Saturday, August 4, 2012

Imagining Currie Township: A Photo Essay

On a recent trip home to small-town Southwestern Ontario, I captured a few of the places that are indispensable when imagining my work. The photos were all taken with my Stone Age Blackberry, but if the quality's not too bad, and if you've read my stories, you'll likely recognize a few places.

Baseball Diamond 1, Appin, ON

It's hard to tell from this angle, but the back fence is probably 10 feet tall - and up close to it, you can see where the top six feet were joined to the bottom four. When the fence was that low, locally, the park was nicknamed The Homerdome. Beyond the fence, there's a playground, the Appin Museum, and a pavilion full of picnic tables.

Baseball Diamond 2, Appin, ON

The view from left field, with the canteen beyond the first baseline, as an ominous cloud moves in...

Appin Museum, Appin, ON

Derisively called "The Ol' Plaque-n-Shack" in "Mercy," and home to the murder wall from "The Seven Confessions of Constable Tom Burford," (should I ever finish that story), the interior of this little building - and its newer friend, (right), which used to house Ekfrid Mutual Insurance, on the main drag (Waterloo Street, now called Thames Road) - is nothing like its fictional rendition. I presume. I haven't been inside since I was about 10. 

Wellington - Appin's Only Backstreet

Can't have a Waterloo without a Wellington. This old truck (and somewhat related scrap pile) caught me by surprise, as it wasn't on my mind when writing "Bondo," but when I saw it I realized that it's all been there as long as I can remember.

Former Gas Station, Appin, ON

The one business left in Appin is Cookie King, as you can vaguely read on the reverse of this sign. They, too, were on Waterloo for years, with a storefront, before moving it here and taking over the gas bar - see the island in the centre? That used to be pumps. Nowadays the original building, as well as this one, are primarily used for cookie storage. To my knowledge, the Cookie King still has a booth at the Gibraltar Trade Centre, in London, but I can't say for sure - even Google doesn't know.

Former Gas Station with Former Movie Theatre, Glencoe, ON

I didn't work in this gas station - not exactly. But my father did. And one summer, when I was eight or nine, in order to stop people from walking into the building - not pictured, sorry - and helping themselves to cigarettes from behind the counter, I manned the cash register, as a deterrent and, believe it or not, when the pumps were lined up with cars, a second employee. Years later - when I was in high school - a girl in the eighth grade walked up to the counter and committed an armed robbery with a two-by-four, whacking the eleventh-grade girl working there and making off with the money. (I presume there was money.) How either of these elements haven't surfaced in the book yet - and yes, it's almost finished! - I don't know.

(Former) Fox Theatre, with Main Street, Glencoe, ON

Briefly, when I was a teenager, in the town of Strathroy - where I went to high school, west of London - there was a movie theatre. I don't recall exactly, but in my memory its grand opening and its final showing were about a year apart. And another thing I don't remember - I vaguely remember Donald Duck on the big screen - is seeing a movie at the Fox, in Glencoe, when I was around three years old, which I'm told I did. What I actually remember is the Fox having always been closed. Last I knew, it was empty, but I discovered that it now houses a dance studio. By the way, Main Street probably doesn't always look like this - this was an overcast Sunday morning - but it certainly resembles what I describe in "Projections," my collection's opening story.

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