Sunderland Stories: Merry Mischief

‘You do this one.’ ‘I did the last one, you’re chicken anyway.’ ‘No I’m not!’ ‘Go on then.’ ‘One’s coming!’ The three boys peered on tiptoe out from their hiding place in the dark, cavernous sitting room, through the net curtains. The street outside was chilly and damp. Fresh raindrops glinted on the bodies of the cars that lined the road, yellow-gold in the deceptively warm glow from the street lamps. The headlights of the car approached. Bumping into things in the close, shielding darkness, the lads rushed to the front door. The house was on the end of a terrace, and the heavy door opened feet from the end of the alley that met the main road. ‘Let me through!’ hissed one as the three jostled for a good view of their mischief. ‘Now!’ called the one who’d run back to the sitting room to serve as lookout and target spotter. A well-weighted underarm lob sent the orange off towards its target.

THUD

All stealth forgotten in the thrill of perfect success, the front door was slammed shut hard. ‘Did you see that!’ ‘Right on the headlight! All over the bonnet and windscreen!’ Still in the cover of darkness (although for no real reason as this part of the house couldn’t be seen from the street) the boys raced up the stairs to the loft, pushing and taking swipes at each other’s feet as they ran. ‘Move! I wanna see.’ ‘They’ve gone, probably didn’t even notice.’ ‘I doubt that!’ ‘Next one’s your turn.’ ‘I’ll throw it from here.’ ‘Chicken!’ ‘Go on then!’ Back downstairs. A key turns in the lock and the big front door swings open. ‘Why are all the lights off?’ comes the shout from below. ‘We were just playing hide and seek.’ Fun’s over. For now.

A few hours later. ‘Are they asleep?’ ‘Think so. Me mam will kill us if she catches us.’ ‘Shhh! She won’t.’ They creep, ever so slowly, down the stairs, wincing with each creak of the floorboards. On towards the artillery locker, also known as the fridge. More projectiles to fly into the night.

Back up the stairs. Ever so slowly. Back to the loft to spot targets from high ground. ‘Look at him! Can’t remember what a straight line looks like!’ Carefully, silently, the window lifts. ‘Go on,’ in whispered tones. An orange is loosed into the cool, dark night, whose air carries the faint smell of the sea. The orange sails in an almost lazy arc to land and explode beside the drunk’s legs with a slapping pop. Poor bloke nearly jumps out of his skin. He wheels clumsily around.

By the time he’d be in any position to catch a glimpse of his stealthy attackers the window has been pulled down and closed.

The boys are laughing their heads off, as silently as possible, of course. The man angrily throws up an arm, as if to curse his tormentors, before turning to continue the journey home. ‘Here, give him an egg.’ Up goes the window again, and out flies an egg into the night. This missile falls well short of its target, but still creates great comedy for the boys to watch as the reveller casts drunkenly about, shouting bloody murder with the clear intention of killing whoever is responsible for harrassing him. Of course, this danger makes the mischief all the more fun.

Sunderland Stories: Merry Mischief

The Legendary Porsche 917

Porsche 917The legendary Porsche 917 which dominated sports car racing in the early 1970s. The most powerful Can-Am variant of the car produced roughly 1100 horsepower from a turbocharged flat 12 engine, and was capable of hitting speeds of 245 mph on the 6km Mulsanne straight at LeMans. Incredible speed combined with little downforce for reduced drag, many components being made from lightweight but explosively flammable magnesium, and a driving position that placed the pilot’s feet out ahead of the front axle made racing the 917 a formidable undertaking.

Posted @Whippstagram on Instagram, April 2015

The Legendary Porsche 917

Ferrari Killer: Ford GT40

Ferrari Killer: Ford GT40

The Ford GT40 was designed to end Ferrari’s dominance in endurance sports car racing. The Italian marque had been victorious at the 24 Hours of Le Mans six consecutive times between 1960-1965, and Henry Ford II’s bitter rivalry with Enzo Ferrari made him determined to win with an American car. The GT40 wasn’t an immediate success, but fortunes soon changed when Carroll Shelby was given control of the racing program in 1965. In 1966, GT40s recorded 1-2-3 finishes at the 24 Hours of Daytona, 12 Hours of Sebring, and most importantly for Henry Ford II, the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The Le Mans victory was repeated at the next three runnings of the race, and Ferrari’s dominance was ended.

