Monthly Archives: March 2012

Between Dog and Wolf – Entre chien et loup

This eerie, see-through sculpture in fiery autumn colors titled Between Dog and Wolf caught my attention when I was walking by the old St. Boniface City Hall building on Provencher Boulevard last week.  It is by well-known Canadian artist Joe Fafard. I had been to a Fafard exhibit at the Mendel Art Gallery in Saskatoon and had seen some of Fafard’s pieces at the Mayberry Gallery here in Winnipeg, but this sculpture was very different. Unveiled in May 26, 2011 Between Dog and Wolf is one of the pieces in the St. Boniface Sculpture Garden which opened in June of 2008 as part of the St. Boniface centennial celebrations. St. Boniface, for those unfamiliar with Winnipeg, would be considered the city’s French Quarter. 

The phrase between dog and wolf in French is entre chien et loup. It first became popular in the 13th century and describes a time of day in the morning or evening when the dim light makes it impossible to distinguish between a dog and a wolf. Fafard has created his sculpture in such a way that it looks almost ghostly, in fact I kept trying to focus my camera to get a better shot because my photos seemed a little blurry. If you look closely at the empty cut out spaces in the piece, as well as the bronze shapes they leave, you can see all kinds of silhouettes and outlines–a church steeple, a man’s face, a woman carrying a basket, angels, birds, a cocoon and tree branches. I’m sure each viewer can pick out their own unique images much like finding pictures in clouds or rock formations. 

 One translator says the phrase entre chien et loup has a much less literal meaning as well. It can be used to express the sometimes blurry line between the safe and familiar and the unknown and dangerous, between the domestic and the wild. It expresses the uncertainty between hope and fear. I suspect that living in a entre chien et loup kind of space at least some of the time, whether by necessity or choice, might not always be comfortable but it certainly makes our lives much more interesting. I wonder if we don’t learn the most when we are in entre chien et loup situations and places. 


This photo of Between Dog and Wolf   from the publication La Libertemakes me want to go back and take photos of the sculpture in another season.

If you enjoyed this post you might also like to read about the other pieces of art in the St. Boniface Sculpture Garden……..

What is It?

La Promise

Volte

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Categories: Sculptures, St. Boniface | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Aren’t You Scared to Live in Winnipeg’s Exchange District?

My husband Dave and I made a deliberate decision to live downtown in Winnipeg’s Exchange District when we moved back to Canada from Hong Kong in July. One reason was because we wanted to manage with one car and living right down town would make it easier to walk places or take the bus.

We love theatre, movies, concerts, museums, sports and art galleries and so living within a few blocks of the Manitoba Theatre Centre, many cinemas, the Centennial Concert Hall, the Warehouse Theatre,the Winnipeg Art Gallery, The MTS arena and the Goldeyes Stadium was very appealing. We are also an easy walk from the river paths, shops and restaurants of The Forks and Winnipeg’s nearly completed Human Rights Museum. Within two blocks of our home I can access the overhead and underground walkway system which allows me to stay indoors and walk to the Winnipeg Millennium Library, Portage Place, the Bay, the MTS Centre, the Winnipeg Post Office, the YMCA and the University of Winnipeg. We are within a few blocks of Winnipeg’s China Town where we have already discovered at least one small shop that serves Won Ton Mein almost the way we remember it in Hong Kong.

I was surprised therefore when so many people asked me how I could live in the Exchange District. Wasn’t I scared? I admit there are shootings and robberies in our area, but these happen every where in Winnipeg. I know many people in the suburbs who’ve had their cars broken into while they were sitting right on their driveways.

The bar Alive across the street is hopping till the wee hours and the busy Hermanos Restaurant in my building is open till well past midnight, which means there are always lots of people out and about, and so I feel safe even if I do come home at a later hour. By 7:00 in the morning on a weekday the streets are already alive with cars and pedestrians hurrying to their downtown offices.  On the weekends the Ashdown Warehouse employs a security guard who is on duty all evening and night. He makes sure only tenants and their guests are in our building. Almost every time I go for a walk in our area I see one or two or even more Down Town Watch ambassadors in their easy to spot red uniforms, or police officers in cars or on foot, or security teams from various businesses and malls. I think our area is probably more closely monitored by security people than most in the city.

