A newfound treasure of local sports and culinary history

Cooper Comets Cook Book

A copy of the Cooper Comets Cook Book from sometime in the mid-1970s – do you happen to know when? There is no date on it – has made its way to the Manse. I couldn’t be more thrilled!

A treasure, people! And I don’t use that word lightly.

Oh all right – maybe when it comes to finds from the era of my 1960s and ’70s childhood here at the Manse, I do use the word lightly. What I mean is: all such finds are treasures to me, be assured. But sometimes I suspect readers must roll their eyes at my breathless reporting on my vintage finds, whether they be pieces of Blue Mountain Pottery, or multiple copies of Donna Parker in Hollywood, or old roadmaps, or a record by the Singing Post Family. “Why is she accumulating all this junk?” is probably the question in at least a few minds. Because, as we’re constantly told these days, our mission is to declutter, to simplify our homes and thus our lives by keeping only the things we constantly need and use. Well, I ask you: where’s the fun in that?

Anyway, a desire on someone’s part to get rid of – well, if not exactly “junk,” at least something that this person considered old and no longer useful, is what was behind my latest thrilling vintage acquisition, the topic for today’s post.

I have my Queensborough friend Jen to thank for my newly acquired copy of the Cooper Comets Cook Book. Jen happened to be in one of the local hardware stores recently when someone there – I’m not sure whether it was a customer or an employee – brought forth this delightful little volume and announced that he or she was getting rid of it. Jen, who well knows my love of local history and artifacts, immediately offered up that she knew someone who would be thrilled to have it. And before you know it, the Cooper Comets Cook Book was in my hands. Which means I get to share it with you good people!

Now, there’s absolutely nothing that’s not great about this slim little volume, but let me tell you some of the things I love about it:

Queensboro Cook Book

My most treasured cookbook from the days of my childhood here at the Manse.

One: It’s a classic example of those locally produced midcentury cookbooks that I’ve written about before – the ones in which members of a church group like the United Church Women, or of the local branch of the Women’s Institute, or of a sports organization, or of a school group, get together and contribute their own recipes and those they can beg, borrow and steal from their friends, mothers and mothers-in-law, so that a cookbook can be produced and sold as a fundraiser for the group in question. My most treasured example of these cookbooks is the Queensboro Cook Book, produced in 1966 by the U.C.W. of St. Andrew’s United Church in Queensborough; thanks to two wonderful women and Queensborough natives, Barbara Martin and the late Isabella Shaw, I have two precious copies of that foodstained cookbook. But the Cooper Comets Cook Book is now a close second to it in my heart.

Two: It’s a great reminder of simpler days when every little community in rural Ontario – hamlets like Queensborough, and Eldorado, and, yes, Cooper – had sports teams, primarily hockey and baseball. And, as the Cooper Comets show us, they weren’t just men’s and boys’ teams; women played too. (I’ve written before – that post is here – about the hard-to-beat teams that were fielded in those midcentury days by “The Tannery,” a community that wasn’t really even a hamlet, more a collection of homes and farms in the Tannery and Riggs Roads area north of Madoc.) I remember that Cooper in particular had a reputation for teams that were skilled and tough. The Comets were no exception; as is explained in the introduction to the book, they were league champions from 1971 to 1973. Here’s that introduction, complete with the listing of the team members:

Cooper Comets Cook Book, introduction

The introductory page of the cookbook, including a listing of the team members at the time of publication. So many familiar names!

Three: The ads. All cookbooks like this one were funded partially by ads paid for by local businesses, and leafing through them, you are frequently reminded of businesses that you patronized long ago that are no longer with us. And sometimes, happily, you spot ads for businesses that are still here, like Johnston’s Pharmacy and the Toronto-Dominion Bank in Madoc:

Cooper Cook Book including ads

A typical page of the cookbook: half recipes, half ads. What a delight to see that one of those ads is for Johnston’s Pharmacy, still in business (though now in a new location) all these years later!

Most of the ads – featuring stores like Stickwood’s Dry Goods, and Ross’s Ladies’ Wear, and Rupert’s Drugstore, Brett’s Garage, and the Madoc Cash & Carry, and Kincaid Bros. IGA – are an exercise in happy nostalgia for me, and I bet they will be for you too, so here you go:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Oh, and here’s a very special one, featuring three Queensborough businesses:

Cooper Comets Cook Book Queensborough ads

Wow! Sager’s and McMurray’s general stores (about which I have written fondly many times, including here), and Allan Ramsay’s trucking company (Allan being the man who finally got general-store proprietor Bobbie Sager to say yes to matrimony) were all advertisers in the cookbook. A good showing from Queensborough! (Though the cookbook company should have had a proofreader to catch the misspelling of Doug Chapman’s name.)