By James Walker

Posted @Whippstagram on Instagram, April 2015

Ferrari Killer: Ford GT40

Mississauga: Vibrant, Diverse and Dynamic Cultures

With a population of 713,443 as of the 2011 census, a great deal of cultural diversity exists under the banner of the City of Mississauga. From its early days as Toronto Township, with a community of Native peoples and Loyalist settlers fleeing the American Revolution, Mississauga has bloomed into a truly multicultural city with representatives from every corner of the globe.

Immigrants have played a major role in the building of Mississauga since its founding. Mississauga’s first settlers (apart, of course, from the Native peoples who already called the area home) were American-born Loyalists and British immigrants. The 1840s and 1850s saw a large wave of Irish immigrants fleeing the Potato Famine arrive in Canada, and locally in Mississauga. At roughly the same time, freed or escaped slaves were entering Canada to start a new life for themselves and their families. They were drawn to historic Mississauga by its close proximity to the American border, and the ever-growing economy which would provide a means to set up a new life in their new home. During the mid to late 1800s, Mississauga’s economy began the first stages of moving away from farming and towards industry. The Cooksville Brick & Tile Company employed a large Italian immigrant workforce after its founding in 1912. The end of World War Two saw new immigrants entering Canada from the Baltic States (Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania), Poland, Asia, and the Caribbean, some of whom settled in Mississauga. Harkening back to Mississauga’s agricultural past, the Lever Mushroom Company employed a largely Portuguese immigrant workforce during the early 1950s. Between the 1950s and the 1970s, people of Dutch, German, Greek, and Italian heritage made the journey to Canada, as well as refugees fleeing events such as the Hungarian Uprising of 1956, Czechoslovakia’s Prague Spring of 1968, and the Ugandan conflict in 1972. Mississauga provided these refugees a safe place to live, and they in turn helped to build a productive community here.

The Canadian Government’s reform of its immigration policy in 1976 made Canada, for the most part, more open to immigrants, and people from Eastern Europe, Africa, South Asia, India, and Pakistan came to Mississauga to start their new lives. The most recent wave of immigration came in the 1980s, following the collapse of the Soviet Union, and brought people from numerous Slavic countries to Canada and Mississauga.

The diverse immigrant communities within the city have brought with them a vibrant array of cultural markers from their respective motherlands. Dotted all over Mississauga, these include styles of building, types of cuisine, artistic work, and other tangible aspects of culture which serve to provide charming reminders of the various ancestral cultures of modern-day Mississaugans.

Today, more than forty different languages are spoken as mother tongue by Mississaugans, proving that original cultures remain in bloom within the garden of the City of Mississauga.

By James Walker

Published under ‘Cultural Diversity’ at http://www.heritagemississauga.com with the support of the Ontario Trillium Foundation.

http://www.heritagemississauga.com/page/Cultural-Diversity

Mississauga: Vibrant, Diverse and Dynamic Cultures

From Servitude to Self-Determination: Croatian Women in Mississauga

The earliest Croatian immigrants came to Canada in the 1920’s, in search of a better life than those provided by their home villages. At first, Croatian immigrants were mostly male, and took jobs at the brickyard in Port Credit, but women began to immigrate to join their husbands in the later 20’s and throughout the 30’s. Many of these wives had never been more than fifteen kilometres outside of their home village when it came time for them to join their husbands in Canada, and were justifiably nervous.  Sometimes alone, and often scared, they would travel by road to the Croatian capital, Zagreb, before taking a train to the French coastal port of Cherbourg, where they would depart by ship for Canada. These women only had the letters of their husbands to rely on for information about their new home, and were very unsure of what lay ahead of them.

