Saturday, September 9, 2017

The Infamous Vanishing Act

Editor's Note: While preparing this new Puritan guest rant, I took the liberty of including a number of photographs that, I think, are relevant to the text. If anyone doesn't like it, I am entirely to blame. -- Uncle Block

Prelude

My long time and very good friend Uncle Block (who is my editor) sent me an e-mail back in July 2017...he titled it, "Time For A Smoke." It was a You Tube video of old television cigarette commercials[1][2][3]. I found it truly thought provoking and extremely nostalgic and it inspired me to write this "rant".

I recall some of the ads but remember all the brands that were featured in the ten minute flick...I started smoking when I was ten years old and quit quite a while ago. If you're from my generation and were a smoker you'd probably recollect these cigs: Viceroy, Kent, Winston, Belair, Parliament, Kool and Vantage. They were American "butts" but in our heyday we could purchase many brands that were manufactured in the U.S. (United States.) Then one day our "caring" government outlawed the sale of U.S. cigarettes in Canada.

One of my favourite cigarette commercials was the Benson and Hedges 100's (they were the first 100 millimeter length smoke to "hit" the market) not because of the actual video but the music...I thoroughly relish the song. The tune was recorded in 1967 titled, "The Disadvantages Of You" performed by the Brass Ring...to this day I still take pleasure listening to that melody.

I enjoyed reading a couple of comments below the video. One person wrote, "The Wonder Years...will never come back!...but the music will always be there." Another individual wrote "simple times, people spoke to you, less complicated and a billion other reasons." By now, you may be asking, OK Puritan, where are you going with this one?

I was born in 1954 so I'm significantly familiar with the 1960's and especially well acquainted with the 1970's. So here I go again jumping in my time machine and taking a trip down memory lane to the "seventies." I would like to refer to the 70's as the decade of pleasure and light heartedness. However...Archie Bunker may disagree...remember the opening song on the sitcom "All In the Family" 1971-1979, titled, "Those Were the Days." I had a lot of great times in the 70's. Oddly enough I never watched the sitcom, "That 70's Show", 1998-2006. It was about the lives of teenage friends living in a fictional suburban town from 1976-1979.

Editors Note:The 41st Ontario general election was held on June 12, 2014 to elect the members of the 41st Parliament of Ontario. The Liberal Party won a majority of seats in the legislature, allowing its leader, Kathleen Wynne, to continue as premier, moving from a minority to majority government.

The 70's were a lot more straight forward, plain and easy going. Political correctness (which makes me puke) wasn't born yet and the environmental nonsense wasn't annoying and irritating like the rubbish we are forced to accept today. There weren't so many ridiculous and stringent rules and regulations. We could buy cigarettes in a drug store or sit in a bar and enjoy some draft beer and a few smokes...now people can't even smoke in a park...absolutely absurd and for smokers it's going to become worse.

Busy bodies have always tried to make their way into people's lives, trying to control, annoy and irritate us. They make an effort to tell us what we can and can't eat and attempt to tell us what we can and can't say. These meddlers exasperate and anger vehicle owners preaching how evil the internal combustion engine is, specifically the automobile.

These troublemakers are infiltrating society at an alarming and increased rate...a lot more than we observed in the 70's. These uncompromising zealots seem to breed like rats.

Change means something becomes different and may have positive or negative consequences. Things, objects, belongings, equipment, matters, characteristics and people can have beneficial or harmful results due to change. The human body is a perfect example. The more we age our bodies start to slow down and decline. Arthritis, balding or grey hair, our bodies shrinking and our skin starting to wrinkle are all traits of change due to old age.

At times change can also mean completely disappear. It's very sad and unfortunate when good things cease to exist anymore. Hopefully I can enlighten some of you with a flash from the past and some fond memories of the 1970's in Hamilton, Ontario. I've resided in "Steeltown" since 1959. I did, however, have a five year hiatus living in Dundas, Ontario during the early 1990's, but I will quote "Forrest Gump" and say, "and that's all I want to say about that."

