A YOUNG LAD'S PERSPECTIVE
Submissions by Tom Brooks (2003)
Constable George O'Neill and his "huge" German shepherd that patrolled his front yard. "We would taunt that dog with no fear of any consequences. George would scold us without explanation. One night we were playing "flashlight", placing a chrome flashlight with a string attached in the centre of the road, down by the so-called "cut". When a car stopped with the driver going to pick up the light, we would yank the light away and run like hell. We caught George but, he got the flashlight. All kids were summoned to George's home, as the lone Constabulary for Deloro. We were, of course, pretty scared. George lectured us on the dangers involved and, then said "At least I got a good light". We were sort of impressed but, on the other hand, thought he had a good sense of humour and, started to plan the act of taking his rail pump car for a spin.
George was the train engineer for Deloro Plant and had a hand pump rail car used to carry out rail line repairs and we knew how to get at this. Within a few days we were pumping down the track (4 of us), having a great ride when suddenly the 01' train engine whistle blew and it was coming straight for us. We think George knew what was going on as he cranked up the steam and, we sure had a hulluva fast ride running in the other direction but we made it! We jumped off at the pump shack and we were not long getting lost. We didn't hear from George on this but, the whole town was aware and some had pretty heavy scorns. We played it pretty cool, but by late fall we were in trouble again when a bunch of us decided to improve our "hand-to-eye" coordination by throwing snowballs at the street lights and at the town hall bell housed in a cupola at the top front of the building. We did break some light bulbs, a summons for George again but, boy did we get good at it. . We could ring that old bell quite well if we had a hard enough packed ball. It had to be thrown through three inch cracks in the structure in order to hit the bell and, we could often just screw a bulb loose enough for it to go out without breaking it. We guessed that George appreciated this when we told him that we had to practice something since our sports activities were not well organized at that time.
At one point we had our milk delivered by Hannah's Dairy in the early morning. The money to pay for the milk was put within the bottles. One day, this money went missing and Hannah complained about no payment. Who was suspect but the kids. Big investigation, a lot of asking questions , and you know what - it was discovered that Alphonse Clemen's two pet crows were the robbers. All the change was found in the nest, apparently they are attracted/mesmerized
The swimmin' hole at the Falls
Well, a bunch of us decided to build a raft there. We did a good job, about 8 feet by 8 feet but we had to use some old barrels that were laying around the old plant site and we needed to rip apart an old shack to get lumber and nails. We used it for 2-3 weeks with great fun until suddenly it was gone and "No Trespassing" signs were posted at the "Hole". We were pretty mad, tore all the signs down, threw them in the river and, trespassed anyway. Our old friend George was ever present, rounded up about 10 of us, marched us into George Buskard's office, who was Reeve at that time, and proceeded to castigate us. In his booming coarse voice he roared "We have enough evidence to hang all of you and this time you're going to pay". The parents again were summoned (fortunately for me Dad was away in England in 1949) and the end result was that each of us had to pay $2.50 (quite a lot at that time) to cover cost of replacing signs. Our parents would make us earn that money. Bill Brown sort of took over for Dad and "Baldie" and I had to go to Buskard's home, apologize and tell him why we were so ticked. We did that. We found him very unfriendly (unappreciative) and promptly on leaving his house we tore off all his fence post tops and threw them in his yard. What stupidity right? Well Bill Brown was back in the picture and Baldie and I had to apologize again, return the post tops and split wood everyday for one hour for one month. You know what? We ended up getting a good retrofit, with a new dock at the alternate swimming hole, up the river further. ( I can't remember the name ) Koski's had a steam house there. Anyway I guess we all had more respect for George and his ways.
All of us used to go to the top of Burke's Hill where the old quarry was, just to watch the team of six horses arrive from Malone pulling a large wooden V- shaped plow to clear the road - what a sight for kids eyes! While we were up there, we would go to that quarry and jump, from the top into the deep snow (probably 15 foot to 20 foot drop) and, I recall, at one of those times, that Bob Bell made the jump and went into the snow completely over his head. We were scared as hell; of course we ran to get help, which was the wrong thing to do but, after half way home, we ran back and started to dig. We did get him out - real scary and never did that again. That hill also brings back memories of sledding. What a ride? We would start at top, on homemade bob sleds, travel right down to the middle of town at great speeds and really loved it - no fear. But again, the townsfolk were very concerned. There were more cars around now so these episodes became short lived. Great fun gone.
