At one time Hespeler was a Bee Hive of industry and on any given day of the week the smokestacks down on the other side of the river would be going strong,but today they sit unused and are just a remnant of our past.
Recently at the Cambridge Times a side discussion has broken out on the use of the old town names of Galt,Preston and Hespeler and how we should stop using them and just conform to the name Cambridge. For that reason I have decided to run this little story again to try to explain the reasons why.
This article is in no way trying to attack anyone for their views, but just trying to explain why we in Hespeler hold the name and our past so dear.
So why do we hold on to the Hespeler name? Technically it no longer exists, and half the people living in Hespeler probably are not really concerned with it, and I don’t hold it against anyone for that, but those of us that grew up here have a strange mysticism about the Village on the Speed. And I am going to tell you why.
Many of us have family members that go back two or three generations, some even more. Many of the Old Hespeler residents had family members that were responsible for building what was once a thriving little town and like to think that we are keepers of our ancestors flame. Anyone under 40 may not understand what this town meant back then. Our location puts us in a weird spot as it is, but can you imagine what it was like even before the 401 cut through us? To go to Galt meant a bus ride, and not a Grand River transit bus, it was almost a day trip way back when. Now the 401 separates us from the rest of Cambridge(so it seems), and at one time,yes we were self-sufficient. A fully operating mall, movie theater etc..
It was always a tight-knit town, the Textile Mills employed many of the residents and everyone knew everyone. You could go to almost any local store and there was always credit waiting there for you, many times I was sent down Cooper Street to Eatons variety store to pick up grocery’s with no money, just get what was needed and My mom or Dad would pay when they had it. We had a volunteer fire department and when something happened almost everyone in town would hear the fire siren and go to watch the men fight what ever fire there was. Hockey Sticks and Fine furniture were made here and the Speed River was majestic. Frank Brix used to come to your house to cut your hair if you were sick or unable to get out. The textile festivals were something to behold, with a big parade and everything. Christmas eve would include a visit from Santa down at town hall and a little something for all the kids. You knew the Police and of course they knew you. For my generation things changed a bit and not for the better of course, at one time all kids from went to Preston High School, but we were the first that had to deal with going to Galt Collegiate and that “here come the Hespeler rowdies” attitude.
So Hespeler holds something over us, as I am sure residents of Preston,Galt and every other small town in the 60’s and 70’s felt. Change is not what scares us, it is inevitable and ongoing and we know that, all we are trying to do is save a little piece of our Soul, and if we are wrong to do that then as the song say’s”I don’t want to be right”
In a previous article I compared Stevie Nicks to Annie Haslam, and this time I look at two unique singers that are almost alike in appearance and movement. Big Jim “Dandy” Mangrum was the lead singer of the early 1970’s Southern Rock band Black Oak Arkansas and David Lee Roth was of course the lead singer of the band Van Halen, but the connection between those two does not end there. Black Oak Arkansas released their first album in 1970 and by 1975 were a major act in North America, while David Lee Roth and Van Halen were just getting started in 1975, which is why many people, including myself feel that David Lee Roth is just an extension of Big Jim Dandy.
Jim Dandy is noted for his raspy voice, long hair, and wild, stage antics which sometimes included miming sex with a washboard which he often uses to accompany his singing, and is credited with being a major influence on David Lee, which he does not deny. Both singers tended to use the entire stage as a platform and were not afraid to be a little outlandish and sexually provocative David lee may have been the more successful of the two but Jim Dandy was first and of that there can be no denying.
The First two pictures show them in their prime.
The next two Pictures are the way they look now.
Even as they age they seem to still look a little alike. As for Black Oak Arkansas, I will be doing an entire story on them in the future.
Here is Black Oak Arkansas performing their song “Hot and Nasty” and Van Halen performing “Jump”. You compare and let me know.