Tuesday, January 3, 2012


While Memory watches o’er the sad review
Of Joys that faded like the morning dew.
         Thomas Campbell

When I was just a girl, my brother, and I would visit our Grandparents in the town with the sandy beach. We were lucky enough to spend weeks there every summer. One summer we met two boys our age while we were playing on the beach. They were from the Big City and we hit it off right away. They were staying in a hotel in town called The Royal something, even the name sounded elegant to this poor village girl.

The four of us would play on the beach most every day. We would build beautiful big sand castles with moats of water, and bridges. We would spend hours trying to outdo each other constructing the biggest, the most spectacular castles. The cold waters of the lake would eventually creep closer, and closer to these castles until one gigantic wave would wash them away. We would laugh then do it all over again the next day.

After an afternoon of sun, sand and laughter we would head over to the railway tracks and pick up pop bottles that people left behind. We would carry these bottles over to the old Dominion store, cash them in, and then head over to the corner store to buy a bottle of  Orange Crush, and some black liquorice to share. It was always so good.

One day we walked our two new friends to The Royal something, we opened the heavy glass, and wooden door; I found myself surrounded by the most beautiful room I had ever seen. The ceiling was as high as the sky; there was a beautiful glass chandelier that looked like the sun had been broken down into pieces. There was a thick green carpet, much like the grass at the lawn bowling club, where the rich people played and we were not allowed. Then I saw it, a winding dark wooden banister stretching to the sky. It was so beautiful; we walked up the green carpeted stairs, my hands sliding over the smooth wood as we climbed. I could hardly wait to get to the top to look down. 

When we made it to the top I was not disappointed, it was truly magnificent. We pulled ourselves away to go and see our new friends Mother. I did not want to leave; I was picturing myself sliding down this banister all the way to the bottom.

I don’t remember too much about the visit with their Mother as I was still thinking of getting back to that banister and sliding all the way to the bottom. I do remember her saying “It was nice meeting you.” That was it; we were back out in the hall looking at that beautiful dark wood just waiting for me to slide down. I climbed up on the banister, I had a good grip on it when a man in a fancy uniform came running over before I could let go. He said “No one is allowed on the bannister, you will have to leave.” He was very angry and I was so afraid. With my hopes of sliding dashed, we ran down the stairs and out that heavy glass and wood door as fast as we could. I was to never return there again.

Later as  a woman, about twenty some years later, my Mom, my brother T, and myself decided to return to this Hotel and book a room to relive those special memories we both had. I could hardly wait to see this glamorous place again.

We opened the heavy glass, and peeling painted door. The first thing that struck me was the odour of stale beer, cigarettes, and cigars. There was no beautiful green carpet, there was no carpet at all, just a stained, and sticky tile floor with missing pieces. There was no chandelier just a round glass fixture centered in the middle of the very low ceiling. There was a banister going up one flight of stairs, it was painted white, and the paint was all chipped, there were lots of dirty fingerprints.  We did walk up that once glorious staircase to see what the rooms looked like, the doors were crooked and there were big gaps under them. The floor creaked as we walked. The walls were very dirty with the odd hole punched through.  My first thought was this was the wrong place, but it was not. I had no desire to slide down this dirty peeling bannister, and I felt a sense of overwhelming sadness. We did not book a room and left through that big heavy door once again.

This made me think that maybe some memories are meant to be just memories never to be revisited. I started asking myself; was The Royal ever really Royal, or was it just a young girls creative imagination?  Or; could it just be that hard times had fallen on The Royal something? I will never know.

Could it just have been another sand castle on the beach?



  1. Why is it that things are never as good as we think they are or remember.
    What great memories you have of the time and place. Do you ever wonder what happened to your two friends?
    Great story thanks for sharing it.

  2. That is so sad...such an elegant place fallen into such disrepair! Isn't it nice we have our memories to carry with us.

  3. Cherish these beautiful memories! I'm sorry it no longer lived up to the memory but no matter, you have taken me on a delightful tour of a very lovely time in your life.

  4. interesting perspective. maybe a bit of it all. sad it was not as majestic as you remembered/expected.

  5. Such a ponder........

    But I know that stale beer smell and it reminds me of playing sawdust bowling in a local pub with my Uncle Whitey..........

    I love that memory.......


  6. “You can't go home again...back home to lyricism, to singing just for singing's sake, back home to aestheticism, to one's youthful idea of 'the artist' and the all-sufficiency of 'art' and 'beauty' and 'love,' back home to the ivory tower, back home to places in the country..." ― Thomas Wolfe

    He may have said it first, but I think you said it better, Button.

  7. Buttons, you painted a lovely picture of that Royal something with just words. Thank you for sharing this beautiful memory with us!


  8. as with many things.... it should be remembered for what it was at the time....

    high school reunions come to mind .....your dreams are shattered most of the time...hahah...especially the bad boy with the unruly mop of wonderful hair....now bald and fat....

  9. Well told Buttons. Just a reminder that we can never really go back. I have had to find this out the hard way too many times.

  10. Don't you just love writing? Capturing this memory in such a lovely fashion and sharing it with us. I almost feel I was there too! In reality it's probably a little of both....neglected and more run down + the grandeur of a young girls big eyes.

  11. How sad... I've had a couple instances of similar memories and re-visits later in life. Sometimes we really can't go home again... sadly.

  12. I almost cried. My father took me to see his cousins farm in Minnesota. We drove up and down looking. Finally I found the address and we stopped. He was so disappointed the big red barn was torn down, the tree patch completely leveled, and the farmhouse removed. In its place a tin shed and ugly square house. I wish we had not gone back as he was so upset. My heart goes out to you as it did to him.

  13. Oh my, how sad and how incredibly disappointing for you to have your memories dashed like that!

  14. funny how everything seemed opulent as a child. i'm sorry you were stopped from sliding down the banister. maybe you could have let your memories stand as they were.


The mind grows by what it feeds on. J.G. Holland

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