Readers of this blog (April 30, 2010) will know that there's a rum bar and grill on Sanibel Island in Florida that is named for Doc Ford, the protagonist in the popular novels by Randy Wayne White. Sanibel also happens to be the setting of several of these novels. Fans of White's books can drop in to the bar and grill, have a meal or a drink and pretend that the man at the table in the window is Doc Ford, in the flesh.
It's a cute idea. It's been done before (think Green Gables in Cavendish, PEI, or Rick's Cafe in Casablanca), but still, it leads me to imagine what businesses one might find in Larkin, Ontario, the setting of my new novel, Growing Up Ivy.
Let me give you a bit of the background. The last time we met Ivy and Charlie and Albert, it was 1934 and they were still in their teens.
Albert Coon, Charlie Bayliss's best friend from the old days, took over Coon's Grocery from his parents after WWII. His biggest competitor, Stickles' General Store, went out of business when old Mr. Stickle died, and shortly afterwards, the building became the home of Alva Chalmers' Shoe Emporium, named for a man who had, for a time, peddled shoes. He was the father of Ivy Chalmers, who has for many years been the editor and publisher of the Larkin Herald.
For a while, someone in town tried to run caravan tours under Alva Chalmers's name, but with the increase in traffic on the area roads it soon became too dangerous for the horses, and his daughter insisted that the business cease operations.
Outside of town, they finally put in flood lights at the Larkin Ball Park, home of the famous Townies and Farmers. The biggest and most coveted trophy presented to the champion softball team each year is the Bayliss Repair and Radio Shop cup.
You may still find, about halfway down Arthur Road in Larkin, on the street next to the tracks, a narrow house of grey clapboard called Maud's Place. There's a hand printed sign on the gate that advertises free range eggs for sale and pure strawberry jam, made from berries handpicked at Elders' berry farm.
I do hope to meet you there soon.