I do have some more little stories. Honest (may one still say “Injun”?) I do, but at the moment they’re bouncing around together like kittens in a river-bound pillowslip, and I have to do some separating or pairing-up before I write them up. So in the meantime I offer a little list of 1961 Winnipegland lunch spots chosen for their names, charming or not so charming. At that time there were seven hundred-ish eateries in town, of which just over a hundred were named Something or Other Lunch. Most of the others were Something or Other Grill, Diner, Coffee Shop/Shoppe, or Snack Bar. They’re all long gone. These days you may come across something called a “Diner”, but it will be ersatz, possibly even to the extent of being housed in a fake railway car.
While external factors may be blamed for the disappearance of those beloved greasy spoons, some of their owners may have been partial architects of their own demise, thanks to ill-conceived names:
There was Till Eulenspiegel Lunch (367 Selkirk), named for a repellent mythical German jester, whose surname is literally translated as “Owl Mirror”, whatever that means. A more common, scatalogical rendering (no idea how it arises from Owl Mirror) is “Wipe The Arse”. Yummy.
Not at all offensive, but linguistically decades too early was X-10-U-8 Lunch (550 Pembina). And oh how I wish I’d ever seen the Miss Winnipeg Drive-Inn (1780 Pembina). Beauty-queen carhops on skates! Or so I like to imagine. But it was as doomed as “Miss” herself. Ms Winnipeg Drive-Inn? Nope, I think not.
Lunches for persons of dubious character could be had at Smack & Snack (1763 Henderson Hwy), or O Kum Inn (290 Carlton).
Though clearly established for the noblest and worthiest of causes, these two will surely have had the signwriters scratching their heads: Hebrew Sick Snack Bar (239 Selkirk)! I wonder if meat and dairy are separated in kosher sick. Here’s my particular favourite, and the one which got me started on this important research: War Amputations Lunch (272 Sherbrook). Will that be a leg, sir, or a wing? White meat or dark?