Superstition by Stevie Wonder – Released in 1972
I heard Superstition playing on a speaker outside Vic’s convenience store. Whenever I hear Superstition I think of Vic.
The Birds and the Bees according to Bobby and Bob
My best friend growing up in Forest Lawn in Calgary was Bob.
Where Bobby, my other friend, was more into sports and rarely broached the subject of girls, Bob was less into sports and was a much more explicit in his vocalizations about girls.
Bob was quite brash for a Grade 6’er and most of Bob’s brashness came from the fact he was three years older than me and another part of it was, I think, the fact that he was a Catholic of French ancestry.
Bob often drank red wine with his supper and stayed up late on Friday watching the midnight adult blue movies with his parents. I usually went over to Bob’s on Friday night and partook of both adventures. The thought of telling my mom and dad what went on at Bob’s didn’t even cross my mind.
In the summer I’d go to Bob’s every morning. His mom would cook us porridge. I always heaped copious amounts of brown sugar on my porridge.
One time when I was pouring my fourth or fifth tablespoon of sugar onto my porridge Bob’s mom asked me if I always used that much sugar. I said yes, and I remember her and Bob looking at each other and laughing. I went through bags of sugar at our home like sugar was going out of style. I was always asking my mom to buy a new bag of sugar – sugar and oranges; I loved oranges and went through bags of them as well.
After Bob and me ate our porridge we’d wash the dishes, watch a cartoon called Dick Tracy, and then go out and have fun. That was our morning ritual every day in the summer.
Our neighborhood was a blast. There were always lots of kids at the park to play with.
One thing Bob and me would do is set up a ramp for our bikes, get young kids to lay down on the sidewalk side-by-side at the edge of the ramp and we’d see how many kids we could jump. We had to assure the last kid we wouldn’t run him over, and we usually didn’t. If I remember correctly I think I jumped six kids, and only once or twice did my back tire ever graze the last kid.
When we got bored of that, we’d go to Vic’s Food Store and buy chocolate bars, gum, pop, football cards and hockey cards. (My favourite chocolate bar was called a WigWag. It was a chocolate-coated caramel candy.)
Vic was a Chinese fellow who owned the convenience store. He was probably in his 40’s and everybody loved Vic. He was always really friendly and treated all the kids with respect. Sometimes my mom and me would run into him when we were out shopping and he’d always take time to chat with us and ask us how things were going.
The convenience store is still there. It’s not officially called Vic’s anymore, but there is a huge mural on the wall on the side of the store with the name ‘Vic’s’ on it. Vic hasn’t run the store since the 70’s but I’m sure most people in Forest Lawn still call it Vic’s.
It’s funny, my mom and dad were both smokers. My dad would often give me money and tell me to run to Vic’s to buy him an Eat-More chocolate bar and a pack of Cameo cigarettes, and my mom would give me money and ask me to get her a pack of Rothman’s. Unfortunately, kids can’t do that sort of thing nowadays.
There was another convenience store owned by a Japanese family. It was right above a bowling alley, which was right behind our apartment complex. We’d always be outside the back of the store looking for bowling pins and bowling balls that had been thrown into the garbage. We usually had enough pins stashed away that we could get a bowling game going among a few of the kids in my apartment complex.
Sometimes when digging for pins we’d find a girly magazine and Bob would act like he struck gold and starting flicking through the pages like a maniac pointing out every girl in the magazine and expressing his wonderment and fascination at the measurements and curvatures of each and every girl. At first it was all quite interesting, but Bob was in Grade 6 and I was in Grade 3, so I was usually more excited about finding lots of bowling pins than I was in finding a girly magazine.
Bob and me would also often go to the pool hall. Like the bowling alley, it was underground and I remember it always seemed like a shady place both literally and figuratively.
Bob always seemed to have fun there and seemed to fit right in, but I always felt like I’d entered a place that gave off a negative vibe that my Grade 3 mind wasn’t accustomed to. Whenever I was there I always felt like I had to keep my mouth shut and tread carefully.
My mom would sometimes take Bob and me to Sylvan Lake, which is a lake between Calgary and Edmonton that thousands of people go to on weekends.
Bob was blonde haired and fair skinned and one time at Sylvan he got fried by the sun.
The next day I went to his house and he was covered in Noxzema. I felt bad for Bob.
Anyway, after Grade three I moved away to my new neighborhood in Calgary, which was called Ogden. I didn’t want to move because I knew I’d miss Bob.
It was a sad day when I had to say goodbye.
The good thing was that Bob’s birthday and my birthday was on the same day. Bob called me on my birthday for a few years after I moved away and asked how I was doing. It was always good to hear from Bob but I never saw him again.
I sometimes wonder what became of Bob.
Here is the musical genius himself, Stevie Wonder, playing live on Sesame Street:
Here’s what the WigWag bar looked like: