South End Boy: Growing up in Halifax in the tumultuous '30s and '40s
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In this memoir Jim Bennet introduces us to Halifax of the 1930s and '40s: one full of coal smoke and rival gangs, chuffing freight trains and pine tar soap. He takes the reader along with him ''down the bank'' and off to adventures all over the city's south end and beyond, offering a glimpse of childhood where a young boy had free rein far beyond his backyard.
For Jim and his neighbours, the playground was the seashore, the tracks, the ponds and parks, the tramcars, the Commons, the Citadel, and more. Through his eyes, we see the impact caused by the Second World War on daily family life.
Jim Bennet's recall of the details of ordinary life -- seen from the perspective of a boy growing up into his teens -- and his gift for storytelling are evident in this enjoyable book. It will bring memories flooding back for some readers; for others, it offers a window into adolescence at a time when the world was rapidly changing.
pass. Eventually, the quoit club disbanded and the Burns home and barn were razed for the Dalplex development, but the granite blocks of the stile are still there, incorporated into the south wall of the Studley estate. And two of the most beloved members of British royalty drove within a few yards of it. In my youth, freshwater ponds were more plentiful in Halifax, and boys found them good adventure spots. There was one in Marlborough Woods (inevitably called “Marble Woods” in our lexicon). It
the thirties. I didn’t take to the game, principally because every time I got my stick on the Percheron poop, someone bigger and more agile took it away from me. I considered that no fun at all, and it presaged a lifelong lack of athletic aptitude. But there were other, less strenuous (and fully gratis) diversions to compensate. One could take a fresh alder stick, tap the bark with the handle of a pocket knife until it slid off intact, carve an airway into the wood and have a pretty effective
gave off a pungent smell, more noticeable from outside than inside the tram. This, one learned, was ozone, generated by the electric traction motors. Although details of the cars’ interior fittings varied depending on when they were manufactured, most of the seats were wicker-backed and most of the looped straps for standees were clad in a shiny, ivory-coloured material. There were rolling signs over the ends of the roof to indicate what numbered route the car was on: Windsor-Inglis (7),
is where my memory of the occasion ends, though it would have been typical of Mr. Fritze to have merely sent the crestfallen Ramsay back to his seat. I became co-editor of the school newspaper, Beth's News and Views, along with my neighbourhood friend David “Gumpy” Anderson. It consisted of gossip (“What cute blonde in B-7 has her eye on a certain hockey goalie?”) to editorial (“Student Apathy Hits New Low at QEH”) to shocking (“Drinking on Train Mars Kentville Hockey Trip”). There were scratchy
one. I’ll never forget the afternoon some of us from his class attended a Halifax and District Baseball League game at the Wanderers Grounds after school. Mr. Hannon was perched on the bleachers a few seats away from us, impeccable as always. And there on the diamond, in his Halifax Capitals uniform was his brother Billy, who was something of a sporting legend at that time, both in baseball and as a hockey star with the Sydney Millionaires. Like his rumpled, tobacco-chewing colleagues, Billy