While every Croatian came to Canada with a willingness to work extremely hard, women faced more barriers than did men. There was a perception that a woman leaving the home to work would shame her husband, as it would look like he could not provide for his family. Women did not, at first, get further from the home than harvesting cherries on the farms around the brickyard that their husbands worked at. Some women kept boort (running a boarding house in the family home). While these boarding houses were technically a joint venture between husband and wife, it was the wife who did all the work. One interviewee remembered it as “hell work,” and said that she wouldn’t wish it upon an enemy. The unceasing physical labour began with making breakfast for 5-7 men and packing them lunches for the work day. While the men were at work, the boort keeper would be occupied with cleaning, cooking, baking, washing, and ironing. Keeping boort also put strain on family relationships because they were on show for all to see.

While work took up the majority of Croatian immigrants’ time, there were still a few rare occasions for sociable gathering, such as picnics, weddings, and fundraising events. For the former, Croatians would ride in trucks from Hamilton and Toronto to spend time with their countrymen and women, while immigrants who were keen to embrace a valued role in Canadian society would organize the latter. Gender constraints still applied at these events, with women doing most of the food preparation and serving, but men also helped to cook lambs and pigs on spits.

Attention was lavished on the children, and it was clear that parents and their offspring were in an intensive lifelong relationship which would continue after the children moved out into their own houses.

During the 1930s, Croatian immigrants began to move out of the brickyard’s village and into the surrounding farmland, where they often set up grape farms on land that was similar to their native terrain. World War Two saw Croatian women move into semi-skilled labour positions in munitions and aircraft factories, and despite losing their jobs once the men returned from war, a precedent had been set. Croatian husbands may not have liked the idea of their wives working in a factory, but it had become far more socially acceptable than it once was, and women gained independence. A page had turned in the history of Croatian women in Canada: they were no longer only wives and domestic workers.

By James Walker

Published under ‘Cultural Diversity’ at http://www.heritagemisssissauga.com with support from the Ontario Trillium Foundation

http://www.heritagemississauga.com/page/Croation-Women-in-Mississauga

From Servitude to Self-Determination: Croatian Women in Mississauga

Portuguese Settlement in Mississauga

The first immigrants of Portuguese birth came to Mississauga in May of 1954, coming predominantly from the islands of Azores and Madeira, which lie off the western coast of Portugal in the North Atlantic Ocean. The Lever Mushroom farm in Lakeview (SE Mississauga) was the first stepping stone for Portuguese immigrants to Mississauga. It provided them with steady income, and more importantly, room and board.

Over time, the mushroom farm became a small Portuguese village where people from the same island or village lived with people who spoke their native language. The owner of the farm would write a letter detailing the amount of workers that the farm needed, and the Portuguese foreman would send this back to his contacts in Portugal. The farm village was mostly inhabited by men, who would move out of the boarding houses and into surrounding Lakeview once joined by their wives and children. The arrival of new workers was always an occasion for gathering and celebration, as they came bearing news of home and genuine Portuguese products.

Working on the farm and saving most of their wages provided the newly arrived immigrants a measure of financial security, and allowed them to transition from boarding to home ownership. Once this had been achieved, rooms were rented in the family home to people from the native area at a discounted rate. It is because of this type of community support that the immigrants’ choice of city, neighborhood, and even street were based on their predecessors.

By 1966, around 150 Portuguese families were living in Lakeview and Streetsville. Lakeview was an especially popular area as it was close to the mushroom farm, had housing at reasonable prices, and was located close to public transport which allowed travel to Toronto for sociocultural events as well as shopping at Portuguese import stores and visiting relatives.

As Mississauga’s Portuguese community continued to grow, Portuguese cultural institutions sprang up around the city. In March of 1971, the Portuguese-Canadian Integration Movement was founded in Streetsville. Its main goals were the preservation of Portuguese culture, and helping Portuguese people to integrate into Canadian society. The Portuguese Club of Mississauga, now known as the Portuguese Cultural Centre of Mississauga, was founded in 1974 to serve a similar purpose.

