Posted by Timothy FitzGerald on Apr 29, 2019

Hadley grew up a few blocks south of Hwy 3 which was the de facto connector route for traffic to/from Detroit/Buffalo. As a youngster, Hadley remembers “gasoline alley”, between Queen Street and Norfolk Street, the colourful service stations signs enticing drivers to buy their brand of gasoline (most now long since forgotten); and long convoys of army vehicles, built in Detroit, making their way through Buffalo to East Coast ports for shipment to Europe during WW II. Simcoe was a thriving buzzing metro with 5 drug stores, 4 hardware stores, 3 shoe stores, a pair of 5¢/ 10¢ stores, 3 movie theaters and boasting 5 hotels.
 By 1948 Hadley,  12 years old, was walking, running and bicycling around Simcoe with his gang of friends.  Robinson Street divided the town north and south. Living at the north end of Wellington Park, he attended North School where the girls and boys had separate entrances and playgrounds. Simcoe had a bus service that stopped at Norfolk and Robinson Streets every half hour. Hadley and his friends would get on the bus and tour the entire bus route on the south side of town and then return to their start point in the north end. There was no such thing as a school bus as every child could walk to school North School or South School (both now demolished). High School students from Port Dover rode the Lake Erie North Electric Railway trolley into Simcoe. Seniors were conscripted as school crossing guards. 

Wellington Park was very active with softball. Spectator bleachers held 500 people. Hadley sold refreshments to the crowds. There was no monetary remuneration; rather all the hot dogs you could eat. Wellington Park was created in the early 30's after a bad traffic accident at the north intersection of Hwy 3 and the trolley tracks. Dirt was moved to improve sight lines and steam shovels filled in what is now Wellington Park. The Talbot Arena was built in 1947. Hadley was a rink rat shoveling the ice clean between periods. After the games, Hadley and his friends played hockey until midnight when George Hofgraff would kick them out before watering the ice.

Ridley College slid by and Hadley returned to Simcoe. There were three main service clubs - Kinsman, Lions and Rotary - plus several lodges. Hadley first was a Kinsman. Then it seems as a right of passage, at age 40, he became a Rotarian.

Of fundraisers for service work and projects:
The Kinsman sponsored figure skating and joined this with their annual sell-out comedy fund-raiser (Kinsmen Ice Carnival) where their members did comedy skits between figure skaters.  One year the skit was based on the comic strip Little Abner. The two characters Earthquake Magoon and Indian Joe paraded around the ice with a big barrel making their Kickapoo Joy Juice. Hadley was hidden in the bottom of the barrel and fired off a CO2 fire extinguisher each time Magoon or Joe stirred the barrel with a long pole. The crowd went wild! Hadley stayed put in the barrel for the first and second acts. But, Hadley, realizing that he, with his CO2 fire extinguisher, was the "true" star of the show fired off the fire extinguisher unexpectedly.  So startled was Magoon, that he dropped the heavy pole on Hadley's head nearly knocking him out! (heard from the gallery of Rotarians at lunch today "now we know why he is the way he is"). The Kinsmen also held street dances in the summer for the "farm hands". The Lions Club annual May 24th fundraiser variety show drew a lot of people and continues to this day. In those early years, Rotarians largely being the town fathers more often "passed the hat" versus being known for fundraiser events. 

Simcoe had a population of 7,500. The Salvation Army Band played on the corner Saturday nights. The largest employer was the American Canning Company, at Robinson and Queen Streets; along with the Canadian Canners next door. In the war years, it is said that they produced half of the cans for the British Empire, running shifts 24 hrs a day. The Canadian Canners started employing women and canned all the fresh fruits and vegetables in the area. The Brook Woolen Mill was located south of Victoria Street (Old Woollen Mill Road) beside the Lynn River. The white (now) apartments located at the end of Patterson Street were part of this complex on the south side. The mill had an end off day whistle at 5 PM which was also a signal for all children to start making their way home for supper.
On the north end of town there are still remnants of former army barracks buildings hidden away on Second Avenue ,where 1,000 soldiers had been housed. After WW II, the buildings were deeded to the town. Two of the large buildings were moved to the Fairgrounds, now known as the Commercial Building and the Junior Farmers Building.
So in conclusion, Simcoe was a safe place for children to grow up and roam the town with only two 
constraints - lunch at 12 noon, supper at 6 PM. “Thanks Hadley”