The first apartment we had in Winnipeg wasn’t too far from the rooming house where we stayed that first month. We found it in the newspaper – it came furnished and was quite inexpensive. It turns out there were reasons for that, but that’s another story. We went to look at it and found the address on Sherbrook Street (just the wrong side of Portage Avenue, but we didn’t know that then). We looked up and saw it was meant to be – the name of the building was Lord Rodney Apartments! Well, I was certainly coming up in the world. I had tripled my salary and joined the aristocracy.
When I sent my new address to my old colleagues at John Lewis, in London, they thought I was joking with them. They called my mother and she told them it was true, my new address was number such and such, Lord Rodney Apartments…
We moved a year later, to the ‘right side of the tracks’. Then a year later moved again into the top floor of a house near downtown on Norquay Street (pronounced nore kway here, not Nore Key) An Architect owned the house and lived with his wife on the main floor.
It was a quiet street near an up and coming boutique area that appealed to the hippy population – it is called Osborne Village. One evening, after visiting friends we arrived back at the house, got out of the car and walked in the dark (the street lights were old-fashioned ones, very attractive but not very illuminating.
We walked up the front path and climbed up the wooden steps onto the front veranda or stoop. I noticed a dark bundle had been left in front of the door. When I bent down to look at it, I leapt back with a bit of a strangled shout – “arrggghhh – it’s a body!” We were down the steps, across the road and in the car faster than Superman changes his clothes. Hearts beating wildly, having difficulty breathing, we tried to decide what to do next.
We decided to return to our friends, who lived not far, and call the police from there. I had never dialled 911 before. “Er, there is a body laying in front of our front door…” We were told someone would be by shortly to check it out.
I will admit to being nervous returning to the scene of the crime. Who knew what had happened. Who knows what darkness lurks in the hearts of men?
We stayed in the car and waited. The body just lay there like a pile of rags on the stoop.
Suddenly, with almost no sound, a police car arrived. It swished to a stop. No lights, no sirens. A loan policeman hauled his huge body out of the car and put his hat on, tugged at his gun belt and pulled out a flash-light.
We watched, breathless (and safely inside the car, ready to start up and drive away fast – really tough helpful citizens!) as he crossed the street.
The policeman approached the property with some degree of stealth. one at a time he ascended the wooden steps, concentrating the beam of his torch on the body. He made it to the deck of the veranda. He stood still, looked towards the body, looked around the vicinity, then moved closer.
When he was next to the body he shone his flash-light onto where you expect to find the face. He then prodded the body with the toe of his boot – not exactly what I would expect from the crime-scene investigations on TV.
He prodded again – the body moved! We had the window wound down so could hear an exchange of greetings.
“Well, hello Mr. Robinson, what are you doing here?” “Grunt!”.
“OK let’s get you up”. The policeman gently helped the drunken man to his feet. “OK where do you want to go tonight? The Sally Ann or the station?” I am pretty sure the man chose Sally Ann. The policeman helped him across the street and into the back of the cruiser. With very little sound the car swished away and the neighbourhood was once again safe for us fearless residents.
For the remainder of our time in the Norquay house we always approached the front stoop with a little caution, but had no more surprises there, except for the news of the pending arrival of our first child. But that’s another story.