Roland Demers April 4, 2005 Interview
So we're going to start out with your early life, where you were from, your school, what were your favorite subjects.
I had no favorite subjects. (laugh)
Some of your favorite hobbies or pastimes, you know, that sort of thing. I liked elementary school. Not high school some much…
And your name is?
And Roland, can you tell me where you were born?
I was born in Windsor, Ontario, October 10th, 1922.
And when you were growing up, what kind of memories do you have of some of the schools. What were some of your favorite subjects, that sort of thing?
I attended Holy Rosary School and I went to St. Joseph's High School. That's down the road from here, but it's not there now, it was there at one time. And I went there for 3 years and I figured I was 17 I was old enough to quit. So I did and went to work. (laugh)
And what were some of your favorite subjects?
Well, I don't think I had any FAVORITE subjects. I was not one to enjoy school so I quit.
And what were some of your favorite hobbies or pastimes when you were a child?
I liked to play ball, baseball. Never very good at it but I liked to play it all the time. Played it in the open fields in those days. We weren't sponsored like they are today for kids.
Did you ever see any Tiger baseball games?
I've seen them at the Tiger Stadium, yes.
And what was Windsor like back in the 1920s, early 30s?
(laugh) You're going back 70 years. I can't remember back that well to say what it was like. I tell you we don't have it easy as kids have today.
Well you know one of the things that you might remember is Tecumseh Road East at one time was a dirt road?
And I remember that.
Yah, well there's been some changes, and you remember Ouellette Avenue there was no overpass
There was no overpass there.
Over the park you're talking about there.
Ouellette Avenue used to be a busy stream of people there, when you were shopping there were no going to the bars. Different crowd.
And did you play marbles back in those days?
Oh yes, everybody played marbles. Yah we had a pocket full of those. (laugh)
And I guess to as well there must have been an awareness of the various communities like Windsor and Ford City, like there was different communities like Walkerville and Ford city, where as now it's all one.
Well when I was born - I said I was born in Windsor, back then it was Ford City. My birth certificate says Ford City, and every now and then I go to the States and they say "Where's that?" and I say "Right across the river." (laugh) That's along time and I was… I think I was in school when they changed that to East Windsor.
And I guess Ford City back in those days must have employed at lot of people going in and out of the factories…
OH yes. Well their plant used to be, well not their plant, their office used to be right at the foot of Droullard Road, where the big sand pile is there, that was their big office. It's an empty field now really.
And by the 1930s of course the Great Depression sets in and how was yr family affected by the Great Depression?
Well, they didn't have a job either, and a lot of people say that Windsor's done a nice job when you look at Pilette Park, you know at the foot of Pilette Road here? There's people that are on Welfare, their the ones who helped build that to get their welfare payments. (laugh) I remember you used to go on a bicycle from albert road all the way down and bring my Dad his dinner. Bring him the lunch. Ya didn't have any of these bulldozers or things like that, it was all done by hand with a pick and shovel. That was a long time ago. Things have changed completely.
Normally when your father was working, what kinda work did he do?
He worked at Chrysler's. I don't remember what he done before though. I was too young to remember what he done before though. I' sorry he did… He did work at Studebaker at one time. That was at the foot of Saint Luke Road. Up at the tracks.
I guess your mother stayed at home, took care of the kids?
How many brother's and sisters did you have?
6 of us, 3 boys and 3 girls.
And so as you were saying, your father was effected by the Great Depression.
Losing his job I guess.
Studebaker closed down at that time from Windsor and he was out of work for years I guess… til he went in to Chrysler's. Then he retired from Chrysler's after that.
And therefore it must have been difficult for you as a child as well because you couldn't neccissarily have all the things we take for granted nowadays.
At my age, when we were that young, we never realized how… we didn't realize what we were missing cuz we never had it. So if you've had it then you miss it, but we've never had it, so we didn't know what we were missing. Tell that to the kids now. They wouldn't believe it.
Of course kids nowadays would find it hard to believe there was no television back then, and very few radios. They listen to the CDs and DVDs.