April showers

April showers bring May flowers. That childhood poem came to mind this week.

Apart from the obvious – fresh flowers coming after a month of rain – it gives a subtle reminder that better times lie ahead, but there is some inconvenience in the meantime.

The drudgery of the times has been extended with news late last week that another lockdown is in place. After Easter weekend, parents learned students would return to school for a day and be sent home to engage once again in remote learning. The delayed March break begins on April 12.

The stress ensues for decision makers and people whose every waking moment continues to be impacted by this pandemic.

Parents are now tasked again with home schooling online while holding down a job and running their household. Business owners, some forced to lockdown and others trying to keep staff spirits high, continue in a struggle for survival. Children, regardless of age, are looking out for elderly parents or grandparents. The stresses seem unbearable, but it can be shouldered with some more patience and knowledge this will eventually pass.

A kind word goes a long way as well, so let’s see if we can make a point of extending kind gestures and looking for good in dreary days.

April showers bring May flowers; better times lie ahead.

Remembering Chuck

Last weekend, Chuck Au, owner of the Black and White Restaurant in downtown Fergus, passed away. He was 97.

For generations of Fergus residents, Chuck was a fixture on the main street. Although younger members of his family have managed the restaurant latterly, in his heyday Chuck would stay open after closing for sports players and often knew each late-night rowdy by their first name.

In later years he would sit in the back reading a Chinese newspaper when not walking the streets to aid in his recovery after a heart attack.

His restaurant offered a full menu of Canadian and Chinese items (and still does). We hazard to guess for most old-timers Chuck was very much a pioneer choosing sleepy Fergus, Ontario as place to set up shop. Here he raised a family, built a successful business and contributed mightily to his adopted community.

Times do change and new people come and go – as do restaurants. Apart from some changes in paint or a few decorating touch-ups when a movie was filmed there years ago, the Black and White is like stepping back in time.

While lockdowns have decimated eating in, there was a time that each and every booth was full at lunch time with customers looking for a blue-plate special and a large Coke dispensed from a fountain into a milkshake glass.

People lined up out the door on weekends – not because they had to, but because they wanted to patronize the local guy who happened to serve Chinese cuisine.

Now we see Phil and his wife for “the special” at lunchtime or take-out on weeknights. The service is friendly and the price is right.

Perhaps it is that familiarity that compels the need to observe that Chuck Au will be fondly remembered as an ambassador of sorts and window to another culture from halfway around the world. More significantly, he’s an example of the success to be found when communities and immigrants embrace one another.