do you remember

June 1, 2012

Another Mystery Photo folks, with lots of Gander history and discussion tossed in. Thanks goes to Neil Bishop for sharing his dad, Cecil Bishop’s, photo.  

I seem to recall Santa Claus making an entrance of this nature but the lack of snow makes that idea a little suspect.  Mystery?? Neil Bishop, GC Class of ‘66

         The photograph is Foss Avenue with the Drill Hall (much later the rink) on the left and Goodyear's Canteen (later Goodyear's furniture /corner store) on the right. The houses in the background are facing on Chestnut Street.

Judging by the condition of the buildings and the ladies' bandannas I would say it was probably 1948.

I don't know what the occasion might be, could be Christmas, we occasionally had a green Christmas or at least for awhile leading up to it. I don't recall Santa's arrival by helicopter any time but maybe in 1948 I would have been more interested in other things than seeing Santa. Elizabeth Luther Bursey, HMA Class of ‘53

The building on the right is Goodyear’s Canteen, and the hanger on the left is the old rink, (the Boston Bruins actually played there !).  The view is between the buildings and up toward the power plant, Duffy's Tavern, the theatre, and Nolan's Jewellery.  The houses you see are on Chestnut Street.  Peter Blackie's house is one of them I believe. 

There isn't any snow, but all hands are well bundled up, so maybe it was Santa and his ride.  I do remember that on one occasion he was delivered there by chopper! Dave Robertson, GA Class of ‘61

If you notice, the doors to Goodyear’s Store are thrown open…my guess is that they helped sponsor the arrival of Santa. Maybe he would have gone inside where its warm to have visits with the youngsters.

The children in the picture all look to be of the age where Santa’s visit is a BIG DEAL. Body language seems to say that they are anticipating something…more than curiosity, I would say.

I was enlarging the photo on my screen to see who the face of the guy up against the building might be (no luck) and noticed the Santa face in Goodyear’s back window, behind the pole on the right.  Also wonder what the sign says over the door near the sloped roof of the drill hall? Faye Lewis Raynard, GA Class of ’59

Robert Newhook, GA Class of ‘62. agrees with the others about the site of the helicopter landing.


Considering that there is a chopper just landing or taking off and considering the warm clothes of the crowd, I'd guess that it was a pre-Christmas visit from Santa, sometime in the 1950s. I know that area well. That's were I lived for about 10 years. Too bad we can't see many faces. Bob Newhook, GA Class of ‘62

 I'm saying 1950's, pre move to the new Town.  The slanting part on the back side of the arena was the bowling alley. I'm not sure about Santa Claus though because December usually brought a lot of snow in the 1950's.

The large houses in the distance are some of the homes on Chestnut St. The "green lane" is also there for resident privacy. You know, the lane where us kids used to loiter, neck, etc. before some headed home to the Army side. I don't remember what the building on the right was.

When we first arrived there (1951) the rink was natural ice in the hanger up on Pattison Rd. They would leave the big doors open so the ice would stay frozen. Shortly after they converted the Drill Hall to artificial ice. That's where we went skating, played hockey, went to hockey games, etc. Bob McKinnon, SJ Class of ‘61   The old drill hall across from the Foss Avenue School was renovated later into the ice rink – but here, the front hangar doors are open, so this was before it was renovated.  The building on the right is Goodyear’s canteen/grocery and furniture store.  The photo must have been taken before 1954 because I think that drill hall was renovated around 1954-55.  The picture is looking east because the two-story house in the background is on Chestnut Street around where the green lane would be. The smokestack in the middle of the picture is that of the heating plant situated across from the Globe Theatre. 

We lived in Bldg. #50 just up from the Globe.  Notice the pipes to the left of the picture running along on the poles toward that heating plant – that’s how the buildings were all heated – steam heat from coal fired heating plants.  I think that is a pipe up in the right hand side in the foreground of the picture running into Goodyear’s, isn’t it? 

Notice that none of the women are wearing slacks or jeans, not even the little girl in the foreground and most are wearing bandanna’s or scarfs on their heads (man, that is long ago).  Some of the women are wearing “fur tops”, the men are wearing gaiters or galoshes (some called them) buckled up to the top (in our day we used to wear them open), the women not wearing fur tops are wearing shoes with a half high heel (called pumps, I think?) – no flats or penny loafers there – so it must be real early ‘50’s or late 40’s. 

The electrical transformers are on a platform up on the left (not hung on a pole) and the light on the pole is not a regular street light – it has a green (I know it’s green because I can remember them) metal canopy over it. 

