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.