Last week within one day four different people commented on the dangers of living in the Exchange.  “Wouldn’t you be happier living in an area like Lindenwoods or Bridgewater Forest?” suggested one person.  A friend told my husband he’d love to live in the area we do but his wife would just be way too scared. “I have a relative who is a police officer and he says down town Winnipeg is even more dangerous than the media reports,” someone said. Hearing these kind of things repeatedly does give one pause, but isn’t enough to make me want to move anywhere else. 

There are too many pluses to living in The Exchange, to even consider exchanging our home here for one somewhere else in the city. I think if you take sensible precautions it is no more dangerous a place to live than anywhere else in Winnipeg. There are more and more residential spaces being built in down town Winnipeg all the time. The more people who move here and make their homes in apartments and condominiums here the safer the area will be. 

Maybe I need to start asking people why they live in the suburbs when they could be living in The Exchange down town. 

 

 

Categories: Exchange District | Tags: | 6 Comments

A Controversial Statue

On Sunday afternoon Dave and I went for a walk in St. Boniface and saw this statue on the St. Boniface College campus. I recognized the statue right away since it had stood on the grounds of the Manitoba Legislature for many years. I knew it had caused quite a stir when it was unveiled and that it had been removed from the legislature. I didn’t realize it had been relocated to St. Boniface College where Louis Riel was once a student. 

The statue really has two parts. The first part is the 12 foot high cement sculpture of Louis Riel, the Metis founder of Manitoba. It was created by retired firefighter and artist Marcien Lemay.The second part of the art piece are two 30 foot high half cylinder shells that bracket the sculpture and have Riel’s name and a quote from him etched into them. The shells were made by architect Etienne Gaboury a distant relative of Louis Riel’s. 

 Artist Lemay said Louis Riel was a controversial historical figure so he wanted to create a controversial statue. He made Louis Riel’s face contorted in anguish. His body is naked and twisted. He wanted to show Riel as a martyr who suffered for his people. It is true that Louis Riel was controverisal.He spent time in a mental institution. He had some very strange fanatical religious prophesies. The Canadian government labeled him a rebel and a murderer, sent him into exile and eventually hung him.

On the other hand he is officially recognized as the founder of Manitoba. He was an educated spokesperson for the Metis people and fought valiantly and eloquently for their property rights. He was elected to the Canadian Parliament three times and Manitoba has an annual public holiday in his honor.

 Louis Riel’s name is in big letters on the bracketing walls of the artwork and near their bottom is this quote……..”Yes I have done my duty. During my life I have aimed at practical results. I hope that after I die my spirit will bring practical results. I know that through the grace of God I am the founder of Manitoba.”

 The statue caused a great deal of controversy when it was unveiled in 1970. Some people thought it was ridiculous to spend $35,000 on a statue of someone who “was unbalanced mentally and who influenced and inflamed the Metis to go on the war path.” The Metis community said, “The statue is an insult to Louis Riel and the Metis people. It is horrible- him standing there stark naked looking leery, when throughout his life and even at his execution he carried himself like a statesman.”

The statue stood at the legislature for 24 years and was attacked by vandals on many occasions. They spray painted and defaced the statue and at one point even cut off Riel’s penis.

 Finally in 1994 the statue was taken down at the Legislative grounds and a new one was put up in its place. Lemay and Gaboury’s statue was moved to St. Boniface College where it was unveiled in 1996.


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A Graphic Louis Riel

Categories: Famous Citizens, St. Boniface, Statues | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

A Graphic Louis Riel

On February 24th when we celebrated Louis Riel Day in Manitoba, I realized I had done any number of blog posts that involved Louis Riel, the founder of Manitoba.  When I visited the Grey Nuns’ Convent I found out Louis Riel was a student at a school run by the nuns and one of the sisters traveled to Montreal with him so he could attend college there. I have since learned as well that Louis Riel’s sister Sara joined the order of Grey Nuns in the 1860’s and remained a serving sister till her death of tuberculosis in 1883.

When I wrote a post about James Ashdown who built the warehouse which houses my condo in Winnipeg’s Exchange District, I noted that Louis Riel had imprisoned Mr. Ashdown for 59 days because he voiced resistance to Louis’ take over of the Red River Settlement. 

I did a post about Joseph Royal and the park named after him at the foot of the Provencher Bridge.  I wrote about how Joseph had argued for Louis Riel’s amnesty and had defended two of Louis’ compatriots who were accused of the murder of Thomas Scott. 

I explored the life of A. G. Bannatyne in  a post since I live on Bannatyne Avenue. Mr. Bannatyne acted as a mediator between Louis Riel’s provisional government and the Canadian government. I noted that Louis Riel even wrote a poem about Annie Bannatyne, A.G’s wife. 

