"Cowardice asks the question...is it safe? Expediency asks the question...is it politic? Vanity asks the question...is it popular? But conscience asks the question...is it right? And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular but one must take it because it is right." ~Dr. Martin Luther King

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

How The Word Got About

Let me count the ways. Council met in a handsome large room at the back of a former bank building in the middle of the main block on the east side of Yonge Street.

The door to the Town Offices was two steps up from the sidewalk. The clerk-treasurer's office was to the left of the door. People dropped in to pay taxes and have a chat. Dorothy Wardle was treasury clerk. Colleen Gowan was municipal clerk. They all had a proprietary interest in what went on and never hesitated to offer and share what they knew of the town's affairs. They were the Town's Administration.

Ray's Cafe (Moon Gardens) was a place for leisurely exchange of news and views.There were booths with red vinyl benches and Formica tables around the outside edge of the room
Mail was not delivered in town. Everyone had to go to the post office to pick it up, That meant standing in line for ten or fifteen minutes every day. .People chatted.

There were three banks. Cheques had to be cashed , bills paid , money deposited. Tellers behind wickets served the customers .Around pay day, line ups formed and there would be an
exchange of light conversation about things in general. or in particular.

We waited for prescriptions in the two drug stores. Caruso's Fruit Store was a happening place. Doctors and dentists had waiting rooms. People waited.
and chatted.

There were owner-operated gas stations. Service was provided. There was always time for a chat while gas was being pumped.

Bert Frankom, at the corner of Ransom Street was a friendly man. .People were not just interested in knowing about your affairs, they were happy to talk about their own.

On one occasion Bob Buchanan, the Banner editor, and Dick Illingworth the Mayor decided to launch a rumour and see how long it took and how it would change by the time it returned.

Bill Langman,Chief of Police, locked his office door (a room above a barber shop) every afternoon and strolled with slow and measured steps to the north end of Town and back again. He stopped to chat with anyone who sought his attention. A couple of cruisers travelled the town in leisurely fashion. On hot summer nights, they engaged the teen-agers in chat. The police force (thirteen) was an abundant source of town gossip.

The Fire Hall was on Victoria Street. The Volunteers had their club house behind .It was open most days, all day. There were twebty-four of them. They had friends. They had a bar.

Councillor Walt Davis told me once how the town used to be crowded on a Friday night and so many groups gathered on the sidewalk, a person would have to step into the road to get anywhere
That was before the Davis Drive Shopping Centre, Hillcrest Mall and Upper Canada Mall.

It was before the curves on Highway Eleven were straightened and the hills levelled and Yonge Street Aurora stooped being a small town main street. .

Farmers and their families came in to shop, see the lawyer, the doctor or the dentist, go to the bank and ....catch up on the gossip. Farm families were as much part of the community as anyone. else. On Friday, Aurora was a happening place.

There were two newspapers, The Aurora Banner and The Newmarket Era. Not much happened in the Town that didn't circulate in a very short time.

The newspapers published once a week on the same day. The two publisher were fellow journalists from Toronto, who were also good drinking buddies. But the competition between them for news was ferocious and it never lagged.

People didn't pass on the street without acknowledging each other. I recall walking down the hill
on Yonge Street with a baby in the pram and another seated at the other end and maybe one walking beside. . A gentleman coming toward me stepped aside, raised his hat and wished us Good-day ,

Most new homeowners commuted to Toronto. Many of us were recent immigrants... refugees from war-torn Europe. But many of the multiple generation Aurora fa miles were from the same place so there was already an affinity. The newcomers joined the Aurora Legion. Pretty soon The Legion moved from a small frame building on Yonge Street to the beautiful club house on Industry Street. There was always plenty of action at The Legion.

If this sounds like a nostalgic tour..down memory lane...... it is..

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed this post