Big Adventures In A Small Town

Red Roof  Standard Red Roof

We can always see the ‘same-old’ at home. When most of us go on a trip, we hope to see and experience something new.  The city of Batavia, NY did not disappoint! CHINESE KARAOKE!  Did that catch your attention?  It caught mine.  I’ll explain below.

First of all, there are two Batavias.  The City of Batavia is completely encircled by the Town of Batavia.   On the western edge sits Batavia Downs, a well-known, completely-enclosed, indoor harness racing venue.  Three hotels sit nearby, just past the tollbooths off I-90.

Rich Red Roof  My Red Roof

Justifying my claim that hotels are forever changing names, my Red Roof Inn has had five names. Until two years ago, it was a Travelodge.  Unlike most ‘standard’ Red Roofs, its room doors didn’t empty out into the parking lot and the weather.  Instead, it had a central hall, interior doors, and quieter rooms.  It also had a small bar, and a dining room that was used as a karaoke club.

About five years ago, a developer bought up and paved over acres and acres of property surrounding the race track. Soon, businesses like Wal-Mart, Home Depot, Applebee’s, Tops and Target popped up, giving the race fans (or their wives) someplace else leave their money.  Three new hotels went up just north of the Interstate.

Many of the people who work at these new businesses came from somewhere else. Five years ago, the City of Batavia had about 9000 residents.  Nowadays the population is pushing 16,000.  The night clerk, a 22-year resident, is outraged.  There are now two McDonalds, and two Tim Horton’s in her town.

Tim Horton's  Tim Horton’s c/w drive-through

I don’t think she quite believed me when I told her that in Southern Ontario, I could pass two Tim Horton’s on the way to pick up my mail. The son uses a four-lane regional road to drive 9 Kilometers (5+ miles) across town to go to work, and passes 4 Timmies along the way. There are probably another dozen scattered around town.

Back to the Karaoke…. Through the summer and fall, groups of Chinese couples arrive in the USA, possibly landing in LA, or San Francisco.  They are flown to Las Vegas for a couple of days, then flown on up to a regional airport just north of Batavia.  A Chinese driver picks them up with a Mercedes Sprinter van, and installs them at the Red Roof.  The next day they are driven 60 miles to Niagara Falls.

There are always two groups, one a day ahead of the other, filling 10 to 15 rooms. A local DJ offers Chinese Karaoke on Saturday night, in the dining room.  First they belt out the lyrics to Chinese songs, but quickly change over to modern North American pop songs, which they attempt to sing phonetically.  It’s amusing.  Most of them can’t speak a word of English.

On Sunday morning, the drunk who couldn’t speak English, is hung-over, but loudly spewing O Solé Mio phonetically in Italian into the parking lot at 6 AM. I knew that Japanese are renowned for taking lots of pictures.  These people took photos and videos of everything, including two crab-apple trees, and the crab-apples on the ground by the entrance.

Because regional airports are favored by folks like smugglers and terrorists, there was a significant Homeland Security building right across the street, and the county sheriff’s office was just beyond the neighboring hotel. Unlike our trip two years ago, to the ‘hood’ in Detroit, this time there was no need for armed security patrols.

The telephone booking clerk told me that I was getting ‘just a plain room’, so we took along the Koolatron – only to find a refrigerator in the room. We took food for breakfasts – to be told that the hotel provided a hot breakfast – eggs, sausage, cereal, bagels, bread, juice and fruit.

One of the non-Chinese diners stopped the night-clerk and asked her if she remembered a Sorel Boot plant out where new plaza now sits. I cut parts for Sorel Boots for the hometown Kaufman Footwear, until they went bankrupt, and I had to find a new job in ’85.  I didn’t know they had a plant in Batavia.  I guess it got torn down and paved over.

The City of Batavia has some old and interesting buildings, which I took photos of. (So there, you Chinese tourists!)  If you’d like to come back in about a week, I’m going to post a mostly photo-blog.

This trip was enjoyable, entertaining and educational for me. I hope you got a little from it also.

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Flash Fiction #63

Tenement

PHOTO PROMPT – © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

CIRCUMSCRIBED/ASPIRATION

A Tree Grows In Brooklyn??

Not in his neighborhood! Every window just showed more dirty brick walls. His friends complained of living in tenements. He hated this building. A Chinese laundry downstairs, clattering, banging and spewing hot steam all summer. Upstairs, a sweatshop shirt factory, full of babbling Asian women, and not a word of English.

It made it difficult to concentrate on his schoolwork, but concentrate he would. He’d get a degree, and he’d land a job that allowed him to buy a posh house out in the Hamptons, surrounded by all the trees that didn’t grow in Brooklyn.

***

Go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple site and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story

Fathers’ Day

Fathers’ Day is just past, and I would be remiss if I didn’t describe mine, not for me, but to spotlight some young-uns.  I’ve been a father for a long time.  Hell, I’ve been everything I am or was, for a long time.  I don’t get too worked up about birthdays or Christmas or Fathers’ Day.  The wife will shove a hot poker up my ass if I forget her birthday, or our anniversary, but otherwise, meh!

Since the son is almost as sentimental as me, (Remember that first part!  It’s SENTImental, not just mental) his Fathers’ Day present was a guided tour of Kings’ Buffet Chinese Restaurant.  It was also his Mothers’ Day present to the wife – kill two birds with one obesity stone.  He also picked out and purchased about $30 worth of gorgeous cholesterol beef tenderloin, from which we cut three thick, beautiful filets, and two small roasts for later.  The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, and I have an 8-lane super-highway, complete with on-ramps.

