Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Coghlan, Mercedes, Home & A Kosher Style Restaurant

When I was 8 I would ride the Bartolomé Mitre electric train which my mother and we would wait for it at the Coghlan Station, four blocks from our Melían Street house. It was a relatively short ride to the next station, Belgrano R where we would get off and my mother would walk me to the American Grammar School and then she would walk back to the American School (the high school) by the station. Some days she must have had to stay at school for some reason or another so a student of hers would plunk me into the train and I would get off back at Coghlan to the sure arms of Mercedes, our live-in maid. More often than not she had a surprise for me. It was always the same surprise. It was a close Argentine copy (but better!) of a Revello bar called a bombón helado Noel.

A few times, for reasons that I cannot explain, the train would not go to the Coghlan Station but take a left fork (there was a switch on the tracks before arriving at Coghlan), that would deposit me at an ill-sounding station called Drago. Happily Mercedes always caught on and she would rapidly run the few blocks to find me crying my eyes out.

This memory came to me when I picked up Rebecca on Monday at 1:30 P.M. She had not gone to school because a bad cold had given her pink eye. Her school, while tolerating coughing and sneezing, will not abide by pink eyes. They always send the offending students home. Rebecca’s mother, Hilary, had kept her home. I picked her up. On the way to my house I decided to spring a surprise on Rebecca. I parked near, Kaplan’s, the Kosher-style restaurant on Oak and 41st Avenue. Rebecca smiled with pleasure. We ordered our usual. This is the smaller half sandwich of Montreal smoked meat which comes with coleslaw and a pickle. We sip a delicious imported (from the US) cherry flavoured soda.

Rebecca likes her sandwich plain. I slathered mine with honey mustard. Rebecca knows that if you want to be truly Kosher (neither of us are Jewish but we like to make believe) you never mix anything milk product (butter or perhaps mayonnaise) with meat. I explained that my Jewish neighbour friend Robert Freedman, says you have to eat Montreal smoked meat with mustard. Rebecca tried a tad and soon she was happily imitating her grandfather.

Rosemary, Rebecca and I traveled to Buenos Aires in 2004 and we visited (we got as far as the front door) of my old house on Melián 2770 after we had taken the electric Bartolomé Mitre train from the huge Retiro Station in downtown Buenos Aires. We had gotten off at Coghlan. Here I had felt lots of emotion and nostalgia for moments of my life which would never return except as memories. I was much too affected by it all to take any pictures of the station, except a few terrible colour slides and the panoramic you see here I took on a previous trip in 1995.
The station somehow felt smaller and the long walk home, of my childhood was just four blocks. We were accompanied by my poet friend Rubén Derlis(also in panoramic above) and his girl. When the train was just about to get to Coghlan I noted the fork and the noise the train made at the switch as it avoided going to the ill-named Drago and stopped in the comfort of what once had seemed to be home, Coghlan.

An English Boy in Coghlan

Un inglesito en Coghlan

Miss Tink and English Trains