The fries have it
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 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
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.
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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.
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).
Hazel Purcell spreads a ladle full of piping hot gravy over a plate of fries.