Here at Hay’s Daze the second weekend in December means it’s time for another story from Another Time – A Christmas in Parkvale by Dr. Reginald Smoot (or somebody similar).
“Downtown Red Deer. Dec. 9. A long time ago …
In we go to Kresge’s across from Gaetz Cornett Drug Store and stand inside the warm entrance banging our boots and peeling off our mitts and tuques. Mom is digging around in her purse.
“Here,” she says. “You two go ahead and have something at the soda counter, and I’ll meet you there. I have some Christmas shopping to do.”
She hands me two quarters. Since I already have a dime and a nickel in my pocket, I’m positively rich.
“Thanks Mom,” I say, and she disappears into the jumble of shelves bursting with Christmas stuff. I grab Chip’s arm. “I dare ya,” I say.
Just inside the door, there it is. Golden brown with a white mane and big white tail with a saddle and leather reins. A plastic steed frozen in mid-gallop on a metal stand with a coin box.
Like a runaway from a Merry-Go-Round, the Kresge Horse has been living here, riding relentlessly nowhere since anybody can remember. Both of us kids, heck probably every single little kid in Red Deer, has put some serious mileage on the Kresge Horse.
“What am I, a Grade One-er??” Chip squeaks. I laugh. “I double dog dare you to ride the horse. Right here, right now.”
We both know it’s almost impossible to get out of a double dog dare, and I clinch it when I reach into my pocket and pull out my dime. The horse ride is 10 cents.
Chip looks absolutely ridiculous climbing on. Everybody knows that a Grade Five-er really has no business riding the little Kresge Horse.
“Yippee!” he shouts. He drawls it like Wyatt Earp from the Saturday afternoon movies at the Paramount. I drop the dime in the coin box.
In five seconds I’m cracking up. Chip is flailing away on the Kresge Horse which suddenly looks five times smaller with Chip on it. The old plastic stallion is grinding full speed and Chip is Zorro on his famous horse Tornado and then he’s the Lone Ranger and Chip actually shouts out “Hi Ho Silver, Away!” his legs kicking, hanging waaaay down past the stirrups, and … and that’s exactly when Julie Miller walks in.
Julie and her Mom and her little sister are out for Thursday Night Shopping and all three of them stop and stare with their mouths open. Chip has had a huge crush on Julie since October. He doesn’t notice her. “Whoo – Hooo!” goes Chip. “C’mon Trigger!” he yells, swinging his hand above his head …
And that’s when he sees her.
It sounds like half the store shelves just fell over. Chip goes flying off the Kresge Horse right into a stack of Monopoly, Sorry and Clue board game boxes on a table next to the horse – CRASH! – hurtling into a pile of empty shopping baskets.
When he finally manages to dig himself out of the mess, Julie is nowhere to be found. Chip’s face is even redder than his hair.
“C’mon Chip,” I say. “It’s only a girl. Let’s go get some ice cream.”
We head towards the big shiny red counter that runs all along the far side of Kresge’s with the red and chrome stools and the cold metal milkshake containers and the thick white hot chocolate mugs and the best ice cream sundaes this side of the little walk-up Dairy Queen over by the hospital hill.
And by the time we get to the counter we are both cackling like a couple of Grade One-ers.”
Harley Hay is a writer and filmmaker in Red Deer.