Former Beach Metro board member remembers

Christmas is a time of festive gatherings, hopefully with people who boost ones morale by their very presence.  The newspaper’s Christmas parties for the staff and volunteer board always met that standard. Everyone dressed in their seasonal best and met  for an evening of fine dining and pleasant conversation.

One year instead of going to a local restaurant, we met at the home of a board member and his wife on Winthorpe Ave. We hired caterers, who set up an open kitchen in the dining room.  Over small flames they created scrumptious main dishes from a choice of artfully displayed hot food options. Further enhancing the ambience, each guest received a drinking glass on which Roger Phillips had etched the newspaper’s logo.  Memories such as these last a long time, especially for the hosts who had to have their ceiling repainted because of smoke spots.

Barbara Phillips, centre, selects the winning draw for a Beach Metro News sweatshirt with cartoonist Bill Suddick, left, and Harold Cooke in 1988.

For many years we delivery volunteers (most board members had a route) received tokens of appreciation such as a Beach Metro mug, a Beach Metro t-shirt, a sturdy cloth bag to carry our papers, and a thermos flask, among other neat gifts.

During the early 1970s, a Moms and Tots group met weekly at the YMCA on Kingston Road. It was in the Y’s kitchen,  shared with Ward 9 News, that I was thrilled to be asked to be a volunteer delivery person on my street.  Many other moms had a route, and it was considered quite the “in thing” to do.  Looking back, I realize there is a core of 12-15 women and men of the community who are still volunteering and working for the integrity of our unique and much loved area of Toronto.

To eliminate papers blowing all over the lawns, each one was to be made secure between doors or in mail boxes on delivery day. This offered an excellent opportunity to actually see our neighbours as we made our way up onto each front porch to deposit the paper.  In warm weather people sometimes met us at the top of the steps to take the paper, sometimes leaving their ‘other half” to wait for their turn to read it. Delivering the paper gave me a great feeling of performing a truly appreciated service in the community, and I took it seriously.

For 12 years   I served on the Board of Directors so knew the inner workings of the paper well.  For two years I was the president.

Beach Metro News has grown and changed with the times while remaining true to its core values. It is a central, reliable, non-partisan information source for all who care about their immediate neighbourhood. It does not take difficult decisions lightly. For instance, in the case of questionable submissions requesting publication, serious ethical debates ensue before final solutions are struck.

I remember one Easter Sunday, after donning Dianne Marquardt’s original costumes at Joan Latimer’s home across from the Waterworks, our little band of stalwart parade marchers and banner bearers joined the line-up of floats and endured the next hour of freezing rain while we agonized over the pain of cold metal flag poles on bare hands. It never occurred to us that we could opt out. What, and miss all the fun?

As the paper grew, our YMCA office space became very crowded.  When I commented on this to Tom Jakobek shortly after an election, he offered to discuss with the landlord of his campaign office on Gerrard Street, the possibility of the paper moving the whole operation there. He did and we did, and we still remain happy there after 23 years.

Long before Twitter, the paper communicated information about looming threats to the area that caused concerned citizens to spring into action.  These include the expressway designed to slice right through our community of homes; an uproar at the noise level increased air traffic at the Island Airport would cause; and then the matter of very few people scooping up after their dogs.  Fortunately Editor Joan Latimer had a huge impact in making our streets clean again as well as bringing other pressing situations to our collective attention.

The paper was a source of great fun and information for those who enjoyed Andrew Blinoff’s What Is It puzzling photos, Jan Main’s timely recipes, and folks anticipating their picture appearing in articles such as  Benn Guinn ‘s shot of Earl Haig students who took five weeks to create a gingerbread house and five minutes to demolish it.  Glenn Cochrane entertained with his columns, as did experts in the fields of wine, health, religion, sports and much more.  Lots of coffee was consumed as readers scrutinized the real  estate pages for a new home or calculated the possible selling price of their own house. Neighbours learned who their volunteer delivery people were when the Lucky Volunteers were published. There  was (and still is) something for everyone in each edition.

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Wonderful memories.

I remember hanging out at the “Y” with Sheila Blinoff and Joan Latimer in the 70’s Lenore was there a lot as well

I had a summer job with the YMCA and had a key to the place (which came in handy for middle of the night basketball in the gym)

I had a lot of fun in the building and I loved the Ward 9 News gang.

Boy was there office small then – before they moved to the big room down the hall ….

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