Metropolitan Homesick Blues

Southampton Stories & Other Stuff

Posts Tagged ‘Macs Milk


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Morning sunrise on my drive to Mac's.

My very first adventure into Blog-Land was an entry about the routine pleasure of venturing out for my morning paper. There’s no home delivery of big city newspapers here in small town Southampton. So each morning after getting up, getting dressed, and getting in my car I ventured into town to Mac’s Milk on Highway 21 to see if the Star had made it from Toronto three hours down the road. No matter what the weather, somewhere between 6:30 and 7:00 AM I’d be at Mac’s making small talk with the not-yet-awake cashier. Twice a week I’d pick up some lottery tickets and hope for the best. (No luck yet!)

It was a routine. A boring pattern. A rut if you want to call it that. A totally personal, predictable, pedestrian 4 season habit that unfolded like clockwork regardless of weather. And I was proud of it.

But then the great god of change began to creep into my life. Store ownership changed. Counter staff changed. And newspaper arrival times changed. Sometimes The Star wasn’t there during my window of arrival.

“Fine.” I would say to my friendly Mac’s attendant. “I’ll take the more expensive Globe & Mail. Better paper anyway.”

But just as my morning newspaper quest became routine, so did the lateness of The Star. The 6:30 – 7:00 AM window expanded to 8:00 – 9:00 AM. I complained gently because I knew it wasn’t Mac’s fault. Their answer was a frustrated shoulder shrug. They had no control over deliveries. My only options, at times, became the Toronto Sun (no thanks) or the Globe. I was reduced to calling the store and asking if the paper had arrived yet because I didn’t want to get there and feel the disappointment of a wasted trip. Nothing could be done.

So, I stopped. Dropped my morning habit cold turkey. No more morning paper for me. After almost six years of doing the same thing day in and day out, I was forced to acknowledge a blip in my simple life. It wasn’t all about me and what I wanted – no – had come to expect. It was some cosmic outside influence, a controlling force extending from Toronto all the way to Southampton setting its own schedule and paying no heed to mine.

I no longer rush out before sunrise. I don’t buy the Toronto Star any more. They’ve driven me to the on-line edition. It’s easier. It’s always there on time. And with gas prices the way they are today, it’s cheaper.

If newspapers complain that their losing readers to the internet…its their own fault.

But I do miss the small talk at Mac’s in the morning.

Written by metropolitanhomesickblues

April 8, 2011 at 5:00 PM


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Early the other morning I went to Macs to pick up my usual paper.  High on their pillar just below their big logo was a sign that caught my eye – Worms & Spawn 24 Hours – it said.

Now Macs has just recently decided to stay open 24/7. And I guessed, given that it is the favourite stop for local fishermen, that they were well in tune with their market and decided to stock bait somewhere inside the store as an added revenue souce. Perhaps in a cooler next to the coffee machine. Thats where most of the guys head when they pop in at 6:00 AM before they hit the water.

But as I stepped out of my car I discovered otherwise. There, just beside the door, was a new vending machine. The words – LIVE BAIT – closely followed by a smiling worm doffing his Top Hat beside the line – Guaranteed Fresh -immediately got my attention.

Now, I know that vending machines or ‘automatic retailing’ is capable of putting just about anything up for sale anyhere that’s convenient. These machines run the gamut from simple to surreal. You can get anything – french fries, ramen noodles, Buddist prayer beads, condoms, snacks, drinks, and anything in between. The Japanese lead the world in this area. They even have vending machines that will wash and blow-dry your dog. Google tells me that the very first recorded reference of a vending machine was in an Alexandrian Egyptian Temple. It accepted a coin and dispensed a small amount of holy water.

How far we’ve come.

Today we have dew worms living in a steel rectangle. And with the right coin it will dispense 8 of them…or 8 bags of spawn…or 1 Mr. Twister Jig Head plus 9 assorted heads. I stood looking at this thing and smiled. Only in a small town I thought.

And why not.

The boats are meandering at trolling speed up and down the Saugeen right now. Fishermen at Denys Dam are standing in their waders knee deep casting into the slower water. Cars are line up at Fisherman’s Park. Others fish from the shore on either side of the bridge. The big white trawlers are lined up in the harbour.

Spring is here. It is time.

What could be more right than a vending machine for live bait in our little town. And full credit goes to the folks at Macs for thinking of it!

Macs Redux

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The Trials of Living in a Small Town

In my very first Blog on this site I wrote about the routine pleasure of venturing out for my morning paper.

“Big city newspapers don’t get home delivery in small towns. Which means getting out of bed, getting dressed, getting in your car and driving into town to Mac’s Milk on Highway 21 to see if the Star has made it from Toronto three hours down the road.”

That was back in January 2008.

A year later nothing has changed. I’m still a creature of a habit that relentlessly starts my day, regardless of weather. There’s the odd time that the Star doesn’t make it. So I make do with the Globe or the Owen Sound Sun Times. There was one stretch where the Star was consistently late and the others were on time. I sent off an email to TorStar but they never answered. They probably don’t care about some small town complainer. Where’s the equity in making me happy?

Notwithstanding (love that word) I came smack up against the reality of small town living this morning. Macs was closed. The lights were on. The door was locked. The place was empty. And there was no way I could get my hands on a morning paper.

Just then, the guy who delivers the papers arrived with what I wanted. 

“Where are they?” he said.

“I dunno,” was my simple reply.

“Guess I’ll just leave them out here. I got other deliveries to make in Port.”

“But it’s snowing.”

“Too bad. They’re wrapped.”

“Can I take one? They know me. I’m a regular. I’ll pay them tomorrow.”

He looked at me like I was some kind of thief. “Nope. They count ‘em. If they’re short, it costs me.”

Tempted as I was, I resisted. As I watched him leave I realized that there was no other place in town that (a) had papers and (b) were open. Southampton was deserted.

And that’s the thing about small towns. You can’t always get what you want. Here in Southampton there’s one radio station and it doesn’t program Jazz or Classical Music. The local paper only comes out once a week. The Saugeen Times is up-to-date and available daily online but it’s not the same as holding and folding newsprint. Nobody carries the weekend New York Times and there’s no bookstore that stocks newspapers from around the world.

Am I complaining? Not really. Are there things I miss? Definitely!

But, yesterday, driving along Lake Huron’s shoreline we saw two Bald Eagles riding on the wind. This morning they glided high above my backyard.img_41481
Deer tracks crisscross the snow. They wander through scratching for wild apples in the snow and munching on tender Sumac branches.

The fishing boats are out of the water and dry-docked in the harbour parking lot. 

img_40341There is pack ice on the shoreline and floes floating down the river towards the harbour mouth.

Winter sunsets burn up the sky. A full moon lights up my neighbourhood. Walking after a snowstorm leads you through pristine paths. And winter quiet has restoratives powers you just can’t buy in the big city.

I never did get my paper. I went back after 7:00 AM and Macs was still closed. Tomorrow morning, I’ll ask them what happened.





Written by metropolitanhomesickblues

December 19, 2008 at 6:55 PM