A Prankster in Service

Laniel Automatic Machines Inc. service department at 151 Rockland Road in the Town of Mont RoyalWe sometimes say that "a picture is worth a thousand words", well maybe that a picture accompanied by a few hundred words can be even more informative. The right words with an image as a reference will often provide more insight into a context than one or the other alone.
Gaston Barsalo, the man next to the 1963 Gottlieb "Slick Chick" pinball machine (which was about to get a fresh coat of paint on the coin door) was apparently a gentle man. In fact, a little too soft for the pressures of running a service department consisting of 8 to 10 sometimes unruly technicians. He had apparently been promoted to chief of service mostly through the fact that he had been working at Laniel since the 1950`s at least. Hence, I am told that the technicians often took advantage of his good nature by showing up for work late or taking extra time to run personal errands while on an outside service call. Gaston was eventually replaced in 1973 by Jean Robillard, who remained at the head of the department until 1994. I spoke with Jean at length about this photograph, and as expected, the memories came pouring out.
Jean chuckled periodically under his breath as he recounted anecdotes about the prankster squatting in front of the Rock-o-la Grand Prix jukebox, Aimé Scott. He was a good technician Jean recalls, but with a strong tendency to instill havoc around the workplace. It was only worse when he teamed up with Michel Laplante, another technician who would do almost anything for a laugh at someone else`s expense, including his bosses.
Apparently, one of Aimé`s favorite targets was Léo Labrecque at the adjacent work station in the picture. Before Léo would arrive for work, Aimé made it a habit to carefully place a thin strand of wire between the two poles of an electrical outlet on Leo`s workbench. So when Léo would casually throw on the power switch for his work station with one hand and possibly carrying a hot coffee in the other, the fuse would blow. Léo would jump back as the thin strand of wire his co-worker had placed between the poles would burn up leaving little to no evidence of a prank, just another burnt fuse. After a few mornings of this "electrical problem" recurring, Gaston the service manager would finally order Léo to install a circuit breaker on his bench to avoid the rising cost of the daily fuse consumption he was incurring. Even a good natured man like Gaston Barsalo was fed up.
The shipping and receiving clerk at the time, John Temchuck (not shown in the photograph) was not spared.  A tough hard working Ukranian gentleman who by virtue of the work he did would necessarily have been an orderly man with regular habits. Aimé seemed to thrive off people with routines, it made for easy prey. So at the end of the day when John would change from his work threads to civilian clothes, he would go to the back of the service department and into the small water closet. I use that particular term for washroom because Aimé would throw a pail of water under the door when John had taken off his work boots and was about to put on his walking shoes. It becomes quite understandable that an older Mr.Temchuck would then chase Aimé around the shop with a pinball leg as a weapon along with wet socks on his feet until he ran out of breath and was eventually obliged to calm down.
Click here to see a video of Jean Robillard (service manager from 1973 to 1994) telling stories about what it was like to work with the people in the picture as a new employee in 1967. This amateur video was captured on the last day of operations at Laniel Automatic Machines - ending 68 years of history.