Last Update June 4, 2016


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    “Boys being, well just being boys” 1930’s Thunder Bay Style

    By Larry Durant

    (as told to me by my grandfather Norman Durant in his 100th year, just before his passing)

    Take yourself way back to when there was once a Port Arthur and a Fort William with only a rutted dirt trail of a road, probably now called Memorial Avenue, cutting through the undisturbed Boreal forest separating the two communities.

    Although the times were truly tough some lucky ones were able to hang onto a job at places like the ‘Starch Works’ on Mission Island.

    A few even managing to put together enough money to not only purchase a car but (without going into the technical details here) modifying the motor for more power and the suspension for better handling.

    Yes “younger generation” listen up, struggle as you might with the concept, they actually did that way back then too.

    In fact some local fellows were very inventive, possibly hot rod pioneers even.

    It’s a pretty safe bet that the ‘need for speed’ runs deep in the Thunder Bay gene pool.

    But back to our story where it’s the weekend and the car is running fine (well OK, just the odd backfire) and it’s time for a little fun.

    Wanting to show what their cars could do, some might head for Memorial Avenue in the hopes that, as they drove the lonely stretch between the two towns, they’d have the good fortune to pull up alongside another car driven by an unsuspecting young man with his sweetheart cuddled close beside him (no bucket seats and consoles then) perhaps on their way to a barn dance.

    Let the fun begin!

    Now many were open cars so communication between them, despite the rumbles and sputters, was not too much of a problem. 

    So after a pleasantry or two it was time for some 1930’s equivalent of a little trash talk followed by a very blunt taunt to race.

    If the challenge was accepted they would be off, advancing the timing and pressing their accelerator pedals hard to the floor boards (in some cases literally).

    No radar to worry about here and with copious amounts of adrenaline flowing, each driver tried desperately to get out front to avoid ingesting some of the good old Precambrian Shield. 

    But just dining on some dust was a losers preferred consequence to being the slowest, others were not able to keep their mechanical steeds between the ditches.

    Failing to “negotiate the straight away”, they’d be left behind to, under the scornful eye of their girl friend, dig and push and pull their machine back onto the road again.

    Now, soiled and sullen, but at least able to continue on their way, things just might get decidedly worse if they had to endure the smiles and waves of the victor as he drove by on his return run, still on the prowl.

    Thunder Bay probably has many such stories to be told, let’s hope others step up and tell theirs before they are gone forever.