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From Eight to Eighteen: Growing Up in Weston
by Barton Russell 

In 1936, my parents had a home built at 2A Springmount Avenue. This address was later changed to 6 Springmount Avenue. The house cost $3500. The vacant lot opposite had three very tall pine trees, and the ground was covered with wild raspberry bushes. Several trails made good play areas. New houses being built (circa 1936) had the basement dug with a “scoop”. This “scoop” was pulled by a single horse.

 

Our schools were Memorial and Weston Collegiate and Vocational School. We left the school for lunch, walked a long mile, and then returned to school. Our average distance was about four miles or more each day. No lunches at school except if a note to the teacher indicates Mom is not at home.

A great sport I enjoyed as a student at Memorial was latching onto the rear bumper of the ancient school bus coming from the high school. It stopped at John Street, where four of us would grab on and let go before the CPR railway crossing just past Rosemount. This was done only in the winter when the roads were packed hard with snow and ice. During the war years, there was no snow ploughing and very little passenger car traffic.

 

We played minor hockey outdoors, which was very cold in the winter. Shinny also played on the rink at the high school. Games lasted from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. - eight hours of non-stop action.

My Globe and Mail paper route was very hard during the cold weather with snow. I started at 6 a.m. when it was still dark. Poor streetlights and deep snow made this job difficult. The paper price was three cents a copy or eighteen cents per week.

 

The Saturday matinee Weston show was a regular event. The admission was twelve cents. If you had a girlfriend, she would meet you inside. Often, when the theatre lights dimmed, someone would open the lower exit doors next to the screen, and the bright sun would pour in with five or six interlopers who had entered. Only ten seconds elapsed, then darkness again. Next, two or three ushers with flashlights would run down the aisles in vain. Another theatre event was a journey to “Rogers Rd. Show” by streetcar. On returning from there, we would stop at the Fish and Chips store to feast on an eight-cent large bottle of KIK Cola.

Shopping was confined to Main Street. Stores included Kirby’s 5 & 10, LePage’s Groceries, Clarkson Groceries and Inches Drug Store. The Central Lunch and Bonita were my favourite restaurants.

  

On the west side of Station Street was a large Blacksmith shop, and I recall stopping in there with my father to watch the glowing forge.

In the late thirties, the Depression had many homeless men riding the rails. On several occasions, my mother would feed them on our back steps. These men were poor, hungry and had no food of their own.

During the war years, CPR trains could be seen moving war goods to Vancouver. One such train struggled with five snorting huge steam locomotives on the head and three pushing at the rear.

The war years were a happy time for us. Only radio was available for entertainment. My favourite programs were Green Hornet, The Shadow and The Happy Gang.

Once I was in my teens, motorcycles and stock cars were great adventures for me. In Toronto, I had one of the very first Harley Davidson motorcycles with a hydraulic fork at the front. I raced a 1936 Ford stock car at Hwy.7 and Keele at Pinecrest, the first race track.

These are many of my clearest memories of living in Weston. Of course, my life went on when I left Weston in 1951. For a while, I drove trucks for a living. In 1952, at the age of twenty-one, I joined the CPR. I got married and eventually retired from my job after 40 years.

My father, Scofield Russell, retired as President of Benjamin Moore Paints.

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2A Springmount
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