Thinking of snow reminds me of the time that Winnie came down with appendicitis. Think that this was in the late thirties and, what was so significant was that they had to bundle her up and transfer to Marmora (I think) via horses and sled.
I also think of Christmas at Deloro, with a HUGE Christmas tree in the town hall (seemed like 100 feet tall to a kid), the fence around it with presents, and a cutter on stage with a huge bag filled with small bags of hard candy. You will recall that every kid got a present and a bag of candy. They would announce that "Santa was just passed over Malone and would soon be here". Great jubilee for all kids, and Lo and Behold in he would come, take two of us, one on each arm, bounce all way round the great tree, hand out a present to us and then put us on the stage to get our candy. Every set of parents received, on behalf of the company, a good turkey. I remember the one year we got a 27 pounder. I just could not get over the size of that bird! Single employees received either a "Flat 50" of Players cigarettes or a tie or, a scarf. What a great time.
The war years brought quite a few anxious times. We became involved at school by knitting small squares that were sewn into blankets to be shipped overseas. We scoured the countryside to collect milk weed pods that apparently were used to make parachutes. We sat by the radio almost constantly and Dad would announce loudly "We are in a time of 'austerity'. Had no idea at that time what it meant, but the rationing of gas, milk, etc., sure brought it out. I remember Grandpa Smith sitting at our table and saying "Easy on the butter kids. It's hard to get and forty cents a pound".
Most memorable was when Uncle Dick, Major Percy Gray and others returned home, big times, met them at the Cut, half way between De1oro Store and Rosie Johnson's Corner, and paraded them with great cheering into town. I remember too the Murphy boys as draft dodgers. I didn't know what that meant either, but I always heard stories of Father Peery Murphy hiding them out in the woods. They were big men, used to lead a monstrous bull through the town. From their farm above Deloro to another farm located on the old Marmora road next to the railroad station. That bull would always get cantankerous in the middle of town and sometimes they would have to tie it up to a hydro pole by the big ring in its nose.
Clare & Sylvia Hooey
The post-war years brought us to high school, which we had to attend in Marmora, traveled there via company run "Carry-All" driven by Philly Doyle. I still recall him as being drunk then and, even as kids, we wondered a lot. Thinking of school tells me that I should backtrack here to the days of public school. We were extremely fortunate there. A great workshop (manual training), a great home economics room and, for me two great teachers. They were Clare and Sylvia Hooey, who arrived in my Grade One (I think 1940) and left when I finished Grade 8 in 1947. It was interesting. I didn't see them again for 40 years, at which time I came across them in my Physio practice when I was treating Sylvia's mom after hip repair - great excitement and memories. They were retired near Bracebridge and running their own bird sanctuary with a special interest in loons.
It was shortly after this that Deloro-Marmora put on a Minstrel Show booked as the "Kotton Klub". What a success! We played this in Marmora, Madoc, Tweed, Bancroft and I can't remember where else. Stan Hawthorne was the musical director, a genius to us but, also gay (we called it queer) and eventually was expelled from his hometown of Madoc - that wouldn't be acceptable now - right? We had a great octet in that group, good stand-up comedy via George Woodhouse and Alex Cunningham, other standout solo voices and, certainly memorable.
About this time I started the Del-Mar Teenage Club, another good success. Dances every Friday night, using my big stereo set, teaching everyone to dance and drawing busloads of kids from Havelock, Marmora, Madoc and Tweed. It was so beneficial, without booze or drugs All learned to fox-trot, waltz, chatise, square dance and so on with the lady parents of Deloro present to motivate and assist.
I remember the tramps (hoboes) that used to come into town in early war years. We afraid of them. The company would always send Pete (Red) McInroy up and those hoboes weren't long around.
James Dalton writes of his own memories regarding the 1954 street plan below:
Our first home in Deloro in 1939 (3 years old I was ) was where the Penton House is in this 1954 drawing. We moved to St. Catharines in 1952. My memories of that first home would fill a book. The most memorable one is our next door neighbours, the Koskis, Harvey, Hilda, Ina (Dr. ) Ruth and Bill, one in which Mrs Koski would make Gingerbread men, set them on her back stoop and Mrs Koski always made sure we had our fill. Isn't it interesting what we remember as important and lasting memories?