In my post about the Provencher Bridge I said that the pedestrian walkway on the structure was called Esplanade Riel in honor of Louis Riel. 

I realized I had written quite a bit about Louis Riel, but how much did I actually know about him? My last Canadian history course was in high school and I had never read a book about Louis Riel. I decided it was time to remedy that. I didn’t have time however to read some thick tome about the founder of my province so I decided to get Chester Brown’s Louis Riel- A Comic Strip Biography from the library. I had introduced my high school students to a couple graphic novels and I knew they were a good way to tell a story. 

Although I was a little disappointed that the book didn’t deal with Louis’ childhood it did provide a good overview of his life from the time just before the Riel Rebellion/ Resistance till Louis’ execution. The book was easy to read and I finished it in a day. I learned that Louis Riel was  elected to Canada’s Parliament three times while he was a wanted criminal and in exile in the United States. 

I learned quite a bit more about the role Canadian prime minister Sir John A McDonald had in the resistance movements in both Manitoba and Saskatchewan that Louis was involved in.  Brown depicts Sir John A as mean-spirited, self -serving and willing to sacrifice anything to get his railway built across Canada. 

I learned quite a bit more about the relationship between Louis Riel and Gabriel Dumont. Dumont was more of a pragmatist than Riel and more interested in violent resistance. If you want to know more about Riel and Dumont listen to this excellent interview with Joseph Boyden who has written a book about the two men. 

I also learned what a deeply religious person Louis was and how that influenced his decisions. 

Chester Brown’s graphic comic gave a good overview of Louis’ life. Since Riel plays such a prominent role in the history of the province of Manitoba and in the history of Winnipeg it is good for me to know more about him.

I am currently reading Louis Riel-Firebrand by Sharon Stewart to learn more about Riel’s childhood and personality. 

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A Controversial Statue

Categories: Famous Citizens, Literature | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

Carol Shields

Today is International Women’s Day so I thought today I should do a post about a Winnipeg woman who really put our city on the map. I don’t think I realized the scope of Carol Shields reputation till I moved to Hong Kong in the fall of 2003 just after the Pulitzer Prize winning author had died of cancer. 

“Did you know Carol Shields?” I was asked that question in an almost reverential whisper in a Hong Kong bookstore. A few weeks after I’d moved to Hong Kong nearly ten years ago I used my Canadian credit card to pay for some novels at Page One, a well-known chain of Asian book stores. The clerk who handled the transaction wondered where I came from in Canada. “I live in Manitoba, close to the city of Winnipeg”, I told him. The clerk immediately asked if I knew Carol Shields.  I said I’d never spoken to Ms. Shields, but I had seen her in person at a book reading, attended a performance of a play she’d written, and I had read almost all of her work. The Hong Kong clerk led me to a table covered with black velvet near the front of the store. It featured a display of Shield’s books arranged around her photograph. “She was a fine author”. His voice resonated with genuine regret as he continued,” I was so sad when I heard she had died”.
Carol Shields the author of novels, non-fiction, plays and poetry wasn’t born in Winnipeg or even Canada, but in Oak Park Illinois. I visited Oak Park in November which was, by the way, also the home of architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Carol may not have been born in Winnipeg but she lived here from 1980-2000, was a professor at the University of Winnipeg and the chancellor of the University of Winnipeg. Winnipeg serves as a setting in some of her novels. 
The first book of Carol’s I read was Swann. I was fascinated by the way a person’s reputation and life story can be shaped, distorted and embellished posthumously by people who have never even met them. (This same theme is elegantly explored in a novel I just finished The Stranger’s Child by Alan Hollinghurst). However Swann opened my mind to the idea for the first time and it had me rethinking my blithe assumptions about all kinds of historical figures. 

I read almost all of Carol’s books after that, but admit I kept a soft spot for Swann, even though it isn’t one of her more well-known works. Stone Diaries her Pulitzer Prize winner tells the story of Daisy Flett, a very ordinary woman, whose life was really anything but ordinary. I remember the first time I read it, my favorite thing about the book were the photographs Carol included. I was so curious about her choice of photos and examined them for a long time. But because the book was fictional the photos were too, and so somehow they didn’t prevent me from imagining the characters looking exactly the way I wanted them to. 

