Here is a little fun quiz for everyone: This classic photo was taken from the south end of Railway Street (50th) in down-town Ponoka in the 1920s. I will give you a hint of some of the early businesses, homes, churches, and schools, and see if you can pick out those that still remain or what they now are. Royal Hotel, Leland Hotel, Public High School, Catholic Church, Empress Theatre, United Church, Massey Ferguson Farm Machinery, Kennedy/Russell Hardware Store, J.P. Horn Blacksmith, and the first homes of the Crawford’s, the Bures’, the Stoddarts, and the W. Jones. Photo courtesy of Mrs. Mary Horn

Reflections: Ponoka News readers keep these columns alive

Without our readers, the Reflections/Remember When and Hammertime columns would not be possible

By Mike Rainone for the News

I was browsing through my archives and some old Ponoka newspapers the other day when I discovered that I have been writing the Hammer’s Column off and on for over 50 years.

After getting back to the newspaper business following 10 great years at the new Ponoka Culture and Recreation Complex my editor suggested that I should start writing a weekly column just for fun about the great people, characters, and events of our community.

So how did I come up with the wacky column name of ‘The Hammer?’ It was one of my nicknames that came courtesy of those wild and wonderful guys and gals with our fastball and hockey teams. I usually bunted when I came up to bat, occasionally getting to swing away and hammer the ball, but it hardly ever got out of the infield. Out on the old hockey rink when I tried to hammer my blistering slap shot it usually never made it to the net, and usually had the goaltender in stitches. My column in the paper usually received lots of comments, some good and some bad, just because I loved to have lots of fun with many of the super buddies, characters, and celebrities that I got to know. I also got to take a just-for-fun shot at some of the “hot and happy” issues and situations that are always popping up in and around Ponoka, just because I was likely involved in a few of them myself way back in those early days.

When I went to work at the Ponoka Rising Sun Club House in 1994 I still penned the same old Hammer’s column, and then upon retirement in 2003 I had the great opportunity of going to work at the Ponoka News, eventually becoming the editor. The great staff at the News have always encouraged and kindly allowed me to continue to write my column, as well as to introduce the Reflections and Remember When? weekly feature page. The main reason that I have been able to continue to rattle off the Hammer’s column, as well as close to a thousand Reflections and Remember When? features is because of the amazing and ongoing support, contributions, and great ideas from countless families, organizations, and individuals from our town and county over all those years. The congenial staff over at the Fort Ostell Museum have always been an amazing help in allowing me to chase stories and keep on enjoying one of my favourite hobbies. Between coffee and cookies we have found lots of fabulous old pictures as well as being able to access their vast array of artifacts and material that enables us to put together the great tales about the long and colourful history of our friendly town and county of Ponoka, and those amazing families, individuals, teams, and events that have contributed so much to the steady and successful growth of our town and county.

To put it plain and simple I just couldn’t meet the deadline each week without a lot of great help from my friends as well as just a little bit of B.S. along the way, just for fun. Bottom line, please keep those great story ideas and photos coming in so that we can keep it going for you each week in your Ponoka News as long as I am able.

Someone jokingly suggested to me the other day that I should write an advice to the lovelorn or Mr. Fix-It column. While I quickly thought that I could call these gleanings ‘The Hammer’s Hot and Happy Hints for Happiness’ or ‘Fix it with the Hammer’, but I soon realized that I am no Ann Landers, I am a total klutz when it comes to fixing things, and it would likely never be approved by my editor. If you have any story ideas or photos from way back then to the present day that we could put together into a good story, need a promotion for a very special cause or event, or have a tale of your own that you don’t mind sharing please give me a call at phone: 403-341-5750, email: or leave a message for me at the Ponoka News. Thanks so much for your amazing support and contributions over the years, and I would love to keep my aging but nibble fingers flying over the keyboard for a few more years.

This is what we ate in the fifties

In this exciting new generation we as seniors have had to patiently adjust too many changes. One of the toughest adjustments has likely come at the dinner table, which is now not on a regular schedule and we have had to get used to eating out more, as well as fast food, take out, microwave and TV dinners, while constantly trying to keep up with the growing culinary culture of our new generation. Whatever the case, it was a lot easier in the fifties, and here are some of the reasons.

• Pasta had not been invented; Curry was a surname; and a takeaway was a mathematical problem.

• A pizza was something to do with a leaning tower; bananas and oranges only appeared at Christmas time; and all potato chips were plain, with the only choice being whether to add salt.

• Rice was only eaten as a milk pudding; a Big Mac was what we wore when it was raining; and brown bread was something only poor people ate.

• Oil was for lubricating; fat was for cooking: and tea was made in a tea-pot using leaves and was never green.

• Cubed sugar was regarded as posh; fish didn’t have fingers in those days; and eating raw fish was called poverty, not sushi.

• None of us had ever heard of yoghurt; healthy food consisted of anything edible; and people who didn’t peel potatoes were called lazy.

• Indian restaurants were only found in India; cooking outside was called camping; and seaweed was not recognized as a food.

• ‘Kebab’ was not even a word, never mind a food; sugar enjoyed a good press in those days, and was regarded as being white gold.

• Prunes were medicinal; surprisingly, muesli was readily available and it was called cattle feed; and pineapples came in chunks in a tin and we had only ever seen a picture of a real one.

• In the 1950s water came out of a tap, and if someone had suggested bottling it and charging more than gas for it, they would have become the laughing stock of the town.

• The two things that we never ever had on our table in the fifties was our elbows or a cell phone.

Editor’s note: We love reading all three wonderful columns that The Hammer brings us. Here’s to another great year of Ponoka stories.

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