That house on Chestnut Street either belonged to the Blackie’s or Heath’s, I think, and the green lane is to the right of house.  The pavement in the foreground is Foss Avenue – to the left and behind the photographer would be the old Foss Avenue school.

Notice that there is no grass anywhere – there was only pavement, crushed stone and trees – no lawns to mow and no flowers anywhere.  The scene could be Santa Claus coming in a helicopter – I can remember going to that drill hall a couple of times to get a bag of candy from Santa. Ron Mosher, GA Class of  ‘59


My recollection of those far off days coincide with those of Ron. The only details I can add is that on the western side of the Drill Hall there were three classrooms for grades 6, 7 and 8 for Hunt Memorial Academy.  On the eastern side of the Drill Hall there was a bowling alley with four lanes that were in active use for most of the early 1950s.   The Drill Hall itself in those days still had a boxing ring, a very usable basketball and badminton courts and climbing/exercise ropes from the ceiling.  The swimming pool at the northern end was not in use.  My fashion sense from those days is insufficient to try and provide a date for the photograph.  Gar Pardy, GA Class of ‘56


You are right, Gar, I had forgotten about the classrooms and the bowling alley.  In fact, the bowling alley was a way to make a little money on Saturday mornings by sticking pins.  Wasn’t it Mrs. Pittman, Bud Pittman’s mother, who used to operate that at one time?  Weren’t the three classrooms there for split grades – with one half over there and the other half in the old Hunt Memorial Academy?  Isn’t that why some of the students in our Grade Eleven class didn’t have Miss Primmer while coming up through the grades?  She only taught one of the classes of each grade – four to seven – then both classes were put back together again in grade 8?

Actually I didn’t know that there was a swimming pool in that building.  I knew about the boxing ring and basketball and badminton courts, as well as the exercise ropes from the ceiling.  The older guys from school used to haul us younger guys up to the ceiling on the ropes until we yelled to come down out of fear – great fun!  It’s also where I learned to play basketball from the guys two or three grades ahead – Cal Pretty, Ray Lush, Gar Pardy and others. Ron Mosher, GA Class of ‘59


Looks like the old hockey rink across from Goodyear’s canteen. I don’t think there was room enough there to land a helicopter, see wires overhead, on the right side of the building (low slanted roof) was the Elks Club, buildings in background could be on Foss Avenue. Cliff Powell


I'm still baffled why there is no snow. Perhaps it was earlier in December. But I'm wondering how that chopper got in there amongst all those wires, steam pipes, buildings, people, etc. It looks suspiciously like a M.A.S.H. style chopper (early 50's). Hey, I wonder if I'm there somewhere. Could be, but I don't remember it. Bob McKinnon, SJ Class of  ‘61

Leo Brazil,  agrees on the location and can remember Santa landing there. He figures the date is around 1950-52. He said that the drill hall had a swimming pool, bowling alley, and the Elks Club. And, he recalls that people donated $20 per family towards the drill hall becoming a stadium, and it did, approx 1955-56.  (He recalls in that era two of the first ‘paid’ hockey players in Newfoundland were Angie Carroll and Freddy Burke.)


Goodyear’s was a small coffee shop and small grocery store. Down the road by the railway station, Goodyear’s operated another canteen on a larger scale where most children went after movies at the star theatre for a feed, or as Buddy Wassisname would say: “for chips and coke”. Buddy is Kevin Blackmore, raised in Gander by his parents, Isabelle and Don Blackmore.

At Goodyear’s Canteen you got an order of chips and a coke for 15 cents. Leo Brazil         

From the Gander Beacon of Wednesday July 29 1987 - Gander 1951 map Old Gander - I pieced together 4 scans but old newspaper had many folds and wrinkles as it was a major section for the 1987 Festival of Flight.

Old Gander Residences Chestnut Road - I cropped from the original Beacon spread - notice both Heaths (17) and Blackies (21) lived on Chestnut.

Santa - I cropped the foto from Neil and definitely Santa in the helicopter as you can see his head gear.

Canadian Army Side - I cropped from the original Beacon spread Regards to all  Gerard McCarthy….SP Class of 1963         

The house on Chestnut Street in the background I would suggest is #27/29 from your diagram and list which would make it where the Strong’s lived.  Interesting – good work Gerard. Ron Mosher, GA Class of ‘59

Neil (Bishop) is right; The crowd is awaiting the arrival of Santa. The building on the left Is the former RCAF drill hall. Opposite it is the former RCAF dry canteen.  The picture was probably taken in the early fifties, a few years before the drill hall was converted to a skating rink. At the time the photo was taken, the canteen had become Goodyear’s grocery store and canteen. It might also have contained their furniture store. I’m not sure when that feature was added.   I’ve attached a snap which I took, showing the action on the other side after the chopper had landed.