Vintage cookbooks

Some of the many vintage cookbooks filling a bookshelf dedicated to them at the Manse.

And finally, of course, there are the recipes. As I’ve written before, I love vintage cookbooks in general, and have a fairly good collection of them. I am intrigued by what these culinary guides tell us about the lives of people in those eras – what they ate, how they prepared it, and what their attitudes to food were as compared to how we approach food and cooking now. (Hint: they were a lot more Jell-O friendly in those days.) Now, many of my vintage cookbooks are by “the experts” – people such as James Beard, and Julia Child, and Elizabeth David, and Irma Rombauer (of The Joy of Cooking), not to mention giant food companies like Betty Crocker and homemaking publications like Chatelaine and Better Homes and Gardens. But many others are collections from groups like the St. Andrew’s U.C.W. and the Cooper Comets. These recipe-writers are not famous TV chefs like Julia Child, or newspaper food columnists like James Beard, or literary types like M.F.K. Fisher. They are ordinary women who had busy lives and families to feed when they weren’t doing chores on the farm or working at a part-time or full-time job in town. They did not have a lot of time for fancy-schmancy stuff in the kitchen. Many of the recipe titles feature the words “quick” or “easy;” many of the recipes are along the lines of casseroles whose ingredients are hamburger (“hamburg,” as we used to call it back them), a can of soup and some bread crumbs on top, perhaps with some ketchup or mustard and salt and pepper added in for “seasoning.” And you know what? There is nothing wrong with that.

One other interesting thing about the recipes, though, is the emphasis on desserts and sweets. As the pie selection at the St. Andrew’s United Church Ham and Turkey Suppers always shows…

Pies at the St. Andrew's supper

… desserts are kind of a specialty around here. As I’ve often said, you never leave a community meal in Queensborough (or environs) hungry, and you especially don’t leave feeling the need for more dessert. Here’s a typical double-page spread in the Cooper Comets Cook Book, just one of several featuring squares and “bars” (another name for squares):

Cooper Comets Cook Book, squares and bars

I have to say that, while I might not be trying too many of the casserole or pickle recipes in the book anytime soon (I think it’ll be a frosty Friday before I ever try to make pickles), some of the dessert recipes look pretty darn tempting. And easy! Like this one:

Cooper Comets Cook Book, Chocolate Ribbon Cake

I mean, yum!

So yeah: this cookbook is my new favourite thing, and I thank the person in the hardware store who parted with it, and Jen for her quick thinking in nabbing it for me – and most especially the women (some of whom are no longer with us) of the Cooper Comets – who in my eyes were, and are, superstars of sports, cooking and the home front. Ladies: play ball!

In which I stumble upon some classic kitchen chairs.

Great kitchen chairs 1

Part of the eclectic mix of midcentury dinette-set chairs that are in great shape and still in service at the Hart’s-Riggs Women’s Institute Hall.

Not too long ago I told you (that post is here) about some nifty things I learned, notably about the Women’s Institute, thanks to having been invited to be the guest speaker at the November meeting of the Hart’s-Riggs W.I. It was a most pleasant evening in the company of some women I’ve known almost all my life, and of others whom I’d never met before – all of them residents of the Hart’s-Riggs area (not far from Queensborough) doing good work through the W.I.

I have to tell you, though, that another highlight of the evening was seeing the fantastic collection of well-preserved midcentury kitchen chairs in the Institute hall. Knowing as you surely do my love for midcentury design, I am sure you can imagine how my eyes bugged out with delight when I caught sight of those 20 or so chairs. I didn’t want to make a spectacle of myself by taking a whole lot of photos, but I hope you can tell from the two here that the chair coverings were a great mix of patterns and colours. Here’s another shot, which also shows off the lovely old wainscotting at the hall:

Great kitchen chairs 2

My guess is that over the years members of the Hart’s-Riggs W.I. have donated these chairs for use at the hall when they were replacing the 1950s and ’60s-era dinette sets – remember dinette sets? – that had been in their own family kitchens. It all looked just wonderfully homey. And the chairs are extremely comfortable, as I discovered when we all sat down for a light lunch at the close of the meeting.

