Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Dashboard Moments

Since I live a whole block too close to my daughter's school, and her unwavering fear of acquiring a driver's license (not like I am in a huge hurry for her to be driving anyway), I take her to and from every day. I'm not complaining mind you...we spend the time talking about everything from political issues to the upcoming Star Trek movie and how it better not end up full of fail, as she puts it.

One day I decided to stash a camera in my purse, just in case I might see something interesting while I was out and about. Sitting at a stoplight, first at the line, I thought I would snap a picture and try an experiment where I would post the resulting snapshots under the heading of "Dashboard Moments", and tell a story about what I viewed at that particular intersection.

So, without further ado (or adon't), here is my first installment.


The Green Mill Fire Aftermath

Most anyone who grew up in my town or surrounding area (you know who you are) probably ate at this restaurant which was at the corner of Columbus and Madison Streets. It was one of the longest running restaurants in Ottawa. My family and I ate there at least once a month when I was a child. I remember a man named Nick, who would meet my parents at the door, and welcome them with a flourish of , "Hello, Mr. and Mrs. Leach! Your booth is open towards the back. Your lovely family can take a seat and your waitress will be with you very soon."

He actually knew my parents by name! We had our "regular booth"! I felt very special as he would escort us to our seats and hand us our menus. The booths were slightly worn down by years of patrons, and I had to sit on my feet to reach the table top comfortably. I remember that there was an unsaid rule that moms and dads ordered from one side of the menu where the steaks and seafood dwelled, and children ordered from the other side of the menu where the hot dogs, hamburgers and fish sandwiches lurked. I asked one day why I couldn't order a steak.

"Well, you are too young cut your own steak. Your Father ends up cutting it for you, and by the time he is done, his food is cold. It's not fair. When you are able to cut your own steak, you can order one."

Mom was right. It wasn't fair that my dad would have to eat cold steak, so I settled for a fish sandwich. Sometimes I would plead that I was "old enough" to cut my own steak, but after a few failed tries, my dad would set off to work, making sure my steak was cut in small enough pieces where I couldn't choke while eating. Dad would then start cutting into his cooled off steak and I would feel a twinge of guilt. If I was well behaved, didn't order steak, ate my dinner and didn't fight with my sister, I would get to order dessert. It was usually rice pudding with cream and cinnamon. I loved the candied orange pieces that hid among the creamy comfort of the pudding. I thought of them as little gems I had to dig for.

The Green Mill changed hands few times through the years, and I had always thought about stopping in for a bite, to see if I could transport myself in time where a cheery and graicous man named Nick would make me feel like I had the most important family in the world. But I never did, because reality is never as bright and shiny as the memory of a child.


  1. Help me out. Did that place used to be called the Chalet?

  2. The Chalet was west from there, a block over on the corner of Madison and LaSalle St. It's called the Beehive now, I think.