Whatever happened to …

… dyed Easter Eggs?

I’m hoping that a bunch of people will jump in and say “Yeah, we still do that”.


Easter was an important event at our place as kids. We got up early on Easter Morning to find that the Easter Bunny had been there and placed all these little chocolate eggs around the living room. He/she had rules apparently and they extended to just having them dropped off in that one room.

We’d chomp as many as we were allowed before heading to church for the Easter service and then come home for lunch. For Dad, it meant eating the coloured Easter eggs that my brother and I had created.

To the best of my memory, Mom would lay out four or five bowls with food colouring in them. In advance, she would have hard boiled a bunch of eggs and it was my brother’s and my job to colour them. I don’t recall doing anything special other than holding them with some sort of wire contraption and dying one half one colour, then flipping them over and dying the other half another. That egg beater in the video above looks interesting. We weren’t very artistic. We also didn’t like hard boiled eggs so Dad had the job of carefully cracking them open and eating the insides with a spoon after applying some salt and pepper.

There was a year when Mom bought some sort of plastic thing that shrunk around the egg and made it look fancy. We never got them to work all that well; they wrinkled and made a mess. Speaking of messes, the dye and the dripping also made incredible messes.

I’ve seen people use marker pens to dress up their eggs. As well, you can buy stickers and apply them. It seems like a lot of effort for something that I’m unlikely to eat anyway.

As a result, it was no surprise that we ended up giving up on the hard boiled eggs thing and just went for store purchased chocolate. That’s what we ended up doing with our own kids and now grandkids. A really good question would be “Why are we doing this on Monday and not Sunday this year?”

Kids are funny; nobody ever asks how the Easter Bunny knows what house to go to and how much to drop off. Or, why he/she hits both grandparents’ places when we used to drive back home for Easter. Why not just do it at our place? I guess curiosity can be bought off with chocolate. There was a time when local stores would make their own chocolate treats but these days it seems to have all gone commercial.

I can mention this now since my wife will be awake and might have found her Easter gifts this year. She was a weakness for Purdy’s Hedgehogs. Nothing else in the store comes close. They did have some foil-wrapped chocolates but I wasn’t taking any chances. Besides, the Hedgehogs were already gift wrapped.

Here’s what Copilot thinks they look like. Not close, but it does look tasty.

I’m tough to buy for as I’m not a fan of chocolate. Maybe I’ll get some hard boiled eggs?

For Easter Sunday, your thoughts…

  • do you have any fond remembrances of Easter Sunday traditions from your childhood?
  • how about now? Do you have any family routines that are followed?
  • have you ever dyed an egg?
  • do you like eating hard-boiled eggs?
  • what other tools have you used to dress up an egg for this day?
  • Easter is a religious day. How did the rabbit get in on it?
  • there have been many news reports lately about the price of chocolate going up. Did you find that this year?
  • does your family still share chocolate or other treats on Easter morning? If not chocolate, what do you find on your egg hunt?

As always, I’d appreciate seeing your thoughts about this very important topic. Please do so in the comments.

This is a regular Sunday morning feature around here. You can check them all out at this link.

Whatever happened to …

… measles?

Thanks to Doug McDowall for the idea.

And, in true Doug McDowall style, let me do a bait and switch.

When I was in elementary school, I had a pet mouse. His name was Measles. He was white furred but what made him stand out at the pet store was his red spots and red eyes. My brother had a couple of grey mice wtih a nice cage and so Measles came home to a home and a new group of friends.

But, that’s probably not what Doug wanted to talk about.

Measles has been big in the news recently.

According to Public Health Ontario,

In Ontario, measles has been rare, owing to the successful elimination of measles in Canada due to high immunization coverage. As a result, measles cases are usually associated with travel (often referred to as “measles importations”). Due to an increase in measles activity globally, Ontario has begun to see more cases of measles.

York Region Public Health investigating adult case of measles with ‘unknown’ infection source

Measles spreading in Ontario, Quebec with cases of unknown origin

Brant County Health Unit Confirms Measles Case in Brantford-Brant Resident

So, what’s up?

It’s a disease that goes back to my youth where it was a thing to be scared of but I thought that it had been eradicated. It turns out I was wrong again.

I remember as an elementary school student that there were two types of measles that you had to be aware of – Red Measles and German Measles. It was the Red ones that you had to be especially afraid of. I do remember a friend who contracted German Measles and earned himself some time off school.

In theory, before kids can go to school in Ontario, they have to be vaccinated for a number of different diseases, including measles. The complete list is available to look at here. And, of course, for every rule, there are exceptions.

Here are the symptoms – I don’t know why anyone would want to apply for an exemption and take the risk of their child getting this.

1. Measles typically begins with fever, cough, runny nose, and red, watery eyes.

2. Several days later, a red, blotchy rash appears, starting on the face and spreading to the rest of the body.

3. Measles can also cause complications like ear infections, pneumonia, and encephalitis.

I think that it’s kind of scarey to think that it’s back. According to reports, it’s very contagious.

For a Sunday morning, sterilize your keyboard and share your thoughts and not any illness that you might have.