By the 1970s, the classic method of Portuguese immigration to Canada, which saw immigrants in Toronto cluster together into “ethnic neighborhoods”, was petering out. The ’80s saw Portuguese influx to Mississauga spread out over a greater area than the one covered by the new Portuguese residents of the ’60s and ’70s, but the original nuclei of Portuguese culture in Mississauga continued to attract new residents.

By James Walker

Published under ‘Cultural Diversity’ at http://www.heritagemississauga.com with support from the Ontario Trilluim Foundation

http://www.heritagemississauga.com/page/Portuguese-Settlement-in-Mississauga

Portuguese Settlement in Mississauga

Stranger Takes a Cheap Shot at Lammerse Service Station

The evening of April 5 , 1938, was a dark and cold one. The winter of that year was reluctant to give way to the new life of spring, and wisps of snow still swirled in the dusky light thanks to consistently negative temperatures. Garritt Lammerse and his wife were beginning to close up their Britannia Village service station for the night, when a man entered the store and without warning, shot Garritt in the stomach before making off with the contents of the cash register.

Garritt and his wife, who is unnamed in the newspapers of the day, were both born in Amsterdam, Holland, where they were educated and married before immigrating to North America in 1908. They initially settled in Detroit, and then moved to Mimico where they lived for 18 years before moving to Britannia. Garritt was a painter by trade, but bought the service station in September 1937 in the hopes of earning a living through less exerting work. They had been proprietors of the service station for less than a year when he was shot for the contents of the till.

An especially chilling aspect of the crime is the fact that the bandit shot Garritt in the stomach without uttering so much as a warning or a statement of his intention to rob the couple’s business. “He just pulled the trigger and shot my husband through the stomach and then said, ‘Hand over that money’”, Mrs Lammerse was quoted as saying after the robbery. In cowardly fashion, he incapacitated both the Lammerses (he pushed Mrs. Lammerse to the ground, injuring her in the process) before making off with meagre fruits of his brutal crime. The full cost, it would later become clear, was far greater than the money residing within the cash drawer of the service station register.

Once the thug had departed, Mrs Lammerse was able to raise the alarm and get help for her wounded husband. Garritt was taken to Peel Memorial Hospital, and appeared to be responding to medical care. “He had improved so much on Friday and Saturday we thought he had a pretty good chance to get better,” said son-in-law P. McKenzie when he was interviewed by The Star. Despite being conscious and coherent while in hospital, he seemed to understand the fate that was closing in on him. While talking with a neighbor, one Mr. C.W. Johnston, from his hospital bed, Garritt told him “I don’t want to die, but I guess I’ll have to.”His final question: “Have they got the crook yet who shot me?” would be one to which he would never hear the desired answer, nor would his family or descendants to this day.

Garritt lapsed into unconsciousness at around noon for the final time after asking this question, and was pronounced dead at 5 o’clock pm on the tenth of April, 1938. He was 61 years old, and was survived by Mrs. Lammerse, their two daughters, and one son. His funeral was held two days after his death, and he was interred at Park Lawn Cemetery in Toronto.

Immediately after he passed away, Dr. Allan Noble performed an autopsy on Garritt’s body, and found the lethal bullet lodged in his stomach. The doctors had been unable to remove the bullet while the patient was alive for fear of causing further internal bleeding and resolved to give Garrett every possible chance to recuperate with bed rest. Once removed, the bullet was taken as evidence into the possession of the police by Provincial Constable T.H. Owens. The police kept the details of their investigation secret while it was ongoing, perhaps for fear of giving the assailant a better chance to avoid capture, or perhaps because they were making no headway in finding him and did not want to admit their shortcoming.