 

I think Carol Shields is a good Winnipeg citizen to feature on International Woman’s Day because in interviews she often talked about how important her role as a mother of five children was in her life. She says she could never have written a novel if she hadn’t been a mother first. Near the end of her life when she was asked about her legacy she said her writing wasn’t her legacy, her children were. 

I took a photo of this bronze statue of Carol for my post about the Millennium Library. The library has an auditorium named after Carol. A replica of this statue can also be seen on the Winnipeg Citizen Walk of Fame in Assiniboine Park. 

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Mr. Eaton

This statue of Timothy Eaton is in the concourse of the MTS Centre where the Winnipeg Jets play hockey. I remember this statue well. Years ago it was located on the main floor in the old Eaton’s Store which stood on the very same spot where the MTS Centre is now. When my family came into Winnipeg from Steinbach to shop, we would often argree to rendezvous at a certain time at Mr. Eaton’s statue. The Eaton’s store went bankrupt in 1999 and eventually arrangements were made to declare the statue a part of Manitoba’s provincial history and preserve it in the MTS Centre.
Timothy Eaton came to Canada from Ireland and built a retail empire with large department stores both in Toronto and Winnipeg. Mr. Eaton also had a nation wide mail order business. I remember how excited I was as a little girl when the Eatons’ catalogue came out, especially the Christmas edition. We looked through it so many times picking out the things we dreamed about getting for Christmas. My mother remembers longing for an Eaton’s Beauty Doll for Christmas, a special line of dolls produced each year by Eatons. 

This statue was a gift to the Eaton family from the Eatons’ employees. It was presented to Timothy Eaton’s widow Margaret and his son John in 1919 on the occasion of the store’s 50th anniversary. The employees wanted to show their gratitude for the company’s generosity during World War I. All Eatons’ employees who enlisted in the army were promised their jobs back after the war. Married employees received their full Eaton’s salary during the war, and single men half their salary. Eaton’s sent their military employees care packages of chocolate, coffee, socks and other store products during the war. The company had many lucrative government contracts because of the war but donated all their profits from these contracts to the war effort. Apparently Mr. Eaton was also one of the first to close his business at 1 pm. on Saturday, instead of 6 pm. to give workers more time off. 

The 3,500 pound statue was made by Ivor Lewis, a Welshman who worked in the Eaton’s advertising department. It was officially unveiled on December 8,1919. The Eaton’s Choral Society sang O Canada.  John Eaton, Timothy’s son,  had a cold so his wife Flora read his speech in which he thanked the employees for their kind gift. A replica was placed in the Eaton’s Store in Toronto. It is now in the Royal Ontario Museum. 

 

This photo shows John and Margaret Eaton arriving at the store for the anniversary celebrationsAlthough I am sure many Eaton’s workers did appreciate their employer enough to donate money for a massive statue, I am also a little skeptical about the whole thing, because I know that during the Winnipeg Labor Strike in June of 1919, just six months before the presentation of the statue, Eatons tried to bribe their workers with a $4.00 a week raise so they wouldn’t go on strike. Despite this 500 of them walked off the job. Eatons also supplied the horses and baseball bats for the special police forces established to deal with the strikers. 

I need to go back and visit the statue again. I’ve learned it is good luck to rub the left foot of the Timothy Eaton statue. I’m going to do that the very next time I walk by. 

Categories: Downtown, Famous Citizens, Statues | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Skating the Red River

This morning Dave and I skated down the Red River. During years when there are optimal weather conditions this icy path is the longest skating rink in the world. The path starts at The Forks where the Red and Assiniboine rivers meet. Traders, First Nations people, settlers and hunters have been meeting at The Forks for 6000 years. 

 We met our friend Les at The Forks. He has skated this river pathway many times and was our guide. Les normally skates this route at a much faster pace but he was patient with me. I hadn’t skated in over a decade and my old skates–still from my high school days– were a little tight and pinched my feet.  I was nervous about falling because with our warming weather conditions the ice has quite a few cracks, potholes and bumps. However I managed to stay upright traveling both ways along the river. 

One of the interesting things about skating down the Red River is checking out all the unique warming huts along the route where skaters can stop to rest, get out of the wind or re-lace their skates. These huts are the result of an annual international competition which has had up to 140 entries.  This hut is called Wind Catcher and was designed by Tina Soli and Luca Roncoroni from Norway. 

The designers said they wanted to create a kind of ‘hole in the wall’ piece that inspired curiosity with strong bright colors that contrasted with the white winter background. 

