Bacon Makes Everything Better

February 1, 2011 at 10:37 am 2 comments

I don’t know where I was conceived, but I do get a strange twinge whenever I get near the back seat of a ’48 Ford. Wherever it happened, I was born in North Bay and lived there for a full two or three weeks until we moved to the Big Smoke. However, we always returned to “the Bay” a few times a year to visit our friends and, because of those visits, I consider myself a North Bayer. The people there were family to us although we were not blood relatives. It’s easy to remember those visits because of the smell of bacon frying for Hilda’s bacon sandwiches.

Those sandwiches were so good that thinking of them while travelling to North Bay made me salivate like Pavlov’s dog. The normal trip to the Bay took a few hours and consisted of several delays along the way so Mom could “piddle”. They would go into a beverage room to use the washroom and of course, were obliged to have a beer. Seems Mom went to the washroom a lot on those trips. We usually left Toronto just after noon to get the full trip with piddles, done in time. Luckily there was a reason to expedite the trip. Dad had a particular hankering for Hilda’s homemade deep fried fish and chips. He was fastidious in getting there in time for supper so sometimes Mom had to hold it. I can still hear her as we pulled into town, “Hurry up Dad! My back teeth are floating.” The fish and chips were great, but I knew that next morning, I’d finally get my reward: Hilda’s bacon sandwiches. Today, I realize it must have cost a fortune to feed us all so generously. I’m sure it all worked out, but even if it didn’t, I know the same spreads would have been offered.

The folks we visited were ordinary folk and far from rich materially. They lived in a modest part of town and were happy to work hard and enjoy the company of family and friends on weekends. I still fondly remember Saturdays and sometimes Sunday afternoons when people would come to visit. Liquid refreshments were splashed into glasses to celebrate the occasion and often a few men would drift out to the ‘summer kitchen’ where one or two guitars would strike up joined by maybe a fiddle and someone drumming on an upturned can. From time to time a harmonica might appear from someone’s pocket. The playing and singing may not have been the best, but as I remember it, it was awesome. The guys would play for a time and later on the cards would break out on into the night.

As I came to learn, following the night before is that painful morning after. I’m sure the adults were discreetly tossing back aspirins and guzzling Bromo-Seltzer although my only morning memory is of Hilda, the lady of the house, cooking breakfast. Seven of us would be gathered around the old kitchen table eagerly waiting while the aroma of frying bacon and perking coffee would make my tummy rumble in anticipation. Hilda worked the kitchen like a machine. Bacon sizzled and the toaster popped for what seemed like an hour when suddenly a tall stack of bacon sandwiches would plop down in the middle of the table. Two slices of buttered toast with a generous filling of bacon. Put ketchup on if ya want, salt and pepper are right there, tomatoes available in season. We all ate until we were stuffed. What a breakfast! As the women cleaned up, the kids drifted off while the men did men things, sipped coffee and smoked while the night before was rehashed and plans were made for the day.

Remembering those days is a snap. Locked somewhere in a deep brain wrinkle is the memory of those times along with the feeling of peaceful happiness tied to them. Of course the key to the lock is the smell of frying bacon. As with many long stored memories, they improve with age, so to this day I haven’t been able to find a bacon sandwich better than Hilda made on so many mornings.

Each of us has a happy place we can call up when we want. What’s yours? Mine is a kitchen in North Bay with the sounds of music and laughter, all tied to the smell of frying bacon. When things get to be a drag, bacon makes everything better and I remember those times and what the North Bay family taught me about life, love and laughter.



Entry filed under: Articles.

Bacon Makes Everything Better Steamed and Crabby

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Lisa Llamrei  |  February 2, 2011 at 5:13 pm

    mmmm…. bacon.

    So, you’re a North Bayer – that explains so much.

  • 2. boundbytheword  |  February 10, 2011 at 10:13 pm

    It’s amazing how something twitching your sences, a smell, a song or the taste of something from the past can put you right back there.

    For me, it’s the smell of chicken stew cooking on the stove, or candy floss at a county fair. Both smells bring back wonderful memories of the past and take me to that happy place you speak of.

    Great post Dave!

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