A province-wide manhunt was conducted to no avail, and although people were questioned in Paris and London, no one was arrested or held on suspicion of armed robbery and murder. Of the people questioned in relation with the robbery, only three made it into the papers of the day. A self-confessed robber, Albert Emerson of Kitchener was interviewed by police after he robbed a service station in Stratford and a butcher’s shop in Tavistock. He would not give up the name of his accomplice, and was put in a police lineup with 15 other men. Mrs. Lammerse came in to view the lineup but did not recognize any of the men, letting Emerson off the hook for that particular wrongdoing.

Two men arrested in Orillia were also questioned in relation with the killing. They were reportedly found to have burglary tools, a loaded .38 revolver, and dynamite in their car at the time of their apprehension. The arresting officer reported that upon his giving the order to freeze, one of the men began to reach into his jacket pocket. Had the officer not already had his gun drawn, the officer would likely have been shot with the revolver concealed in the man’s jacket.

In a statement discussing the few leads that the police did have, Inspector A.H. Palmer was quoted by The Star as saying “The description of a stranger seen in the vicinity of Britannia on the day of the shooting tallies closely enough with the murderer in one or two ways to warrant our assuming that it was he.” One would hope that this stranger was indeed the man they were looking for, and not a wild goose chase for the police.

The source of Inspector Palmer’s sketch of the assailant was the description of the stranger that the Lammerse’s neighbors gave after the robbery. They described him as being around the age of twenty five, with long brown hair and a fair complexion. He was clean shaven with ‘thin’ features, and a pointed chin. Dressed quite well in a brown suit and matching fedora, it was he estimated that he stood at five feet ten inches and weighed one hundred and seventy pounds. He reportedly spoke English well, with the pronunciation of someone with a decent level of education, and was also wearing a rudimentary mask, perhaps a scarf, tied across his face. However his mask was designed, it wasn’t very effective in its task, as it allowed Mrs. Lammerse and her neighbors to build a rather thorough description of his features.

Mrs. Lammerse also sustained injury during the raid, despite only Garritt being shot at. Although the newspapers of the day do not specify the extent of her injuries, or their location on her body, we know that she was pushed to the ground by the gunman and this is when she was injured. In addition to physical injury, she suffered severe shock at seeing her husband shot in the stomach and the service station that they had both worked so hard at being robbed.

A column published in The Star on October 30 , 1939, told of Mrs. Lammerse having succumbed to an untimely death, caused in no small part by the extreme shock and injury that she suffered at the hands of the service station bandit. She reportedly developed signs of the unnamed illness around seven months before her death, which occurred on Saturday October 28 , 1939, at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Toronto. Like Garritt, she was 61 years old at the time of her death. According to The Star, Mrs. Lammerse was “Quite active and was an ardent worker in Britannia United Church,” until the murder of her husband, but faded from church life as her condition steadily worsened. Perhaps she had no desire to remain in the world after her husband had left it, and succumbed to her illness more readily because of her longing for Garritt.

Her funeral was held on October 30 , 1939, and she was buried beside him in Park Lawn Cemetery. We can only hope that being reunited with him in death relieved her lonely soul.

The case was never solved, and the gunman was never brought to justice, despite the Toronto Township council offering a reward of $100 for information leading to his arrest. The reward was announced on April 11 , 1938, by Reeve E.D. Maguire, and was unanimously backed by all council members after a telephone canvas was conducted. A ‘blanket warrant’ (which is essentially a search warrant with no address written on it, allowing police to search anywhere that they believe the suspect may be in hiding) was issued by Crown Attorney A.C. Davis, but again to no avail.

We can take some meager comfort in the fact that Mrs. Lammerse didn’t live without Garrett for a long time after the robbery, as she would have ended her days, regardless of their number, knowing that her husband’s killer had never been caught and punished. We can only hope that the mysterious stranger mentioned by Inspector Palmer was indeed the bandit, and that the police were not wasting their time and allowing the real culprit to escape while they chased a false lead.

By James Walker

Published in Heritage Mississauga’s “Heritage News”

November 2013

http://www.heritagemississauga.com/assets/Fall%202013%20Newsletter%20November%207%20Final.pdf

Stranger Takes a Cheap Shot at Lammerse Service Station