Friday, July 13, 2012

Wild Rose, Alberta, by Margaret Ullrich, part 19, Transplanting

Tad's Steakhouse
It's a sad day in Winnipeg.
The Wagon Wheel, A local institution, is closing after 60 years.
It was a popular restaurant downtown.
Its sandwiches were the stuff of legend.

Friday the 13th.
According to superstitions:
Don't cut your hair.
Don't do laundry.
Do relax and enjoy the weekend.

Many years have two Friday the 13th's in them.
We also had a Friday the 13th last April.
The next one is due in September 2013.
Followed by one in December 2013.
Just so you know.

On a happier note:
We did get some rain last night, so I won't water the garden.
Mama Robin is just zipping back and forward from her nest.
Her beak, on the return trip, is loaded with worms.
I had to go on a food errand this morning, too.
No, we didn't eat everything I had bought yesterday.
We're still not getting our flyers.
So I walked to Sobey's and Safeway to see what's on special this week.

July 13 was on a Thursday forty years ago.
Thank goodness.
I'm not that superstitious, but we needed all the help we could get.
I guess things could've been worse.

After breakfast we drove to Medicine Hat.
Paul wanted to wash and wax the car.
We had quite an assortment of dead bugs on the front of our car.
The self service car wash was on an elevation.
Paul had to drive up a ramp to get to it.
After he got our car nice and clean, he drove it off the elevated lot.
No, he didn't use the ramp.
For a while our car was half off the lot, dangling a few feet above the sidewalk.

Alright, it wasn't as dramatic as when Lucy and Ricky's car was on 
Whitney Portal Road in The Long Long Trailer.
The elevation of the car wash wasn't as high as Mount Whitney, located in the 
Sierra Nevada mountains in California.
We weren't hanging off a cliff.
We didn't have as scenic a view as they'd had of Owens Valley.
But we did cause Medicine Hatters to gather.
In particular, a man and his son thought it was quite funny.
After they stopped laughing they helped Paul get the car back onto the lot.
It was quite a production.

At first Paul tried to back up.
He hoped the car's rear-wheel drive would do the trick.
It didn't.

The attendant came out.
He was quite apologetic. 
He said he was always afraid something like this would happen.

The attendant then brought out a supply of wood blocks.
Paul put his bottle jack behind the front wheel on the passenger side 
and raised that side of the car until it was level with the pavement. 
The attendant and Paul stacked the wood blocks under the front wheel. 
Then Paul removed the jack and placed it on the driver's side.
Once the driver's side was raised, the attendant put more wood blocks
under that wheel.
After the car was leveled, Paul was able to back the car out.

Folks in Alberta are friendly, too.
Especially to folks who make them laugh.

We drove around for a while.
After we figured the witnesses had left, we parked and walked around town.
The white church, St. Patrick's, was open.
So we went in to pray and have a look.
It was quite pretty and had a varnished wood ceiling.

We had lunch at a non-chain place.
Phil's had a steak platter with garlic bread for $2.
It reminded us of Tad's in Manhattan.

Ah, the Tad's of our youth...
Tad's had been introduced in the Wisconsin Pavilion at the 1964 World's Fair.
New Yorkers had found a cheap steak dinner.
The heck with the world of tomorrow.

For $2 you got a steak, a baked potato, garlic bread and a cooking show.
It wasn't like what the chef at a fancy Japanese restaurant does.
No flashing blades.
Nope, it was a truly moving experience.
The steaks were grilled on a conveyor belt.

You would enter and tell the chef how many steaks you wanted.
Rare, medium or well done?
Rare went on the edge of the belt a few inches away from the flames.
Medium went right over the flames.
And for well done:
The chef would spear and hold the steak in one spot a few minutes 
to give it some more cooking time.
Your professionally prepared meal was on its way.

You would walk along the belt and escort your order, 
pausing midway through where another chef turned the steak.
At the end of its journey, the steak was placed on a plate.
A potato and a slice of bread were added by the starch chef.
You paid the clerk and received your plate.
Henry Ford would've loved it.

Back to Medicine Hat...
This time I got a souvenir - a small Winnie the Pooh statue.
We'd heard that the sun sets earlier in the mountains.
So we got a high beam head light.
And a hanging Misto-van deodorant for the trailer's toilet.
The trailer was 8 feet by 11 feet.
The bathroom was the size of a gym locker.
It needed all the help it could get.

At the Sears, Paul sucked on a slushee while we browsed through the catalog.
Oh, did we ever want a working refrigerator!
The trailer's fridge worked when the trailer was plugged in at a site.
Well it worked after it had had a few hours in which to get cool.
On the road it was an insulated box.
In other words, we did not have a fridge.

We went our first IGA to pick up some more groceries.
When we returned to our site it started to rain.
We remembered that old saying:
If you want it to rain, wash the car.

Since we hadn't travelled that day, our folks weren't expecting a call.
It was raining so we just stayed in our trailer. 
Television was the same as in New York:
Night Gallery, All in the Family (their Christmas show), and The Untouchables.
We also saw The Irish Rovers.
We'd never seen them on television before.
We'd just heard their Unicorn song in New York.

Once, when talking about our family, my sister said, It's all about food.
That's true for my family.

After remembering the popularity of Tad's and seeing how upset folks are today 
about the closing of The Wagon Wheel, I think it's true for a lot of people.
And for robins.

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