Wednesday, May 26, 2010

A writer for the Vancouver Sun used to drink in the Palace Hotel which is now Funky Winkerbean's Pub. We had the beer business. One day when I was running the pub one of the waiters, Brownie, a great guy, said he had two important things to teach me. First, he said, always carry a cigar in your pocket. People who don't feel comfortable buying you a beer might buy you a cigar. Second, when the Sun reporter is sleeping, don't wake him up. He's writing a column. The writer lived in West Vancouver, near the Presbyterian Church at the foot of 26th. One day he walked down to the beach, tied a bottle of rye around his neck, and swam out to sea. I guess he needed the rye in case he lost his nerve and thought about swimming back to shore. Or maybe in case he started to get cold.

Brownie had an impressive car. I think it was called a Marmon. It was big and fancy. Often he would ask me to cover for him at work so he could make a few extra dollars driving for a funeral company. He would leave the Palace around noon and be back in time for the afternoon crowd.

We used to catch the street car up to the top of Lonsdale Avenue then walk up to the top of Grouse Mountain. We'd be about twelve. On the way up the mountain we'd meet people carrying parts of a stove. You could take an iron stove apart. They would be carrying the parts up to a cabin on the mountain. On our way home we'd walk down Lonsdale to the ferry instead of taking the street car. We'd save the five cent fare. My brother Ken and Irene drove up to the top of Grouse Mountain with a friend George Luft. He was a chicken farmer from Morgan Hill in California. The road was pretty rough. In those days, if you rented a car, you had to agree not to drive it up the mountain. One time when we hiked up, there was a group of four Land Rovers at the top. When George drove up you could get a bumper sticker that said you had driven up the mountain. The sign was attached to the bumper with wire. He forgot to pick one up and was really disappointed. I told him I would get him one. I hiked up the mountain and got the sticker. George was leaving town the same day I hiked up, so I made arrangements with him to leave the sign hanging from the railing at the north end of First Narrows Bridge. He picked it up when he left town.

Friday, April 30, 2010

At signal corp in Kingston there was a fellow named Brown. He had an old car and he used to give guys rides to Toronto on the weekends. I went with him once. He would charge the guys who went with him for gas. He would run out of gas sometimes and have to put cleaning oil in the tank. With gas rationing, no one could get enough gas to drive to Toronto every weekend. He always had something on the go, something for sale, maybe gas or cleaning oil, sometimes cheap cigarettes. I didn't see him once we went to England. I heard he was captured and spent the last part of the war in a camp. He was probably behind the lines selling cigarettes.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Bobby Mills was a good friend of my brother Ken. He built the Admiral Hotel on East Hastings, out toward the exhibition. Bobby always stayed up New Year's Night. He stayed awake for midnight to listen to Guy Lombardo's band play out the old year. Lombardo's New Year's Party from New York was popular on the radio. One New Year's, while waiting to hear Lombardo play Auld Lang Syne, Bobby had a heart attack and died. From then on Ken never listened to Lombardo on New Year's.