15 September 2006

Life like likwid

Yeah, so tomorrow my dad would have turned 80. But tomorrow is the Sabbath and Jewish cemeteries are closed. I made the drive up to Keele and Wilson this afternoon. Dana had chosen some small lovely rocks when we were in Muskoka the other week, and these I divided among the headstones of my uncle Sol Mainster, my father, my mother, and Owen. I think some of my greatest time with my family was spent at the Wapaska cottage we rented for a few weeks for a few summers when I was a kid, so those rocks felt like the right rocks to leave.

I talked to them all, as I always do. No Jewish prayers this time. Just reports on those the departed have left behind, some promises to keep closer touch with Barry, requests for guidance, and that perpetual lament: "Can't we have just one more conversation?"

I walked slowly from the cemetery today, looking at many of the other headstones, thinking that among this field of rock were likely some childhood friends of mine. The other day I got an email from a guy named Jack Daiter, who I knew slightly in junior high. He had stumbled upon me in a Google search for our old junior high school (apparently, I was the only hit). We exchanged a couple of notes, and one name that came up was Bobby Weinberg, who had been a friend of both of ours and who I think died in his teens or 20s. I thought of two more friends from then who'd died too young, one a suicide and another in a drug-related accident, and I guess there must be more.

Anyway, I also visited my old house on Pannahill. This house — and especially its neighbourhood — features big in the novel I'm on the cusp of completing. I parked out front and delivered an envelope to my old porch, which is now a much bigger porch. The envelope contained a copy of Henry Kafka and Other Stories, which contains a short story called "This Is the Story of My Family," which takes place in the drive of that old house. I attached a note explaining that I'd once lived there and that perhaps this story would interest them. I included my email address.

What will happen? I'm thinking most likely they're shrug and throw the book away. I mean, a book? What's a book anyway? Who is this crazy guy who left this here?

Maybe I'll be wrong.

In the driveway of "my" house was a garishly painted old turquoise bus. On its side were colourful illustrations of bananas, cherries, strawberries, and more. And the words "LICKWIDLIFE Real Fruit Ice Crushers."

It was such an odd feeling standing on the old street. My public school is now a Jewish school, and the vast gravel yard is now lawn. A couple blocks away, I pulled into Bathurst Manor Plaza. The gas station where the guy had gotten shot during a robbery when I was a child -- it's now a combination Country Style Donuts and King David's Falafels. I ordered a falafel and wandered around the little plaza. Only the CIBC bank was the same. The Dominion was closed down and boarded up, as was the old cigar store. The sign for the LCBO outlet still hung, but the venue was now a menswear and tailor shop, with an old guy sitting in the window working an old sewing machine.

Monday is my brother Barry's birthday. It'll be nice to talk to a living relative.

Over and out.


At September 23, 2006 8:45 pm , Blogger Amanda Laughtland said...

I hope you get an email from the folks who live in your old house now.

At October 09, 2006 11:07 pm , Blogger jack said...

Very nice reminiscence Stuart. I am touched that you included me in your story. I too sometimes drift back to the Manor to tour the hood and think of more innocent times when, as a child growing up in the 60s, a stick a cardboard box and a magnifying glass provided hours of pleasure. How times have changed. I recall vividly times spent at Bathurst Manor Plaza (Pasternak's gas bar, Krivy's cigar store and of course Rocco the old fellow who took care of the plaza). Those were great times indeed. Stay well and be happy!!!



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