Calgary memories part 2

Another day of visiting old haunts with Frink.  Starting the day with a lighter dog-related note, here’s Frink holding his mother’s new puppy, Shadow.  Shadow is a rat terrier, eight weeks new in this photo:


Puppies are so delightful.  A ball of wiry nervous energy, eager to please her new packmates and licking and nibbling on and faces or hands within range.


Breakfast with another old friend took place at Tubby Dog.

First order of the day: Forest Lawn.  Another place we used to go frequently when we lived in McKay Lodge.  One reason was to get me some socialization; being homeschooled and at the time not yet integrated with the neighborhood kids, my parents enrolled me in a bowling league.


That’s me in the baseball cap.  I did get a trophy for something at the end of the year, but I never really made friends with any of the other kids.  This is where I was forced to learn to tie shoelaces; facist bowling alleys didn’t have slip-on or velcro bowling shoes!


I am amazed that this bowling alley still exists and is apparently still open today.

Also in Forest Lawn:


It’s a Zellers now, but when we first moved to Calgary it was a K-Mart.  It might have been in a slightly different location on the lot too, but that doesn’t matter much.  What’s important is that this is where I played my first arcade game.  My mother went in to buy something and I was distracted by the bright colors and bouncy music of a City Connection machine by the door.  My mother gave me a couple of quarters to try it, and the course of my life to date was decided in the next few minutes.

I became a diehard arcade rat from then until arcades finally died out in the 90s.  Calgary in the early 80s was a great place to be an arcade rat – every mall had an arcade, most of them were pretty safe places to be, and most of them took the gaming hobby seriously.  Almost all of my allowance went to quarters, and when my parents went shopping at a mall they would simply give me a roll of quarters and park me in the arcade until they were done.  Usually they had to drag me away.

Naturally I got into home video games too, but they were never the same; arcade games always had better graphics, better music and sound, better controls and so on, and there was something about the arcade experience that just didn’t translate at home.


On to the next landmark: The Calgary Tower.


Once Calgary’s mightiest phallic symbol, it has since been eclipsed twice.  But for old time’s stake I decided to go up and shoot a panorama of the city. I’m not posting said panorama because I can’t get the stitching software to do a good job on it.

There’s a new feature up there that i don’t remember from before: a section of glass floor.  I could not make myself step on it – the desire to not fall is strong in this one.


Another memory-loaded site I spotted while up there: the central Calgary Public Library.


This library was the source of most of the books I read when I was a kid.  My mother and I used to frequently ride our bikes over here (on Calgary’s stellar bicycle path system) and load up on books for me.

In more recent years, I saw Douglas Coupland speak here on his Microserfs tour, and got my copy signed.


Final tour stop of the day: my kindergarten.  My parents actually did enroll me in school – for all of six months.  Halfway through the year they changed teachers on me, and I did not like the new one at all.  I was a sensitive kid, and the activities she had us do usually ended up with my going home crying.  My parents pulled me out, and I was homeschooled all the way to the end of grade 12.

My class:


(Plane not actually inside school). That’s Miss Patterson, the good teacher, on the right end. That’s me standing at the other end.

The sitting boy in the red pants, blue jacket and white cowboy hat is Arrey (or something like that), my only friend in the class.  We played together a few times at his place outside of school.  I was somewhat jealous of him because not only did he have more Lego than me (one of very few people I’ve met who did), but he had one of the earliest Lego train sets.  Somehow I conned him into trading me a couple of the blue rails from that set, which was stupid on both our parts since there wasn’t much I could do with only a couple of rails, and it made his set incomplete.  But I was young and blinded by brick envy.

The platinum-haired girl standing behind Arrey in the photo is the first girl I remember thinking was cute.  I don’t remember her name; just that she was extremely shy and quiet.


We capped off the day with another nerd gathering for supper at Peter’s Drive-In, which is apparently favored by none other than Hugh Jackman.  It is my favorite burger joint of all.  It’s not fancy, it’s not gourmet, it’s just delicious.  The milkshakes are the best too.  Avoid the fries though; they give you a lot of them, but they’re not very good.

Back on the road eastbound tomorrow.  Visiting Calgary again has been great, and I wish I could spend more time here.  The city is still very familiar; I had forgotten how easy it is to get around in this town, and the city fits like a glove.  I could easily see myself living here again.

I used to bitch about how crazy Calgary drivers were, but now they seem tame in comparison to Vancouverites.

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