Martintown bank heist Claude Mcintosh Mac’s Musings EDITORIAL@CORNWALLSEAWAYNEWS.COM 837 Pitt Street, Ccornwallll
While one man waited outside in the stolen getaway car on the afternoon of Aug. 10, 1962 his two partners in crime, brandishing revolvers, burst through the front door of the Bank of Nova Scotia branch in Martintown.
“At first I thought it was a joke,” bank manager J. G. Taylor said.
But the veteran banker soon found out it was anything but a joke.
In those days rural banks were a favourite target. Several banks in the United Counties had been held up. The OPP even had a rural bank patrol.
To show that they meant business, one of the men fired a warning shot over the head of the startled bank manager. Police figured he missed the manager’s head by about 12 inches.
The pair then ordered the manager and two employees, Allan Reynolds and Armand Lapierre, along with two customers to lie face down on the floor as they emptied the cash drawers.
They were the process of having the manager open the locked safe when the lookout in the car yelled, “We gotta get out of here.”
Police weren’t sure what scared the lookout.
The trio quickly bolted, piled into the car and made a getaway with $4,000 in small bills. Not a bad haul at the time, even if they left thousands more in the safe.
The next afternoon police found the car, which had been stolen from Parco Village, abandoned not far from the village.
Meanwhile in Cornwall, detectives were probing an overnight break-in at the Dominion grocery store at 234 Pitt St. a few days before the bank heist. Thieves made off with thousands of dollars after drilling into the store safe. They gained entry to the store through a door on the roof of the building that led to the boiler room.
Police called it a professional job and thought it might be the same group that robbed the Martintown bank.
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Kenneth Tinkess. Rita Trudell (nee Beckstead) passes along some “inside” information on Ma Lalonde’s famous Pitt Street 10- cent burger eatery. As a student, who lived a few doors away near the CPR station, she worked for Florence “Ma” Lalonde after school and on weekends.
“They (Florence and husband George) were like my second parents,” she said.
She recalled that the small diner had two stools at the lower counter near the entrance and six stools at the higher counter. A juke box which got a lot of play was squeezed up against the wall.
The place had a long list of regular customers. One was Frank Gadbois, who delivered parcels for CPR Express. He would stop in every day, sit at the same lower counter stool and order a large glass of buttermilk. It was the quintessential family business. George Lalonde sat on a stool behind the counter and helped with the cash register. Daughter Gertrude and a son Leslie helped out.
“Leslie opened up early in the morning every day,” she said.
“We also served Mello Roll ice cream, which some (of today’s) kids won’t know what I’m talking about.”
Rita, now in her 80s, recalled the Ma Lalonde days as “the good old days.” Amen. THIS AND THAT: Does this have a familiar ring to it? In Brant County (Brantford) a pay increase for the mayor and councillors has become an early election issue. A new pay