Reflections on 50 Years of Takeaways: 1960-2010
McDonalds, KFC, A & W Root Beer & World-War 3
In the summer of 1960, after completing grade 10, I got a job at one of the first dozen A&W Root Beer restaurants that had then opened in Canada. There were nearly 2,000 A& W outlets across the USA at the time. The first A & W had opened in Canada in 1956. I only worked for A & W for several weeks that summer because my father, who had just retired, and was on a Canadian pension, was not allowed to have any of his dependent-children making any money. When I started that job at A & W neither he, nor I, nor my mother knew about the conditions that prevailed in the then Canada Pension Plan(CPP), a contributory, earnings-related social insurance program.
So it was, as I now recall after the passing of more than 50 years, that I spent the rest of that summer in 1960 doing other things. Before starting grade 11 in September 1960, and at the age of 16 in this small town in southern Ontario, I did not get another job. The A & W Root Beer experience was a disheartening one for me and it was the price I paid for having honest parents, or at least an honest father, or at least a father who wanted to obey the rules of the then CPP.
That summer in July and August of 1960, I finished my midget baseball career before moving into the juvenile category as it was then called in this town on Lake Ontario between two big cities.(1) I was mostly on the mound, but I also hit lots of home runs. I was what used to be called, and still is, "a slugger." I was very serious in my desire to go to The Show.(2) This enthusiasm came to an abrupt end in the following year when I started playing juvenile baseball, the league for 17 and 18 year old boys. Our team from this little town of Burlington, of 5000 people, played the big city boys from cities of 300,000 to a million. The quality of my playing, of my baseball skills, came to be seen in a wholly new perspective. I was clearly not in the running for The Show. I had to make a serious, a major change and adjustment, in my career aspirations.
That summer, then, I went swimming in Lake Ontario as often as possible and played Monopoly in the cool of the basement in our family home in the hot summer days of July and August. I wanted to make it with the girl at the corner of Seneca Street where I lived. This girl, Susan Gregory was her name, remained completely elusive, sad to say; not sad now of course but seriously sad then. I experienced the last months of my first year as a Baha’i youth that summer and autumn in 1960. The Baha’i Faith had been in Canada for more than 40 years by then after being pioneered from the Middle East in the 1890s from Iran, Palestine and Egypt.
In July 1971 I became an international Baha’i pioneer myself for the Canadian Baha'i community and moved from Canada to Australia. I was then 27. McDonalds, another famous chain of take-away stores, had just opened that same year, in1971, their first restaurant in the Sydney suburb called Yagoona. As I write this prose-poetic piece in November 2010 McDonalds has come to have nearly 800 outlets across Australia and McDonald's Corporation is the world's largest chain of hamburger fast food restaurants serving more than 58 million customers daily.
After that summer in 1960, I never worked in a takeaway food-store again, although I thought about it when I was finding the teaching profession more than a little source of anxiety. I never took the risky plunge into a franchise. The teaching profession, however frustrating from time to time, provided secure employment and with three kids to raise my secure employment was crucial. I have eaten in takeaway places often though, in the decades, the half-century, from that summer of 1960 to this summer in Australia in 2010. As I head into the middle years, 65 to 75, of late adulthood, as some human development psychologists call the years from 60 to 80 in the lifespan, I'm sure my life experience with takeaways is far from over. Of course, no man knoweth what his own end shall be, as the poet sayeth. -Ron Price, (1) Hamilton and Toronto were and are at the centre of the Golden Horseshoe in Ontario; and (2) this is colloquial name given to the Major Leagues in baseball, 18 November 2010.
Fifty-years of eating takeaways
after those first hamburgers in
June-July 1960, half a century
of A&W, McDonalds, Subway,
Hungry Jacks, KFC, & Chicken
Treat--on and on goes the litany
of take-away organizations who
have given me that fastest food
for someone always on the run
my father used to say & used to
ask me to slow down and stop
wolfing my food down…...Now
I still wolf-it-all-down after five
decades of these quick-and-easy
feedings along the highways and
byways in the two dozen towns &
cities where I have run surviving
in this third-world war-a war with(1)
no name, as a soldier with no rank
or serial-number in a battle with no
guns swords or uniforms and that
is never seen on TV: one Henry Miller(2)
wrote--described in 1941 in the midst of
that previous war my father’s sons were
killed in before I was born a lifetime ago.
(1) “When the destruction,” wrote Henry Miller, “brought about by the Second World War is complete another set of destructions will set in. It will be far more drastic and far more terrible than the destruction which we are now witnessing in the midst of this global war. The whole planet will be in the throes of revolution. And the fires will rage until the very foundations of the present world crumble.” -Henry Miller in The Phoenix and the Ashes, Geoffrey Nash, George Ronald, Oxford, 1984, p.55.
(2) Henry Miller(1891-1980) was an American novelist and painter. He was known for breaking with existing literary forms and developing a new sort of 'novel' that is a mixture of novel, autobiography, social criticism, philosophical reflection, surrealist, free association, and mysticism. It was a mixture that was distinctly always about and expressive of the real-life Henry Miller and yet it was also fictional. His most characteristic works of this kind are Tropic of Cancer, Tropic of Capricorn, and Black Spring. He also wrote travel memoirs and essays of literary criticism and analysis. He was among the first major writers to use the “F” word in his novels.
18 November 2010
P.S. This prose-poem was written in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the passing of Clara Dunn on 18/11/'60. Clara and her husband Hyde Dunn were among the few Bahá’is who left their homes to pioneer in response to the unveiling of the 'Abdu'l-Bahá's Tablets of the Divine Plan in 1919. They travelled to Australia where their combined efforts across several decades succeeded in established a firm pillar of the world-wide Bahá’i community. Both were named Hands of the Cause of God by Shoghi Effendi, Hyde posthumously, in 1951, and Clara in 1952.
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