  • have you ever had measles or do you know someone who has?
  • why are the reports talking about just measles? Whatever happened to Red Measles and German Measles?
  • what’s the difference between Rubeola and Rubella?
  • are you vaccinated? According to the news, you should have or you should get two shots of the vaccine. Have you?
  • do you have a theory as to why it’s such a big news? Is the media trying to be the first to report on the next “Covid”?
  • other than measles, are there any illnesses that really scare you in that list of things that Ontario students are supposed to be vaccinated against?
  • have you ever had a student in your class that had successfully been exempted from the vaccination? Did you treat them any differently from other students?
  • if you vacation outside the country, are you aware of any contact with others that might end up with you getting a serious sickness?
  • why don’t we hear of these diseases in the summer time? Don’t they all seem to be in the winter?
  • do you know how many times I typed “measels” instead of “measles” while writing this?
  • why isn’t measels capitalized in reference but Red Measles and German Measles and my pet are?

I hope that Doug’s inspiration has given you pause for some serious thinking this Sunday morning? Please share your thoughts.

This is a regular Sunday post around here. You can check out all the previous posts by clicking here.

Whatever happened to …

… the activity of colouring?

This was a tough one to research and write. I was inspired by my friend Les Mepham in one of his quotes on last week’s post.

Even the ability to colour neatly has gone by the wayside. That might be a good topic for Whatever Happened To – the activity of colouring.

I don’t have too many memories of colouring or enjoying colouring as a child. Personally, I would have rather worked on a suitable Mathematics puzzle. There was one project that I distinctly remember when I had a wood burning kit; I burned a map of Canada to a piece of wood, coloured the provinces, shellacked the board and hung it on my bedroom wall.

Other than that, there were a couple of contests that we always participated in. One was to design and colour something for Easter and they were taped to the entryway of St. Paul’s. The other was the local drug store which held a contest for kids and taped the entries to the inside of the store windows for the town to enjoy. Oh, and while you’re there, you might as well come in and buy some chocolate.

While doing my research, I found this.

We had a Big V in town years ago and a rabbit hole just opened – “Whatever happened to … ” but I’ll resist the urge. Our kids were encouraged to colour and submit their efforts.

As I look at the image, I did have the urge to open it in a paint program but the urge faded when I looked at how much work it would have taken.

Colouring is an important skill. Children learn to colour long before they learn to handwrite. There are skills learned like how to hold the crayons or paint brush and the determination to stay inside the lines. Of course, there’s an even big skill and art in the choice of colours.

I asked Copilot for references to the Ontario Curriculum

Colouring is often integrated into various subjects within the Ontario Curriculum to aid in the development of fine motor skills and creativity. It appears in the Elementary curriculum, particularly within The Arts and Language programs, where students engage in activities that involve colouring as part of their learning process1Additionally, resources like colouring books are sometimes used to complement educational themes, such as learning about emergency preparedness2 or recognizing Canadian flags3.

For specific details on where colouring fits within the curriculum, you can refer to the official Curriculum – Ontario website or educational resources that align with the curriculum’s expectations.

That wasn’t terribly helpful. Every Ontario teacher knows where the curriculum is and that what should be taught is in there.

So, why should kids be taught to color? According to this article, it is magic. That Magical Moment Your Preschooler Starts Coloring Inside the Lines

  • Your child is developing fine motor skills.
  • They’re honing in on their spatial abilities.
  • They’re experimenting, and learning as a result.
  • They’re exploring new topics.
  • They’re tapping into self-control (and self-confidence).
  • They may be more socially aware.  

Our kids don’t colour any more that I know of but their kids do when they come over here. We went the traditional route of colouring books but also have these new cool things that you paint with water and there’s an appropriate colour that shines through. It still is fun to watch the two youngest go at in when they sit down at the kitchen table.

It’s also one of those times when my wife will give me one of those “You’re such a teacher” looks when I try to help with choices and how to hold writing instruments. Of course, this isn’t school, and projects often go half-finished. Sometimes it’s as neat as you’d want and other times, it’s a scribble.

There is an element of pride in this artwork activity and that is display space once it is done. Ours, like I’ll bet yours, was and is the refrigerator door. Sadly, colouring isn’t the preferred activity when they visit the toy room; there are lots of other things that get attention first.

So, for a Sunday, let’s have at it.

  • do you have a favourite remembrance of a colouring activity that you did as a child? How about for your own kids?
  • is there enough colouring done in school to develop that skill and the skill of attending to detail? Is there room in the school day for it?
  • can you remember a name brand of a crayon?
  • can you remember a name brand of a pencil crayon?
  • did you or do you have a size that a crayon will get whittled down to before you get a new crayon or choose a different colour?
  • if the activity of colouring is not around in school, what has replaced it? Is this a good thing?
  • has there been a drop in students who want to pursue studies in the secondary school Arts program as a result of choices made by elementary schools?
  • do you have a preferred app for colouring on the computer like Microsoft Paint or the GIMP? Are you seeing AI appearing in your app to help with digital colouring?
  • do you remember Big V pharmacies? What happened to it in your community?

