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Back to the Good-Old days

April 3rd.2020


I was a boy, yes I was once a small impressionable child, in the mid 1930’s.  We look back at black and white photos and film and think, Wow what a strange life it must have been. Woman all wore dresses and men wore suits and white shirts and ties and of course every man wore a hat, a fedora or a woolen tam and in the summer a pork pie straw hat. A summer picnic in Withrow Park in my Toronto saw my parent wearing just what I described. We dressed up for church on Sunday morning and Easter Sunday was a cornucopia of colour and splendour. The idea was to have a fresh new wardrobe to greet the renewal of spring, and the raising from the dead of our Jesus Christ to renew our faith that we have a saviour that died for us, yes, everyone who wants this renewal of your lives, it can be yours.

 Our cars were old in our household, dad drove a 1927 Chevy roadster, that car was a beaut.  I remember it as a red car with yellow spoke wheels and a soft canvas convertable roof. I don’t recall ever sitting in the rumble seat. I guess I would have been too young. I do remember returning one Sunday afternoon after Sunday school and as we went under and exited the r/r  bridge, we were the direct target of a large snow ball dropped from the bridge above by some boys that should have known better. Dad being a shoe designer and pattern maker was able to make a new roof at a much more affordable price.  My most memorable car as a child growing up in the early 1940’s was a 1936 Ford coach. I remember the banjo steering wheel and how my Uncle Charlie when driving his Ford would caress the wheel as if he really loved being the driver. Our Ford however, had a worn out clutch that caused me to slouch down in the back seat  with embarrassment when we would hold up traffic on a hill struggling to make ten miles per hour. When I was about 10 years old and my brother Wayne was about 5, we had a Plymouth with suicide back doors. I was made aware very quickly while driving on Weston Road why the name. Wayne accidently opened the rear door and I caught him from tumbling out as seat belts and car seats were far into the future.

As we are starting into our third week of semi isolation due to the recommendations for avoiding the Coronavirus, it has given me thought to how similar our lives are becoming to years ago with regard to our shopping habits. There were no massive grocery stores when I was a boy.   Just small mama and papa stores specializing in selling meat (butcher shop) or the fruit and vegetables, or the five and dime stores namely Woolworths or Kresges or in Canada there would be smaller retailers called Beamish or Chainway and others.  If you wanted some ice cream to go, I can remember having to walk a block or so to the corner store with a bowl for some scoop ice cream vanilla, chocolate or strawberry. It was melted by the time I returned but it was a special treat that we did not dare complain about.

In the big city, the black, red and gold markings on the Eaton’s and Simpson’s delivery trucks were seen every day. Bread, buns and sweets were delivered by the Baker and milk and butter, cream and eggs arrived in your milk box early every morning 6  days a week by the milk man. Their horse and wagons were a daily routine along with the scrap wagon and the knife sharpener and the mail man. We even had about once a year a real treat, the man with the beautiful pony for a photo on the pony. Horse and wagons delivered your groceries and in Montreal in the winter, it was a horse drawn sleigh. I remember grabbing onto the sleigh late in the day when the horse was anxious to get home for water and food, he would break into a trot and we would hang on for the ride of your life. Just don’t hit a spot on the street where there was no snow, many times I took a bad tumble and then when it was over there would be a long cold walk home. Sometime bruised and limping but with a wide smile on my red face.  We lived in a basement apartment and the winters were very drab with no sunlight through the windows for months. 

We are putting to-gether our grocery list for pickup 5 days from now. It was delivered until the snowbirds arrived back and now; we have to pick up our orders. It’s OK because we need to get out for a drive once in a while. Shopping will for many be changed, so will eating out. Many will realise that take out can be more enjoyable and certainly a lot quieter. I personally love to do the grocery shopping. It has to do with who is the major cook in the family and that is me. I do miss the sorting for the best fruit or the specials but that will have to wait. Things were much simpler in many ways, and also the service was great.

I was a Fuller Brush man, along with numerous other companies that sold and delivered to your home. Most of these products were a bit more expensive but were of excellent quality. Brushes and cleaning supplies, spices, vacuum cleaners, encyclopedias and more.  Housewives were home and looked forward to a visit from a good-looking young man. I did hire a woman to sell my cosmetic line but that was shot lived.

Amazon and many more companies are catching on to the changes that are on the horizon encouraged by this virus. More and more of us will realise that shopping malls are a thing of the past and on line shopping is the future. Order to-day, here to-morrow. At your door.

Paul D. Scott

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