Tag Archives: 50’s

And That’s the Way it Was….

And That’s the Way it Was….


And That’s the Way it Was…. Linda Knight Seccaspina as read in the Sherbrooke Record

The first TV program I remember watching as a child was the Mantovani Show, and not only was it boring, but it was in glorious black and white. Because we lived 14 miles from the Frelighsburg–Vermont border we were lucky to be able to receive American television channels, but my family insisted on progressing musically from Mantovani to Don Messer’s Jubilee. My father always hated radio and I think he couldn’t wait for television to be invented so he could hate that too.

For a few years my father had a special plastic sheet stuck to the front of the black and white TV that ‘simulated’ full colour. It was sold as a cheap alternative to buying an expensive color TV set and its promise had sucked my father in. Finally he gave in and bought one of the first colour televisions on Albert Street in Cowansville and our home instantly became the local tourist attraction. After seeing everything in black and white for years my world had now progressed to technicolor with a new neighbour coming in every night to watch my father play around with the “horizontal hold” button.

Of course he was the only person allowed to touch it and he spent a great deal of time on the roof adjusting the antenna to get the best picture. After constant calls to Lechausseur’s TV on the Main Street he became obsessed with something called tubes.  Picture tubes were expensive, and it was a sad day if the repairman told you that you needed a new one.

This TV was considered state of the art in those days and was not like the old black and white where he used to take all the tubes out “to test them”. Tube testing was usually a Saturday morning project, and sometimes I went with him. Back in the 50s they used to have a display setup in the local drugstores and I used to watch him put the tubes into a display socket and a meter would tell you if it was good or ‘fried from overuse’.

Once you had colour TV you never went back to black and white- you just went to what was called an “upgrade”.  In the late 60’s some of my friends used LSD instead, and their whole lives became Technicolor without television. Instead of drugs my family just continued to ‘upgrade’ and in lieu of Don Messers Jubilee we inherited The Tommy Hunter Show on Friday nights.

Who knew a Hoedown, Tommy Hunter and Brenda Lee could all exist in colour together? That is the exact moment I seriously thought drugs might be the answer.  Canadian professor, philosopher, and public intellectual Marshall McLuhan once said,”The medium is in the message”. I shook my head after I heard Brenda Lee’s message full of Technicolor words,

“Brother, if you want to get the lowdown, come along and let’s all have a hoedown.”

You bet your sweet bippy Brenda! Don’t you wish there was a knob on the TV to turn up the intelligence sometimes? There’s one marked ‘Brightness,’ but it has never seemed to work. For me anyways.

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As read in the Sherbrooke Record Quebec


  1. Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read. Also check out The Tales of Carleton Place and The Tales of Almonte


Who Wears Shorts Shorts? The Law Against Shorts!

If You Can’t Wear a Princess Dress on Monday — Then When Can You?

Linda’s Nickel Opinions — Blasts From the Past Part 11

Linda’s Nickel Opinions — Blasts From the Past — Part 10

Linda’s Nickel Opinions — Blasts From the Past — Part 9

Linda’s Nickel Opinions — Blasts From the Past — Part 8

Linda’s Nickel Opinions — Blasts From the Past — Part 7

Linda’s Nickel Opinions — Blasts From the Past — Part 6

Linda’s Nickel Opinions — Blasts From the Past — Part 5

Linda’s Nickel Opinions — Blasts From the Past — Part 4

Linda’s Nickel Opinions — Blasts From the Past — Part 3

Linda’s Nickel Opinions — Blasts From the Past — Part 2

Linda’s Nickel Opinions — Blasts From the Past Part 1

The Dawn Patrol on Local Dance Halls




IN 1959 the local law enforcement began a clean up of drinking at dances. Inspector  S Ervine of Carleton Place said that every step and every measure would be taken to  eliminate offences under the Liquour Control Act.

At the opening of one dance hall in this district nine young people were charged with drinking in an unauthorized place, also for carrying beer and liquour in a car.

Inspector Ervine said: “We will not tolerate drinking at any dance hall”.

Ervine mentioned that it would be easier if the dance hall owners co-operated and did not allow anyone in who was intoxicated. Should there be repeat offences orders would be issued to close down the dance halls in Lanark. There should be no reason why these dances should not be conducted in an orderly manner.

