Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Pop, The Plaza and Folklorama by Margaret Ullrich, part 4, Weeding

Here in Winnipeg, Folklorama is winding down.
We've enjoyed visiting a few old favorites, and catching the fun at new, to us, shows.

A couple of weeks ago I talked about when we had taken Pop to new places.
Sometimes it didn't quite work out.
Oh, well, that didn't make me stop trying.


In 1993 my parents visited us during August.
Pop had never been in Winnipeg during Folklorama.
So, of course, we had to take them.

At first Pop was against going out to eat at the pavilions.
Pop was always wary of eating out.
I think his phobia stemmed from our Plaza experience.
Yes, THE PLAZA, Fifth Avenue, Central Park South, Manhattan.
Yes, Neil Simon had written a play about it.


Back in 1957 Pop and Mr. Lipsky had opened a television shop.
Point T.V. Sales and Service.
Television sets in those days were major pieces of furniture.
They came in different types of wood to match the decor.
They were so large you could easily place a coffin on top.

In 1959 a television manufacturer gave Pop and Mr. Lipsky 4 tickets 
to go to the Plaza and see the latest models.
There was also going to be a free dinner.
Pop and Ma liked the idea of a free dinner.
But they didn't know how they'd get to the Plaza.
Pop didn't drive.

Mr. Lipsky wasn't interested in going, but he gave Pop subway directions.
Ma knew about subways.
She used to shop in the Manhattan downtown area, around 14th Street.
I usually went with her to help carry the loot.
So, they dragged me, their nine-year-old, along as a navigator.

Okay... we got to the Plaza.
No problem.
We saw the television sets.
No problem.
Then we went to dinner.
Problem.

The Plaza doesn't stint.
Each place setting came with a complete assortment of cutlery and glass ware.
The folks on Downton Abbey, including Dowager Countess Violet, would've approved.

Pop sat down and stared at all the forks, knives and spoons. 
He said, "What the hell is this?" in a tone implying a turd had been placed before him.
Ma and Pop then picked the cutlery they liked and used them throughout the meal.
The staff knew how to accept paying guests' little quirks.

I went into my immigrant kid mode.
I sipped water, watched what the other people were doing and copied them.
The next day I went to the library for a book on etiquette.
Well, that's what the librarian gave me after I'd explained what had happened.


Back to my parents' visit in 1993 and Folklorama...
In the previous months Winnipeg had had two 'once in a century' rains.
Yes, folks joked, that was an awfully short century.
Our basement had been flooded.
The rains had hatched a swarm of mosquitoes, some eggs a few decades old.
Considering that we were often covered by a cloud of bugs, Folklorama went well.


We first went to the Ukrainian pavilion.
The food was served cafeteria style.
You picked your own pieces of cutlery.
Good start.
Pop said the pyrogies were like ravioli.
He ate them, without much enthusiasm, while the show began.
Pop perked up when the dancers leapt and spun around.
He left the Ukraine with a smile.  

Taking our cue from Pop's reaction, we planned for the week. 
We would go to countries with energetic floor shows.
Fancy needlework wasn't going to work with Pop.

We went to the Caribbean pavilion.
Rum punch, limbo dancers, fire eaters and half naked dancers.
Pop quite enjoyed the show.
Maybe a little too much.
When Ma tugged on his sleeve, Pop said, "I ain't dead yet."


We also went to the Greek pavilion in St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church.
We had taken Ma there when she'd visited in 1978.
She'd liked the Folklorama displays and the food.
We thought Pop would enjoy the food and the dancing.
Something for everybody.

Slight problem.
Pop had been raised in the xenophobic Maltese Roman Catholic style.
One did not, just did not, go into a non-Roman Catholic Church.
Pop sat in the last pew while Ma, Paul and I toured the church.
The guide returned us to the back of the church.
Time to go down to the basement to eat.

Pop got up and announced, "Some people say it is a mortal sin to be in here."
The guide knew how to accept visitors' little quirks.
God bless her, she just smiled.
Pop did enjoy the food and the dancers.
The ouzo helped, too.

I was flipping through our 1993 Folklorama pictures a few days ago.
I'm pretty sure Nia Vardalos was one of the performers in the Greek pavilion.
Oh, what she'd have done with Pop as a character in My Big Fat Greek Wedding!


At the end of The Godfather, while sitting in a garden, Vito told his son Michael that he'd found he was drinking more.
Michael told his Dad it was good for him.

It's all about family, gardens, religion, food...
And booze. 

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