Fairview Historical Society Articles Archives

Lightin’ Hill Gang

Submitted by: Danny Campbell

The Lightn’ Hill Gang was the most infamous, nefarious, dangerous and fightingness (if that is a word) gang of individuals in the history of Fairview!!!!!!
Have your attention yet? Who were the members of this notorious, dastardly, Lightn’ Hill Gang anyway and where was Lightn’ Hill located in Fairview?
The Gang came together only at certain times of the year, always during the months of December, January, and February (sometimes, late November and early March) and always had their meetings on Lightn’ Hill! (a small clue for you sleuths!)

The Gang was formed in the late 40’s (nineteen forties that is) and stopped meeting in the late 50’s as each member got older, and started to go his own way, in life! Although many continued to maintain close friendships for years, even till the present day! Gang members came from local families that lived around Lightn’ Hill and coasted through those frosty, snowy winter months. (Another clue!!!!)

The good detectives may have detected that Lightn’ Hill was, and still is, known as Main Avenue and stretched from old Fairview School (now a seniors residence) all the way down to the Fairview Under Pass (which is the Fairview Over Pass to-day) intersecting with Lady Hammond Road, Dutch Village Road and the Bedford Highway! It was one of the greatest coasting (the kids to-day would call it sledding) and steepest hills in all of Fairview!

Members of the Gang came from families who lived in the lower part of Fairview bounded by Dutch Village Road, Alma Crescent, Titus Smith, Vimy Avenue, Ford Street, Evans Avenues, McFetridge Road and of Course the lower end of Main Avenue. Many of the children who grew up in the area will remember such names as Noddin, Clarke, MacDonald, LaPierre, Coakley, Campbell, O’Brien, Buckler, O’Flaherty, Purcell, Appleby, Warren, Pellerine, Fox and a few others, to whom I apologize if their name is omitted, as this 76-year-old memory is not as good as it used to be.

It was the only gang of 8- to 12-year-olds, that had no leaders, no organized meetings with nefarious agendas! Just a great bunch of friendly, neighborhood, kids who brought their sleighs, toboggans, and anything else that would slide down a dirt road during a winter snowstorm, having a great deal of fun together. Many friendships developed during those coasting expeditions, and many remain in place to-day, 70 years later.
In the early 50’s Main Avenue was a dirt road and during major snowstorms the Gang got together to coast down Lightn’ Hill travelling as fast as “creased Lightening”. (Hence the name Lightn’ Hill.)

A nemesis confronted the Gang at every snowstorm, namely the Dept. of Highway’s truck, with a big plow on the front and disgusting dirt in the box on the back. However, the truck had to back up the hill as Lightn’ Hill was too steep for the truck to go up forward. As the truck backed slowly up the hill, two men, stationed in the box, would shovel sand onto the dirt roadway so that the truck and later cars, would get traction so that they could go up and down the hill! Needless to say, this devastated and killed the coasting for the Lightn’ Hill Gang.

One particular storm, the Gang decided that enough was enough!!!!! They continued coasting until their nemesis, mysteriously appeared, and then (having an arsenal of snowballs ready) started to pelt the two men in the back of the truck. Did I mention that the names of the men on the back of the truck were Bobby and Kenny Coakley, brothers of two members of the Lightn’ Hill Gang, Johnny, and Jimmy Coakley, who were among the strongest pelters of the snowball brigade.

The Gang finally ran out of snowballs and the truck continued to back up to the top of the hill to old Fairview School. No more coasting that day, but just wait until the next storm, Mr.’s Coakley! A couple of days later we did, indeed, have another great coasting snowstorm. As usual, The Gang was on the hill, until their nemesis, once again, appeared out of nowhere! But the members of the Gang were prepared and started pelting Bobby and Kenny once again. However, the Gang was not prepared for the surprise, underhanded, attack by Bobby and Kenny Coakley who had about a thousand snowballs (a little exaggeration) on the back of the truck and started pitching them at the Gang. It was all in good fun, and we all had lots of laughs, but it taught the Gang a lesson and we never again threw snowballs at any men in the back of the truck as we really did understand (as young as we were) that they were only doing their job and making Lightn’ Hill a much safer place for our family’s cars as they ventured down that dangerous hill. In later years when we would run into Kenny and Bobby, they often mentioned their nemesis’ (The Lightn’ Hill Gang) with laughter and their wonderful smiles. Two of the nicest and (we found out later), earlier members of the Lightn’ Hill Gang!

In later years, of course, due to progress and the paving of Lightn’ Hill; the shortening of the length of the hill, thanks to the development of the new Fairview Overpass, along with the fact that the members of the Gang were getting older and off on newer adventures, “The Gang” mysteriously disappeared with their sleighs, toboggans and other coasting vehicles, into the sunset, to remain only in the memories of living Gang members who remain good Gang Friends still, to-day!

Dan Campbell (Proud Member of the Lightn’ Hill Gang)

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