That year the ‘dawn patrol’ was headed up by Corporal  Gartner and Constable Pierce

Carleton Place Canadian 1958

Classified Announcements for Dance Halls that issue 1958

Dancing Saturday Nights– Town Hall– Carleton Place–Music by CFRA ‘Happy Wanderers’ Admission-75 cents

Dance-Franktown-Friday-Thompson’s Orchestra- Refreshment Booth-Admission 75 cents

Dance every Friday Night-Appleton Community Centre Hall- Music by the Rhythm Rangers-Refreshment Booth- Admission 50 cents

Dance in Appleton Wednesday Night– Ontario Farmer’s Union-Ashton Local No. 257-Irvine’s Orchestra- Admission 50 cents

Dance – Perth Town Hall- Friday night- Rock N Roll, Modern, Round and Square Dancing  9-1:30 -Music by Jerry Badour and his Western Airs- Admission -75 cents

Ted Hurdis– I remember my dad telling me that Almonte was “dry” way back. You used to be able to get a special coke at the Superior restaurant. Also lots of spirit at Wava’s Inn dance hall back then.


Dance Hall Days with The Coachmen

Down At the Twist and Shout–Wave’s Inn

Straight Outta Carleton Place High School — Wava McDaniel Baker

Lanark County Dance Halls 1950s, 60s & 70s






Remember Polio?



Polio held a reign of terror for decades. But unless you were born before 1955, polio may seem to be just another ephemeral disease that has been nonexistent for years, but it could come back. Those born before 1955 remember having a great fear of this horrible disease which crippled thousands of once active, healthy children. My mother was first diagnosed with it- but after receiving months of treatment- she was told she did not have it.

This disease had no cure and no identified causes, which made it all the more terrifying. Many people did not have the money to care for a family member with polio. This was one of the reasons the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis was organized. The March of Dimes, the fund raiser headed by the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis, raised thousands and thousands of dollars to help people care for their polio stricken family members and to aid in the cost of research for a vaccine that would put an end to this misery that affected the lives of so many people.

Since people were no longer in contact with open sewers and other unsanitary conditions which had exposed them to small amounts of the polio virus as infants, when paralysis is rare, the disease grew from a very mild, uncommon occurrence to a terrifying epidemic. In an attempt to control the disease, bewildered health officials reinstituted the usual rules of sanitation which they would later learn had worsened the threat of polio.

They advised against open drains and unscreened windows. Parents were instructed to keep their children well bathed, well rested, well fed, and away from crowds. Bathing suits were locked away in closets, and nobody went to the public pools. When polio struck, movie theatres were shut, camps and schools were closed, drinking fountains were abandoned, draft inductions suspended, and nonessential meetings were cancelled until the epidemic appeared to be over for the time being.


Nobody has ever discovered completely how polio spread. The best evidence suggests that the virus is excreted in the stool and passed through hand to hand or hand to mouth contact by people who do not wash their hands properly or often enough. It was during the first few years of the fifties and many years before then, that health department officials continued to quarantine households, take in-depth histories of everywhere and everyone the patient had come in contact, inspect drains and garbage cans, and in general make it seem as though it was the patient’s own fault that he had the virus. Although keeping track of this contagious disease continued to be of great concern throughout this time, the many health inspectors and visiting nurses could not help but admit that they really did not know exactly what they were looking for or where they might find it.


In conclusion, few realize how greatly polio affected people in society in the early 1950s. Everyone was affected when there was epidemic outbreak. Public places were closed, and people were cut off from contact with one another. People lived in constant fear that they would be next to catch the disease, or worse, one of their children would contract polio.

The lives of polio victims and those who cared for them were changed forever by the impairments that victims of polio suffered. The thought of being paralyzed was what made polio so terrifying. Although other diseases of the era had much higher mortality rates, none had the permanent ramifications that polio did.

Hospital treatment was still hard to come by in some areas, because not all hospitals would accept polio patients. So, many of the infected had to make do with whatever care and equipment that they could find at home. Although many people who won their battle against polio had no after-effects, there were plenty of people who were left paralyzed with little to help them deal with their new lot in life. The sparse range of braces and crutches that existed were expensive, heavy, and quite often painful to use.

