This story evolved from a chat with Beatrice, over regret..story of a story for another time. I recalled to Beatrice fondly the summers Godfrey spent with us. in more recent years, our friend the vagabond Hawken, when out west, joined us at our lakeside cabin retreat.
“Bucolic”, Hawken described the journey by car, he was fine company, but had no interest in roadside attractions or stops at every bakery. This past holiday, on a narrow, divided stretch, I drove over a picnic cooler dropped middle of the road. It stuck fast under the car, with a dreadful screech. Pulling over, it was clear that Hawken would have to crawl beneath the vehicle and pull the mangled plastic thing out. He did so with ease, although getting very dusty, I drop kicked the cooler over a cliff, Hawken lay in the dirt, happily waving to passing traffic. I suppose, he mused someone in a hundred years will find that thing wedged down the mountainside, possibly containing beer, and wonder the how and why?…
There was more of Godfrey in our young friend than Hawken would ever know, and as we traveled on, I told him the story of our Island, and The Snow White Motel…
I regret, to this day, we never took the time to stay a night at the iconic eyesore- The Snow White Motel- a fixture roadside twixt Fanny Bay and Bowser, every unit named for a fairy tale dwarf, across from The Shady Lady Bar, and an oyster farm wharf.
Godfrey loved the long drive up island to our cabin nestled by Spider Lake. Before the widened highway lay waste to rural charms, was valley view and coastal towns, junkyards and dairy farms. He always tried to make me guess, how many folks would be fishing from a certain silver bridge. I never took his bet, something this day I still regret.
But I learned from Godfrey- that there was no point in “Hurry”. We passed the pet sanctuary of a renegade nun, Chemainus Bakery for doughnuts and cream bun, paused at low tide, and outside Sunbeam Bread for the smell, but never did we linger at The Snow White Motel.
Wind blown rubbish, faded screen door, greasy spoon cafe old, but oddly well kept. Great large sign a painted pie on the roof, always an old chap in the third booth slept. Once owned by” Dot” who moved on in 1973, this roadside diner was a magnet for Godfrey.
Orders were shouted through a hole in the wall, smell of fried onions and chip fat pervaded all. It is sad to drive by now- “Dot’s” is gone, replaced by an ugly shopping mall.
The toilets were turquoise at The Snow White Motel- we never stopped, it is what the legends tell.
Twas Ralph’s life’s dream, in blue and brown glass, built a castle did he, from bottles tossed from cars as they passed. Beets and antique stands filled Godfrey with quiet dread, but he cheered up immensely when Ralphs’ Glass Castle loomed ahead. It was barely a castle, and a complete waste of time but we always stopped to use the loo and chat and a tour with dungeon included was only a dime..lost sadly to time, even to me, I now longer recall where The Glass Castle stood when I now make the journey.
He was an odd young man, our Godfrey, and when on a long hill a hearse passed us he asked me, every politely, for good luck could we stop, so he could spit three times behind a fir tree.
Was barely a mile past The Snow White Motel, on a bad sloping curve, straitened now on the right, but long ago many wept when a beer truck flipped one winter night, and drowned old Verne Van Horne, in pumpkin ale in his bed as Verne slept.
Godfrey writes- “I recall the tiny villages lined along the sea, “Jinglepot Road” always good for a laugh, and the high wooden fence round the Doukobor Colony. we passed foreboding slag heaps, from coal mining days that reminded me of Wales long ago, but Worzel would not stop at The Snow White Motel, the slag heaps or any place passing through Nanaimo.”
When last we saw The Snow White Motel, the door to “Sneezy” was ajar, and a lone chamber maid pushed her cart of towels and bleach, down the walk as we passed in the car. We never stopped at The Snow White Motel, it was years after Godfrey was gone, that I noticed, so to was the tawdry old motel, now a fancy new inn, no more headless garden gnomes, no more plastic flamingos in the dried up, brown lawn…