Best Day Ever

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When I was small, my dad used to be the principal at Milford Bay Senior Public School.  My mum didn’t work in those days, and dad needed the car to get out to Milford Bay, so any time we needed anything, we walked downtown.

The best day ever was a rainy day.  Probably 1967 or 68, I guess, I was about 4 or 5.  I had a new red raincoat, fitted to the waist with a full skirt, and a matching sou’wester hat. We picked up my brother from school, and stopped at Merv’s Meat Market on the way home. I knew that I was Merv’s favourite kid, because he always gave me a wiener to take with me.  On that rainy day, I ran ahead of my mother and brother, and marched up Hunt’s Hill wildly waving my baton-wiener to keep my imaginary marching band in line.  Glorious, frabjously joyful day!  I’ve never forgotten it.

There were other awesome things downtown.  The stuffed Humpty Dumpty at Campbell’s Yard Goods.  The toy store on the corner by the Patterson Hotel.  Elliott’s 5 and 10.  And no kid from Bracebridge or from anywhere else on the planet has ever had a better donut than those deep-fried, super-frosted bad boys from Waite’s Bakery.  *sigh*  I know I’ve never had a better donut to this day.

Hawn’s Jewellers, the Thatcher Studio, Dot’s Tot to Teen, Garwood’s.  Irma’s Greasy Spoon.  Maureen’s Ladies’ Wear.  Help me here, please comment if you remember any more of the long-gone downtown of that era.  The only place I can think of that’s still the same is the New Haven, but the Seto family doesn’t own it anymore.

In highschool, I used to get all my favourite freaky clothes from the basement of Economy Fair.  Cora worked upstairs, after Bamford’s closed. And we used to go to Angie’s Delicatessen after school for wedge fries.  Or to the Top Hat for a barbeque burger.  I worked at the Garden Cafe for a few summers, and also at the old public library, before it got its facelift.

Of course as we grew up, a lot of those places closed.  Things change, you can’t go home again, that’s for sure.  Colleen told me that Merv Speck gave pretty much every kid in town free wieners.  But on that day, marching up the hill in the rain, I was everything special and sparkly and entitled all rolled up into one little happy raincoat.

Best Day Ever.

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16 responses »

  1. There was a clothing store across the road from the Top Hat restaurant – Stone's? Rombo's was a great place to get a pizza. McPhail's Mens Wear. Mahar Shoes. MacNaughtan's hardware used to be on the east side of that block, and on the west side was a furniture and appliance store – was it called Brooks? Banks Brothers TV. Al Beverly's decorating shop (with a real live parrot). Scotts Of Muskoka is still there. The Patterson Hotel. Farther north was Wennawae's gift shop. The Norwood Theatre still exists, although it was renovated to have multiple screens long ago. What was the name of the department store at Riverside? Emersons? And there was an IGA grocery store at Riverside for a short while too. Hunter's Frosty Treat.

  2. Yeah! And there was another shoe store, too – I can't remember the name of it – closer to Stone's – Debbie Kimberley's mother worked there. You thought of lots more, thanks! xoxox

  3. My Mum worked at Emerson's, when Tim started school and before she went back to teaching – I know I was in Brownies when she worked there, so – age 6 – 8? You can do the math, I'm sure!

  4. There is one more that HASN'T changed – Reynolds Funeral Home. There's some consistency in looking after the dead. People aren't going to stop dying anytime soon.

  5. We also used to go to the Top Valu grocery store, before Riverside was built on that site. Also, Dave and I were talking about the Pinepoint Esso station downtown.

  6. And then waiting for that blasted train to T.O. on the platform before dawn in the middle of winter. By the Albion (?). Half expecting to see people staggering out of there it was so early in the morning. No train station so you had to make arrangements with Via to make sure they'd stop for you. Kim (again)

  7. Okay, here goes:Rombos Paterson ShoesEcclestonesPeever's Fish & ChipsThe Labrador Shop (or was it Shoppe? – my mom had a coat and we got a bunch of fur scraps to play with, including two fox faces)The Reader's DenThe Dairy BarMedical Centre Drugs (my first job – dusting shelves, counting pills, keeping secrets, and doing window displays)John DeLang's Hair Salon (I didn't like him – I saw him pinch the bum of one of the girls who worked there)Oh, and up along Toronto Street, Walters Store (not far from Bamfords), which before Tommy Walter's family had it was Frasers.And remember, Muskoka Trading?And the OLD, pre-riverside bowling alley?And Sterling Trust?Al Beverly's bird was a myna (sorry, not a parrot, Dave… at least I think that's right)Joe's Billards (a surprisingly quiet place that I'd always imagined a den of wild iniquity)That's all I got for the mome'!

  8. Senior's Shoes! (not patterson shoes)I should send your blog to Paul D. He's very good in the memory department.Btw, did you ever walk through the apartment hallway, which was very turquoise, over the Patterson Hotel on your way home from school? We were forbidden to do so! But of course we did, running as fast as possible in case we got grabbed by a licentious tenant.

  9. Waugh! I was trying to think of the name of Senior's Shoes!!! And Muskoka Trading – so cool – I used to walk home from school with Karen Speck, her dad worked there. Remember the butcher paper, and the huge spools of string hanging down from the ceiling?I never did walk through the Patterson – but do you remember walking up the steps behind the dry cleaner's in the winter and smelling that weird, warm steam? I remember smoking a cigarette with Emily Ratkowski back there.Dairy Bar – yikes, I should have got that one, I worked there one summer.And John DeLang's – I was friends with his wife Marilyn, she was a fantastic woman and a brilliant pianist.I don't remember Peever's Fish and Chips – where was that? When?Yeah, I'd be interested to see what Paul remembers, too. Is there anything Paul DOESN'T remember?

  10. When we first moved to Bbridge, we lived right across the street from Karen Speck, and next door to Mrs. Snider! We lived in the downstairs of 74 Front Street – years later I worked with a fellow in Gravenhurst who also lived in that house.Peever's was near Joe's Billards and the Labrador Shop. Ask your dad or maybe your big brother – I bet one of them remember it. The crispy fried batter on the fish was the best in the entire world.Also do you remember the Kentucky Fried Chicken and how freezing cold it was in there… our only chain fast food place.

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