The National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis was instrumental in helping to pay for the expensive treatment and equipment needed to rehabilitate polio victims. It also funded the research for the development of a cure for polio. These funds paved the way for the improved research techniques and methods of the era carried out by scientists such as Enders, Wellers, Salk, and Sabin to isolate and develop a vaccine against polio. It was not until the development and distribution of the vaccine against polio that people could have a secure sense of hope that they would not fall victim to this paralyzing disease. Once this vaccine proved to be an effective cure, polio was basically wiped out. Those of us lucky enough to live in a time when vaccination is readily available will never know the terror that permeated the lives of so many just a few decades ago.

With files from

Fear of Polio in the 1950s
1997, Beth Sokol


Easter Seals Camp Merrywood (opened 1948) Big Rideau Lake

Easter Seals Camp Merrywood is located on a beautiful peninsula stretching out into Big Rideau Lake. The camp sits on 30 acres of property between Smiths Falls and Perth in Eastern Ontario.

Built in 1948, Camp Merrywood began as a summer camp for kids with polio. Six campers attended in its first year.

The site has 12 buildings including: six camper cabins that can accommodate up to 72 campers per session, a health hut, dining room and lodge, music and theatre building, nature building, specially adapted swimming pool. Merrywood offers a full waterfront program and activities such as sailing, kayaking, canoeing,  and fishing.

Campers also get to experience a variety of camping trips. There are four-day canoe trips to Crotch Lake and one-night trips through the Rideau Canal system.



Clipped from The Ottawa Journal,  14 Jul 1955, Thu,  Page 3


Clipped from The Ottawa Journal,  14 Jul 1955, Thu,  Page 3

A Carleton Place Home Movie from the Past




I can’t do this all by myself and thanks to Darlene Page’s hot tip I can show you Carleton Place from the past. It is a film done by  the O’Rourke Farms family and Kerri Ann Doe O’Rourke has graciously allowed me to post this. Thank you ladies!!

Three videos –Christmas Parade in Carleton Place and 12th of July 1964 parade with Majorette’s and bands. Can you see the old Carleton Place landmarks? It begins with the parade crossing the bridge and you can see the old Lolly’s that is no more on the left.

Don’t forget to check out the Findlay ‘home movie now showing at the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum




Related reading

From the Belly of the Findlay Plant….

The Findlay Foundry Ltd. Closes—- The Video

Remembering the Raycrofts -Tragedy On a Log Farm



I try not to post too many tragedies, but sometimes we should remember those who are greatly missed, even though this happened 60 years ago. Memories never stop.

January 3 1956

Fire Saturday swept through the log farm home of the Raycroft family, 22 miles west of Carleton Place, killing two children and leaving Mrs. Delmer Raycroft in critical condition with third-degree burns, Ruth, the child at centre front row, died along with a sister, Lena May, not shown. Others who escaped are, front row, Brian, seven, and Dorothy, five. Black row: Laurie 11, Harvey, 15, Mrs. Raycroft and Mr. Raycroft. The blaze was sparked by inflammable fluid left to heat on the stove.




DARLING TOWNSHIP – Two Children Die In Log Home Fire.

CARLETON PLACE, Jan. 3, Special – Two children perished Saturday in an oil-fed blaze that destroyed their lonely farm home 22 miles west of here in Darling Township. Doctors are fighting for the life of their mother, Mrs. Delmer Raycroft, burned in a vain attempt to save the children. Dead are Lena May Raycroft, 18 months, and her three-year old sister, Ruth (Raycoft). Mrs. Raycroft is in fair condition at Ottawa Civic Hospital with extensive third degree burns. She was taken to Ottawa Sunday after emergency treatment in Almonte by Dr. A. A. Metcalfe. Mr. Raycroft and the four other children of the family escaped with minor burns.


They are Dorothy, five; Brian, seven; Laurie, 11, and Harvey, 15. Flames swept, the two-storey log structure minutes after a can of highly combustible fluid exploded on the kitchen stove. Mr. Raycroft said he had been heating the liquid to clean truck parts. An adjoining room contained oil and tires, apparently stored In connection with Mr. Raycroft’s trucking business. Coroner Dr. A. A. Metcalfe of Almonte said an inquest will be ordered. The body of Ruth was found in the cellar. She had covered herself with blankets on the second floor when flames barred the children’s way at the stairs.


