The fries have it

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - nmercer@cb­n­com­pass.ca

Sta­dium crew knows its way around can­teen area

BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER young stu­dents of Car­bon­ear Academy are sched­uled to strap on their skates and safety hel­mets later that morn­ing.

In the can­teen, a pair of work­ers make sure the gravy, hot dogs and na­cho cheese are ready for when they are needed. Some 250 chil­dren will stroll through the front door in due time.

Long­time can­teen em­ploy­ees Hazel Pur­cell and Brenda Dob­bin move from sta­tion to sta­tion en­sur­ing ev­ery­thing is as it should be. They brew the cof­fee, switch on the slushie ma­chine and get the cash reg­is­ter ready.

Each are wear­ing com­fort­able shoes aimed at cush­ion­ing the wear and tear on the joints caused by mov­ing from the fad­ing tile floor to the blue con­crete one far­ther in the kitchen.

Just be­fore 9:30, the deep fryer is fired up and await­ing the just sliced pota­toes. The slicer it­self is a marvel. It is more or less a lever and a set of ra­zor-sharp blades. Op­er­a­tors must place the potato in the up­right and pull down on the mech­a­nism to cut the ob­ject.

“It came over on the Mayflower,” Dob­bin said of the slicer, jok­ingly re­fer­ring to the fa­mous 17th cen­tury ship. It could be the orig­i­nal slicer, but they weren’t sure.

At 9:30 a.m., Michelle Pike ar- rives, pulls on a pair of blue la­tex gloves and mans the fry­ing sta­tion. The chil­dren are ar­riv­ing and its time to get started.

THE COMPASS

The S.W. Moores Me­mo­rial Sta­dium in Har­bour Grace is gen­er­ally a quiet place early Fri­day morn­ing.

All you can see is a lone rink at­ten­dant mak­ing his rounds, a mostly empty foyer and a fresh sheet of pris­tine ice ea­gerly await­ing the sounds of sharp­ened stain­less steel blades cut­ting into it.

With sun stream­ing through the up­per win­dows, the lone­li­ness of it all makes one won­der why the sta­dium is open as early as it is be­fore mi­nor hockey kicks in later in the af­ter­noon. How­ever, the

Food wars

In the sta­dium, the potato has long held the golden crown. If this were HBO’s “Game Of Thrones,” the potato would be of House Lan­nis­ter, while the other snacks just fight for whats left of the king­dom.

Cus­tomers come in search of golden fries piled high and cov­ered in pip­ing hot gravy and cheese curds or the tra­di­tional dish of dress­ing and gravy.

See A SLOW page A2

The S.W. Moores of­fers its pa­trons a se­lec­tion of mozza sticks, na­chos chips with cheese sauce and var­i­ous breaded chicken pieces, but they’ve all fallen to the king.

On Mar. 6, the or­der for fries comes at 9:40 a.m.

Sur­pris­ingly, it is a small plate of plain fries. That quickly changes with the next or­der — two large help­ings with all the trim­mings.

Af­ter the first or­der, they can’t keep the fries com­ing out fast enough. Pike is drain­ing grease from the fries and scoop­ing them in the trays in dou­ble­time. Mov­ing fast What starts out as a slow morn­ing, quickly picks up just af­ter 10 a.m.

Fries, slushies — an im­mensely popular item — and bags of chips are mov­ing fast as the ladies swiftly move to cater to the needs of their cus­tomers.

There isn’t much grum­bling with this crew. Dob­bin and Pur­cell gladly move from one sta­tion to the next hand­ing out good­ies with a cheer­ful dis­po­si­tion.

“I like it when it is busy,” said Pur­cell. “It makes the time move a bit faster.”

She started work­ing in the can­teen 15 years ago fol­low­ing stints in the fish plant. This is bet­ter she says.

“It keeps me mov­ing and I en­joy it,” said Pur­cell.

Dob­bin vol­un­teered at the can­teen when it was lo­cated in the mid­dle of the foyer where the ac­ces­si­bil­ity ramp now rests. Since then, the can­teen has gone through a cou­ple of vari­a­tions. It was moved to the end of the dress­ing rooms clos­est to the Col­lege Lane exit many years ago, be­fore it was ren­o­vated to its cur­rent state al­most a decade ago.

There were fears it was go­ing to be a slow morn­ing. The school had re­quested the can­teen be open dur­ing the skate but there had been lit­tle move­ment in­side the area.

That changed as lines formed and peo­ple started re­quest­ing the un­health­i­est of break­fast items. Things like bags of candy, tins of soda pop and, of course, fries are or­dered with reck­less aban­don.

“This is the break­fast of cham- pi­ons,” one mother re­marks to a per­son stand­ing next to her in line.

The can­teen is a busy place when peo­ple are in the rink. It is a whirl­wind of hands, feet and French fries.

When lines form, Dob­bin has an easy so­lu­tion.

“I just keep look­ing straight ahead. I don’t look that way,” she notes point­ing at the door.

It’s easy to see why.

PHOTO BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER/THE COMPASS

Brenda Dob­bin (cen­tre) hands out two plates of fries at the can­teen at the S.W. Moores Me­mo­rial Sta­dium in Har­bour Grace on March 6. Help­ing an­other cus­tomer is Hazel Pur­cell (right).

PHOTO BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER/THE COMPASS

Hazel Pur­cell spreads a la­dle full of pip­ing hot gravy over a plate of fries.

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