14.4 C
Niagara Falls
Friday, September 29, 2023
Ross’s Ramblings: ‘Historical artifacts’ from dock dig a bit of a stretch
A true artifact! Raleigh Ussery from Missouri visits NOTL and tries to use a pay phone for the first time. ROSS ROBINSON

A while back, I rambled about the project-delaying archeological study overkill at the corner of Simcoe and Johnson streets, where a new culvert was being painstakingly constructed.

At one point, up to nine experts met regularly at the site to ensure the integrity of the job. My mind boggled.

Now, the archeologist with Detritus Consulting Ltd. tells us the old American Hotel in the dock area was situated on a plethora of historical artifacts. Indeed, quite a lot of “historical Euro-Canadian material.”

A “menagerie,” he said. I had to dive for my thesaurus to confirm in my mind that the word menagerie refers to a collection of wild animals, or an enclosure where wild animals are kept.

Perhaps a trove of stuff, or a pile of old things, would have more accurately described the items found. Apparently pots, plates, glass bottles and old barrels were among the findings. Even a sipping cup for a baby’s bottle was found. All duly photographed and recorded, I am certain.

Now, I am a big fan and respecter of historical research, but where do we draw the line?

This latest dig was the fourth stage in a series of archeological assessments the developer was conducting. Who is paying for this? Ultimately, the purchasers of the condominiums.

To my untrained eye, a historical artifact would perhaps be a leather remnant of Maj.-Gen. Sir Isaac Brock’s faithful horse, Alphie. The initial “A” might have been etched on the bit or bridle.

How about a beer stein with the initials M.G.S.I.B.? Or a small beer glass with the white line near the top which told the bartender when to stop pouring?

It wasn’t too long ago that a glass of ale cost a dime. Yes, a thin dime, proudly featuring the famous Nova Scotia schooner Bluenose under full sail on a wavy Atlantic Ocean.

As we lovers of lager know, a beer now costs upward of 10 bucks in several NOTL watering holes. Plus taxes and the well-earned gratuity.

I am not complaining. Just rambling. But, it is costly to belly up to the bar nowadays. Nights out must be planned well in advance, and entertainment budgets can be stretched. Our consumption is curtailed.

Other interesting historical artifacts would be signs from the old American Hotel. They told ladies which entrance to use, marked “Ladies and Escorts.”

Don’t blush now, but it wasn’t that long ago that another large sign read “adult entertainment.” In flashing white lights. This, in our Old Town, only about a half kilometre from the cenotaph on Queen Street. Folks, I’m not making this stuff up.

Or how about a copy of the form customers at the Brewers Retail outlet had to fill out, detailing their desired purchase. Perhaps 24 bottles of Labatt’s 50, or a dozen Molson’s Export.

This form was handed to the cashier, who then went through the swinging door into the cold back room to get the beer.  It was then rolled out a conveyor belt, to the waiting and thirsty customer.

That was a sweet sound, eh?

I know what I’m talking about, because in the summer of 1967, I worked at the Brewers Retail up in Huntsville for the summer. I was underage, but someone had quit suddenly, and the manager was desperate to replace him.

By the way, 56 years later, the same one-inch crack in the sidewalk in front of the store is unfixed, still causing the odd case of beer to fall off the carts, breaking a bottle or two.

But I digress as I ramble.

Or, how about an historical artifact from the energy business, perhaps a sign from in front of one of the several gas stations in Old Town? A gallon (not a litre) of Esso or Texaco was advertised in big red numbers at about 24 cents a gallon.

Those big gas guzzling station wagons, some with fake wooden sides, the forerunners of SUVs, could be filled up for three or four bucks.

Buying gas back then didn’t put a serious dent in the wad of folding money in our pockets. Now, gas is a considered cost of a road trip.

Historical artifacts teach us about our past, and help to predict our futures. Just think, someone might someday uncover some of our best china or a broken crystal wine glass. Or a hockey stick or a fancy frying pan. A yoga mat or a pickle ball bat or ball.

What lessons they will learn? What will they think of our fortunate generation?

I realize one man’s junk is another man’s treasure. Some clever entrepreneurs buy junk and sell antiques.

But let’s not use the term “historical artifacts” lightly. Let’s call a spade a spade, not a historical implement.

Just rambling …

Subscribe to our mailing list