Thursday, May 12, 2005     « Jake's Chip Wagon »


And now back to our regularly scheduled program.

After arriving in lovely downtown Niagara Falls via the bus (blah) we continued to walk around downtown looking for something to eat before heading to the tourist area. Experience has taught me that the tourist area is not the place to find edible "food".

Just as it started to rain we spotted Jake's Chip Wagon parked on a side street. Granted deep fried potatoes are not exactly "food" but we were starving and downtown Niagara Falls is very nearly a ghost town. I did buy an excellent guide to knitting crazy, lumpy popcorn hats for 25 cents at one of several consignment/churchy thrift stores. Chatted up and charmed the thrift store ladies too so I must have been high on all the boarded up shops and general visual misery. I am just not that charming in real life.

So anyways, it starts to rain, I'm in my glory carrying three cameras around my neck and high on aesthetically pleasing misery, and suddenly there's Jake's. Davin is from the Ottawa Valley which is like the capital of homecut fries coated in vinegar, salt and, get ready for this - butter. Hot grease just ain't enough apparently. Needless to say he was very happy about Jake's. It was a real old-fashioned chip operation run out of an old truck. From a distance we could see a line-up, in the rain no-less which was a pretty good sign that Jake's was worth checking out (of course I still had the stubborn idea in my head that if we just looked hard enough we'd find actual food).

Once in line I started chatting up the people around me. The woman in front of me was eager to tell me her personal history with Jake's. It has been parking in that location a couple of days per week (Wed and Thursday for certain but I forget the other days) from noon until 3pm (I believe) since 1945. She insisted it was worth getting my own box. When I got up to the counter I asked if I could take some pictures and we discussed Jake's history.

This is Jake in the photo. He was sitting on a stool inside the truck cutting potatoes by hand and placing them in a bowl on his lap. Jake was interested in my camera and mentioned that if we liked "old junk" we'd like Simon's down the street. Now apparently Simon's is "Niagara's Oldest Restaurant." The guy in line behind me stated that his father had been going to Simon's since he was a little kid. I'm too tired to continue with this story and will elaborate another day but let's just say that when he said "...lots of old junk" I imagined one of those dimly lit, quaint, theme-style restaurants with names that include the words "Olde", "Thyme" or "Mama's" and are filled with nick-nacks, black and white photos of people with funny clothes and have tin signs for 10 cent cigarettes, RC cola, or 40s era kids' wagons decorating the walls. Strangers (and relatives) often think we'll like something because it has some kind of stupid shtick or "wacky quirk", cause we're creative types who like "stuff" and creative types who like "stuff" are kooky that way. They are often way off the mark. However, Simon's was not at all what I imagined in the least. It very literally was "...lot's of old junk." Someone needs a life coach to help purge a thing or two.


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