Fwd: Screenshot 2018-06-05 at 8.57.00 PM


Do you remember this?


Do you remember this?

Thanks Nick
alan skeoch
June 2018

Crystal clear memory…terrific  photograph.  Dufferin racetrack…add a couple of  hundred men in battered fedoras rushing through the gates as if their life depended on the horses and hot walkers, now the place is Dufferin Mall. Boring.  

My brother Eric and  I were  trained by  our dad in 1948 to sell day  old  racing forms to

horsemen rushing to get up that slope through the gate to the track and the grandstand.  “They will be in such  a rush
that they won’t know the horses on  those forms ran yesterday.  A  lot of them just bet by number anyway.  Pick
up today’s racing  forms if the get tossed.  Also  gather  up tickets…some  assholes throw away good  tickets
because they are drunk”  We did this trick a  few times…not a permanent job but a good scam.
See  the guy leaning against the brick wall on the left.  He was some kind  of guard to keep us out of the track.
Easy when the paved slope was empty but when there were a  hundred or more people rushing up that slope
he  could not catch  us.
The building he is leaning against was  the Robertson Candy Company building.  Eric  and  I  got a  good
drubbing  when  we fingered a  couple of  guys  who robbed  the candy  truck…stole  boxes  of  chocolate  bars.
when the cop arrived he asked  “Anybody  see the thieves?”  Like fools we put our hands  up.  “Where do
the thieves live?”  And  then he took us with him to their house south on  Dufferin.   A  woman came to the door and then her  boys
behind her.  Got the distinct feeling these people were poor like us.  Also  began to feel we were stepping  into trouble.
  I don’t know what happened to them.  I  do  know that was the last time we snitched.  Got the
shit knocked out of  us…nah!  that’s  an  overstatement but we did  get knocked  around a bit.  Why in  God’s name
would a cop  put us  in such danger?
See those leaves on the grass where  the cameraperson stood?  It was  about that spot where I saw one
of the Beanery  Gang get his head  hit with a lead  pipe or wooden bat as he tried  to protect one of  the
Beanery girls  from an  attack by the Junction Gang.   We lived  in an old tenement in the centre of the park…18 Syvan Avenue
and  were able to watch those gang wars  from our second floor flat.  Saw a  cop flatten some poor kid  on the
hood of the squad car.  Lots of action.  Afterwards Eric and  I would try to gather up the weapons…pipes,  bats,
never any guns.   We  did find  a  lot of good safes.  Safes? Know what I mean…they made  great balloons although  Mom told us., “Do not pick
up those  dirty old things.”   We learned  the facts  of life from observations as we hid beneath forsythia bush
in the days when  Dufferin Park was  densely forested and had  a little valley flanked by  bushes.  No,  that’s
not quite true.  We learned the facts of life from our cat Tinker who was quite promiscuous.   And dad’s
earthy language helped quite a bit…thought, oddly,  he never used the F word.   He  used every other
word though.  Calling  someone a  “mealy  mouthed son of a bitch” was one  of  his best…usually applied
to Finance company agents trying to collect debts from him.
Mom began to worry that we wold  end  up in the gang lifestyle.  Not so.   We were not that kind…too  soft.
But she  worried and put aside as  much  as she could from her seamstress  work…sweatshop work…to put a  donwpaymen on
a rather rundown house at 455 Annette Street.  A fancier neighbourhood.  We rented the bottom floor and all  lived  in the
three rooms  on the upper floor.  Shared the bed with Dad  who worked  night shifts at Dunlop Tire…he like nights  because he
spent days  at racetracks  when the horses were running.  Mom slept on the couch in the middle room and,  as Eric
is  fond  of  Saying, “Mom was the only person he ever knew who  used  her purse as a pillow.”  She had to do  this to
keep Dad from “borrowing” a few bucks.   Dad  was a charmer…wonderful guy to us…but others thought he was
totally  irresponsible.  True!  But, Jesus, he was fun.  And  he taught us  a lot of lessons  about life.And, oh yes, if  any
son of a bitch every touched us, that bastard would  meet dad’s  fist … and  fast.   It was a strange marriage…mom and dad…
but they loved each other.   They made our lives  wonderful.  Lots  of variation.
So there Nick…yes,  I do  remember the picture.
June 5, 2018
(Memories  from late 1940’s)

Please forgive any typos.

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