Her elder sister, Dorothy, said she tried to lead her to a window but the child was overcome with fear. Mr. Raycroft carried a ladder from the barn and pulled Dorothy to safety. Flames prevented him from reaching Ruth. Mrs. Raycroft ran into the flames when she discovered her youngest child, Lena, was missing. She was pulled to safety through a back door by her husband. Crown attorney Crown Attorney J. A. B. Dulmage said in Smiths Falls today that no charges have been laid. He said investigation is still continuing and will not be completed until Mrs. Raycroft, now in “fair” condition, can be consulted. County coroner Dr. A. A. Metcalfe said in Almonte today that no date has been set for an inquest and that it is possible no inquest will be held.


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Would You Like To Be Queen For a Day?


My grandmother began to wear wigs at the age of 52. It was about the same time she started watching the NBC TV show Queen of the Day. Her hair had been badly burned at the hands of a 1930’s salon perm and her thinning hair failed to cover her bald spots. Even though she was a Canadian citizen she wrote NBC constantly hoping to get on the show. Grammy wanted a fancy new American-style wig as the ones she was buying in Montreal were out-of-date she said.

Once a week I would watch one contestant being chosen as Queen of the Day at the Moulin Rouge with Jimmy Cagney’s sister Jeanne acting as Jack Bailey’s Vanna White. Today, Queen of the Day  is still considered one of the first big-prize giveaway shows and I can still remember Bailey ask,
“Would YOU like to be Queen for a day?”

This was basically nothing but a sympathy show with female contestants that all appeared to be excruciatingly poor and destitute. Each contestant had to explain why they were worse off than their peers on the show and then the audience would vote on whose story was more miserable. The ultimate decision was left up to the applause meter.

Some asked for washing machines, vacations, or one wanted close-fitting false teeth so she could resume her coronet playing. Of course she also got a years supply of Orafix, which was a sponsor of the show.
My Grandmother and I would share her cotton handkerchief many times during this particular TV show on a weekly basis. Queen For a Day is where I learned how to pity-cry on the spot and acquired knowledge about Ex-Lax and Sarah Coventry jewelry.

Often the requests were ridiculous and one just married wife asked for new underwear for her husband as she figured two months wear on his skivvies was enough. Sometimes the audience and the TV viewership rallied to the rescue when the contestants did not win. One particular woman’s husband had just left her and was saddled with two hungry children and was shunned by the audience. The viewers donated a two room apartment free until she found a job, a years free babysitting service and 8 bucks from a man who won the money at the racetrack.

Mark Evanier, veteran television writer, has dubbed the show “one of the most ghastly shows ever produced” and further stated it was “tasteless, demeaning to women, demeaning to anyone who watched it, cheap, insulting and utterly degrading to the human spirit.

My grandmother was never chosen for the show but I think that this show had more impact than anyone realizes. Whether or not it was demeaning to women, the home audience lapped it up and the show increased its running time from 30 to 45 minutes to sell more commercials, at a then-premium rate of $4,000 per minute.

That was a lot of money in those days and the rights are still owned by television executive Michael Wortsman, and a Spanish-language company, Reina Por Un Dia. Worstman is shopping around for a deal and I bet the premise for the revived game show will be; whoever has the biggest “sob story” gets more government funding.

If I could pick anyone to host the show today it would be icon John Waters as I can hear him yell,

“This is John Waters, wishing we could make every woman a queen, for every single day!”

Photos by Google except the top one that is my family.

Photo-Bernice, Arthur, Fred and Mary Knight- with little Linda and Robin Knight. I am the last one standing and may they all rest in peace.


Where Was Walker Stores in Carleton Place?


Jennifer from the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum and I are trying to place where Walker Stores was on Bridge Street in Carleton Place. Any ideas? Circa 50s. We found it.



Update- Thanks to the readers of the Tales of Carleton Place Walker Stores was located where Cook’s was, now The Dress Shop. Wally and Mary Cook also managed the store.




By the way, you can still buy some of those Gordon Mackay swimsuits once sold at Walker Stores in Carleton Place.

Vintage 40’s Gordon Mackay Black Rhinestone Soutache Trim Swimsuit B38-40
Price: $154.99
Availability: in stock

Gorgeous black stretch faille swimsuit has a white braid soutache trim which is accented with small white flowers with a prong set rhinestone in the center of each one. Twist bust with adjustable back buttons on the shoulder straps. There is an elasticized modesty panel on the front with elasticized leg openings. Center back metal zipper. Swimsuit is lined on the front tummy and bust with a plastic panty liner at the gusset. Bathing suit is in excellent condition.

