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Happy memories of downtown Picton in the 50s

by Margaret Haylock Capon

Time has taught me that Thomas Wolfe was right – you can’t go home again, but the occasional trip down memory lane is always a possibility. Often, while walking down Picton’s Main Street, in my mind’s eye I see it as I remember it from the 1950’s. I remember the sights and sounds of my hometown as it was when I was a child.

When I was a small girl, every Saturday morning I would go uptown with my father to keep him company on his round of weekend errands. Our first stop, invariably, was Jones’ Grocery, the Main Street groceteria owned by my aunt and uncle, Mary and Clarence Jones. Located in what is now the law office of Hurley and Williams, this small store with its gleaming black, red, and white tile front was progressive for its day. Originally, the Standard Bank, it boasted an intricately patterned tile floor and a tall glass-fronted counter. Among its clerks were Ardie (Minaker) Bovay, Edith Hubbard, Mrs. Duetta and Loretta (Church) Ferguson.

When we arrived at the store, dad would pay our weekly grocery bill, then visit with Mary and Clarence. Aunt Mary always gave me a chocolate bar or some other treat and frequently had a present for me, as well. Travellers often left behind novelties such as a set of Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben salt and pepper shakers or a plastic shell containing a strand of real imitation pearls. My aunt saved these token gifts for my Saturday visits.

After our visit to Jones’ Grocery we would proceed to the gas station located at the former site of the Lockyer Flower Shoppe and County Blossoms. Here a station attendant named Red Quaiff would check the oil in dad’s old blue Pontiac and fill its gas tank.

Usually, there were two or three other errands on dad’s list. Once they had been accomplished, he would suggest a visit to the soda fountain at Inrig’s Drug Store, which was located at the present site of Coach’s. My father would order a cup of coffee, while I always asked for a butterscotch sundae. As soon as I had finished my ice cream treat I would climb down from the counter stool to look at the comic books. Usually, dad could be persuaded to buy me a copy of the latest adventures of Roy Rogers or the Lone Ranger and Tonto.

Often, our Saturday morning jaunts included a visit to Carter Brothers Hardware, where my father had sometimes worked in the winter months when the Great Lakes boats were docked for the season. I was intrigued by the office at the back of the store, where family friend Daisy Noble worked. A waist-high wooden counter was topped with frosted glass and customers spoke to Daisy through a small hole cut in it for this purpose. Beside the counter was a large water fountain, where I sometimes stopped for a drink.

Occasionally, our errands included a stop at Eaton’s Department Store, now the location of Currah’s Restaurant and County Weekly News. Dad would go to the window of the order office to pick up a package for mother, while I browsed in the aisles. Sometimes, I could persuade him to go downstairs to the basement with me, for it was here that bicycles and children’s toys and games were displayed. One Saturday morning, dad surprised me by saying that it was time I had a two-wheeled bike and we were going to pick one out. I chose a bright blue two-wheeler with balloon tires and named it Bonnie. When we came home that day, I parked it in front of the kitchen door, so that I could admire it all through dinner.

Main Street has changed a great deal from the time I was a small child. Gone are its small drug stores – Inrig’s, Teasel’s, Pickering’s and Wright’s. Now, families rely on Pharma Plus, a large, modern store at the west end of town. The drug store soda fountain, today, is just a memory and comic book heroes the Lone Ranger, Roy Rogers, Hopalong Cassidy, Lash LaRue and Gene Autry have hung up their guns.

Carter Brothers’ Hardware, Blakely’s Hardware and the Haddon Hardware Store are gone now and in their place are Home Hardware and Canadian Tire.

Just one full-service gas station remains to serve Picton motorists. It is located in Fawcettville, immediately east of town. Once there was a gas station on almost every corner, but today there are only two sets of pumps on Main Street.

The Main Street of my hometown, as I remember it from childhood, no longer exists but happy memories still take me back for a Saturday morning visit, now and then.

Filed Under: Margaret Haylock-CaponNews from Everywhere Else

About the Author: Maggie Haylock is a freelance writer and former newspaper reporter who has co-authored several books with her husband, Alan Capon.

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  1. Doris Lane says:

    Excellent article Maggie. Your Picton of the 50’s was my Picton of the 50’s abeit I was a little older than you at that time.I remember all the old stores with great fondness. At one time I used to work in the basement of Eatons and also at Lipsons, during my holidays. What great stores Eatons, Lipsons and Frasers were. You could buy nearly everything there. The regent with the Saturday film about Roy Rogers and Mr Cook walking up and down the aisles shinning his flash light to make sure no one put their feet on the back of the seat infront etc.
    With Grocery stores,Hardware stores and drug stores we could get everything within a couple of blocks.
    Unfortunately there have been many fires on the main street so there are not many of the truly heritage buildings left.
    Thank you Maggie for keeping our Picton alive

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