This church is striking at almost any time of day, looming up against the sky. Grand, imposing, beautiful. All those steps. The fantastic mosaic by Leo Mol swirling with light and grandeur. Speaking to the heritage of this old street.
I climbed the steps one afternoon, wondering if the doors would be open. They were locked. But tiny ladybugs were making an autumn pilgrimage across their broad wooden expanse and I stopped to watch for awhile.
“Do you speak Russian?” were the first words I heard when I walked into the store. They were addressed to the delivery guy, not to me, and I didn’t hear the answer. There were rows and rows of jars, all labelled in charming Cyrillic alphabet — all completely unintelligible to me. I looked at the pictures and made some guesses and some choices. Eggplant relish, I think. And plum jam — pretty sure. The lollipops were easy. Came away feeling like I’d left the country, just for awhile.
I like seeing Billy Mosienko’s cheerful grin on the side of the bowling alley when I drive north on Main Street. Grinning because way back in 1952 he scored a record three goals in 21 seconds for the Chicago Blackhawks. And when his lustrous hockey career ended, got into the bowling business. I tend to take this kind of history for granted because I see it every day, but recently find myself thrilling at the colour it adds to my street.
Mosienko was a small player, well-liked by his teammates, and won the Lady Byng one year for gentlemanly conduct. I like that too. Feel kind of proud, as if I have some part in it.
I wonder if he was good at bowling. Inside the bowling alley there’s a larger-than-life mural where he takes a mighty slapshot with his hockey stick and sends the pins flying. There’s a spray of ice around his feet, and he’s smiling like all getout.
One winter day when I stopped in at Baraka the fellow behind the counter seemed sad as he told me how cold it was here compared to his home in Lebanon. Later I thought of winter and the bleakness of the street and, with reference to the Lebanese flag, tried to compensate by imagining the store in the comforting shade of two big cedar trees,
Last time I was there I noticed how much heat the fiery oven gave off as it cooked my spinach pita. Enough to warm up even the chilly June day.
I remember having my cards read at Blackletter Books a number of years ago, and the reading was freakily accurate. Reassuring, actually. I felt understood. And now, years later, when I wanted to go back, it was closed. I stood on the sidewalk with my camera and memories and a woman walked up to me and said, “It’s closed, you know.” Then she walked away.
On the door, now barricaded behind an iron grate, was the word Welcome, and a painting of an old man holding a lamp. The Hermit, from the Tarot deck. I looked it up at home. Something about a journey and mysterious adventure. Withdrawing and returning. I used to find him a little spooky, but now it was okay. Reassuring.
There was a line-up at Kelekis on January 31, the day it closed.
When I last visited Kelekis, a few months ago, I noticed a woman at the end of the counter. She didn’t order anything – just sat there reading the paper. There was a banana at her place, which she might have brought from home. Only recently did I realize the woman was Mary Kelekis, restaurant owner, 88. I had a cheeseburger with fries, and a coke.