Gordon MacKay was based in Toronto



Thanks to Christoper Trotman and family- from their Grandparents that once lived at 244 William st.

December 1933 Careton Place Gazette

What Ever Happened to Beat the Clock?



Montreal Gazette, March 17 1973

‘Whatever happened to the actor who hosted Beat the Clock? Why did he leave?
K.E.L. Carleton Place


The original show, hosted by Bud Collyer, ran on CBS from 1950 to 1958 and ABC from 1958 to 1961. Contestants were required to perform tasks (called “problems”) within a certain time limit which was counted down on a large 60-second clock. If they s ucceeded, they were said to have “beaten the Clock”; otherwise “the Clock beat them”. The show had several sponsors over its run, with the most longstanding being the electronics company, Sylvania.

The show was revived in syndication as The New Beat the Clock from 1969 to 1974, with Jack Narz as host until 1972. The stunt show which was shot out of CFCF-Montreal began its syndicated life on 40 stations and dropped drastically the following two seasons. and then he was replaced by the show’s announcer, Gene Wood.

I miss these old shows


Time Warp Wives?



Are these women retreating into the past,  or are they are retreating into nostalgia and romanticism? This 30 minute video is quite the eye opener. People retreat to the past all the time. One of my favourite ‘time-warp” groups pictured below–Steampunk Ottawa at Puppets Up! in Almonte that remind me of my former life. Keep up the good work– you are nothing short of fabulous!



My Steampunk home







Buy Linda Secaspina’s Books— Flashbacks of Little Miss Flash Cadilac– Tilting the Kilt-Vintage Whispers of Carleton Place and 4 others on Amazon or Amazon Canada or Wisteria at 62 Bridge Street in Carleton Place

The Danger Zone —TV Technicians in Carleton Place



Television reception came of age in the 1950s. It was a time when prosperity had returned to most homes and many people could afford to purchase a black and white television.  However, television reception in the 1950’s was an expensive, and at times a challenging, experience. I know first hand that my father was on the roof on an almost daily basis adjusting the antenna for better reception. Those were the days of TV repair safety hazards– technician and home owner.


In the 1950s, a black and white television receiver might have had several dozen vacuum tubes and cost approximately $300.That was a lot of money at a time when an AM table radio cost only $20. The 1950s television receiver was physically large and complex. In fact, it was probably the most complex device ever to be introduced into our homes.



I have deep respect for the people who could decipher that mess– but then again, hello fellow vintage Volkswagen owners. Service techs back then didn’t have cameras on their phones to remember where that piece they took out went back. There was no board. Technology and wiring in general was really complicated/clusterfinicky before circuit boards

My father, the electrician, told a story many times about some fellow who was working on a television who went out the room to get a beer. His partner in crime decided he would take matters in his own hands and plugged the TV back in. It didn’t do anything, so he turned it off. The  original guy assumed it was still discharged, touched something in the back, and sent the screwdriver in his hand flying so fast it embedded itself in the wall.

They were fire hazards, and lethal to anyone that dare take the rear cover off, and poke around with a screwdriver. If it was an old TV, you better also know how to safely discharge the high voltage cap that was still charged even after pulling the plug! Many an old TV tech got the crap zapped out themselves on a regular basis. Do you know how many times I was told never to touch or go near the back a TV set– and for God’s sake unplug the TV when there was a storm.


Top marks for being able to service something like this. Considering the amount of bare wire inside, it makes me wonder how these things didn’t just burst into flames. Wait, didn’t they burst into flames periodically?  So were the dangerous days of being a technician. Hence the offer of a free house from Mr. Flint!

Ah, the smell of old electronics… oh man!

1959 ad in The Ottawa Journal
Photo of one of the first Televisions from Flint’s TV store from the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum.


Dedicated to Keith LeChausseur- Our man of the hour for TV repair back in Cowansville, Quebec.

Buy Linda Secaspina’s Books— Flashbacks of Little Miss Flash Cadilac– Tilting the Kilt-Vintage Whispers of Carleton Place and 4 others on Amazon or Amazon Canada or Wisteria at 62 Bridge Street in Carleton Place