Like a lot of Hamiltonians, I've seen plenty of happenings in the once called "The Ambitious City." I reflect back to the 70's when Hamilton was economically stable and numerous industries and businesses were thriving. Jobs appeared to be plentiful. An individual could quit a job and within a few weeks be working somewhere else. After Grade 12 if students weren't pursuing their education with Grade 13 (which no longer exists) or community college a high percentage of graduates would be working in a short period of time.

Sadly, the old saying all good things must come to an end is horribly true and invaded Hamilton's industry and manufacturing sector like a deadly virus. Regrettably businesses (who were successful and prosperous in the 1970's) for some strange and unusual economic reason took a nose dive and perished. Dominion Glass, Rheem of Canada, International Harvester, Canadian Canners, Proctor and Gamble, Firestone, Canadian Westinghouse, Susan Shoes Industries and Levi Strauss were at one time booming and profitable, more significantly they provided an abundance of jobs but dematerialized.

Some experts claim the high dollar, high energy costs (Hmm... some things NEVER CHANGE) and overseas competition were factors involving the termination of these establishments. There also has been drastic and notable decreases in the work force at Trebor Cadbury Allan, Siemons Canada and Wentworth Mould.

Downtown Hamilton was always flooded with shoppers in the 70's and they certainly had a plentifulness of department stores. Woolworth's, The Right House, Robinson's and Kresge's were all located in the C.B.D. (Central Business District). Outlets such as Bi-Way, Woolco, Zellers and Towers were situated throughout various parts of the city. But once again, the unpleasant question arises, where are they now? A couple of drug stores that come to mind but no longer exist were the Big V franchises and a shop a couple of my friends will remember, McDermotts.

Some of the beverage rooms I used to bend my elbow at were The Golden Garter, Junction, Red Lion, Elmire, The Windsor (before it became a gay bar), Plantation and Paddy Greens. However, my preference was the Jamesway...drop the trays of draft, smoke cigarettes and watch the hockey game. Back in those days "watering holes" had two separate rooms, men's ( for men only) and ladies and escorts (men and women.)

We can't forget about some of the popular restaurants like Roberts, The Cavalier, The Aquarium (took a girl on a dinner date in 1979 and didn't have enough money to pay the bill...thankfully she did...either way extremely embarrassing), Marco Polo (delicious pizza) and the Chicken Roost that have faded away forever. Selective clothing stores namely Faye Jacksons, Thrifty's, Pantomonium and burger joints like the Red Barn and Burger Chef have also buried their ashes here. A take out chicken spot called Hamilton Barbecue and H. Salt Fish and Chips also vacated many years ago.

A Chinese food take out joint called May May's was located at the far north end of the now defunct Mountain Plaza Mall. It was a regular stopover for my friends and I after indulging in a Friday or Saturday night ritual of drinking beer at "the brow." It was the escarpment located behind the non-existent H.P.H. (Hamilton Psychiatric Hospital) formerly known as the O.H. (Ontario Hospital). I remember one night we arrived at May May's (11:00 p.m. or so) and yes we were all "gassed up" as usual from drinking beer at "the brow". I ate seven cheeseburgers and a large French fries...maybe my beer I was guzzling was spiked with some sort of hunger stimulant. Anyway, May May's has also departed many years ago.

Last but certainly now least, some of my best loved pizza places are, also no longer in existence, for example: Pee Wee's, Nero's, Italian Village and my number one pizza was from Joanne's Pizzeria located on Limeridge Road West at the Kendale Plaza. Joanne and her husband (who were first generation Italians) owned the joint and man did that woman know how to make a delicious and superior pizza.

Since I'm talking about pizza, I have to mention my long time and very good friend's wife about her home made pizza skill...it's absolutely outstanding and superb...I would place her pizza in the same ranking as Joanne's. If she ever started her own business, without any doubt at all, her "pie" would be a top seller.