You know, it’s just like the W.I. to do something sensible and thrifty with nice old chairs, like re-use them in their meeting hall. Well done, folks!

“Let us not forget to be kind.”

Hart's-Riggs Women's Institute

The Hart’s-Riggs Women’s Institute hall, located in the historic old schoolhouse that once served children in the Hart’s-Riggs area northeast of the village of Madoc. It was here that I learned about the Mary Stewart Collect this past week.

This being a relatively rare Sunday post – I only write on Sundays when I need to catch up on a missed instalment of Meanwhile, at the Manse – I thought it would be an appropriate time to share a very lovely prayer that I came across this past week. It is a prayer well-known in some circles (notably the worldwide Women’s Institute, of which a bit more later), but I suspect not so much to the general population. Its content certainly wasn’t known to me until this past week. If you happen to be a person who sometimes says prayers – even if only very rarely – I think you will find it a meaningful one.

The prayer has a name: it is called the Mary Stewart Collect. As you will find if you look it up on the internet, it was written in 1904 by a woman named (no surprise here) Mary Stewart, who was a high-school principal in Colorado. Her own title for it was A Collect for Club Women; she explained (according to this site and many others) that she came up with it “because I felt that women working together, with wide interests in large ends, which was a new thing under the sun … that perhaps they had need for a special petition and meditation of their own.”

I had until this evening been labouring under the delusion that the Mary Stewart Collect was specifically a Women’s Institute prayer. That was a result of reading probably hundreds of writeups about local W.I. meetings in the local press when I was growing up here at the Manse – and in fact I’m still reading them to this day, because the Tweed-area Chapman branch of the W.I. faithfully sends in reports of its monthly meetings for publication in the Tweed News, to which Raymond and I are faithful subscribers. In every one of those hundreds of reports over the years, it was mentioned that the meeting had started with the Mary Stewart Collect. But as I have just learned, the prayer has also been used by Business and Professional Women’s Clubs and the like, in the United States and all over the place.

Hart's-Riggs W.I. sign

“For Home and Country” is the slogan of the Women’s Institute, and it is proudly displayed on the hall of the Hart’s-Riggs branch.

Adelaide Hunter Hoodless

Adelaide Hunter Hoodless, the founder of, and inspiration for, the Women’s Institute.

Okay, I think now is the time for a little bit of information about the Women’s Institute, for those of you who aren’t familiar with it. The W.I. was founded in Stoney Creek, Ont., at the end of the 19th century, thanks to the work and inspiration of a remarkable woman named Adelaide Hunter Hoodless. “The tragic death of her son, John Harold Hoodless, from drinking contaminated milk led her to campaign for clean milk in the city. She devoted herself to women’s causes, especially improving education of women for motherhood and household management,” explains a section on Adelaide Hoodless on the site of the Federated Women’s Institutes of Ontario. The idea of an organization for women to help promote better health and better lives for all – its slogan is “For Home and Country” – quickly spread across Canada and around the world; you can read a good [though British-oriented] history of the W.I. here, and an overview of the Women’s Institutes in Ontario here. I should also mention that an incredibly important element of the work of Women’s Institutes in this country has been the collection and preservation of local historical information in what are called Tweedsmuir Books; I explained about them (and how important the Queensborough W.I.’s precious Tweedsmuir book has been in my own community) here.

Okay, one final thing, the question that I bet at least some of you are asking: Why is this prayer called a “collect”? Well, I’m glad you asked, because I was wondering the same thing. Long story short, calling prayers “collects” seems to be a thing for churches with episcopalian bents, i.e. Anglican and Roman Catholic. It is not a tradition, as far as I am aware, in most Protestant churches. But anyway, “a collect” is apparently a name for “a short general prayer,” according to Wikipedia, and here is a good explanation from the Church of England itself.

So back to the Mary Stewart Collect. I was introduced to the words of this prayer – or collect – this past Tuesday, when, because of my work on Meanwhile, at the Manse, I was honoured to be invited to be the guest speaker at the monthly meeting of the Hart’s-Riggs branch of the Women’s Institute. This branch, which meets in the W.I. hall at the corner of Tannery and Hart’s roads, the historic former schoolhouse for that small rural community, has a long history of good works, community service and fellowship. (When you think about it, “fellowship” seems like an odd word when you’re talking about a women’s group, doesn’t it? Anyway.)

