Lambton Heritage Museum
Grand Bend, Ontario

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Grand Bend - Our Stories, Our Voice




I was 18 and Head Lifeguard at the Grand Bend Beach in July, 1960. It was a hot summer and on this particular Saturday there were hundreds of people on the beach. It was a great day for sun-tanning and swimming on the calm waters.

Around 2:00 pm I was stationed at the main tower located at the foot of Main St when a young man approached me in a surprisingly nonchalant manner and reported his friend hadn't come back from a trip out on the water on his air mattress. He'd been missing for over two hours and his friends were starting to get concerned.

I immediately called in my two fellow life-guards, Jack Miller and George Morton, and we started to make plans to start a sweep of the lake. This was going to be a massive job, even more so as we had never done one before.

As we were getting things organized I was approached by another young man. This chap used to come down and sunbathe near the main tower. I remember he was a frequent user of the aluminum reflector screens that people used to tan their faces in those days. I also remember he was quite fit looking. Anyway, this chap approached me and in a southern drawl asked me if we were looking for the young man beside him. I said yes. I found out the missing person had been out on his air mattress, met some friends on a boat and partied on the boat without telling his shore buddies what he was up to. I was relieved to have the chap turned in to me and thanked the "rescuer," who introduced himself as Ronnie.

I subsequently found out the rescuer was none other than the legendary Rompin' Ronnie Hawkins, who in his early career played a number of times at the then Imperial Hotel (Cocos in 2009) in Grand Bend.

Rock on Ronnie!


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