Just like fam­ily

Winnipeg Free Press - SundayXtra - - THIS CITY -

EDDY the chi­ro­prac­tor” is one of the noon- hour regulars at Eddy’s Place, a frozen- in- time diner lo­cated at 669 Selkirk Ave. Just don’t ask the North End in­sti­tu­tion’s chief cook and bot­tle washer what Teddy’s last name is: An­nette Gougeon doesn’t know and frankly, she’s never both­ered to ask.

“I can tell you what he or­ders and where he likes to sit, but that’s about it,” Gougeon says with a laugh.

A few months ago, Gougeon was limp­ing around her open­style grill, nurs­ing a sore back. Teddy, perched at his usual spot at Eddy’s seven- seat lunch counter, no­ticed Gougeon was in pain and asked where the ache was com­ing from, pre­cisely.

The doc looked over his shoul­der at the room’s pair of snooker ta­bles — the last rem­nants of an era when the city’s top pool play­ers would con­gre­gate there to shoot stick on five cham­pi­onship Brunswick ta­bles. Teddy briefly con­sid­er­ing us­ing one of the ta­bles as a stand- in for a chi­ro­prac­tic bed. But he didn’t want to in­ter­rupt the games cur­rently go­ing on.

“I told him we had a freezer in the back of­fice,” Gougeon says. “He helped me up and swear to God, I was as good as new in five min­utes.”

OK, so maybe it’s not ev­ery place where the owner trusts her cus­tomers enough to let them any­where near her spinal col­umn. But then again, ev­ery place isn’t Eddy’s Place.

Eddy was Ed­ward Ko­ran­icki. Ko­ran­icki died of can­cer in 1992, 37 years af­ter he left a job with the CNR to take over a com­bi­na­tion bar­ber­shop/ pool hall called Al’s.

“Dad was a pretty good pool player,” says Ko­ran­icki’s daugh­ter, Tracy Konopada, who fig­ures her fa­ther changed the name from Al’s to Eddy’s some time in the mid-’ 60s. “In fact, it wasn’t un­com­mon for Dad to stop in the mid­dle of a hair­cut if it was his turn to shoot. ‘ I’ll be right back,’ he’d say and away he’d go.”

Nowa­days, Konopada is the owner of Luda’s Deli, an iconic lunch nook in its own right. Konopada started work­ing at Eddy’s Place in 1970 when she was 12, around the same time her fa­ther’s sec­ond wife, Marie, in­tro­duced food to the mix in a bid to feed the sharks who popped into Eddy’s day and night. ( The last ma­jor ren­o­va­tion oc­curred in 1977: that’s when three pool ta­bles were re­moved to make way for a slate of moulded, orange and brown booths.)

Konopada laughs when asked if toil­ing in a male- dom­i­nated, pool hall pro­vided her with a dif­fer­ent type of ed­u­ca­tion than the one she was get­ting at Aberdeen Ju­nior High School.

“Ha, I was the one who could never get into trou­ble,” says Konopada. “Any time I did some­thing wrong, the guys in the neigh­bour­hood would re­port it back to my fa­ther.”

Gougeon was Ko­ran­icki’s sis­ter- in- law. She got on at Eddy’s in 1982, af­ter Konopada sprained her an­kle.

“My sis­ter ( Marie) asked if I could come and help out un­til Tracy was back on her feet again,” Gougeon says. “I’d never

David San­der­son

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