All right, that’s more than enough preamble. Here is the Mary Stewart Collect, as printed in the program of the Hart’s-Riggs Women’s Institute. I think it is a simple and graceful prayer not only for Women’s Institutes, or for women’s groups in general, or for women in general; it is a simple and graceful prayer for anyone at all. For all of us.

Mary Stewart Collect

Keep us, O Lord, from pettiness. Let us be large in thought, word and deed.
Let us be done with fault-finding, and leave off self-seeking.
May we put away all pretence and meet each other face to face, without self-pity and without prejudice.
May we never be hasty in judgement, and always generous.
Let us take time for all things; make us grow calm, serene, and gentle.
Teach us to put into action our better impulses, straight-forward and unafraid.
Grant that we may realize that it is the little things that create differences; that in the big things of life we are one;
And may we strive to touch and know the great human heart common to us all;
And, O Lord God, let us not forget to be kind.

Precious pieces of history – Queensborough women’s history

Hazzard's Church by Vera Burnside

“Hazzard’s Church,” by Vera Burnside. A wonderful drawing by a very talented local artist (more on that below), and especially important because it shows the long-gone old drive shed where the horses would have been parked during services in the church’s first century or so. (Am I dating myself if I tell you that I remember that drive shed? Oh well, what the heck.) This framed edition of the drawing belonged to Bobbie Sager, one of the brightest and most important lights Queensborough has ever seen, and a great friend of Vera. And now, thanks to a gift from Bobbie’s sister Barb, it hangs proudly in the kitchen of the Manse.

I received a truly wonderful Queensborough-themed gift a while back, one that moved me almost to tears. Actually, excise that “almost.” There were tears. And it is high time I told you about it.

In fact, it was more like a gift package, because there was more than one item. A bunch of stuff, actually, all of it delightful. But three of the items were, and are, particularly close to my heart, and I’ll tell you about them. Over the course of tonight’s post, and tomorrow’s.

But first let me tell you about the person who gave them to me. She is Barbara Martin, née Sager, a Queensborough-born girl and the younger sister of the late Bobbie Sager Ramsay, who ran one of our village’s two general stores and generally kept things in order here in Queensborough for years and years and years. I’ve written about Bobbie many times before, but here is a post that tells the story of Bobbie’s wedding, one of the classic Queensborough stories of all time. Not because of my telling of it, you understand, but because of Bobbie herself and how great she was, and how important to our community; and also of what a stunning surprise she pulled off when she decided to go and get married. In fact, just because I can, I am going to show you once again a wedding photo of Bobbie and her husband, Allan, just after they were married. Right here at the Manse:

Bobbie and Allan Ramsay wedding

The newly married Bobbie and Allan Ramsay, after a top-secret ceremony right here at the Manse. As I write this post I am not two feet away from where they were standing. And I was there for the great (top-secret) event! It gives me goosebumps sometimes, the history in this house.

Bobbie’s sister Barb is an absolutely lovely person who, though she now lives about an hour’s drive away, keeps close ties with Queensborough, is a go-to source of information about our hamlet’s history, and is kind enough to read and sometimes comment on my ramblings here at Meanwhile, at the Manse.

In fact, those ramblings kind of led to her gifts. For which I will forever be grateful.

The first came because I’d mentioned my love for a style of serving trays popular back in the 1950s and ’60s. Come on, you’ve seen them: black background and, against that, a design of big, colourful (usually pink and red) flowers. The ones I wrote about came in the form of TV trays; my maternal grandparents had those ever-so-useful TV trays, and I wish to goodness I still had them. After I wrote that post, another friend, Ernie Pattison – proprietor of the funky and great tearoom and restaurant The Old Omsby Schoolhouse up in northern Hastings County in the hamlet of Ormsby – presented me with a miniature version of such a tray; details here. (Ernie has a bunch of them, acquired at an antique store, and they’re used at The Old Schoolhouse when they bring you your check and then the change. A nice vintage touch in a lovely vintage place!)

