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‘The Drive’ hasn’t lost its enchantment
Was there ever a more humble-but-happier bunch than the charmed residents of an enchanted enclave more commonly known as Mager Drive West?
Where, you eagerly ask, is this minute dominion with its foothold in fairyland and inhabited by those fey few? Why, in St. Vital, of course, serendipitously set in south Winnipeg, and by felicitous happenstance near the famous junction of St. Mary’s and St. Anne’s roads.
It is, indeed, a magical place — or at least it was in the 1950s when my brother, sisters and I were growing up there. And it is, still. When we turn onto ‘The Drive’ now to take mother with her dimming eyesight past No. 45, the house she lived in for 53 years, we know we are home again and we let the street work its magic.
It was a street, in the ‘50s, defined by the meandering, tree-lined Red River on the one side and a growing busy neighbourhood on the other, but quiet and safe. A child could roller-skate its bumpity-bump sidewalks or take his bicycle for a ride right down the centre of it with nary a fear of fast cars or trucks.
It was basically trafficked by parents who were always on the look out for kids anyhow. In fact, it was a place just made for kids back then; we had the freedom to run and play and that we did incessantly, running and laughing from one lawn to the next.
Sadly, we kids grew up, other and wider avenues captured our imagination and beckoned us to leave. The parents, however, stayed on and continued to mow their lawns and wash their cars in the driveways and to do the other things they were wont to do. And when their kids, now grown, came home to visit, well then, there was still enough magic left to entrance.
‘The Drive’ has never lost its enchantment and even with the new kids on the block, it’s there.
You can feel it just walking down the old sidewalk with the cracks that hark back to 1959. "Step on a crack and you break your mother’s back," we used to chant. Well, we must have done right by our mother because she was the last resident of her generation on the street. The time came, however, when she, too, had to leave and it was then we found her a place more suitable to her ever increasing needs. But oh, how we wept. Not only her biological children but those other sons and daughters who recognized in her the last caretaker of memories created of a beatified childhood.
Martha Sarmatiuk is a former St. Vital resident now living in Italy.
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