Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Commentary

17 comments
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Anonymous
2018-07-17 13:50:31

Thanks for sharing those wonderful memories. Use to spend a lot of time there, fun to get the racing form there, then off to the Palace of Sweets to get some candy. lots of awesome memories

Anonymous
2018-07-17 20:03:48

Palace of Sweets! Now thre's a blast from the past.

Grant

Anonymous
2018-07-17 08:55:58

Thanks Grant, I was tranfered up from Calgary and was introduced to Mike’s a colleague. I too loved that store and yes, the tobacco smell. Sometimes I think I can still smell it. Loved those old, dark and creaky floors too.
What intrigued me time and time again were the newspapers from around the world. They had not just the Wall Street Journal or the Times but papers from France, Italy, Germany and more. And of course the magazines, there was a lot of flesh shown. Mike’s was a class act, an Edmonton Institution!!
Hans Anielski

Anonymous
2018-07-17 20:05:12

Thanks for the memories Hans. Those newspapers brought people who emigrated to the Edmonton area vital news from back home.

Grant

Anonymous
2018-07-11 21:35:25

What follows is a single post bifurcated by software. Sorry about that, chief.

Anonymous
2018-07-11 21:34:14

Now considered by many to be an 'old-timey' Edmontonian, I first entered Mike's News in 1967 as a fourteen-year-old to buy a $2.50 ticket to see The Who in the Edmonton Gardens. Afterwards, I patronized Mike's until it finally shut down

on Jasper Avenue west of 103 Street.

(The Who were the middle-act of a Benny Benjamin production that opened with The Blues Magoos and closed with Herman's Hermits. Needless to say, music fans of all stripes got their money's worth that night).

It's hard to decribe to kids these days what a vibrant place Edmonton's downtown once was. My memories began in 1960 - and I can only imagine what the experience was like in decades prior.

Between 97th and 109th Street, between Jasper Avenue and 104th Avenue, there were more *unique* shops, stores, businesses, and movie theatres in that space than in all of today's malls combined.

It was a busy place. Walking downtown sidewalks on a Saturday afternoon meant careful navigation just to avoid personal injury.

And you could note how popular a particular movie was at a glance by observing the near-dozen single-screen theatre line-ups that stretched down Jasper Avenue or up along 101st Street.

Walking into Mike's that day in 1967 was like walking into the internet circa 1995, a place full of wonder (long before corporate interest and social media took hold).

Inside Mike's, it was like the entire world had been made available in a single room. Admittance was free and loitering was more than tolerated.

Anonymous
2018-07-11 21:54:09

Thanks for your memories. Much appreciated.

You mentioned movies. The Capital Theatre was right across Jasper Avenue from Mike's. Saw my first movie there - Pinocchio.

Grant

Anonymous
2018-07-11 21:33:41

As mentioned, the Mike's experience was extremely sensual: the creaking floors, the smell of the tobacco, the feel of fresh ink rubbing off the newspapers and magazines onto your fingers, the taste of the candies sold from under glass,

and the sound of friendly and positive banter amongst customers and staff.

And the whole experience was capped off by the constant Jasper Avenue presence of that iconic neon sign, the smoking man with the restless legs reading the Toronto Star Weekly.

If you had to meet someone downtown it was always, let's meet under Mike's.

As has been said before, they don't make nostalgia like they used to. And for a generation or two still breathing, Mike's News WAS Edmonton.

Long live Mike's News.

Thanks Grant for your memories. They helped re-kindle a few of mine.

Anonymous
2018-07-11 21:55:22

Sensual? I never thought about it like that but now that you mention it....

Grant

Anonymous
2018-07-11 22:54:19

It was like walking into another dimension, a place not like any other on Earth (but likely every town and small city everywhere had a Mike's).

My mother often noted (smelling my clothes, inspecting my blackened fingers, and seeing my face after a return trip on the N7 bus home to Kensington): you've to that Mike's again haven't you!

Guilty, with a smile.

Anonymous
2018-07-12 00:19:19

That's beautiful. You write better than me!

Grant

Anonymous
2018-07-11 10:24:36

Yes, Mike's was a respite from the everyday. I may have been 10 years old when I first overcame my childhood hesitation and pushed open the front door. I knew the familiar smell of tobacco, as my uncle had apologetically smoked a pipe around my family and we had thought nothing of it. The fresh tobacco, though...and then there were the racks of magazines from all over the world, iconic international newspapers, and that one long oak counter on the west wall usually had a few gentlemen in their work finery and hats...that hats! I bought tickets for epic rock shows at their box office, may times lining up, once first in line! Ironic that Ticketmaster's offices are located directly above the old Mike's site, in Scotia Place. Thanks for reminding me of this fantastic place, never to be forgotten. Today I live half a block from the Mike's News sign, it's never really left me.

Anonymous
2018-07-11 21:07:19

Wow. Thanks for sharing. One of the most amazing (and hard to believe) memories from Mike;s News was how little we played for tickets to see some of the greatest bands of all time - like $5 for Led Zepplin.

Grant

Anonymous
2018-07-11 10:12:04

Thanks for the walk down memory lane, Grant. Although I was a south side boy hanging out on Whyte Avenue in the 60’s, downtown on Saturday was the place to be and Mike’s was one of the destinations. Your description of the squeaky floors and the smell of tobacco resonates with nostalgia. Unfortunately, just a ghostly dream now - Anthony Allen

Anonymous
2018-07-11 10:16:20

Thanks Anthony. Glad you liked it.

Grant

Anonymous
2018-07-11 13:15:35

http://bjallen.ca/edmonton-from-macdonald-hotel-1940?id=763

Here is a painting that my mother did in 1940. The view is looking north towards Jasper Ave & 100 St. from a room in the MacDonald Hotel. I believe Mike's would have been a bit further to the west.

Anthony

Anonymous
2018-07-11 21:08:40

That's sweet Anthony! The old courthouse.

Grant