Okay, so: one of the gifts I received from Barb was a full-sized version of such a tray. Here it is, and I think you will agree that it is beautiful:Barb's shower-gift tray

But when it comes to why this tray is meaningful for me, the fact that it’s beautiful pales in comparison to this: Barb received this tray as a shower gift before she was married, which just happens to be 54 years ago this very month. (Happy 54th anniversary, Barb and Don!) Those of you with good subtraction skills will have already figured out that that was 1960 – a very good year, if I do say so myself. (Perhaps, if you are a regular reader of Meanwhile, at the Manse, you can do your own math and guess why I say that.)

Anyway: where was the shower held? Why, Queensborough, of course; I’ve already mentioned that Barb was a Queensborough girl. And where, more specifically? Why, at the one-room schoolhouse; that historic (built 1901) building was (and is to this day) our community centre. It was where the Women’s Institute met, where euchre parties were held, where we have the annual spring pancake breakfast – it was at this past spring’s pancake breakfast that Barb passed on these treasures to me – and where community bridal and baby showers have taken place since … well, probably since 1901.

One time I wrote about the bridal-shower tradition in Queensborough as I remembered it from my childhood. That post is here, but the highlights from it are these:

  • All the women and girls from the community would come.
  • All the just-unwrapped gifts would be passed around the circle of attendees so that we could ooohh and aaahh over the tea towels and dishcloths and whatnot – hey, those were simpler times, and practical gifts were needed and welcomed!
  • And most importantly, the bows from all the gift wrapping were stitched to a paper plate by an able assistant sitting beside the bride-to-be, and at the end of the evening that blushing young woman would don the finished product and wear it as a colourful hat.

That, my friends, is fine old-fashioned community fun, all focused on (and enjoyed by) the women of the community. And I miss those days.

And I love to picture Barb – who is a very good-looking woman “of a certain age” now, and must have been a knockout as a young woman at the time of that bridal shower – wearing that made-for-her-from-the-gift-bows hat, and exclaiming over the gift of the very tray that now has pride of place at the Manse. Here is what Barb wrote me (in part) when I sent her a thank-you for the gifts:

“I was only too happy to pass the things on to someone who would really treasure them. The tray was a shower gift from Queensborough and we will be married 54 years this August so you know how old it is and if I ever find my book with the record of gifts in it, I would be able to tell you who gave it to me. I know Bobbie is up there thinking how wonderful for you to have the drawing and have it hanging in the old Manse. I so wish she had lived long enough to enjoy yours and Raymond’s company in the Village.”

Did I mention that this makes me cry? I just feel so honoured that Barb would not only pass on treasures from her own, and Queensborough’s, past, but also those kind words saying, basically, “Welcome (back) to Queensborough. You (and Raymond) belong here.”

Okay, on to “the drawing” that Barb mentions. It is a black-and-white sketch of Hazzard’s Corners United Church, a beautiful and historic old building just up the road from Queensborough that I have written about many a time; here and here are just two examples. The drawing is by the late Vera Burnside, a woman who in my view was, and is, like Bobbie (and Barb), a model of strength, beauty, brains, talent and resilience.

Vera, a schoolteacher by training, lived in the Hazzard’s area but, after that church closed in 1967, attended and was very active in St. Andrew’s United Church in Queensborough. She taught Sunday School (including brats like me), was active in the UCW, and just generally was busy doing useful and helpful things for church and community. And (to boot) was an accomplished artist! Here is my post about finding, and being fortunate enough to be able to purchase, a Vera Burnside original painting at an auction. That painting is not five feet away from me as I write this. It makes me happy, and happily reflective, every time I look at it. Which is many times a day.

As I write all of this, I am struck by how all the players and characters in the stories – Barb, Bobbie, Vera, the women and girls who took part in the bridal and baby showers at the schoolhouse, me – are female.

Yes, this is history. Community history. But also – it is women’s history. Women in tiny rural places like Queensborough. Their history – our history – often gets short shrift in the overall scheme of things. People, I think we are on to something, thanks to inspiration from my friend Barb and her wonderful gifts. Tomorrow, Part 2, and it’s a good one: the Queensboro Cook Book!

August Affair: a poem about the Rock Acres Peace Festival

Rock Acres Peace Festival site

At the heart of the Rock Acres Peace Festival – a photo taken by one of my correspondents who has kindly shared memories of the event but has requested anonymity. Thank you to that person!

Today, people, is Aug. 6, 2014. Do you know the significance of that date? Well, I’ll tell you. It is the 43rd anniversary of Day 1 of the Rock Acres Peace Festival, Queensborough‘s one and only (to date, as I always like to say) rock festival.

