I have a food memory that I love. My friend Denise and I at Hoo Lee Gardens in Cobourg, Ontario (1979) eating an egg roll and drinking chocolate milk. That delicious combo cost $1.69.
A Hoo Lee night with my family was always a treat, they had the best fried rice EVER. I realize every time I go back to Cobourg, there are so many things that anchor me to it. It sits like a little gem on Lake Ontario just a short jaunt east of Toronto. I was born there, my Mother was born there and so was my Grandfather and his Mother before him. I have a long history there, and it constantly calls me back.
I moved away in my teens and missed all the Hoo Lee love after a night at the Chateau. Only once did I hit up the back door for food after the bar when I was visiting.
I have another memory of Hoo Lee. It also belongs to my maternal grandfather who passed away in 1980. It was his place. He had his favourite stool at the counter and would pay his daily visit (or two) for coffee. Often times at lunch I would meet friends there and watch him at his spot interact with the staff, sometimes the place was so packed he never even noticed I was there, I felt like I should let him enjoy what was his. It was a happy place for him.
I owned two of those beautiful dolls that lived behind the counter at Hoo Lee. One of them he bought for my grandmother, and later after we lost Nan, he gave it to me. Her red silk dress and yellow lantern made me smile, she kept my grandmother close. Somewhere in my house they lay in a box, waiting to be discovered again.
When I walked past the other day and so appropriately with Denise, we stopped and reminisced. The boarded up window made my heart skip a beat. For a minute I felt like he was there, this time watching me.