Saturday, March 30, 2013

Sepia Saturday 170: Coffee Time at Childs

True confession: my father was a ham. He also loved the girls so this picture captured him perfectly. Childs restaurant, one of his favorite haunts for 39 years, closed and this picture of him drinking coffee with a couple of "airline hostesses" at the closing party appeared in the Winnipeg Free Press. Most of the other photos I have of him drinking anything picture him with a glass of whiskey - far more to his taste.

Dad began frequenting Childs in 1921 (he was 22). It closed in 1960.

Once or twice a year my mother dressed me up in my best clothes and Dad took me to Childs, just the two of us. While she was doing my hair she'd run down the protocol -"sit up straight, no fidgeting or kicking under the table, let Dad pull out your chair, no tugging at your underwear, don't suck air through your straw, don't slurp, don't eat too fast, smile at people and say hello, listen to your father". We had chocolate sundaes and something nice to drink. He did the same thing with my sister. I remember these outings as very special - he showed us off to the waitresses and anybody else who was around on a Saturday. 

In the article my father is quoted:

"I don't know where I'll go for coffee after today," mourned F. J. Killeen, summing up the general feeling of older customers.

"I've been coming here for coffee every morning since the restaurant opened in 1921. I'll be lost without Childs."

Following in my father's footsteps during my "regular job" years, I used to stop for coffee at Van de Kamps coffee shop, corner of San Fernando Road and Fletcher Drive. People would come and go at the stool next to "mine" - mine during 6:30 - 7:00 a.m. and I met some interesting people there -  one being the lawyer who defended Charles Manson, Irving Kanareck. But that's another story. 

Enjoy more caffeine soaked nostalgia at  Sepia Saturday


  1. One of my go to coffee dives is the long standing Champions Restaurant in Escondido. It is also the best place around for a chili size or chili omelette. A starched outfit waitress joint.

    When I was going through my divorce several decades ago, one of the accommodating waitresses there would reach under the counter and sneak a shot of kahlua in my coffee in the morning when I needed an attitude adjustment. Now that's service!

    Old F.J. seems like quite the character.

  2. Your poor nearly had me in tears !

  3. It is always sad when a place that is so familiar and comforting ceases to be so, whatever the circumstances. Having had to deal with a huge such wrench in the past, I've since tended to stick close to home and not to develop too strong attachments to such places, but I think I could just about handle the closure of a coffee shop.

  4. Perhaps he is looking so sad, not because the coffee house is closing, but that there is coffee in his cup rather than a warming tot of malt whisky. Lovely picture, lovely memories.

  5. Unfortunately I couldn't read the whole article.

    I remember getting similar lectures before going out for tea at the local pub. One time, we were on our best behaviour but Mum was complaining about a man smoking a cigar on a nearby table. Well Mum soon ate her words as the man smoking the cigar bought Mum and Dad a bottle of wine saying something to the effect that he had been watching our family and thought they were a lovely young couple with the best mannered children he had seen. After the lectures we had received, we were too scared to be anything but on our best behaviour!

  6. When I get my loyalty card stamped the next time I have a cup of coffee I will reflect on how many free cups I would have earned if I had been going there for 39 years. I have a vague memory of being lectured for slouching in a coffee shop when being treated by an Uncle. I had let him down in front of his friends. At least I wouldn't have been playing on a mobile phone.

  7. That's an interesting snippet to have in your cuttings. Your dad looks thoroughly downhearted.

  8. What a great memento of your dad. My dad as his group of coffee buddies that he meets early every morning in the tiny town where he lives. When the cafe where they used to meet closed, they moved to a gas station along the highway through town. It has a few booths and serves breakfast and hot lunches.

  9. Lately McDonalds is working hard to persuade us that their coffee and McMuffin is the same as your's dad's favorite place. The independent cafe, the corner coffee house, the local breakfast diner, are all traditions that can't be replaced by Starbucks and the like. Never the same.