As with any other Sunday, what are your thoughts? Les and I would appreciate reading them in the comments below.

This is a regular Sunday morning feature around here. You can check them all out at this link and if you have an idea for a future post, just reach out like Les did.

Whatever happened to …

… Whiteout?

Today’s inspiration came from this joke posted to the Far Side group on Facebook.

Thanks, Scott Hilburn

Now, I always knew of it as Whiteout. And I figured that it had gone away and was a great topic for today. I was wrong on both accounts. Doing the extensive research that I typically do for this post (grin), what I actually remembered was called Liquid Paper. And, it has not gone away; you can still pick a similar product on Amazon and at Staples.

The popular product today seems to be made by BiC and it now comes in a tape, in a pencil format as well as the bottle that I remember. It’s branded Wite Out like in the cartoon above.

As I’ve mentioned on this blog many times, I took typewriting in Grades 9 and 10. And, I truly mean typewriting. We learned how to type and type fast. In Grade 9, there was no chance for corrections. The idea was to get the copy down as quickly as possible. In Grade 10, we were encouraged to make corrections for production work but not with Liquid Paper. We were encouraged to buy an eraser with a tough side to do the rubbing and a brush on the other end to sweep away the crumbs so that they didn’t go into the typewriter. You had to make the correction while the paper was still in the typewriter so things lined up. That’s virtually impossible after you take the paper out.

Later, as a Business Education Director, Liquid Paper was actually something that was on the bulk order but for teachers only. The idea was to get perfect copy on things we were distributing in class. Part of my budget was devoted to typewriter repairs and they were expensive so we banned the use of the product by students. We all had this vision of the stuff going into the inside of the typewriter and making major damage. It was important that no typewriter was down during class lest some student show up and not have a typewriter to use.

The only place where it was accceptable was in the Practice Office where students often created documents for teachers and they had to be perfect. The Liquid Paper did a far better job than an eraser as it completely covered any error and when you photocopied the results, it was perfect copy every time.

So, for a Sunday, let’s talk about your mistakes.

  • are you old enough to have used Liquid Paper or any other similar product?
  • when you painted on something with the product, it was permanent for sure. At the school, we used it for numbering and branding school items like footballs and actually the typewriters themselves. Have you ever used Liquid Paper to number or brand something?
  • I’ll be honest; I was quite surprised to see that it’s still available for sale in 2024. After all, we all have computers. The original purpose was for typing errors, particularly the tape version. When was the last time you actually used a typewriter?
  • where would you use the product today? This isn’t a random question; I’m truly curious
  • the product does also have another saduse for some other than correcting mistakes or labelling things. What is that?
  • does your school have a Practice Office? (Whatever happened to Practice Offices?)
  • have you ever distributed a handout or a letter or something with a spelling mistake and have it come back on you by someone who did a better job proofreading than you?
  • of course, we all use computers these days. That doesn’t stop you or me at least, from making all kinds of errors. These days, we have tools that do the checking for us. What do you use?

For a Sunday, how about coming down from the podium and admitting that you’ve made mistakes and hopefully corrected them. I’d love to read about them in the comments.

This is a regular Sunday morning feature on this blog. All of the past posts are available here. And, I hope they’re all perfect copy.

Whatever happened to …

… cursive writing?

Man, I hated that.

It was designated time in each class in elementary school to just work on our handwriting. I had probably the worst handwriting and practicing it over and over seemed to just make it worse. The class was done with ink and not pencil which added a whole different level of frustration.

My Mom had the most beautiful handwriting; my Dad had nice handwriting but his claim to fame was that he could whip out whatever he was writing in a hurry. Working with money as he did, he had an impeccable skill with writing numbers.

But, I struggled. To make things worse, we had fountain pens and that meant working very carefully to make sure that it wasn’t smudged. Thank goodness I wasn’t left-handed.

I had a collection of pens that I’d pick up from everywhere looking for the pen that would make me better. I’m still looking …

I do have two prized possessions from two friends who are wood turners and they made me a custom pen and case for a retirement gift. Sadly, that didn’t improve my cursive writing either. But, they are gorgeous and are proudly displayed on the bookshelf here.

I do have a few things that were created by cursive writing and they’re kind of embarrassing.

One of the biggest things that changed my world was taking a course in COBOL programming. Cursive wouldn’t work but printing was required to make sure things were in the right place. As I look at my notebooks from times after that, I notice that I did all my notes in printing. They’re not bad for readability.

As you can see, creating something in cursive is difficult for artificial intelligence.

It doesn’t take long on social media to read the recommendation for school systems looking to improve can do so by bringing cursive writing back.

For a Sunday, your thoughts?

  • did you study cursive writing as a separate subject in school?
  • are you smarter because you know cursive? Will teaching cursive writing improve things for today’s student?
  • have you ever written with a fountain pen that required drawing ink from a bottle? Did you have smudging issues?
  • have you written with a fountain pen that uses an ink cartridge?
  • did your elementary school classroom have cards with all the cursive characters on display around the room to help the cause?
  • on those cards, there was one letter that could be written in two different ways, one being a number. What letter was this?
  • was it those awful computer keyboards that forced cursive out of the classroom or something else?
  • are you left-handed?
  • do you use cursive today? Or, is it just reserved for signing documents?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this? Please do so in the comments below.

