Picture Perfect 103
The Historic Society table was on the cafe side in a corner by the window. Two period costumed manikins, one male one female, flanked either side of table.
“Good morning?” A middle-aged man explained. “These are original manikins. The lady is from Jacobson’s Ladies Wear. The other from Crowell’s mens’ wear department. She dates from the twenties and is in pretty good condition for her age.”
The hands were chipped and white plaster showed under the beige-pink of her skin. She was wearing a black beaded flapper’s dress.
“Not exactly daily street wear.” Dan said.
“Well, no … but we Capers didn’t wear kilts all the time, if that’s what you mean.”
“No. But he seems more appropriately attired.”
The male manikin had on a brown worsted wool suit, high-collared blue shirt with a dark red tie underneath it.
“I would agree.” the man said.
“The clothes are from the stores the manikins are from?”
“No.” Someone said from beside Dan. It was Stan. “Even if they had period garments having them on open public display wouldn’t be wise. These are approximations. The real are behind glass.”
“Thanks.” Dan finished his tea. “I better get rid of this.”
He found the recycle trash bin for his cup. It was near the books. He had hoped to find out more from the Historic Society man but with Stan there he wasn’t comfortable. Cliff Dingwall, owner of the 2nd hand book store was behind the table there.
“Great day if don’t rain.” Cliff said.
“East Coast sunshine is what my mother used to call it.” Dan said.
“Right she was.”
“I was wondering if you had any books on the history of New Waterford? Even a photo history would be great.”
“There is some that deals with the area but never heard of one about Waterford in particular.” Cliff answered. “Let me just check on line for you.” He took a lap top out from under the table and did a few taps on it.
“Marvellous,” he said, “to have me whole catalogue at m’finger tips like this. And if’n I don’t have it I can find it pretty good too.”
Cliff scrolled through a few pages. “Don’t seem to be anything still in print. There’s some that can be ordered if’n you want to pay for it. Not that they is rare books but scarce.”
“Don’t need them that much. Here’s my card. Could you send me the links. I can check them out when I get back to Toronto. Might find them in one of our libraries there.”
“Sure thing. But I do have a couple of similar things here. This pictorial history of Hans County ….”
“We’re about to do the draw for next prize.” Came over the sound system. It was Gracie from the snack bar. “If we could have the tickets, Flo m’dear?”
Flo was the teen who greeted him when he arrived. The tickets were in a squared cookie tin.
“Shake’m up good this time.” Someone called out.
“Jim you come up here and make the draw.” Gracie said. “Prize this time is place setting for four made from Cape Crafts.”
She held up one of the place mats.
Jim shook the tin again. Gracie opened the lid so he could draw a ticket out. He read the number slowly. Dan found his tickets and checked them.
“Not even close.” Dan shook his head.
Jim repeated the last three numbers again.
“It’s me!” Someone called out.
“Okay folks. We have a winner. Don’t forget, all tickets go in to the big draw at 5. Next draw in thirty minutes. Get your tickets now if you want a chance to win a selection jams from Gracie’s Kitchen.”
“Thanks Gracie.” Someone called out.
“We have young Gordie O’Neil here now. He’s going to play us some songs.” Gracie said. “Let’s give him a big hand.”
The tea had gone directly to Dan’s bladder. He looked for washroom signs. He didn’t want Stan to spot see him going to the men’s room and follow him there. He wasn’t usually pee shy but the less pressure the better.
The men’s room was up two short flights of stairs at the top of the building. One flight at either end of a midpoint landing. The view overlooked the floor. He took pictures of the swirling iron work of the stair railing and the leaded-glass transom window over the door. A sign said the washrooms had been maintained to keep the original tile and fixtures but the actual plumbing was new.
There was nothing particularly distinct about that tile. There was ice in the dual floor level urinals. He glanced at the toilets and they too were nondescript but clearly of some period other than this one.
There was another door in the washroom with ‘showers’ over it. It was locked but the window in the door allowed him to see where the fireman would have showered. Here the tile was black and white. He got some pictures of the shower floor and the shower heads. How much head did they get in those showers? That’s a lost history he’d find interesting.
“Next raffle draw in ten minutes. Get your tickets now for a selection of Gracie’s Jams.” Came over the PA system.
Dan checked his cell for messages before he left the sale & went back out into the rain.
“Oh! Mr. James.” Cliff called to him. “I remembered than I have some albums you might be interested in.”
“Photo albums?” Dan walked over to the table.
“Yes. I bought them in an estate sale a few years ago in New Waterford.” He pulled a largish cardboard box out from under the table. “You can look’em over at the Gracie’s.”
He handed the box to Dan. It was heavier than it looked.
“I usually don’t buy this sort of thing but it was part of a lot deal.”
Dan found an empty table at the cafe & plopped the box down. Inside was a lot of loose photos, some in their original envelopes, many loose & two large albums. He did a quick glance the loose photos. Many were in colour & several were in black & white. He loved at them a litter closer. At glance he could tell they were from the forties or early fifties.
He gathered them into a pile so he could take out the albums. The top one was one of those eighties spiral bound. The other was older & the covers were laced together.
The first pages had pictures with dates underneath – beginning with 1919. He took pout his loupe to examine them to make sure they were authentic to the dates & they were. A quick though the pages showed family photos, baby showers, picnics, school graduations. Many with first names or events written underneath. He filled back to the inside cover but there was no last name. It was the same with the envelopes of developed pictures – first name, drug store rubber stamped. Someone who used the same drugstore often enough that last names weren’t needed.
He flipped open the more modern album. More family gatherings, Christmas trees, birthday parties. Then one set of three pictures stopped him cold. Three girls in their late teen or earlier twenties on a lakeside wharf making faces at each other r& the camera. He recognized one of them as the woman wielding the in his father’s photos.