Many years ago, the son and I developed a bit of a relationship with a young AM station DJ. This was back when radio stations had live bodies pumping out their over-night broadcast shows. I was doing midnight security shifts and heard a lot from this up-and-comer. I called the station one night at 4 AM to show him where Billy Joel left in a small mistake, in a song about learning from our mistakes.
My son stayed up 24 hours one Friday night, to accompany me on my midnight shift. He also phoned in and *won* a contest to “name the DJ’s lunch.” We got to go to breakfast with him, on Saturday morning. He finally got an afternoon shift, and I also got one. His radio station sponsored a pancake breakfast in the parking lot of a local mall, the first Saturday morning of Oktoberfest. It started small, with three to five hundred people. The son and I went to it for years.
Like so many other things, it’s got much bigger, just not necessarily better. The son surprised me the other day by expressing a wish to attend again. He just turned 40. Is this a wish to revisit his youth? I can barely see mine any more. He worked his usual Fri. night/ Sat. morning shift, stopped for some items at the Kitchener Market and got home around eight. I went to bed at my usual 4:00 AM.
When he came home, I was ready for my four-hour washroom break anyway. When he comes in, the dog rouses and wants to be let out of the bedroom. I was up, so let’s go! There’s nothing like sharing an intimate, chilly, outdoor breakfast with ten thousand of your closest friends total strangers.
Before the daughter ruined both knees, she was in the color guard of the Dutch Boy drum and bugle corps. We had breakfast in the staging area of the big Oktoberfest parade that she got to march in once, long ago. This year’s estimate puts a hundred and fifty thousand people on the sidewalks, some natives, many tourists, watching the parade live. Several million more see it on national television
We managed to find parking only a block away, and walked down to join a block-long lineup for food. When we finally got to the sign that said *Line Up Here*, we found that it snaked another half-block around the seating area and back into the plaza. We were fortunate to have arrived so early. As we left, the line had extended another block.
We each got two big pancakes with plenty of syrup, a large sausage and eight ounces of local apple juice. Tim Hortons had sent a trailer where you could buy coffee or tea. They had no hot chocolate. We stood in line behind a young local couple with a baby girl. I thought I caught her name but asked, to be sure. She was called Ryla. My daughter uses Rylah as an on-line name, and LadyRyl as her blog-name.
We sat down beside, and became instant best friends with, a couple even older than me. At least that’s what the tree-ring count said. The little old lady had a pair of beautiful knitted mitts on the table, but they were large enough to fit my son. When I asked, she said that she had knitted them herself, and showed me that the occasional ecru stitches in the Kelly green pattern were actually tufts of un-spun fibre, filling the inside with extra insulation. She learned this process, called thrumming, from a Newfie lady. It is also used in hand weaving, and on boat sails.
Trainee chefs from our well-known community college cooked the food for us. Somehow I expected that Conestoga College Culinary Arts would only provide pictures of food, but it was pretty good. There was a little three-piece band providing live oompah Oktoberfest music. One guy played the inevitable accordion, one had an electronic keyboard, and the third played kazoo drums. They belted out all the old Oktoberfest staples, including The Monkees’, I’m A Believer, Johnny Cash’s, Ring Of Fire, and My Bonnie Lies Over The Ocean. A good time was had by some.
Just north and east of the city, is Ontario’s last/only covered bridge. It sits about a hundred yards off the arrow-straight highway. The original road made that jag to reach the narrowest spot on the river. The old road comes in, makes a 90 degree turn, runs down and across the bridge, makes another ninety, and back up the bank. There is a little country general store at the first bend which many Mennonites shop at. Last year, a buggy-horse, perhaps startled by loud traffic, broke loose, galloped across the bridge, and tried to make the sharp left turn. She slipped on the paving, dumping the wagon and scraping her one side.
There are signs at both ends reading, “No heavy trucks. Three ton load limit.” Someone can’t read, or doesn’t give a sh*t. Recent inspection reveals that one of the three main timbers is cracked. I suspect a grocery delivery truck driver too lazy to turn around. They can’t afford to dismantle it, but may be able to put a *cast* on the cracked beam. In the meantime, the bridge is temporarily closed. Aside from risking truck and limb to the river, some lazy idiot has smashed a chunk of irreplaceable history. Thanks, doofus!
The good, the bad, and the ugly, the local cultural river slowly flows on.