EDDY - STOP DRINKING

My dad eventually sold the Wynyard Bakery and started to buy and sell various eating establishment (Pizzaburger on Main Street and Mom’s on the Yellowhead highway just on the edge of town were two of my favorites). He ended up buying the Wynyard Hotel which was a large hotel, bar, restaurant & licensed dining room, and a Greyhound freight and passenger depot. Due to provincial legislation to sell “off-sale” beer you needed an attached hotel which is still an archaic requirement in some prairie provinces.

Someone had to come in at 6 a.m. to prep for breakfast and someone had to close the bar and clean up leaving at about 2 a.m. If someone did not show up for a shift one of my parents would have to step in (my dad for the bar and my mom for the restaurant).

 

We also had to have a 24-hour clerk at the hotel desk. I worked some weekday evening shifts and weekend overnight shifts as the desk clerk. There were some perks. I could do my homework, I had access to chocolate bars and for the overnight shift I would clean the bar and have unlimited access to the pool table.

The hotel reception desk was just outside the bar entrance.  I watched as parents left their kids in the lobby while they drank. I watched the regulars come and go. I watched as people wrote and cashed cheques, many of which bounced and they would be barred until they paid up. I watched fights. I watched some drink themselves to death. In retrospect this was heavy stuff for a teenager.

Some of the regulars would stop by the desk and chat. They all had that chronic inebriated grin. I have fond memories of one of these regulars - “Fast Eddy”. I don’t know why they called him “Fast” as he was anything but fast. He ambled around at his own slow pace. He would entertain me by wiggling his ears and, despite my best efforts; I could not replicate this trick. I felt for Fast Eddy and, as a teenager, I counseled him to stop drinking or at least cut back. I would be blunt and tell him he would die if he continued to drink. I think he was one of the handful of farm-hand hotel residents who stayed with us during the winter and left in the spring. I am not sure what happened to Fast Eddy.  I moved on, he moved on, perhaps he stopped drinking, perhaps he died of alcoholism.

There was another regular who lived in hotel. He had half his face bandaged as he had a huge "rodent ulcer", which in later life I learned was a basal cell carcinoma, which had gotten out of control and eaten away half his face. He pretty much kept to himself. He spent most of the day in the bar, He lived and died in the hotel.

One of many of the regulars who visited me at the hotel reception desk. Alas I can't remember his name.

At a relatively young age I was exposed to the social consequences of “bar life” and alcoholism. I should note that my maternal grandfather and my “Uncle” Paul were also alcoholics who both died of their additions. You may be wondering if I drink? Yes and no and that is a story for a different chapter.