When I grew up
I wanted to live in Dryden.

Dryden is a town
in Northwestern Ontario.
It wasn’t much bigger
than Emo.

Population 2,024.

They had a McDonald’s
There was a large arena
with two ice surfaces
There were stores for shopping
and restaurants to choose from.

Going to Dryden
to visit Auntie Carolyn and Uncle Bill
felt like a holiday.

I wish I could describe the smell
that was Auntie Carolyn’s house.
It was one that welcomed you back
because it was always the same.
A warm mix of florals.
I can’t describe it.

Their home was immaculate.
Auntie Carolyn liked to clean.
I remember the room where no one went
It was a space that held picture frames
and lightly coloured furniture.

If you walked on the plush carpet
your footprints were left behind.
One swipe of the hand
and they would disappear.

We knew to stay out of that room
Our footprints just meant more work for her.

They had really nice things.

Auntie Carolyn’s bathtub
was an emerald green
and she always had
the expensive shampoo.
Pantene PRO V

Behind the dining room table
ran long narrow strips of mirror
lengthwise almost floor to ceiling
with gaps measured evenly between.

I remember eating black forest cake
at that table.
A round cake with a clear plastic lid
that slid over top.
Shaved chocolate curls covered the sides,
and maraschino cherries
that rested in dollops of whipped cream
on top.
It was a special treat.

Trips to Dryden felt like a holiday.

Visits were usually marked
with a dinner out to Ho – Ho’s,
the place to go
for Chinese food in town.

We loved the massive chicken balls
that were drenched in fluorescent orange
sweet and sour sauce.
Chicken fried rice
and beef and greens.

A trip to Dryden wasn’t complete
without our bellies full of Chinese food
only to feel hungry again a few hours later.

Evenings were spent together downstairs,
laughing and watching TV in their rec room
Uncle Bill was usually serving something up from his bar
and Rob and I were excited to watch a movie
with speakers.

When it was finally time for bed,
I got to sleep in my older cousin’s room.
Laurie was away at university
and I thought she was so cool.
She always had a little yellow bottle
of Clinque lotion on her dresser.

I miss that house.
I miss all of us together in that house.

I haven’t been there in over 20 years
and now it belongs to someone else.



Google Maps Can Take Us Back

I decided to try and find Auntie Carolyn and Uncle Bill’s house on Google Maps.

If there’s a place that you once loved, it’s neat to use Google Maps to go back and see it. You should give it a try.

I couldn’t remember their street name.  I thought it was Duke, but that was where my cousin Troy once lived.  But with an aerial view, I could map my way back from McDonald’s as a landmark.  It’s where my cousin Laurie worked as a teenager.

I followed a street that was long and straight; I remembered my parents driving on it.  If we kept going, it would take us up and over a steep hill but if we turned left at the bottom, we would get to Auntie Carolyn’s house.

I instantly saw Taylor Street on the map and knew.  That’s the street.  It wasn’t until I saw the green space of a nearby park that my eyes started to well up.  Auntie Carolyn’s house was across the street from a park. I was getting closer.

I miss that house.
I miss all of us together in that house.

I randomly clicked on an area that I thought would be close.  A quick pivot around and I was looking directly at her house. Instant tears.  The kids were upstairs napping and there I was crying in front of a Google map.

I had so many great childhood memories in that house.

I looked forward to our weekends in Dryden.  Auntie Carolyn and Uncle Bill were a big part of our life.

It’s funny how we get attached to places and things without always realizing.  And then when people are gone, we lose them and the pieces they left behind.

The house now belongs to someone else.

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My first thought was, Oh, man.  Auntie Carolyn would be pissed about the yard.  That tree would be cut down. The other trees would be trimmed.  The grass would have been watered and green. (No offense to the owners.  I just know how she’d like it.)

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I remember the gravel driveway.   The rocks would crunch under our wheels as we pulled up to the house on a Friday night.

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Ho – Ho’s Restaurant


Other pieces you might like to read…

Stories about Auntie Carolyn.

They Say that Bad Things Come in Threes.


5 Replies to “Dryden.”

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