In the 1970s when I was a Letter Carrier for Canada Post, my walk was the "old village" of Dain City just South of the City Of Welland between Welland and Port Colborne. My route comprised the Kingsway from Ramey's Bend down to the Grand Trunk and Wabash Railway railroad tracks just South of the Dain City Tavern, Huron St., Michener (Bay) St., Michigan Ave., Erie St., Forkes Rd. E., Forkes Rd. W. and Elm St N. up to the Port Colborne city limits. When done, I would wait at Evans' Store for the taxi that would take me back to the Post Office on Division St. in Welland.
Doris Evans was born in 1900 and became a primary grade school teacher for a couple of years until her father who owned Evans Store at 7 Kingsway died. She then withdrew from the teaching profession and took over the operation of the store. This store was one of those "country stores" that carried a host of household needs from dry goods such as laundry soaps and detergents, canned goods and sandwich meats, greeting cards, soft drinks and candy bars.
Miss Evans was also the Postmistress of the Welland Junction (Dain City) Sub-Post Office, a duty she took quite seriously. She had furnished an alcove at the back of the store with a couple of chairs, a coffee table, a coffee maker and some cups. This is where I sat while awaiting the taxi that would drive me back to the Post Office on Division St. in Welland. If she was not too busy with customers, sometimes she'd take a break, sit and have tea while chatting about this and that. Her part-time hired help, Mary Acaster, would sometimes join us. Miss Evans was well into her 70s by then.
In 1977, I was contacted by an agent/rep for "New Faces", a television show which aired on CHCH TV on Sundays, hosted by an ex-Wellander, Dan Maclean. I knew Dan because he had been my wife's first boyfriend in the early 1960s and also had sang for a R&R band which contained other close friends of mine. In fact, being the lead guitarist for another local band at the time, I was asked on a couple of occasions to attend their rehearsals to teach them some of the songs that were popular on the radio.
"New Faces" was a half-hour program which featured musical talent from a different community each week. When I got the call, it was because Wainfleet (where I reside) was going to be featured and somebody had mentioned to the agent/rep that I might be willing to appear on the program. I wasn't too crazy about the idea but thought that my friend and fellow musician Mike Carrigan might like to do this gig so I contacted him. He was all for it. Eventually we, along with others from our community, were driven to the CHCH studio in Hamilton where we recorded the show. That program aired on a Sunday afternoon a couple of months later.
The next day, after delivering the mail, while I was sitting at Evans Store awaiting the taxi, Miss Evans came up to me all excited and said that she'd seen me on TV. She blustered that she'd been very surprised and had had no idea that I played the guitar at all, never mind that I played it that well! She then told me she'd taken guitar lessons when she was a young girl. Right then, she took off upstairs to her living quarters above the store and came down a few minutes later carrying an old blond tweed cardboard case. She undid a latch at the bottom end of the case, the same kind of latch that was found on the overshoes popular in the early 1900s, and pulled out this little dark-coloured "parlour" guitar. Immediately, her jaw dropped and she exclaimed sadly, "Oh my! What a pity!"
The neck and fretboard of this little guitar had sprung upward because the heel joint had come unglued. The bridge had lifted. The strings were rusty and one had broken. The guitar was unplayable. Miss Evans remarked that it was a piece of junk and she was going to throw it out or burn it in her back yard. She went on to tell me that her parents had bought it for her when she was 10 or 12, she wasn't sure exactly, and that she'd taken lessons for a while learning to play it "Hawaiian" style. I examined the guitar but could find no name on it anywhere. On the back of the headstock, stamped into the wood, "Made in the U.S.A.". Inside the body, a small red sticker with "908" hand-written on it. It looked to be made of solid mahogany, top, sides and back, with a rosewood plate over the face of the slotted headstock. The fretboard and bridge saddle appeared to be made of ebony but upon closer inspection, turned out to be a cheaper hardwood dyed black, as were the string pegs. The wood binding was the "rope" style common on "cowboy" guitars of the day. Some of it had fallen off but those pieces were in the case so nothing really missing.