Windsor’s good eats
Keeping the Peace
By Tom Lessard, C.D.
I was born in Windsor, Ontario in 1937, the seventh child. I had three brothers and three sisters.
My mother was very handy with the sewing machine and needle and thread. She would get hold of Maple Leaf flour bags, take the stitching out, bleach the bags and then join them and make pillow cases, sheets, underwear and curtains. A lot of the time, the bleaching wouldn’t remove all the wording, so the shorts would have the Maple Leaf logo still visible.
My father was a tool and die maker and a part-time car racer at Detroit and Port Huron tracks. He built a house on Riberdy Road, out by the airport in Sandwich East. It was a two-storey building with a semi-detached garage and a good-sized Victory garden.
Everyone was urged to have their own garden during the war. In the summer, as the crops ripened, I’d take a salt shaker and start at one end of the cucumber row, pick a cuke, wipe off the prickers and eat and eat until I was full. When the tomatoes were ready, I’d take on the task of wiping them on my pants or shirt, lick them, add salt and enjoy the taste of fresh vegetables. My sister dug into the onions, which she loved and I didn’t.
Wartime meant rationing. Every family or eligible person received a ration book and coupons with which to purchase meat, butter, gasoline, tires, etc. Every Sunday, my dad would have his bacon and eggs for breakfast. If we were lucky, we’d get the drippings, in which we’d fry bread. It was a real treat. Butter was in very short supply so we’d use lard on our bread. My grandfather, who had a house across the street, would invite one or two of us over for breakfast. It consisted of porridge with ice cream on it. Mmm good.
In the back of our property, there was a huge farm owned by the Walker family, on which they grew acres and acres of cattle corn. When the corn was still edible, we’d pick a few dozen and set up a table on Walker Road (the main street leading to downtown Windsor) and sell it. We’d tell everyone that it was Golden Bantam corn. I understand that one of our customers was Mr. Walker himself.
When there was no corn in the fields, we were able to witness the coming and going of military aircraft of all shapes and sizes either in training or heading to the war zones. Once in a while the “air raid” sirens would go off and we’d have to pull all the blinds down and turn off all unnecessary lights until the “all clear” sounded.
Our home was about five miles from the Detroit river, where there was a 30-foot diving tower and a beach. I remember my oldest sister telling me about the time she and my second oldest brother had 26¢ between them to get there and back and to have a treat. The bus to the beach cost 5¢ each to get there, and 5¢ each to get back. That left a nickel for popcorn.
When they reached their destination and were walking out to the pier, a lifeguard stopped them and asked where they thought they were going. “To the diving tower,” they replied. He pointed to a spot in the river and told them that if they could swim there and back, they could go to the diving tower. They were about 10 and eight years old at the time.
Well, they were good swimmers and had no trouble completing the task, so he allowed them to continue to the tower. When it was time to go home, instead of taking the bus they spent the fare on food and walked the five miles home. It was late when they arrived and my worried parents asked why they were so late. They replied, “You always tell us to take our time getting home.”
To the Crediton Community Centre committee: Thanks for all the work you’ve done and for a great effort in raising the money required to renovate the hall!
Jim: Hope you get well soon!