Downhome Magazine

A Banana Story

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by Hayward J. Prince

There's a radio station in Winnipeg, CHNR, the nostalgia station. They play great oldies from past decades. I used to hear my favourite announcer, Gary Robertson, say, "This is CHNR FM, 100.7, where the past is always present." Those words are so true, because sometimes Gary would play a song that would remind me of something that happened to me forty or fifty years ago. It's the same when it comes to things I see and touch. For example, once, while shopping at the Great Canadian Superstore, I came across a virtual sea of bananas, more than I had ever seen in one place before. Right away it triggered a memory of a time when this would have been heaven to me or to a certain late relative. Let me explain.

When I was a kid, I loved bananas and often wished I could afford all the bananas I could eat. When I would go to the grocery store for Mom, I would get a banana to eat on the way home. Also, I would often ask for a banana box to put on my head on the way home for walking or running around the harbour, as it was a real protection against that cold northeast wind of the bay. The holes at each end of the box were my windows on the world at that time in my life. I guess we all wish life stayed that simple.

But I wasn't as interested in bananas quite as much as one of my relatives. I recall the story being told that the first time he went to New York - I believe in the 30's - he hadn't ever seen a banana before. Apples and oranges were familiar to him; they were shipped routinely into Newfoundland, but bananas were too perishable to survive the long and arduous trip to his outport home. When a New Yorker gave him one, he ate it without peeling it and was puzzled because everyone was staring at him. He also wondered why everyone raved about bananas - they didn't taste that great to him.

Yes, just as nostalgic music from the forties, fifties, and sixties brings back great memories to me, so does the sight and taste of a delicious banana.

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