Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Zone of our Own Part III

One of the first things I noticed, approaching 109 Niagara, was the restaurant across the street. The Speedy Restaurant was known by everyone as Billy's after the friendly fellow who ran it. It was the favourite lunchtime haunt of the guys who worked at the attached abattoir, Quality Meats. If you were walking south on Tecumseth toward Niagara at lunchtime on a nice summer day, you would typically see seven or eight guys sitting at the picnic tables outside, wearing blue hard-hats, bulky headphones, and the blood-stained white outfits that they wore on the job. It was quite a sight, but I don't think it was one that inspired many outsiders to pop in for lunch.

There used to be a lead smelter just south and east of the casket factory, in what is now a fenced off vacant lot. At one point, lead testing was available for everyone who lived in the area. This was worrisome to me because people had veggie gardens in the area, and one fellow on the north side of Niagara Street, just west of Tecumseth, had chickens. Every now and then one would get loose and we would see the guy chasing it onto the street from our window. As far as I know, all the lead tests for people who lived in the area came back negative. All the soil in the area was replaced, and not long after that, the old smelter was de-commissioned. That means that guys in space suits took down the building brick by brick. As I recall they did a lot of hosing down of the site along the way. I remember standing at the edge of our roof, trying to snap some pictures, when some very irate and officious people on the ground screamed at me to get away from there and stop taking pictures. I made two paintings at the time called The De-commissioner.

...more soon


Barbara Bruederlin said...

That must have been really disconcerting to watch them take that smelter down.

Candy Minx said...

It was and it smelt weird around there part slaughter house part chemical waste. But it was an awesome area!