This is a regular Sunday thing around here. You can check out all the previous posts here.

If you have an idea for a future post, please reach out and let me know.

Whatever happened to …

… the $1.49 breakfast special?

I can remember my Dad’s words as if it was just this morning. Can I take you to breakfast? The Special is $1.49 – two eggs, two strips of bacon, two slices of bread and all the coffee you can drink.

Here’s Copilot’s idea of the breakfast special. What’s with the fork?

To be honest, that was quite a few years ago but it still brings back fond memories of special times with him. Those who know where I grew up will know immediately the restaurant that would provide this breakfast. And, it was truly the best – especially the coffee.

Breakfast is such a simple meal to eat but actually requires quite a few different dishes to prepare it, you’d have to have all the makings, and then the time and timing to get it all done at the same time. It’s a real skill and one that I appreciate the efforts of a restaurant where the cook has it all within an arm’s reach.

It’s Saturday morning as I write this and my wife and I went out for breakfast. The $1.49 breakfast special is indeed a fond memory now. At this place, the special is $6.99 but it’s only available Monday – Friday and coffee is an add-on.

We did treat ourselves – she had banana French toast for $16.99 and I had the Western omelette for $13.99. Coffee was extra; $5.98 for two small cups but refills were “free”. Needless to say, with all this plus a tip, it was well over $40.

For breakfast.

And, I wouldn’t take kids there. There was no kids’ menu so you’d be paying full price for something that might not get completely eaten.

Now, I’m not casting any dirt on the restaurant; it was a wonderful and tasty breakfast but it reminds me why we don’t go out for breakfast on a frequent basis. I will confess though; I’ve had better coffee.

The price of everything is so high these days. I know that we pick and choose more carefully everywhere we make purchases to try to get the best value we can. Going out to a restaurant is a special treat that we still make room for every now and again.

Your thoughts, for a Sunday morning where I’ll be eating cereal for breakfast…

  • these days, what’s a decent prince for a breakfast at a restaurant?
  • what’s the best value for a breakfast that you can remember?
  • do you have a favourite breakfast or do you use the restaurant as a place to try something new?
  • can you cook the perfect breakfast without dirtying every dish in the house?
  • do you put your bacon on a paper towel to soak up the grease?
  • if the restaurant gives you a choice of bread for your toast, what’s your choice?
  • does coffee make or break a breakfast for you?
  • have you ever had steak for breakfast? That’s a luxury I’ve never had
  • are you careful about making purchases these days? Would you have made this purchase? https://ca.news.yahoo.com/grocery-prices-in-canada-40-pack-of-chicken-riles-up-shoppers–seriously-whos-paying-for-this-210414714.html
  • what should be on the kid’s menu for breakfast?
  • if I was coming to your town, where would you recommend I get breakfast?

I hope that you’re enjoying a nice breakfast as you read this. Please take a moment to share your thoughts in the comments below.

This is a regular Sunday morning feature around here. You can check out all the previous posts here.

Whatever happened to …

… Mother’s Pizza?

This may be strange coming from someone who lives in Essex County where we have the very best pizza in Canada. If I didn’t live here and know it, I’d be sceptical too. But, it really is true.

But, I didn’t always have the good fortune to live here.

At university, a real treat was going to Mother’s Pizza. Sometimes even for the pizza but the other dishes like spaghetti and their subs were spectacular. What really made it stand out was that you could get a great root beer float. And, cheesy bread. I think there probably was salad to go along with it too. But, who goes to a pizza place to eat salad?

Thanks, Wikipedia

Most importantly, you could sit down and dine in. Growing up, we had pizza from Frank and Gus in Goderich but you either had to eat it in your car (typically on the beach or a gravel run) or take it home and reheat it. Let’s face it; reheated pizza just isn’t the same.

When Mom and Dad would come to visit when I was at university, we would inevitably go to Mother’s to sit down and dine in. It was a real treat for a poor university student.

There was one in Windsor, but like all the other ones, it has closed and is just a little old building now on Ouellette Avenue. I also remember one in Hamilton where I went for lunch after a job interview. In fact, it was part of the directions to get where I was going.

Every now and again, you hear about someone wanting to open a new one but the entire original franchise was purchased by another so it’s probably unlikely that the same ambiance would be difficult to replicate.

It’s funny how some places are known for their specific regional type of pizza. I’m think particularly of Chicago style pizza and Detroit style pizza.

For a Sunday, put on your bib and think about pizza. As always, I’d like to read your responses in the comments to this post.

