I was born and raised in Southern Ontario just east of Toronto. Before cable TV was around, we could only rely on the big antenna for entertainment.
We lived near the shores of Lake Ontario, with the American city of Rochester only 50 miles across the water from us. We fared pretty well. There were five or six stations, and they all came in clear enough for us to get the great shows of the day.
The most memorable part was the local commercials. Places like Wegman’s, Charvel Ice Cream, Irondequoit Dodge, and Hill TV all seemed like they were from another world.
There was one place however, that seemed to be from another planet. That place was the House Of Guitars. Starring the owners of the store, brothers Armand and Bruce Schaubroeck, their commercials were like no others. Irreverent, outlandish, fun, and everything your parents hated. Imagine a scene of Dallas ending, only to have some crazy Rocker telling you to “Get Mom and Dad outta the room, I wanna talk to you about buying something expensive for Easter.”
Every time someone mentions the Easter Bunny, I picture Armand’s voice in his Upstate New York accent saying “hop hop” as he is hopping up and down wearing makeshift bunny ears on his head.
Later as a teenager I began playing guitar. The commercials became an information session. As a result, I learned the names of the brands and models of my favourite guitars. I learned about how much they cost because of the killer deals there were at the House of Guitars.
House of Guitars is still around, and I had the chance to make the pilgrimage there a couple of years ago. In any event, you could not find a more welcoming place.
Eight-year-old me loved every minute of it.