1986 Dollar

My darling daughter, LadyRyl chose to enhance my coin collection.  When she and the grandson came over on Fathers’ Day, she presented me with a Presentation Grade, 1986, Canadian Dollar coin.  This is different from the simple, bronze-colored, Loonie coin in general circulation.  These used to be ‘Silver Dollars’ but are now Nickel, and silver in color only.  This one commemorates 100 years of coast-to-coast railroad in Canada.

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The coin came safely snuggled in a plastic holder, inside a black holding case with a gold panda embossed on the top.  It has never been touched by human hands – cotton inspectors’ gloves, but never oily skin.  The finish is immaculate.  Certain areas have a mirror polish.  Truly an impressive coin, and a tribute to a vanishing technology.  I just can’t imagine one with a semi big-rig on it.

***

Now we come to the grandson – the 6’ 2” little scamp.  (Fortunately) abandoned by his father before he was born, the son and I have tried to support and guide him through life as best we can.  We may have helped his mother do something right, because he has grown up to be a super young man.

He handed his uncle a $100 gift card to the Chapters Bookstore chain.  Knowing the son’s reading habits, that might last till the middle of July.  For something to munch on while he’s reading, he also gave him about two quarts of party mix snack, from the bulk food store.

He brought with him, a cardboard box, about 4” square, and almost 4 feet long.  Being a little slow on the uptake, I wondered what it was. He brought it over to me, slit open the seal on one end and handed it to me.  ‘Hmmm, doesn’t weigh much.’  And the dénouement began.

Rapier

The Well-Dressed Renaissance Gentleman

Of all the weapons I’m interested in, I’ve wanted a rapier for display for years – and that’s what slid out of the box.  This thing is fully functional.  I could engage in SCA (Society for Creative Anachronisms) fencing tournaments, but like the Dollar coin above, I don’t want to ruin some polished surfaces.

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It has a 39” long, diamond profile blade, with no sharp edges.  This is a stabbing weapon.  It weighs 2-½ pounds.  Movies aside, real sword fights didn’t last all that long.  Your arm would tire quickly.  Interest in rapiers must be cycling/dying down.  A few years ago, it would have been possible to also purchase a matching ‘main gauche’, a left hand parrying knife – but no longer.

I am fascinated by the shiny, beautiful, swirling, interlaced-rod guard, developed over years of experience to protect the hand.  It has a heavy pommel to counterbalance the heft of the sword, and for punching or head-bashing, in close.  The handle is bone, perhaps giraffe, from Africa, spiral grooved and inlaid with twisted gold(-plated brass) wires, for solid grip.  At each end of the bone handle is an assembly ring which is engraved with flowers.

I have cast my bread upon the waters, and it has been returned to me seven-fold.  I have the love of my daughter – and an impressive coin, and I have an upstanding, generous grandson – and a mesmerising rapier.  I have displayed (pictures of) the sword on my blog site.  Now I have to find a place to display the real thing, proudly in my home – and stop waving it around, knocking over the lamp, and (gently) poking the dog.  Baseball bat?  Shit!  Now I’m waiting for the first stupid burglar.   😳

#477

Xmas Cookies – Rebake

Back by popular demand….  Well, only one person, but she’s the Empress of Arkansas, White Lady In The Hood – what am I gonna do??!  Lady asked if we had made some more of the yummy Christmas cookies, as we had last year, especially the decorated, look-alike sugar cookies we provide for our chiropractors adult “kids”.

Always happy to showcase the abilities of wife and daughter, and make you jealous that you weren’t here, ruining your diet, I took a few more photos to show you what may be the last time we do this.

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This is one of two Christmas/fruit cakes we baked, just before it got wrapped in brandy-soaked cheesecloth, to age.

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We’re still making the thumbprint cookies, with green and red glazed cherries.

SDC10501And we made up batches of decorated spritz cookies, Yule logs, cookie nests, regular and Maple shortbreads.  This year, the wife thinks she finally achieved the perfection of the Scottish shortbreads that she attributes to my Mother.

One of the Chiropractor’s married daughters (and her husband) had SDC10478a baby girl this past year.  We found a “baby” cutter, and included a replica of sensibly-named Alice with each kid’s batch, plus one un-iced one to the parents, for the little one to gum.  S D is “Superdad”, and his track pants, like mom’s apron, are a bit messy with handprints, spit-up, etc.

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This is the other married couple’s matched cookies.

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The third, unmarried daughter has a steady guy, and they’re looking to set a date, right after they finish their matched cookies.

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SDC10487The son, the youngest, is currently studying hard to be a pharmacist.  Here is his voodoo-cookie, first alone, and then with all the boys.

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Of course, each of them got a stocking with their names on.

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We made a few extra “men and women”, in case one for the kids broke, or was ruined.

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We made and decorated a few non-people sugar cookies as well.

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We “adopted” the sweetest little Chinese snowgirl, and made sure she had lots of friends to play with.

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And finally, tired and hot from watching others be creative, and from slaving over a hot keyboard to tell this tale, I kicked back and cooled off with a bottle of my reserve signature beer.

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CREDITS

Producer/Director – GranmaLadybug

Set Decoration – GranmaLadybug, LadyRyl

Assistant to Producer/Director – Shimoniac

And a little bit Archon

Gaffer, Bestboy, Gofer, Etc, Etc, – Archon

Photos – LadyRyl

Technical Assistance – GranmaLadybug, LadyRyl