The ‘First Family’ of Bayview for 75 years

Badali family 1982
1982: Lena, Dom, Cheryl, Leo and Sal outside their landmark store on Bayview.

Not too long ago, you could buy a gun on the street

How many Leasiders know that less than 30 years ago there was a store on Bayview where you could buy a gun or a rifle?

The Badali brothers, Dom and Sal, remember that sporting goods store well, plus many others now that they’re thinking back to the past as Badali’s Fruit Market celebrates its 75th anniversary.

That’s longer than any other merchant on the street, even though Bell Credit Jewellers has been there as long (Photis Philos is not the original owner).The original Badali owners, Leo and Sam, bought the new store in 1938, the same year the Roman Catholic parish of St. Anselm’s was founded. But they had no church, so Father Francis Caulfield held mass in the Badali store.

This June 15, a Saturday, instead of a mass, there will be a party with everyone invited by Dom and Sal and their mother Lena, now 90.

Today’s Badali brothers, who were born in their father Leo’s home on MacNaughton, recall the old Bayview with the movie theatre where their mother sent them on Saturdays to watch two shows for the price of one, a dollar store, a fish and chip restaurant and earlier versions of a fish market and garage sale store.

There were also three other fruit markets, says Dom, Millwood Produce, Sam Hing and Bayview Fruit Market.

Today the third generation, Steve, son of Sal, is also in the store. If he remains is up in the air, he says. It depends on how the economic situation unfolds.

Recalling an old incident
by Harry Goldhar

In its story about the Badali Fruit Market celebrating its 75th anniversary this summer, the South Bayview Bulldog blog revived an interesting memory for me about the sort-of-old days in Leaside.

Leo, one of the Badali family who opened what is now the longest surviving store on Bayview, bought a house to live in here, but in an underhanded way, although a justified one.

The owner of the home he wanted on MacNaughton wouldn’t sell to an Italian, so Badali had an acceptable friend buy it and then resell to him.

It may be difficult for young people now to get their minds around what many Canadians thought then about people who were often called Wops.

The incident that story brought back happened to my family 30 years ago this September, when we moved our home and business office on the same day. At the end of a long day at work my wife, our two daughters, the bookkeeper and her husband went to dinner at what was to become one of our favourites restaurants on Bayview, Romantino’s (now long gone), just south of Manor Rd. I was to join them later.

Necessary facts: My wife, Ruth, and the kids are white, our bookkeeper was white, her husband, Conrad, was black, a dark black.

My wife recounts the story: They ordered dinner from a young waiter. Conrad said they would like some wine. ‘They’ were one very good-looking black guy and a bunch of white females. She could almost see the waiter’s brain whirring.

He asked, “Red or black?”

Ruth looked at Conrad. Conrad looked at Ruth. Both burst out laughing. So did the other customers in the small room.

The waiter spun around three times and fled into the kitchen.

I can’t imagine that happening here today.