Your ancestors are cheering you on
July 11, 2022
After your folks die, you spend years going through what remains.
Sometimes what you discover makes you feel as if your relatives are wooting and cheering from the great beyond.
To wit: I vaguely recall my family saying that my grandmother owned and operated a small restaurant in London in the 1950s. The Pier Restaurant on Pier Road was in the borough of Bexley on the south bank of the Thames River. In this photo, is that grandma in her apron arranging the displays inside the restaurant?
Looking at the lineup of cakes and patisseries in the big bay window, the mid-century storefront lettering, and the Helene Hanff figure of a woman passing by, I like to imagine that grandma made sandwiches and sold Lyons cakes to the staff working a few doors down at a secondhand bookshop specializing in out-of-print books. I made up that part. I can only see a hardware store and a bakery on either side of her business.
Man, would I have loved to hear more stories about grandma the business woman …
When I turn the photo over, I learn that my dad, Trevor, took the picture. Probably with that Leica camera he looked down into. He wrote, “Mother’s Restaurant, 1955” and the caption, “Lettering and hanging ‘Restaurant’ sign by Trevor!” Yes, the exclamation point was his. Later, in a different coloured pen, he inserted the update, “Now demolished,” — probably after one of his many trips back to the old neighbourhood in the 1970s.
I didn’t know that restaurant lettering was in my dad’s background until I saw this photo recently. And I certainly didn’t know it when, on a whim, I started doing lettering for several restaurants in downtown Toronto sixty years later.
Alison designing the windows at the much loved and missed resto, The Merchant.
Sometimes those moments in your life when you say “Yes!” to a brand new adventure, the excitement you feel is actually a chorus of support from the past.