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Reflections of Gore Street
Carol Zarudenec Smith for local2 sault ste. marie
November 28th, 2012 at 1:09pm
Gore Street in its day was a hubbub of businesses and people walking its sidewalks daily, lingering in front of store windows to dream of that next dress purchase or cute pair of shoes that you must have, appliance purchases or light fixtures you need and, of course, checking out the latest playing movie or stopping in for a snack at a popular restaurant.
In the 60s, I recall such businesses as the Empire Bowling Lanes. My parents used to bowl five pin there and came home with a few trophies from the fun they had there. In this section of town, there was also Dr. Campana’s Chiropractor office to tend to your aches and pains. Biagini’s Travel Agency was another place to stop by, view their enticing posters and dream about going off to far away places. Sandy’s Ladies’ & Children’s Wear and Palumbo’s Ladies’ Wear provided the latest fashions. Need your clothes cleaned? Bonnie Cleaners took care of that necessary service.
Neil Smith Drugs and Slattery’s Pharmacy handled all your prescriptions and medications. Need a new pair of shoes or boots? You could find what you were looking for at Gore Street Shoe Fair. The Princess Theatre enticed youngsters to their Saturday matinees. Imagine viewing movies and having popcorn and a pop for twenty-five cents! What do you get for a quarter today? Now if you ate too much candy and ended up with cavities, there were two dentists you could see, Dr. E. A. Greco or Dr. L. Prokop. As a teenager, after a Friday or Saturday night movie, it was customary to go to the Princess Grill for french fries and gravy and for a nickel listen to the latest rock and roll song in your booth on their mini juke boxes. If Italian food was your pleasure, you could get your favourite pizza from Cleto’s Pizza. What a treat that was! If a ride home was necessary, Uneeda Cab was available to cater to that. O’Connor & Soltys Ltd. provided everything you needed in appliances or lighting. The Royal Hotel was at the corner of Queen and Gore Streets for a wonderful dining experience and a drink or two if you were over twenty-one, the legal drinking age limit back then.
Need gas? The Gore and Wellington Street Service Station attendant who would fill up your car, wash the windshield, plus check your oil and tire pressure free of charge as part of their regular service. Do any of these previously mentioned people and businesses ring a bell?
Everyone has their own memories of different eras than mine so I’ll share a few with you.
Syl Mayer recalls his friend Bobby Faught. “I met Bobby in North Bay when we were kids. We chummed around together on Main Street East. In 1952, our family moved to the Soo. One day I was in Alleway and Bedford when it was on Gore Street. There, working at the parts’ counter stood Bobby Faught. What a coincidence to see him after all these years.”
Madelyn Longarini has a vivid memory of Gore Street. “On Saturday when I was a child, I could get into the Princess Theatre for twelve cents. I watched two movies and a cartoon for the price of that ticket. Serials ran before the show. Some that I remember were of Superman, the Green Hornet, Gene Autry, Roy Rogers or Tex Ritter.My parents gave me a quarter. I had to decide if I wanted to spend the change on caramel popcorn or use it to take the five-cent bus home. Decisions! Decisions! You guessed it. Caramel popcorn usually won out.”
Joan Jones reminisces. “When I was a teenager, we didn’t have a television in our home. My girlfriend Beverly Ann and I would go to Taylor’s TV and Radio Store on Gore Street and watch it through the front store window. Of course we couldn’t hear the sound but it was so exciting to see the programs presented. Back then it was a common practice to see people bring their chairs and sit outside that store window and view the TV sets. This new invention was awesome especially to those who couldn’t afford one at that time. Those were the days!”
Catherine Chartrand has her own memory of working on Gore Street. “Dr. Hart had his first optometrist’s office on Gore Street in the early 1950s. I was his first receptionist that he hired. My duties included answering the phone, booking appointments and organizing the display window. Patients arrived in the waiting room and made themselves comfortable until it was their turn to see the doctor. I called their name and ushered them into the office for an eye exam, check-up or consultation. Dr. Hart as I recall was very punctual. He was soft-spoken and very caring towards his patients. He was a gentle man. Everyone who visited him boasted that they could see more clearly once he presented them with their prescribed eyeglasses.”
Irv Cohen remembers that Piner’s Grill was the first place in town to serve Vernor’s Ginger Ale. Carry-outs came in a cone-shaped carton. Piner’s was later replaced by other restaurants including the Princess Sandwich Bar; a name almost as colourful as The Girl in Red. He reminisces about Acme Drugs. “Neil Smith, I can still see him in his white pharmacist’s coat as we dropped off his bundle of newspapers and magazines. And oh, Fred Dent, Alf Alcock and a host of others I can see but can’t remember their names. Don’t forget Mr. Blaine, whose first name I never knew. He was somewhat gaunt, senatorial. Always dressed impeccably. Wouldn’t you give your eye teeth to feel the individuality of these stores before chains replaced them with the uniformity. That was back when doctors made house calls and charged less than your last trip to your favourite restaurant. One summer, maybe ‘47 or ‘48, I drove a Uneeda Cab for Slim Particelli, a Studebaker that looked like a torpedo with wheels. My call letters were XNA03. I had the midnight shift. Mr. James Eliot Davidson, my former Campbell School Principal and eighth grade teacher, also drove a Uneeda Cab that summer. Two educated cab drivers you might say. I often ate at Mike’s across the street.”
By Irv Cohen
It was always an addendum
To the main drag,
In its heyday the Princess Theatre
Was symbolic of the lights
On Broadway, showing B movies
Except on Sunday,
When nothing much happened
Anywhere, in that quiet northern settlement.
Awnings were lowered.
Even flatulence was against the law.
But Mike’s Grill was never closed.
My grade school principal and I
Drove cabs one summer. Uneeda Cab
Was right across from Mike’s Grill.
All the years in grade school never taught me
Where the blind pigs were. Mr. Davidson knew that
But we continued to be friends.
Lloyd Walton remembers, “In the fifties, the Princess Theatre was the place to go on Saturday afternoon for kids in our end of town. For fifteen cents we would get a cartoon, previews, a newsreel and two feature films. Cliff Cartmill was the theatre manager and was a showman himself bringing in hypnotist acts like the Great Roma and theme contests like the solid gold Cadillac raffle. Cliff was always nice to us kids. I recall having nightmares for weeks after seeing, “Invaders from Mars.”
So as you can see from these testimonials, Gore Street provided many citizens of the Soo with some very good memories.