  • do you remember the chain of Mother’s Pizza?
  • where have you enjoyed their pizza and menu?
  • do you like root beer? I know that it doesn’t appeal to everyone
  • do you think Mother’s got their rootbeer from A&W?
  • what type of toppings do you like to have on pizza?
  • have you ever enjoyed Essex County pizza?
  • what pizza franchise bought up Mother’s when iit filed for bankruptcy?
  • do you have any fond memories of a meal at Mother’s?
  • what was Mother’s Pizza “style” that made it unique in the market?

This is a regular Sunday morning feature around here. Check them all out here.

Whatever happened to …

… The Bud Bowl?

It’s Super Bowl Sunday! My Minnesota Vikings didn’t make it but I’ll be watching all the same. I might have a more vested interest if the Detroit Lions had made it but their terrific season ended in the NFL Championship game. Wait until next year…

Super Bowl is the home of the highest priced commercials. This year, according to this article, the price of a 30 second commercial is $7 Million. If you want your product or services in front of a huge audience, this is the place to be. The pricing on Canadian television will be in the neighbourhood of last year’s price of $197,150, I suspect.

The US Commercials are shows in themselves. When we bought our first digital television, the store “threw in” a digital antennae to replace the analogue one on the house and we have the ability to receive all kinds of US stations. That’s where we’ll be watching the game and the commercials. In theory, it’s a better picture since it’s not compressed to run along cable and we don’t have to sit through those Canadian commercials that are run over and over. I don’t bet on football and seeing a promotion over and over isn’t going to convince me.

Anheuser-Busch’s Budweiser has been a familiar name to commercials. The biggest favourite on this day were the “Bud Bowl” commercials. Here’s the first one.


The commercials ran for a number of years and you can check them all out on YouTube if you’re interested. Selling beer is big business and it makes me wonder if it’s big enough to run a 4 minute commercial at today’s rates.

Back in the day, it was a big deal. We all glued ourselves to our televison to watch and see who won. My son was in elementary school at the time and did a piece of artwork that was on our fridge for the longest time. For other family members, they wanted to be called when the football was off and the commercial had come on. The fact that a beer commercial could influence someone at that age may well be one of the reasons why it’s not run anymore.

If you replay the commercial above or any of the others, you can see the quality. It was stop motion which was state of the art at the time. I remember doing workshops on creating stop motion movies. It is tedious; the joy wasn’t in the final movie, it actually was creating the storyboard. I can’t help but wonder what they would look like today if an artificial intelligence agent could do the heavy lifting instead of the incremental movements and pictures that needed to be taken.

Advertising is big bucks and how you get your product noticed. I do remember going to a conference once in St. Louis. I have two distinct remembrances – going over the arch with some friends (I didn’t realize you could do that) and the amount of Anheuser-Busch commercials and branding that was visible everywhere.

Great minds came up with the idea of the “Bowl within a Bowl” and it worked. Anheuser-Busch is known for another twist on advertising and apparently it will return this year.

There was an interesting alternative to the four minute Bud Bowl and that was Miller’s one-second commercial.


Quickly, before as my wife calls them the “pre-pre-pre-pre-pre-pre game shows” start, your thoughts.

  • Do you remember the Bud Bowls?
  • Who played in the Bud Bowl?
  • Will you watch today’s Super Bowl?
  • Who do you predict will win? San Francisco or Kansas City?
  • What will Anheuser-Busch bring back for their commercials this year? – I’ll tell you that my wife loves them
  • From another very successful advertising endeavour, what were the names of the three Budweiser frogs?
  • What do you predict will be the score?
  • Will Taylor Swift make it to cheer on the Kansas City team?
  • This will make sense to Canadians – should Kansas City change its name like the Washington Commanders did?
  • What’s your prediction for the game? 

I’d love to hear your thoughts – serious or otherwise. Please do so in the comments below.

This is a regular Sunday morning feature around here. All of the past “Whatever happened to …” posts are available here.

And, if you have an idea for a future post, please pass it along.

Whatever happened to …

… Grade 13?

If you want the short answer, it’s no longer around. In the 1980s, it morphed into the Ontario Academic Credit and then was removed a few years after that. A typical secondary school program in Ontario now is four years in length. 

Some students will return for a “victory lap” but that’s about it.

I thought that this would be fun to write since I went to Grade 13 and was affected (I think) by the Hall-Dennis report. As a student, are you really aware of policy changes? What follows isn’t necessarily the absolute truth. A lot of this was written with my tongue firmly in cheek. There’s my disclaimer.

In Grade 8, of course, we planned for school for Grade 9. We had to make our choices and I don’t recall a whole lot of guidance. Basically, it you wanted to go to university, you would enroll in “five year”. If you wanted to go to college or go directly into the workforce, you would enroll in “four year”. If you were in special education, you would enroll in “two year” or “occupations”. These were major decisions for someone aged 13. It was also my first introduction as to just how big our high school around the corner was.

I wanted to go to university so I enrolled in “five year”. Why? I really didn’t have a clue. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life.

