I spent Christmas Eve roaming around Windsor, mostly walking downtown. Few people were doing the same, leaving me with a "shoot a cannon down the street and nobody will be hit" feeling.Most of my memories of downtown Windsor stem from Sunday morning trips with my Dad to pick up a copy of the Sunday New York Times and TLS (Times Literary Supplement). The routine evolved over the years - Tidas News on Ouellette is the earliest place I can remember, followed by J&J/Y&J Variety near Grace Hospital, then Whittington's on Ouellette. In later years, this ritual evolved into a weekly trip for my parents, where they would grab a drink at The Coffee Exchange, then shop for groceries.
I found various uses for these trips over the years:
* An excuse to point my finger to direct Dad to drive down roads I had never been down before, or to see the north end of Essex County if it was a nice day.
* To buy my weekly supply of sports cards.
* To buy new comic books, when the newsstand still carried a large selection.
* To choose lunch meat for that week's lunch, or see what new products Remark Farms had (China Cola!)
* After leaving for university, a morning to hang out with the old man, even if took some effort to drag me out of bed.
I parked on Pelissier, near this sign. Looks like American Apparel has moved in, though I didn't see any back pages of local newspapers adorned with their scantily clad models (hi NOW!)
The tri-colour heart is the logo for downtown Windsor - the city used to use a red heart, but has switched to the Transit Windsor colour scheme. Near this sign is the cafe scene on the right, one of many murals that have appeared in Windsor's core in recent years - more in the next installment.
Fur stores were once prevalent along Ouellette, frequently advertising on Hockey Night in Canada ("at AJ 'Gus' Gervais, manufacturing makes the big difference!"). Fur-clad models roamed in front of the stores, often my father's high school students. Lazare's is one of the holdouts, with its classic sign.
Left: Ouellette Ave has a number of massage parlours, with varying degrees of sketchy appearance. Right: A former bank (memory is telling me Royal Trust), now a club. The downtown bar/club scene is one part of the Windsor experience I've never taken in, other than driving by drunk patrons at night. Among the other buildings along Ouellette converted to clubs: the Big Boy south of Park my family occasionally had Sunday breakfast at. One thing nearly all of these places have in common: ludicrous names. I like the name of the BBM's next-door neighbour: B-Movie Ballroom, which sounds like it should be applied to an eclectic film rep house.
To be continued... - JB