This hut was created by a quartet of designers from New York and is called Rope Pavilion. It has a birchwood frame and is woven with manila rope.

Here’s a uniquely shaped structure called Hot Hut created by students from the University of Manitoba. It is made of high density foam. 

Fir Hut was designed by Richard Kroeker. He was inspired by aboriginal designs and techniques. The Mi’kmaq people of Atlantic Canada taught Richard the art of thatching balsam fir. 

Five Hole was the name of this hut, the main attraction of the river ice path this year but unfortunately all that is left is the frame since it was made of ice blocks and the weather has been so warm most have melted. 

A photo of the hut appeared in a Macleans magazine article.  It was designed by the Gehry Design firm from Los Angeles and was made to look like an abstract igloo. Gehry Design was founded by Frank Gehry the famous architect who designed the Guggenheim Museum. 

This hut looked like it was covered in aluminum foil. 

Twelve students from Kelvin High School’s design drafting course created this hut. 

It was a balmy winter morning today just right for a river skate adventure. A little sunshine would have made it even nicer. I really enjoyed my skate although I think new blades may be in order before I try the route again.

Check out this very entertaining video excerpt from Rick Mercer’s show about skating at The Forks. 

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My First Winnipeg Jets Game

I went to my first Winnipeg Jets game tonight at the MTS Centre. The Jets were playing the Buffalo Sabres. It was certainly a unique experience to be part of the hockey crazy crowd.  Winnipeg is known for having the loudest, most passionate fans in the National Hockey League.

It isn’t easy to get a ticket to see the Jets. The games are sold out for the next three years, but we were fortunate enough to be at the MTS Centre as the guest of Buffalo Sabre player Robyn Regehr, number 24 in this photo.

We received the tickets from Robyn through a family connection. I felt badly that the Buffalo Sabres lost the game, since Robyn had been kind enough to get us tickets. But it sure was exciting to see the crowd go wild when the Jets scored their three goals.  Buffalo only scored one. 

Our seats were excellent and I really felt like I was part of the action on the ice. The game went by very quickly. They show all kinds of special features on the huge screen above the ice between periods. I enjoyed one about two Winnipeg Jets going to a public school to read books to kids during I Love To Read week and another where forward Jim Slater goes to work with a French horn player from the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra and gets a chance to conduct the orchestra. The crowd applauded long and loud when the screen revealed that former Winnipeg Jet Dale Hawerchuk was in the stands.

I was glad Dave was at the game with me to explain things like….. the reason the crowd shouts out the words TRUE NORTH during the singing of Canada’s national anthem. This is because the True North corporation owns the Winnipeg Jets.  At one point during the game everyone was chanting GST.  In Canada this stands for Goods and Services Tax but at a Jets’ game it refers to three players Glass, Slater and Thorburn who form a powerful goal scoring line for the team.  After Winnipeg scored a goal the crowd was shouting in a sing-song sort of way MILLER over and over. Dave explained Miller was the name of the Sabres goalie and the fans were taunting him for letting in a Jets’ goal. Well known fan Dancing Gabe was there and that was one thing Dave didn’t have to explain. I’d met Gabe when I went to the premiere of a movie about the Jets called White Noise. Our son wrote and performed the music for the movie. 

 The Jets are the ‘talk of the town’ in Winnipeg. I’m glad I got to experience Jets’ mania for one evening. Thanks Robyn and Ben and Marlie too for arranging it. 

Categories: Sports | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

The Qualico Family Centre- Assiniboine Park

Today I visited the Qualico Family Centre in Assiniboine Park. The $6 million, 10,000 square foot facility opened In November. 

It was a perfect winter day so I walked over to the Family Centre after my husband Dave dropped me off at the Pavilion Gallery which features the work of three prominent Manitoba artists Ivan Eyre, Clarence Tillenius, and Walter J. Phillips.

The air was crisp, the sun warm and the sky clear blue. The squirrels were out in force enjoying the good weather. 

Nestled in a grove of oak and pine trees the Qualico Centre skirts the park’s duck pond, which serves as a skating rink in winter. The roof of the centre is 100% green– planted with all kinds of prairie grasses. 

Walking into the front door of the centre you are greeted by this cozy sitting area around a fireplace. The fireplace is two-sided, so that the back of it is exposed on the outdoor patio which is open to visitors in the summer. 

