JESSOP, Norman Allan
Although Al (Norman) was raised in the city of Toronto, he was a country boy at heart. He loved to go horseback riding. Dad had a business friend who owned riding horses and Shetland show ponies. He would let dad and mom go riding on his horses. The first saddle we owned was purchased from Walter Lord, along with other show pony items that Star, Matthew’s pony wore in the show ring. When Vicki and I were young, the family would go on Sundays to Nana and Grandpa’s cottage on Eels Lake. During the drive, dad would sing to try and keep us entertained, or maybe quiet. He sang, Streets of Lerado, You Are My Sunshine and He’s Got The Whole World In His Hands. Dad started his career as an electrician, but had many changes of work throughout his life. He worked for his uncles’ at Jessop Industrial Truck. It was the first fork lift business in Toronto. He managed Nana and Grandpa’s store, Matthew’s Hardware for years, and then started his own company doing home renovations. During that time he moved the family to the Kennedy Road farm in Milliken. It was a rental and renovation project between Al the contractor and Metro Toronto who owned the property and needed it improved. Dad’s appetite for farming and machinery was honed by our time at Kennedy Road. I have a lasting image of dad in his want- to- be farmer days planting his first hay field, with the manual seeder hung from his neck, running over the rough ground in this shorts and work boots. He is running out of seed and the faster he moves the faster he turns the crank to sow the seeds. It could be a Norman Rockwell cover picture from the Saturday Evening Post. Often when I think of all the horses we had, a picture of dad sitting on my 11 hand pony, Happy, comes to mind. Eleven hands is a very small pony, small enough for dad to have his feet on the ground while sitting on him. Happy was giving me a hard time, so dad got on him to try to convince him that forward was better. Happy kept on backing up until his hind end came against the cedar rail fence, then he sat down on the fence rail and would not move. Finally, dad had to concede that the little black pony had won! During the winters, in the wood burning fireplace at Shrewsbury Square, dad would BBQ T bone steak. He was the T Bone Steak King. Other big favourites were Montana’s spare ribs, coconut crème pie, chocolate fudge, and apple fritters. He liked his sweets! On Sunday mornings he would cook bacon and eggs for the family, and he would fry his bread in the bacon fat. I think you could safely say it was from dad that Matthew has inherited his wild man machinery tendencies. At the farm on Kennedy any vehicle parked in the barnyard was fair game. Dad would jump into his pickup truck, and without looking roar backwards. More than one car needed bodywork repairs from those encounters. Dad always said, “Well, they shouldn’t have been parked there.” From Kennedy Road, we moved to the farm on Warden Ave. It had more land, bigger buildings and lots of horse stalls. Matt and dad started growing sweet corn, and Vicki helped sell it on the roadside stand in front of the farm. When Warden was sold they went into doing custom work with the farm machinery, starting a farming partnership between dad and Matt that lasted years. Dad liked the kids to call him, Joe Banana. Here are some favourite quotes from Joe Banana. This one was borrowed from George Matthews his father-in-law, and carpentry mentor. Both liked to say. “Thank you, sir. You are a gentleman and a scholar!” “Maybe someday Billy,” was dad’s response in many situations. He took that from a childhood story book of Matt’s about a little boy who wanted something very badly, and his father’s reply was, “Maybe someday Billy.” I worked with dad for 15 years in his home renovation business, and he loved to say to me. “I’ve taught you everything I know, and you still know nothing!” Then we would laugh. Dad spent the last few years living in the country on the farm in Cannington and cared for by Matt, Debbie, Ethan and family. He knew he was loved, and would be missed. The picture of him on the John Deere lawn tractor was taken in 2018. He was still operating his beloved machinery! For sure if there are lawns in Heaven, then dad will be cutting them.
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