Since Meanwhile, at the Manse has (I say quite proudly) become the go-to place on the internet for information about that amazing (and, yes, long-ago) event, you can learn all about Rock Acres in my various posts, notably here and here. But if you want more, just click on “Rock Acres Peace Festival” under the Categories heading on the home page of this blog, and you’ll learn pretty much everything you might want to know about what happened when hundreds of long-haired young people came to tiny Queensborough for a weekend of peace, love and music in that summer of 1971.

Okay, well, maybe not everything. Because as it happens, on this anniversary of the start of the festival, I have a new bit of information for you. How do you like that?

Goldie Holmes

Goldie Holmes, Queensborough’s Quilt Lady – and unofficial midcentury poet laureate.

It is nothing less than a poem about the great event by the late Goldie (Ash) Holmes, Queensborough’s famous “quilt lady” – she made quilts that were brilliant folk art featuring buildings and scenes from the Queensborough area; you can read about that here and here. Goldie also wrote poetry and, as I reported here, a song recorded by one of Canada’s early country-music stars.

My Memory Book of PoemsGoldie’s poem about Rock Acres is included in her collection My Memory Book of Poems, published in 1976. The book is delightful to leaf through; Goldie recorded all manner of events in verse, from the Madoc Fair, to bus excursions by the Queensborough branch of the Women’s Institute, to the momentous Rock Acres Peace Festival. The poems may not go down as monuments in world literature, but as records of a place, a time and a community – Queensborough and its inhabitants and institutions in the middle of the 20th century – it is kind of unmatchable.

I love her poem about the rock festival, which is entitled August Affair. The metre and rhyme may be a bit tortured, but Goldie paints a very complete picture of the event. And what I especially like is her fair and even kindly attitude toward the young people who came from near and far to Queensborough. As you read it, I think you’ll appreciate her interest in these kids (They “gave us a slant/On this generation, how they like to live/And it gave us a chance, hospitality to give,” she writes), and her appreciation for what they did for our hamlet’s economy and renown.

So without further ado, here is the inimitable Goldie Holmes on the Rock Acres Peace Festival. And hey, everyone: happy anniversary!

Rock Acres Peace Festival crowd

Another photo by my anonymous correspondent, whom I thank once again!

AUGUST AFFAIR

The “Rock Acres” festival is over, Hurrah!!
It is something we’ll remember for many a day.
In the year nineteen hundred and seventy-one,
In the spring, the excitement begun
When the public became aware of the plan
For a rock festival on a local man’s land.
His sons did some planning, folks hoped for no harm
When the festival came to “Rock Acres” farm.
There were injunctions against them and feelings ran high
When they first said the festival would be in July.
But it was put off until August and then,
The young folk came walking, the weekend to spend.
Some carried bundles, some had packs on their backs,
But for “Rock Acres” farm they were all making tracks.
They came on cycles, and cars too, good ways to travel
And went in on the narrow, crooked road made of gravel.
When they came to our village, in the heat of sun’s ray
To swim in the mill-pond and put in the day.
Until it was time for the festival fun,
Of Rock and Roll music when night-time had come.
They behaved very well, caused no fuss or havoc
Didn’t shop-lift, or cheat, or create any panic.
The two local merchants sold things galore
Friends helped out at Sager’s and McMurray’s stores.
The kids had long or short hair, some wore jeans, some short pants
Some had on bikinis, and gave us a slant
On this generation, how they like to live
And it gave us a chance, hospitality to give.
The O.P.P. were kept busy, here and there on patrol
And we felt they were keeping things under control.
Around our village we felt pretty good
And hoped they all sensed our deep gratitude.
Down at “Rock Acres” festival there was plenty of drugs
Also there were many mosquitoes and bugs.
Can and pop bottles and other stuff too
Could be seen on the ground ‘ere the festival was through
There were some traffic problems, which were handled quite well
And a number of people said the festival was “swell.”
Some rail fences around, soon went up in smoke
In little bon fires to warm young folk.
The weather was fine, the whole weekend through
Which helped out the young folk, and helped us out, too.
The noise bothered some of the neighbours quite near
And kept them awake all the night, so I hear.
I’m glad the rock festival is now in the past
And I hope it’s the first that we have, and the last.