That meant going to Grade 13 and I was OK with that. After you made the time commitment, you had to choose the stream. B&C – Business and Commerce, A&S – Arts and Science, or ST&T – Science, Technology and Trades. Now, A&S was the stream that took you directly to university but that meant taking Latin so that was out. ST&T sounded like a lot of hard work so that was out. B&C was Business and Commerce and that was appealing to follow in my father’s footstep. The only problem was that it typically offered courses only to Grade 12. But, I did enroll in “five year” and B&C and they let do it. Things changed and Computer Programming was offered in Grade 11. This lowly Grade 8er didn’t see that coming and it did inspire me to think that I could make a career out of programming. It was taught by the Head of Business so I had made a good choice.

We were told over and over how great the Ontario Education system was with its five year high school program. Nobody else in the world does it this way. Of course, we wondered if we were just slower than others.

To be honest, none of this really mattered going to university. They looked at the average of your best 6 Grade 13 courses. I took 3 Maths, 3 Sciences, and one English to hedge my bet. As could have been predicted, English was my lowest mark and I didn’t really need it.

As a Grade 13 student, we ruled the school. When we had spares, we had our own lounge and we’d go there to play euchre and darts and not have to associate with the “four year” kids. At the time, the legal drinking age in Ontario was 18 and so it was possible to go for a refreshment at lunch, if we wanted. Things were so much different than they are now.

It was in Grade 13 that we realized that the rules were kind of artificial. You just needed to work hard at everything and do the best you can. Not everyone who was in the “five year” program ended up going to university. As it turns out, colleges had terrific programs and you could get admitted without that extra year of schooling. Universities, not so much.

My wife would be the perfect example. She enrolled in the “five year” program but only needed four years to get to where she wanted academically for post-secondary education.

Things today have changed completely. We now realize that universities, colleges and going directly to work all offer amazing opportunities for students who know where they want to go. With the flexibility of course choices now and the lack of streaming we had, guidance is more important than ever.

For a Sunday, your thoughts?

  • Did you attend Grade 13?
  • Hall-Dennis was a big time change in education in Ontario. Can you think of any program that has wide-sweeping changes after that?
  • Are students in Grade 8 prepared to set a path for their academics?
  • What was your focus for studies in high school?
  • Did you get good guidance advice before you went to high school? Do you remember the name of your guidance counsellor?
  • Would you have done things differently or made different choices with what you know now?
  • Did you attend University or College or move to the world of work?
  • Could today’s students thrive in the academic world that you grew up in?
  • Did you use the extra year at high school as an opportunity to save money to go to university?
  • Speaking of money, would the cost savings of removing a Grade 13 or 5th year of education have been a determining factor?
  • If you were Queen or King of the world, how would you change the current educational system?

I’d love to hear your thoughts – serious or otherwise. Please do so in the comments below.

This is a regular Sunday morning feature around here. All of the past “Whatever happened to …” posts are available here.

Whatever happened to …

… snow plough commercials?

Thanks to Dave Wise for sharing this video and bringing back the memory for me.

If you’re old enough and had lived in Ontario in the 1970s, I’ll bet this brings back a smile and some memories of commercials on television in the winter.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/Pp3C4jOzJVg?version=3&rel=1&showsearch=0&showinfo=1&iv_load_policy=1&fs=1&hl=en&autohide=2&wmode=transparentor how about this one?


where we came closest to hear a political message with a profanity.

I don’t know about your neck of the woods but it’s been pretty mild around here lately and the dad gum snow has been removed from our roads, replaced by rain, freezing rain, and ice.

The ploughs are still out only this time pushing back snow drifts and salting the roads.

The other things that are still out there are drivers whose priorities lie in getting there the fastest, even if it means going by the plough that’s trying to clear the road for them.

I shudder when I think of the possibilities for failure.

  • you could run into a vehicle coming the other way
  • you could run into a dog walker who crossed the road to get out of the way of the oncoming plough
  • you could skid on a sheet of ice and end up in the ditch on the other side of the road

It might look something like this.


For those who use the 401 or other expressways, there is now a new law in force in Ontariol for all to obey.

The roads, in theory, should be safer but I continue to hear and see bad driving in the winter. Snow ploughs are more visible than ever these days compared to the 1970s now having more lights and reflective surfaces.

So, whatever happened to those commercials? Why aren’t they regularly shown on television to educate the public?

For a Sunday, your thoughts?

  • “plough” or “plow”?
  • do you remember those commercials?
  • do you think the commercials had any effect on people?
  • would they have any impact on drivers today or did we just give up?
  • you would have been a youngster if you do – were you traumatized by the thought that there might be a tailgunner on the plough?
  • do you regularly pass a snow plough on the left?
  • have you seen the new echelon formation for ploughs on your expressway?
  • are drivers in your part of the world just as wild as they are around here or do we just have more than our share?
  • I can remember a time when the roads were sanded and salted. From what I can see, these days around here, they’re just salted. What’s happening on your roads?
  • would a race car with a blade on front really work?
  • these days, we have the Ministry of Transportation (MTO). Did you catch the governing road body in the videos?

Please take a moment to share your thoughts in the comments below.

This is a regular Sunday morning post around here. You can read all of the past ones here.

If you have an idea for a future Sunday post, please reach out to me with it.

Whatever happened to …

… candy cigarettes?

