The Westwood Dubs
by Johnston Smith
It was a 1967 February Saturday around 4:00 in the afternoon and the gang was hanging around in Allan and Dan’s basement. The twins had very progressive parents who’d allowed these two talented artists to create a teen hangout out of about 1/3 of the basement of their River Heights home. Technically, it was Dan’s bedroom but really it was a hangout. Allan and Dan had painted the walls and joists with thinly disguised icons of various parts of the human body, male and female. “Sargent Pepper” was playing loudly in the background.
“Boredom,” exclaimed ‘Beanpole’, the 6’2″ member of the gang whose main ticket to membership was his own car. “Let’s do something.”
Allan, who was constantly trying to learn new licks for the lead guitar for group’s band “The Never Again,” to be ready for the comeback that never came, stopped playing and said, “OK. I’m in.”
Dan was occupied stylin’ with his new girlfriend, Jenni Lynn so he said nothing. Milton, the drummer, said, “No can do, guys. My Aunt Rita’s coming for dinner and I’ve gotta go home soon.” The only truly cool–by our standards meaning whatever parents hated– thing Milton did was smoke Craven Ms. He could really pound the skins, though, and he was very smart.
“I wanna go for a Mama Burger and root beer,” announced Cindy “Redboots.” She was slender, raven-haired, and pouty and Beanpole had the hots for her.
A fierce pounding shook the floor above us. “Turn that music DOWN!” came a shout from upstairs.
“Stupid Stomper!” screamed Allan. “Let’s get outa here. You comin’ Marylou?” Marylou was a tallish, sultry black girl with a fabulous smile and a tongue that could tear a strip off you if you crossed her.
“Yeah, okay. I wouldn’t mind a Whistle Dog and an orange.”
“You’re just sayin’ that,” said Milton who lived for Whistle Dogs and A&W orange.
“Yeah, you’re right,” replied Marylou who never missed the chance to have a one-up.
So Allan, Redboots, Marylou, Beanpole and I piled into Beanpole’s old Buick and headed to the Polo Park A&W. Redboots was in the front with Beanpole. Marylou was between Allan and me in the back.
The heater in Beanpole’s car was tropical and most of us took off our jackets. Of course, nobody wore a parka. That would be totally uncool. And nobody wore the seatbelts, either, for the same reason. As we merged into the traffic on the St. James Bridge, Redboots shouted out, “NO. We have to go to the Westwood ‘Dubs.”
“A ‘Dubs is a ‘Dubs, Redboots,” I ventured.
She turned around and gave me a glare that would melt the ice on the Assiniboine and then, putting her hand on Beanpole’s she said, “ I really like the root beer at the Westwood ‘Dubs, Beanpole.”
Beanpole did a hard left swerve out of the exit lane, almost sideswiping a green Vauxhall Viva and headed to the Portage West exit.
“What a jerk,” Marylou said low enough to escape Redboot’s ears but loud enough to get agreeing nods from Allan and me. You disagreed with Marylou at the risk of your life.
As we sped past the King’s Theatre heading towards St. James Collegiate, I warned Beanpole, “Better slow down. The St. James cop shop is just ahead.”
“Yeah, yeah, Johnston,” Beanpole answered, “I got it under control,” acting cool to impress Redboots.
Beanpole slammed his brakes, the car hit a patch of black ice and began to spin counter clockwise to the left. Out my window I saw a Gulf station, then a red Mustang about 25 yards behind us, the blonde driver with a look of absolute terror on her face, a Kresge’s delivery truck on in the curb lane braking hard, the Assiniboine Hotel flashing yellow, the empty two lanes in front of us and then in the eastbound lane an orange transit bus with a line of faces pressed against the glass.
Then a jolt. Miraculously, we had found bare pavement and the car continued on almost exactly the same path we’d been on five seconds ago.
“Mary Mother of God!” I exclaimed. I was the only religious person in the car. Beanpole, whose naturally pallid complexion was ashen.
We drove in silence until we reached the dip for Sturgeon Creek by the Grace Hospital. Then, Marylou started to chuckle. “After that ride, I won’t need to go to the “Ex” this July.”
We soon pulled into the Westwood A&W. A car-hop took the order. Soon she was back with everybody’s stuff. I had onion rings and a root beer. It tasted identical to any A&W root beer I’d ever had.
Redboots said, “See? I told you it was better here.”