Sunday, March 08, 2009

Ossington: Last Part

I really enjoyed the situation we had in that old hardware store on Ossington Ave, back in the 80s. I hadn't really thought about how long I would be there, or what I would do if I had to move. Things were changing around us and changing fast.

The flavour and texture of the neighbourhood changed radically over a short few months. Vietnamese coffee/karaoke places were opening up all up and down the street. I think at one point, there were nine of them between Queen and Dundas. I thought, great, I could find some excellent Vietnamese food there, but these weren't like Pho places I had often eaten at. They seemed to be more like culturally exclusive clubs. I went in one and sat down, and was ignored for about 10 minutes in an almost empty place. Finally, somebody brought me a coffee menu. I felt like I wasn't welcome there, and that I was being carefully watched, but I thought it would be really rude to just get up and leave, so I asked for a coffee, quickly drank it, left some money and walked back home.

One of these places opened up next door on the north side. They played what I guess you would call a mix tape all day and all evening. The same tape. Every day the same tape. It was mostly a mix of American music from the 70s. There was a Canadian exception. Once each hour I could hear Seasons in the Sun. I really disliked that song, and hearing it every hour through the walls didn't help.

There was a guy who started parking in front of our place who had what I'm going to characterize as a "sort of" muscle car. This was a remarkable sight. It had the jacked up back end and the mag wheels and racing stripes. But this was no Dodge Dart. It was a Monte Carlo. I knew that because MONTE CARLO was painted across the trunk in huge letters.

Then one day our landlord came to see us. He had been offered a lot of cash for the building. He said he had a place back in the Azores and with all that money, he could take his family back there and live well. The buyer wanted the place empty. We had a couple months to find new places. This turned out to be a challenge, since we were in the midst of a housing boom, when rental places were expensive and hard to get. After we left, the old studio was quickly converted into another of those coffee and karaoke joints.

I camped out in the basement of a couple of generous and dear friends for a while, until I found a little apartment at Palmerston and Harbord. Soon after, I found a very good shared studio situation down in the old casket factory at Niagara and Tecumseth. Eventually, I would live in that building for several years, but that's a story for another time.

9 comments:

L.M. said...

I remember a huge heroin & hooker bust at the donut shop on Ossington near Dundas in the late 80's. I had a friend who worked for Metro at the time and she told me that the city's response was to revoke their licence to sell donuts.

Anonymous said...

I have really enjoyed reading this Ossington series.
Muppie

vox said...

i would like to second Muppie's comment.

mister anchovy said...

LM. I remember that bust well. In general at that time, there was a lot of that kind of activity going on in the area.

Patience said...

I remember the boom; A friend of mine paid $500 in key money for an apartment that she found through and overheard conversation about the tenant moving west. It was hot in the summer and cold in the winter and a third floor walk up. She was grateful to find it.
I don't mind Seasons in the Sun but not hourly! LOL

tshsmom said...

I'm with you on Seasons in the Sun!

I really enjoyed this series too. ;)

Barbara Bruederlin said...

This has been a great series! How long did you live in the area? I don't imagine those Korean coffee bars are there anymore either.

I am looking forward to the casket factory stories!

Candy Minx said...

Some good stories and memories in the city. Yep, I remember that drug bust too.

mister anchovy said...

Thanks everyone for your comments on this series. Barbara, yes I'm considering some posts about the casket factory in the coming weeks. Watch for "Zone of our Own".

To clarify a few things.... the coffee joints were Vietnamese, not Korean...there are still a smaller number of them on that stretch...there is also an excellent Pho joint on the east side a couple blocks up from Queen, that I highly recommend...I'm not good with time, but I think I was on Ossington for between four and five years...