Actually, according to this article from Mashed, they still are around. So, your humble reporter did his research to see. That involved a trip to one Sobeys, two corner convenience stores, and a quick look through a candy store at the mall in Windsor. I couldn’t find anything. Maybe it’s not a Canadian thing.

Actually, I thought it was a genius piece of marketing done TO me growing up. In my town, so many older people smoked. The high school, in fact, had a smoking corner just off the property where students could have a smoke and not be on school property where it would have been an offence. So, why not generate a product that young me could actually use and prepare me to buy the product later in life?

I never understood the lure of real cigarettes until I was older and learned what addiction was about. As kids, we each chipped in a few dimes and nickels and bought and shared a package of real cigarettes once. Bleh! I don’t even recall more than a puff or two. This wasn’t for me.

That was back in the day when your parents could send you to a store to buy them cigarettes from the vendor or through a vending machine and nobody thought twice about it.

Microsoft Paint concept of a candy cigarette

But, we could buy candy cigarettes. They came packaged exactly like real cigarettes. The neat part was that the little sticks looked like the real thing. They were cylindrical, white, and had a spot of read and black on the end to resemble a real burning cigarette. The other good thing was that they they came in a number to a package so you could easily share with friends if you were so inclined. You could even pass one around just like parents and high school kids did. The bad thing is that I don’t recall them being particularly tasty or sweet like you’d expect candy to be. I’d never really wanted to smoke but all the cool kids had candy cigarettes so I “smoked” with them. 

And, just like parents who could drive and smoke, we could ride our bicycles and “smoke”. Thinking back, we must have looked really stupid.

But, time and progress and being aware of things have made things change. Sadly, at least in my part of the world, kids can’t imitate parents any more by smoking candy cigarettes. That’s probably a good thing.

How about you?

  • can you buy candy cigarettes in your area?
  • do you remember “smoking” them as a child?
  • how would you describe the taste?
  • did you have a desire to be older and really smoke like high school kids and adults did?
  • can you remember buying real cigarettes for your parents? What brand?
  • do you remember the cigarette machines where you didn’t even have to ask for them at a counter?
  • can you think of a product today for kids that resembles something that adults use that grooms them for later purchase?
  • does your local high school have a smoking area where the cool kids go to smoke?

Please take a moment to share your thoughts in the comments below.

This is a regular Sunday morning post around here. You can read all of the past ones here.

Whatever happened to …

… Tab?

According to WordPress’ numbering scheme, this is the 400th time that I’ve written a post with this title. So, maybe there have been 401 posts since the first wouldn’t have carried a number. More important than “what can you do” is “what have you don’t lately”. Here goes. Thank you so much for everyone who has been on this journey with me.

Are you old enough to remember this commercial?


Tab was the soft drink, apparently, if you wanted to become one of the “beautiful people”. Or, that’s what they’d have you to believe – what a great marketing scheme for the time. You’d never get away with that these days.

It was manufactured by the Coca-Cola Company. They had been making Coke for years but, in a desire to be slim, people were looking at the amount of sugar that was in Coke and the company wanted to offer something else.

I can remember trying it once or twice; I needed to be beautiful but I was never a fan of the drink. It seemed to have an after taste to it. I stuck with the original Coke. Say what you will, you could go into any convenience store and maybe find a Coke or a Pepsi but Tab was not always available. Good choice on my part!

The Coca-Cola company went on to offer other soft drinks with less or no sugar to sweeten the drink. Of course, Coca-Cola wasn’t the only cola type of drink. PepsiCo offered a non-sugar product to compete as well. 

And, there were a number of different diet soft drinks offered to we consumers over the year. Here’s one opinion of them ranked in order of taste.

I’m sorry if you’re reading this early on Sunday morning and you’re enjoying a coffee instead of a soft drink. But, I’ll bet that you have some memories.

  • The big question – Coke or Pepsi?
  • Were you a fan of the Tab drink?
  • When was the last time you saw Tab offered for sale?
  • What was Tab sweetened with?
  • You don’t know how difficult it was for me to type “soft drink” as I wrote this post. What do we Canadians generally call this sort of drink? What do Americans call it?
  • If you are interested in a low or no sugar product these days. where do you turn?
  • What’s it sweetened with?
  • Can you think of another advertising slogan or pitch that was OK but would never fly today?

Please take a moment to share your thoughts in the comments below.

This is a regular Sunday morning post around here. You can read all of the past ones here.

Whatever happened to …

… encyclopedias?

Long before the direction “Just Google It”, there was another way to get information for research or essays that you were doing.

Going to the library and getting the encyclopedia. It was an amazing resource and had everything.

I wonder if this might be foreign to today’s students but it wasn’t just one book. It was a collection of books based upon the letter of the topic you were searching. So, if you were searching the War 0f 1812, grabbing the “W” off the bookshelf would do it.

That is, if it was there. 

