Whatever happened to …

… tail gunner guy?

You have to be of a certain vintage to remember this. It came back to me during this morning’s dog walk. It’s incredibly foggy here and the temperature is messing with zero. I knew that we were going to be in for an experience when I hit the sidewalk and almost ended up on the ground. No snow but so slippery.

I had to keep Jaimie going though; he loves his walks. We live on a concession road so the entire trip for me was walking on the gravel on the side and he in the grass to the left of the gravel. I was happy to see maybe one or two cars on the road. Hopefully, it’s a sign that people are staying home.

It would have been nice for the roads to have been salted but maybe that’s part of the master stay at home plan by the Ministry of Education.

It wasn’t always the Ministry though. Back in the 1970s, there was a Department of Highways and they went to television to tell people to be smart about snow ploughs.

You’ve got to watch the whole thing to get the reference to tail gunner guy if you haven’t seen this commercial for a while.

For a Sunday, …

  • Even I was very young when this commercial was released. Did we have an epidemic of people running into snow ploughs back then?
  • Do you think the commercial was effective? Would it be effective today?
  • When was the last time you saw a commercial for a snowplough?
  • What do you do when you come up on a plough? Pass it? Drive on the freshly cleared road?
  • I can think of two very big salt producers in the province. Can you name them?
  • How does your driveway get cleared in the winter?
  • Have you ever got caught behind a convoy of ploughs?


The above wasn’t the only commercial of the time. Do you remember this one?

And, of course, Mr. Plow

Author: dougpete

The content of this blog is generated by whatever strikes my fancy at any given point. It might be computers, weather, political, or something else in nature. I experiment and comment a lot on things so don't take anything here too seriously; I might change my mind a day later but what you read is my thought and opinion at the time I wrote it! My personal website is at: http://www.dougpeterson.ca Follow me on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/dougpete I'm bookmarking things at: http://www.diigo.com/user/dougpete

3 thoughts on “Whatever happened to …”

  1. Good morning Doug!

    As soon as I had read enough of your post to understand who you were referring to by “tailgunner guy,” I switched over to YouTube to search out the video for the Polarjet High-Lift Iceball Special so that I could add it in the comments.

    It was only when I scrolled down past your Sunday questions that I saw that you had already included it at the bottom.

    For decades now, whenever my brother and I meet one another in our cars, you can bet that the first words from one of us when we roll down the windows will be “How’s she going, Tex?” to which the other will immediately reply without missing a beat, “Durn thing git stuck in the dadgum snow.” For us, that commercial has been a meme forever, long since before memes became a thing.

    I tried to do a bit of research to see if there was any correlation between those snowplough videos and the Eureka! animated science education series that was produced by TVO and voiced by Billy Van — but I found myself falling into a groundhog hole (rather than a rabbit hole) when I discovered this:

    Scotland’s Truck Road Gritter Tracker

    Apparently, naming snow ploughs (they call them Gritters) is all the rage in Scotland, and they have some pretty fantastical names out there travelling the roads: Sir Grits-a-lot, William Wall-Ice, Freddie Mercur-Ice, Sir Salter Scott … those Scottish snow plough drivers really must have a sense of humour!

    I have yet to come across the Polarjet Highlift Iceball Special anywhere on the roads in Ontario, so my practice is to follow along behind the red lights of whatever responsible large truck happens to be in front of me, be it a snowplough or some other larger, 18 wheeled contraption. If the roads are snow-covered, or if there is blowing snow, and especially if it is night time, the safest place to be is sufficiently back from the tail lights of the vehicle in front of you.

    When I was young, we lived at the top of a hill at the end of a three-quarter mile long farm driveway, and there were many, many, many, many times through the years when we were unable to get our vehicle up to the house following a big snowstorm. Trudging up the hill at the end of the day (and/or in the dark) came to be expected in the winter. When we were young, we had a long toboggan that dad would use to pull us up the hill. When mom was driving, she would keep us busy and stop us from getting too worried about missing the turn or going off the narrow drive into the ditch by giving one of us the responsibility of applying the “magic scraper” to the dashboard to help the vehicle get up the hill. However, invariably the farmer who offered snow clearing service would arrive with his tractor and snowblower and restore laneway to a serviceable state. I’m sure I’ve already mentioned in a previous Sunday comment that because my dad taught at the high school when we were younger, we were usually guaranteed a ride into our school on Snow Days (frequently to our collective dismay) given that Dad was always on his way in to his school.

    I guess I can add that we don’t seem to get snow storms these days that come anywhere close to what I experienced as a kid. Granted, I grew up three hours north of Toronto, with lots of snow generated by the winds from the west over Lake Huron, and have memories of huge snowbanks that were taller than the snow plows. (Of course, I WAS shorter as a kid, but still.) When I moved to Toronto to go to school, I did notice a decrease in the amount of snowfall accumulation, in part due to being three hours further south, and also, in part due to the heat retained by Lake Ontario and the heat generated by the city. When I moved to Prince Edward County 20 years ago, we required someone to clean out our driveway, but as the years proceeded, the amount of snow that accumulated through the seasons seemed to decrease year over year. It got to the point where I could either manage with a shovel, or more frequently than not, drive over whatever had fallen.

    I have been expecting snow for a couple of days, and saw in the news last night that eastern Ontario and Quebec had been hit by a storm. However, as I look out my window this morning I can see that we haven’t received any new snow (yet) and can confess that it has been a long time since I have heard snow ploughs on the road outside. So far, we’ve been graced with a mild winter here. Apparently, however, there is a polar vortex on the way for the second half of the month, and we should expect a colder second half to the winter.

    Stay warm Doug! Jamie is lucky to have his own built-in fur coat.

    Suddenly, I am overcome with an urge to visit a Tim Hortons for a Maple Dip. (I wonder where that came from?)


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