– Goldie (Ash) Holmes

And speaking of vintage technology…

Fax machine

Oh dear. Oh dear oh dear oh dear. Just take that vintage technology away, please!

Right. Last night I wrote about 8-track tapes, a vague part of my 1960s and ’70s childhood at the Manse that were, in my opinion, pretty close to the worst technology ever. Certainly the worst music technology ever – though the interesting folks at a site I linked to in that post, 8-Track Heaven (“If we don’t care for the 8-track, who will?”), might disagree.

So this evening as I was enjoying my weekly read of the Tweed News – catching up on the goings-on at the Chapman Women’s Institute and the winners at the weekly euchre party, among other things – I came across another entertaining reminder of technology that has mercifully faded away: fax machines. Remember those?

I mean, I know most of us do still occasionally have some connection with a sent or received fax – for instance, in my experience the medical community is still unaccountably attached to faxing, for things like prescription renewals and whatnot – but really, when most people (including doctors, if they actually tried) can scan a document on their printer and email it on their computer, who needs fax machines?

thermal fax machine

I guess this is kind of a “Fax Machines for Dummies” from back in the early days. Note the roll of “thermal paper” on the right – remember that godawful slippery paper that you couldn’t even put in the recycling bin when you were done with it?

The Tweed News’s always-entertaining Days Gone By column has given me a smile in reminding me of when that clunky technology was so new and promising. Listen to this, from the Tweed News of 25 years ago – March 1, 1989 (which, truth be told, feels like yesterday), to be exact:

Just the fax – The facsimile (FAX) machine has become almost as common an office feature as the personal computer. The FAX works through a telephone line to deliver hard copy to another FAX machine. Their advantages are that the material is received almost instantaneously, and the machines can reproduce handwriting, computer print-outs, and typed pages and pictures. David Newman of Canada Post said that although the FAX is gaining popularity, “it has no appreciable effect on the post office.” He said in this information age, the annual volume of mail is growing each year, including business mail. “FAX doesn’t take away from the market area. It’s not cheap ($2 base charge plus $4 per page), but it’s not priced out of the market. People said TV would make the radio obsolete, and it didn’t. Not everyone has a FAX, and Canada Post is the only organization that walks by 10 million doors a day.”

Now, you will surely see that there are two astounding and ironic figures in that passage. One: $4 a page to send a fax? That’s just nuts. And two: Canada Post’s spokesman boldly announcing that this technology business was no threat whatsoever to an organization that “walks by 10 million doors a day.”

Ah, how times change.

Springbrook or Spring Brook? Which is it?

Spring Brook

I couldn’t believe my eyes when, upon returning to central Hastings County where I’d grown up, I discovered that the village of Springbrook had been rechristened “Spring Brook.” Or had it?

Thanks so much to all of you who weighed in on the debate over how to pronounce “Kaladar” and “Moira.” To follow it all up, we have another glimpse into placename oddities here in central Hastings County. It is: The Curious Case of Springbrook. Or is that “Spring Brook”?

When I was growing up at the Manse, Springbrook – a village about 20 miles southwest of us here in Queensborough – was Springbrook, and that was that. At least, as far as I can recall. So you might imagine my surprise when, as I began driving to work every day south to Belleville down Highway 62, I noticed that the sign pointing to Springbrook off 62 says “Spring Brook.”

And you might imagine how I was even more surprised to see that the sign pointing to it off Highway 62 when one is heading north says “Springbrook”:

Springbrook

Make up your minds, people!

Also weighing in on the “Spring Brook” side of this debate seem to be the folks (would that be the municipality of Centre Hastings?) behind the signs posted along the road between 62 and the village, all of which seem to have it as two words:

Spring Brook Road

But the plot thickens when one actually gets there and is welcomed to town:

Welcome to Springbrook

So which is it, do you think? Springbrook or Spring Brook? Well, I have two final weighty arguments, one for each side of this thorny issue.

By far the biggest deal in Springbrook (I am going to show my bias by spelling it the way I think it should be spelled) is McKeown Motors, a very successful car and farm-machinery dealership that’s been going for generations. Confident that McKeown’s would back me up on the “Springbrook” side of the argument, I went to their website:

McKeown's

Drat! Check out the address at the top!

Aha, but I have one final piece of evidence, and it weighs in my favour:

Springbrook Women's Institute

People, if you can’t trust the Women’s Institute to get it right, who can you trust?