You could never actually check out a volume from the encyclopedia. Often, we would have “research periods”, say in History where we met as a class in the library to research our topics. We had a couple of encyclopedia collections there but if the first people to the library grabbed “W”, you might have to change your topic on the fly. Of, the sneakiest of all things, don’t reshelve the resource properly. Since we were all alphabetical people, if it wasn’t in order, it might as well be gone. Or, waiting for the person who tucked it away somewhere else for their personal use.

Encyclopedias were expensive and so you typically didn’t have a copy in your house. It was either to the school library or the town library.

My Mom tried her best to help the cause. Through the local grocery store, you could buy a volume of Art Linkletter’s Picture Encyclopedia for Boys and Girls periodically and we could use that. Of course, we had the first volume and the rest just followed when purchased. I don’t ever recall them being terribly deep or helpful but I used to read my way through it like a book.

There are all kinds of them available on Etsy and Amazon if you’d like a nostalgic trip.

Of course, none of that applies today. I can’t remember the last time I saw a physical encyclopedia book or even one being used. Instead, teachers and teacher-librarians teach students how to search on the internet. 

The advantage is that if your research goes to somewhere with a different letter, you just click a link and go rather than having to return to the collection of encyclopedia books and hope that the book that your researched “linked to” was there!

The advantage is that the printed encyclopedia was generally recognized as a truthful resource. What you read could generally be accepted as true. Today, you can find just about any answer to a question – good, bad, or indifferent – and you’re on your own to validate its truthfulness.

So, for a Sunday, your thoughts?

  • do you have an encyclopedia at home other than one on your computer?
  • does your school have printed encyclopedias?
  • do you remember the Art Linkletter Encyclopedia?
  • what other encyclopedias can you name? Is there one specific for Canadian research? What do you do about reading levels?
  • how do you know if what you find on the internet these days is truthful?
  • can there be varying levels of truth?
  • can you remember how you had to cite your references? How is that done these days?
  • did you ever hide an encyclopedia volume so nobody else could find it? 
  • did you ever sneak a volume out of the library?

As always, I’d like to hear your thoughts about encyclopedias? Please let me know.

This is a regular Sunday topic around here. You can find the entire list of previous topics here. I have touched on books and libraries before. You can read it here.

Whatever happened to …

… bell-bottoms?

Thanks to my friend Alfred Thompson for this one.

Inspiring me with a topic is as simple as this.

And here we are.

Once you reach our age, you fully realize that fashion isn’t necessarily about looking good – it’s about the fashion industry wanting to make money by selling something new that everyone just has to have.

I remember that time when bell-bottoms came along. I used to wear one pair of Lee very straight-legged and tight pants. Then, Levi came along with bell-bottomed pants and all my friends were wearing them.

In a heartbeat, I went from stylin’ to outdated. Or as stylin’ as an elementary school kid could be. I could have looked like this. (at least according to Bing Create)

Staying on top of the latest trends wasn’t something that was easily afforded in our family at that time. We only got new pants when the old ones got torn beyond stitching or patching repair or if we happened to grow out of them.

The trend affected both boys and girls at the time.

Of course, it wasn’t just for blue jeans although that’s where I first noticed that I was looking dated. Dress pants came along and seemed to have an impact. For our prom, I bought a plaid pair of pants with bell-bottoms. As I looked at our prom photos, I just looked stupid. My wife remembers it as butt-ugly. I also remember the lime green tuxedo that I rented for my wedding and the bottom of the pants had a flair as well.

Thanks to Alfred’s inspiration, I did a fashion check while walking the dog at the Navy Yard recently. A lot of the trend seems to be to wear incredibly tight stretchy pants with no flair or a bit of a flair at the bottom or just going straight to blue jeans. It’s different from my early years where everyone had to wear the same type of style. I envy people today.

At the time that bell-bottom pants became a thing, it also became a problem. Our major mode of transportation in our town was by bicycle and these floppy things could easily get caught in the chain as we peddled. There was a solution although it meant spending a bit more money – buying a pant clip. That also caused a problem with where to store it when we went to class.

You probably can’t tell but I just got back from the morning dog walk. I actually spent time looking at the pants in my closet before going and there’s nothing there that would even approximate the bell-bottoms I remember. To be honest, I think that’s a good thing for me. You may have a different opinion.

So, for a Sunday, what are your thoughts?

  • do you remember when the bell-bottom fashion entered your life? Did you buy some?
  • do you own bell-bottoms today?
  • now, I’ve known Alfred for as long as I can remember. He always wears a Stetson hat! Could you imagine him (or anyone) wearing bell-bottom pants with a Stetson? If you’re curious to see what the hat looks like on him, check out his Twitter profile
  • do you know what a pant clip is?
  • do you know someone who would have been on the top of the fashion list and be the first one in your group to wear bell-bottoms? What would they be wearing today?

Thanks, Alfred, for the inspiration for this post. If you have an idea for a future post, please reach out to me.

I’d love to read your thoughts in the comments below. If you have a picture of yourself in bell-bottoms, that would be an awesome addition.

This is a regular post around here on Sunday mornings. They’re all archived here.

This will be the second last post on this blog for 2023. My Weekly Update gets posted at 5pm this afternoon.

To all the readers …