Rather than ice on the ground, I think it’s a thin layer of compressed snow. A close look at a blow-up of the bottom left of my snap shows what looks like a tire track. The road (Foss Avenue) on Neil’s snap shows a couple of small pools of water.

The letters at the top of the sign look to me to be BPOE, the Elks Club. I can’t read the letters underneath, but they could be the Club’s branch number. I talked to an elderly member of the Elks, who said that the Club started here in 1948.  He said that they had a Lodge in a building on the old airport, but couldn’t remember exactly where it was. There’s a lot of speculation here, but who knows…

There was lots of room for the chopper to land. The distance between the two buildings was at least a hundred feet, plus or minus.

The only person that I could guess the identity of is the fellow walking behind the chopper in my photo.  He looks like (the late?) Ted Henley, a prominent post-war Gander resident.

A close-up look at the open door shows boxes on a table inside the drill hall.  Could they perhaps contain goodies for the youngsters?

I look forward to the other comments on your page. Clyde Burt, HMA Class of ‘53 


I wonder, if we were all together in one place, what our conversation would be like!  Hi from                Betty Lush Burt,  HMA Class of  ’55.



All great info on the old arena!  

I remember that building, well  but I don't know why we didn't all become alcoholics....when there was a party at the Elks Club on the southeast side, the garbage barrels had some very interesting odors. Empty whiskey, rum and gin bottles always had a little drop left.. so with the concentration of smells, some of the kids were almost afraid they'd get drunk if they got too close!

But at first I wondered whether this could really be Santa because there was no snow anywhere and the ground looked muddy and more like late October. One gentleman on the left hand side of the photo even looks to be in an ordinary business suit. I had done the same zooming as Gerry McCarthy and agree that it was Santa in the co-pilots seat. So I thought that I might be able to do some research to get a better handle on the date.

First I dug out a CD sent to me by Doris Moss Cowley just after the 1st reunion and found two Santa photos. They are nice shots in and of themselves, But two points might be noted.  

Firstly it is the same type of helicopter. Perhaps the type of chopper flown in Gander didn't change much in those days but it might mean that the dates are not too far apart.

Secondly, we can see that the hanger doors have been lowered and that the new wood seems slightly faded. Most likely the renovation was done 1-2 years before.

Given the unusual December weather, I went to have a look at the Met archives for that general period.  Data before 1953 was very patchy but from what I could see, December weather pre-1953 was relatively normal in Newfoundland.  I checked the weather from 1954, 55 and 56 and December was always rather frisky.  

But here are the minima and maxima daily temperatures from 1953, starting on 05 December:          -1.7 to + 10,  0 to + 8,  -1.1 to +11,  +0.6 to +8.9,  -5 to + 1.7,  -2.2 to -5, +1.7 to +4.4,  -6 to +1.1, -2 to +1.1,  -8.9 to -3.3,  -7.2 to +6.1 and on 16 December, from -1.1 to +5.6.          After 17 December the weather started getting colder, but the first half of the month was extremely mild.  As well, weather archives tell us that in December 1953, it was generally overcast with very little snow and some rain. My guess therefore is that this is Saturday 12 December 1953.

RGPelley, GA Class of ‘62



         Those pictures that Bob (Pelley) sent are taken from the same area but looking west.  That building to the right in the background is the apartment building on Foss Avenue next to the school to the south “going up the street”.  I can’t remember what that building was to the left of the apartment building, though.  Didn’t Bruce Carter live in the apartment building to the right?  I know the Mullins lived there.  The Airport Club was in behind it, wasn’t it?           The steam pipes are still running along the poles, but notice that the two electrical transformers are now moved to the other side away from the drill hall. Ron Mosher, GA Class of ‘59

Whew…that was a tremendous amount of research by everyone. And nice to see some new voices chiming in on Faye’s Place Welcome Cliff Powell and Leo and Pat Brazil, and Gerard McCarthy.  As I said to some, ‘it would be difficult to pull the wool over these Gander kids’ eyes’ when it comes to remembering/researching information. I hope that you didn’t find this too long. I tried to pare it down but didn’t want to split it up because continuity would be lost. Thank you all for the great input/photos/scans and thoughts assembled here. And thanks to Neil’s dad for setting the spark on this ‘mystery’. This is so much fun for me and the only thing that I remember experiencing was the old rink with skating and hockey games there in 1958-’59. Guess there is still a ‘little kid’ in all of us. We still have fond memories of Santa’s arrival and even fonder memories of growing up in Gander. Thanks to all, Faye Lewis Raynard, GA Class of ‘59 Keep in touch with feedback or any other topics at



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