo was taken, showing the playground of the present day and new Ogden Community School playground. 

GOING BACK ONE STEP FURTHER TO 1925 - My father lived in the east end in those days and went to St. Peter's School which is no longer there, but all the classroom photos of the day were taken on the steps of St. Peter's Church.  The wooden steps and hand railings were upgraded over time to concrete and steel however.  If you click on the picture below to enlarge it more, you will see my father, Jon Stephen Cano circled in red near the top left of the photo. 

This is what St. Peter's steps look like today.

Thank you all for watching....Look for more old Canadian Lakehead Exhibition Racing photos coming up soon, as well as stories on some old drivers not previously written about in these blog pages.
In the meantime feel free to look through over a thousand photos of racing, local history and just plain local memories on these blog pages during the Hot Rods and Jalopies years.  
Click on the picture below to view a trailer and listen to "Stand By Me" - 
As fate would have it, 2 days after I posted this story, Benjamin Earl King aka Ben E King passed away April 30th 2015.  RIP Ben E King Sept 28/1938 - April 30.2015.  The most famous song he recorded on his own was "Stand By Me".