Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Main Street Dutton Ontario ... I was Young then


When I was Five this was the center of the universe for me...
I would ride my trike up and down the sidewalk ...
Sometimes I would even dare to cross the street.
There was a comic book store, malt shop, dry bar and what not shop ... over there, across the street ... just off to the right in the photo. 
Sometimes I would dare to venture out into the unknown and raid the comic books that were set out for strangers to buy.

Then there was the Blue Willow Cafe, my very first piece of Boston Cream Pie. I did not know what they called it ... but it was good and I was 12 when I realized other places served it too ...

It was next to the bicycle shop that Peter owned and that was next to my Grandfather's Hotel (just further along in the photo) ... 
The bicycle shop was run by a very kindly elf of a gentleman ... Peter ... who smoked odd shaped pipes and had numbers tattooed on his inner forearm.
I would not really understand how he got to have the tattoo on his arm until long after he was gone. 

I got my very first bike from him ... it was red and had solid rubber tires ...

 All my bikes and trikes came from his shop until he passed ...

My Grandfather handled all the arrangements.  Peter never really seemed to have any family.

And

I was Neil Dougall then ...
That's what they called me ...
I would sit up on the high stool behind the wet bar in the hotel and open bottles of beer for my grandpa who in turn passed them off over the bar to Charlie Rutledge, the man serving the beers to whoever was in the beverage room at the time... and there were days when this place was full to over flowing ...

John Kennth Galibraith talked about the coming and going both in the hotel and behind the hotel in his book "The Scotch." I can attest that he did not exaggerate the shinanigans one bit. 

The Hotel sold 100,000 gallons of beer a month by bottle ...
Not bad for a town of 786 people ... give or take a few. 

And there was nothing my Grandfather could not do ...
And if I wanted something ... he produced it.
Everything from Candy Bars ... to riding on horse drawn hay wagons ... to being able to play, imagine that,  playing in the blacksmith's shop at the back of the hotel ... while Fred, the blacksmith, worked and told me stories and let hit a hammer on the anvil when ever I wanted ...
Imagine that ... I got to watch him shoe horses and on some days a whole bunch of horses.  

I can still remember the smells ...
The Kitchen in the Hotel ... Martha at the stove ...  
The smell of chewing tobacco that seemed to predominate all the other smells behind the dry bar ...
The smell of the blacksmith's shop ... the horses  ... the hay ... the farmers ... good food and peach pie.

They all have sweet memories for me ...

Life for me then was a wonderful place to be
Summer 1952