Growing up in Lloydminster

By Sandra L. Brown

March 16, 2017 12:00 AM

Penny candy that cost one cent, late nights at the drive-in and black-and-white TV

Temporarily distracted by the distant rumbling of a passing train with its loud horn blasting, I began reminiscing about what it was like growing up in Lloydminster. 
I recall a time when my young sons innocently asked me if there were cars around when I was their age. 
I’m sure it was on the tip of my tongue to dramatically reply, “No, we had to walk uphill both ways to school every day in a blizzard.” 
And yes, there were cars around.
This was a time when doctors still made house calls and city machines cleared snow on residential sidewalks.
For a dollar you could buy a glass bottle of pop, bag of chips and still have enough left over for a handful of fruit-flavoured Mojos. 
Penny candy was actually sold for less than a penny. 
There were few strangers and most folks waved in passing. 
Bands played impromptu open air summer concerts and carolers sang under street lamps in December.
My first real job as a teenager, outside of babysitting, was at Fisher’s Department Store.
This family retail store not only had the first—and only—escalator in town, it offered a bit of everything from jewelry, housewares, stationery, sporting goods, clothes in the latest fashion and so much more.
My usual position was manning the candy counter with its Slush Puppy machine; Texas bags of fresh made popcorn and, of course, the most delicious black licorice. 
The coconut covered marshmallows were a particular favourite of our customers. 
We proudly wore our buttoned blue smocks while serving customers.
Starting at $2.50 an hour with an increase to $3 that first summer, I was excited to be earning enough to file my first income tax form.
In the following years, this novelty quickly wore off! 
Working in various departments, I was also a cashier at the front counter selling tobacco products. 
Customers often complained about having to pay $6 for a carton of cigarettes. 
Another happy memory is of eating a sticky cinnamon bun, still warm from the oven, with my mom. 
These sold out quickly as their tantalizing smell spread throughout the store. 
They were a heavenly treat from the cafeteria upstairs.
One earth shattering event that stands out for most teenagers was the opening of THE MALL! 
Flanked by The Bay with its big city fashions on one end, we thought we were in shopping paradise.
Stores came and went but nothing compared to the fact that we had our own mall to hang out and shop.
The Nelson farm previously situated on this land had to be relocated. 
Adjacent was an A&W that was another favourite spot because you could eat in the family car with the tray of food hooked precariously atop the driver’s window. 
Frosted mugs of ice cold root beer were all the rage.
Another big event was getting the dirt road in front of our house paved.
We watched these trucks with their steaming, hot asphalt and waited impatiently on the treed boulevards so we could ride our bikes on smooth pavement. 
The neighbours across the road occasionally had their friends ride horses over for a visit. 
Lloydminster really was a country town on the Prairies with wide open green spaces and relative freedom to safely roam.
On Saturdays, another local hang-out was sitting at the counter on swivel stools at Woolworths while gazing across at the clock tower.
The best iced tea in town was sold there. 
They were one of two stores that I recall where you had to put a nickel in a knob which then turned to unlock the washroom door. 
Saturday matinees at the May Theatre were popular as was catching a movie at the drive-in south of town.
Both offered delicious smelling popcorn and the ever popular Walt Disney cartoons before the movie began.
I have fond Hockey Night in Canada memories of cheering for our favourite team while watching the game on a black and white television. 
To change the channel, you had to physically get up, cross the living room and turn the dial.
And that, folks, is a brief glimpse of what it was like growing up in Lloydminster.

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