Monday, November 23, 2009

The family ran the businesses in the Palace, now Funky Winkerbeans, and the Pennsylvania, then in the late '30's bought and ran the Metrople. Blackie was a partner in the Metrople. He loved new-fangled things. He bought a new car and mounted an altimeter on the dash. When he'd return from a trip he would include the altitude in all his stories. "We spent the night in Ashcroft. I was surprised it was 1100 feet." He kind of married into the family. He married Anne, the daughter or niece of a good friend of my dad's. Anne's family was from Scotland. She was a good Scots girl. Blackie later bought the Invermere, and then the Astor. One year we all went to the Astor for Christmas dinner.

Friday, November 20, 2009

It rained for weeks while we were in Italy. I dug a hole in my tent so in the morning I could stand up while I dressed. In the morning the hole was full of water. Luckily my biggest mistake as a signalman happened in Wales, not Italy. Part of the company was on service and they sent for twenty-two haversack lunches. I sent on the message and they were sent two lunches. I was a pretty good reader, but not the best sender. The best readers would read whole sentences, not just each letter or word. Usually the sentences were pretty simple. They were often repeated messages. Some trainmen were in our unit. The Morse code used on the trains was different than the international code we used. At home their code was used to send telegrams. But the trainmen learned quickly. Knowing the letters wasn't the hard part of being a good reader.

Blackie once called the house about a telegram for Malcolm McKinnon. When you were young, Malcolm was often at our house. He was a good carpenter, and a good baby-sitter, too. Blackie called and told me to tell Malcolm that a friend of Malcolm's had sent a telegram from Illinois. Blackie said the friend was sick. Blackie had looked through the window on the envelope containing the telegram and had been able to see a bit of the message. It said, "Muskogee Ill."

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Franz's Run at Whistler Mountain is named after a man Ken and I joined in an investment. Ken and I invested 15,000 dollars in a pill manufacturing company that was in a building on Broadway and Oak. Franz also invested 15,000 dollars. The guy had a machine that compressed the powdered ingredients into pills. We made about 20,000 dollars when Pfiser bought out the operation. By then the guy had moved from a tiny room full of barrels, into a bigger place on Arbutus Street. He'd hired a guy who coated the pills. The company was called Stanley. I think it's still making pills.The guy who coated the pills often drank in the Ambassador. We ended losing the money when we invested along with Art Grosse in a mining operation north of Squamish. One weekend Ken and I took the Union Steamship to Brittania. Art picked us up and drove us to Squamish. He owned a hotel there. We stayed in the hotel Friday night then hiked into the claim. I brought a few core samples home. I am pretty sure it was a gold mine. On the way we stopped at a cabin and shared a half a bottle of whiskey. We left the bottle to finish on the way back. We camped at the mine site. Ken and I shared a lower bunk in a tiny cabin. The hike back the next day was pretty tough. I felt sorry for my brother because I was really worn out. He must have felt worse. We forgot to pick up the whiskey on the way back. We thought about turning around but we were all too tired. Sunday night we came back to Vancouver on either the Prince George or the Prince Rupert, the two Union ships that would travel to the small towns. I think it even stopped at Gibsons Landing.

There were a lot of ships like the Prince George. The CPR boats would travel to Naniamo and Victoria, and north to Alaska. And the Union ships travelled all along the coastline. Most of them left out of Vancouver. There always seemed to be one passing through the First Narrows. When we had the dugout canoe, we had to be sure we didn't cross the harbour when one was coming or going.

The summer I looked after the picnic grounds on Gambier Island, we'd go back and forth to town on one of the ships.