Complexes like Mountain Plaza Mall and Center Mall always attracted an abundance of consumers but regrettably not any more. I felt extremely sad and sorry the day construction crews started to demolish Mountain Plaza Mall. The mall never experienced a problem with a lack of customers...there were numerous specialty shops, a couple of restaurants and Woolco Department Store. Sometime in the 70's the entire shopping area became enclosed. My guess there were sixty or seventy businesses in that customer friendly mall. In a way it's too bad Walmart took over. Don't get me wrong, I'm an avid Walmart shopper but to this day I still miss Mountain Plaza Mall.

The taxi business was satisfactory in the 70's...not like it is today. Uncle Block who is owner/operator of a licensed City of Hamilton taxi told me that in the 70's the summers were slow but the winters were busy...a lot busier than now. He also stated it was possible to make a half decent living and many people did all right. From what Uncle Block has told me it appears nowadays licensed cabbies are starving thanks to the Uber movement, "sponsored" and "supported" by you know who, our governments, specifically the municipal authority.

These unworthy and two-faced bureaucrats maintain and DEMAND strict and precise rules and regulations for licensed cabbies but have a limited mandate for Uber drivers...this is truly vomitous. If you would like for information how Hamilton City Hall is destroying and ruining licensed taxi drivers' lives, who are attempting to make an honest living visit Uncle Block on line.

I think it's safe to say life for the most part in the 70's was straight forward, less stressful, clear and plain...even for our parents. I might be incorrect on the latter considering the country was under Liberal rule with P.M. (Prime Minister) Pierre Trudeau (picture boy's father) from 1968-1979 and 1980-1984. The electorate continued to vote him in to office just like Ontario has been exercising their foolishness with Liberal power since 2003. Nevertheless, don't be surprised if history repeats itself with our (never worked a day in his life and does anyone want to take my picture) adolescent P.M.

I do realize the 70's did have some problems and drawbacks such as inflation, gas shortages and the cost of living. The average monthly inflation rate from 1970-1979, inclusive was 7.9%...parts of 1974, 1975, and 1979 saw double digits. We were exposed to a recession, 1973-1975. the 1973 oil and 1979 energy crisis, but we survived.

Epilogue

Unfortunately government doesn't dissolve. But on the flip side we don't want anarchy. Sadly we do need some sort of discipline and control. It appears everything is moving at a warp ten speed...the latest are pilotless jets by 2025...I think I'd sooner walk. Remember the old Nat King Cole song titled, "Those Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days of Summer." That tune reminds me how the 70's were...an easygoing and carefree lifestyle. Finally, can you imagine if we had computers and cell phones in the 70's...that would've definitely been far out man... can ya dig it?

The End

The Harvenut Puritan Project
Puritan will return with "Steeltown Follies"


Some more photos added by Uncle Block

Editor's Note: Back in the early 1970's a group of us would assemble after dinner on Friday nights and discuss what we were going to do, and where we were going to go. One thing that used to infuriate me was the regularity with which this Harvenut Puritan character would enthusiastically exclaim, "I know. Let's go to Book Villa!" This was NEVER my idea of a good way to spend a Friday night, but, to each his own, I guess. Perhaps surprisingly, that was exactly where we ended up going on more than a few occasions. No wonder we did so much LSD in those days. -- Uncle Block


Sauble Beach circa 1971


Rattlesnake Point - 1975


The only photo I can find anywhere of the school most of our group attended in the 1960's


Second hand smoke is just as bad as primary smoke


High School Recreation


Rolling one


Popular spot after high school dances and rub bashes in the swamp


Camping supplies - Rock Hill rock festival - 1971

This was at a wedding bash. I can't remember who got married.


Editor's Note: Fat fucking chance I'll ever shop for pot at the government's crony outlets. I say, support your local pot supplier and give the middle finger to any government monopoly. Boycott! -- Uncle Block


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