A miniature replica of Leo Mol’s sculpture Tree Children sits atop the fireplace. In November I wrote a post about the life-size version of this sculpture located just outside the Richardson Building at the corner of Portage and Main. Perhaps the sculpture has been placed in the centre to encourage people to visit the Leo Mol Sculpture Garden which is also located in Assiniboine Park. 

There are windows everywhere in the centre that bring the ‘outside in’. This also allows the sunlight to help warm the building in winter. The trees all around the centre help keep it cool in summer. 

The Acorn Activity Area is a comfortably furnished sunny room where nature activities for all ages are offered on a regular basis. Just outside this nature classroom are several paintings by Ivan Eyre. Perhaps this is to entice people to visit the Pavilion Gallery which is also in the park and contains many more of Eyre’s paintings.

There isn’t really a table in the restaurant that doesn’t offer a great view of the outdoors. The wood for the massive beams that form the ceiling came from reclaimed dead elm trees. 

There’s a nice variety of soups,salads, sandwiches, burgers, sushi and breakfast items on the menu.

I was there to have lunch with three friends I’ve been getting together with regularly since coming home from Hong Kong. We’ve been trying to come up with a name for ourselves. My friend Esther suggested today we call ourselves the T-4’s since there are four of us and at one time we were teaching colleagues. We had different things from the menu –sandwiches, wraps, salads and two kinds of desserts. We all enjoyed our food. 

As we came out of the Qualico Centre we noticed many of the front patio stones were engraved. People had dedicated stones in memory of friends and family members. It was interesting to read the various inscriptions. 

After lunch we went for a walk in the park. A perfect ending to a lovely get together with friends.

Categories: Parks, Restaurants | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

The Paddock Restaurant

My post today is about a Winnipeg place that is no longer around. Pink hot pants and good tips. That’s what I remember about the summer I worked at the Paddock Restaurant. In a 1950’s Guide to Winnipeg there is an ad for the Paddock. I remember the Paddock well because I worked there as a waitress during my university days.
The Paddock was located right across the street from the Polo Park shopping mall where the Olive Garden restaurant is today. Before Polo Park was a shopping mall it served as a site for horse racing. Completed in 1925, Polo Park was a six-furlong track built by the Winnipeg Jockey Club. The Paddock Restaurant catered to horse racing fans. 
By the time I worked there in the early 1970’s Polo Park had become a shopping mall and horse racing had moved further out of the city to Assiniboia Downs.  

The Paddock’s coffee shop however remained a popular hang out for racing fans. They’d come in for breakfast and slip into one of the booths underneath the large bay windows that looked out onto busy Portage Avenue. Over endless cups of coffee and breakfast specials the racing fans would share information about the day’s races and which horses looked promising. Once they had visited the track they’d drop back in for dessert or a late bite and discuss their wins and losses. If the gentlemen had a good day at the betting window it usually meant I’d get a bigger tip. These fellows also liked to engage in a little good-natured flirtation with the waitresses. I was already married and found by fingering my wedding ring as I took their order and deliberately ignoring their advances I could usually discourage most of them. 

Hot pants were the rage in the early seventies and they were our uniform at The Paddock. The serving personnel were exclusively female. Those of us who worked in the coffee shop were all younger and we wore pink shorts with pink short-sleeved tops. The Paddock also had a dining room that served families. The menu was more extensive than in the coffee shop and the waitresses there were all older women. Several had been working at The Paddock for over twenty years. These women wore blue uniforms. Their hot pants were just a little longer than our pink ones. The dining room had a large mural on the wall and subdued lighting, creating an ambience quite different from the one in the sunny coffee shop.

The Paddock kept a treasure-chest by the front till. Children who ate with their parents in the dining room and behaved themselves were allowed to pick a ‘treat’ from the chest as they left the restaurant. The prizes were plastic jewellery, small metal cars and perhaps a miniature colouring book with crayons. It was a big deal for kids to be allowed to pick a prize from the treasure chest. Parents could threaten them with a withdrawal of that privilege and kids would quickly quiet down and eat. I wonder if that kind of bribery would still work today?

When I left The Paddock at the end of August in 1974, it was much to the dismay of the head waitress, a large, very tall woman with long jet-black hair she wore pinned up with an Oriental comb. She managed The Paddock waitresses with a firm and experienced hand. She trained us well and hated to have to break in a new server, but I had signed the contract for my first teaching position at Lincoln School and no longer needed my waitressing job. 

 I wonder if I’d still fit into those pink hot pants?

Categories: Restaurants, St. James | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

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