My table at Marj’s

I have never been a brave person when it comes to needles, or medical offices for that matter.

But I don’t think I’ve ever had quite as much fun in either situation as I did last weekend when I was among the hundreds of people who got in line at the Fergus office of the Wellington Dufferin Guelph Public Health (WDGPH) unit for my hepatitis A shot.

Community happens in times of crisis, in unexpected situations where we are forced together by circumstance.

I’m not sure this constitutes crisis in the true meaning of the word, but when an institution like Marj’s Village Kitchen in Alma closes its doors, initially due to a health scare, you realize that our community has lost much more than a country diner.  We’ve lost a piece of our small town life.

Listening to people talk about this restaurant with such fondness and compassion for the staff really made me proud to live here. Maybe it wasn’t your style of dining, but for a working class family like mine, Marj’s offered us good, affordable food in a casual spot and some of the nicest serving staff around. 

The Carpenter and I had breakfast dates there often. I’ve said it before; sharing bacon is foreplay in our relationship. Many cups of coffee were consumed sorting out our kids’ problems and life schedules, and sharing the mini-dramas in our work life. For an hour, there were no interruptions except for the nice lady who brought us coffee. Romance rekindled over bacon and eggs. Cheap and easy: nothing wrong with that.

My gal pal Jo and I would head to Alma occasionally after we dropped the kids at school. Over a hot meal we’d catch up on life and listen to each other’s problems. It got us out of our lives and our town just long enough to refresh and jump back in.

One of my favourite Marj’s memories was meeting my two farmer-mommy pals, Katie and Nicole. Alma was a central spot for all of us. Our lives and careers were different, but when we met at Marj’s, we stopped and connected. Just last week we were talking about a reunion there.

I took my Auntie Dee Dee there because she loved her shredded potatoes and this was our special time together.

I’d watch diners read their copy of the Wellington Advertiser and realize how connected we all are, even if we’re spread out geographically. This is where the farmers and the townsfolk met and if the line-up was long, you didn’t leave; you just pulled up a chair at someone else’s table.

There were no airs about the place. It’s a diner. Relax. Flip your cup over. Buy a pie on your way out.

Waiting in line for my vaccination, people were sharing stories about their memories at Marj’s. It seemed others found that same sense of community around a table there that I had.

Ironically, here we were reminiscing in line at WDGPH. And yet, there were no hard feelings about the health scare, no complaints about a needle, just concern for all the staff of the restaurant. People cared.

Community matters here.

I believe it always will … at least I hope so. That’s up to us.



Kelly Waterhouse