Archive | January 2012

More About Guildford

 

Cloverdale Rodeo time was the time that Guildford held their “Western Days” promotions. The day of the parade, Guildford started out with a Pancake Breakfast.

The Mall Manager asked us if we could get some of our native friends to join in the fun. Along with the dance troupe that came, we had Linda  and Evie with us, and they stole the show.  The Rodeo Queen and her princesses were not very happy about that. They walked with Mickey, while I rode in the parade.

The Kinsmen were there selling carnations for Mothers Day, and they came and pinned one on each of us.

The radio station, CJJC from Langley had a roving mike going around, and we were interviewed frequently. The first time, I was scared, but it was free advertising, so I did it! Mickey froze the first time, but soon got over that and was quite at ease during the interviews.

At Halloween, Guildford had a parade that was led in and out of stores all over the mall. Anyone in costume could join in, and the kids came in costume, and loved it. The photographer was there to get pictures of the event. Every time he took a picture of us, he would give us a copy.

This one year Mickey decided to join in, but didn’t tell anyone.  He had a mask, but he also put on dirty old clothes.  He wore an overcoat that he stuffed with rags to form a hump on his back. He looked like you just didn’t want to be near him! He fell in at the end of the parade and went everywhere with them. Some people were horrified when they saw him, and they should have been!

The next day he went to the photographer and asked for a copy of the photo. Even the photographer had no idea that the dirty old man was Mickey! No, I don’t have a picture of him!

Writing about costumes… my mind turned to our cowboy boots. We had our paintings set up near the shoe store. Mickey asked the manager if he would like to trade a pair of western boots for a painting, his choice. The manager thought that was a great idea and started looking over the paintings to see which one he wanted. When he finally decided, he chose one of mine!

I said, “That’s not fair, you’re taking my painting and he gets the boots!”  So he traded a pair of boots for me, and took one of Mickey’s paintings!

First Sale!

 

My art teacher at Point Grey Junior High School said I should go to art school. That was when I was 16. Well, that’s when we moved to Langley, and there was no way that I could even pay for the transportation to get to Vancouver, let alone pay for the course.

Back then I drew Christmas cards, painted them with a bit of watercolour, and sold them for one dollar a dozen!  Yes, for one dollar a dozen. That was also the time that I played accordion at dances along with a drummer, and got two dollars for playing for two hours! And I picked strawberries (and hulled them) for a cent a pound. Money was hard to come by.

Back to the story!

I had looked after my husband’s paintings on a good many shows. Finally I decided to try to do some landscapes. Phil Ashton, the manager at Guildford encouraged me and said to show my paintings along with my husband’s. So, I started putting some of mine in the shows.

We were at Alexandra Park at English Bay in Vancouver, along with a group that we belonged to. Mickey’s paintings were “the main attraction” and I had put mine “over there,” next to his so I could keep an eye on them.

A man came over to me and asked who was looking after mine as he “wanted to buy one.”

I said, “You’re kidding!”

He bought the painting anyway, for my asking price of $15.00. It was a little waterfall! Now that’s how I sold paintings! That was my very first sale… but not my last!

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The Flying Wedding Cake

When I was fourteen I was spending my summer holiday with my sister Lena , and her husband Al. They were really good to me, but I was expected to help out. They had a brand new baby that year, such a sweet little thing. They thought it was funny to get me to change her diaper when it was a “dirty” one. I was happier out riding a horse, or helping with the hay crew!

That was the last summer I spent with them. They had a second child the next year, and Lena had enough to handle without this teenager getting in her hair.

Some years later and that first baby was now a young lady, and was about to marry her sweetheart. By this time the family had all moved to Quesnel.

My mom, her grandmother, made her wedding cake, a fruit cake just like she made for Christmas,

I had taken a correspondence course in “Candy and Cake Making”, so I decorated a four-tier wedding cake for her. But we lived in Vancouver, and she lived in Quesnel. We couldn’t afford to go, but the cake made it.  My brother paid to have it flown to Quesnel for the reception, and our thoughts were with her, wishing her many years of happiness.

They are still married , with two children, six grandchildren and two great grandchildren. Did I get that count right, Elsie?

Neighbours

We used to show paintings in Stanley Park along with other artists. It was quite an attraction for the people visiting the park. They would wander through the different displays and enjoy the paintings. Some would take pictures of the individual displays. Mickey usually had one or two discreet nudes in his display.

This started out to be one story, but just developed into two, as my memory triggered in.

I’ll tell you the second one first! This man really liked one of my husband’s paintings, and was going to buy it.  It showed the front porch of an old house… he said his wife could paint in something that they wanted on the porch. I said, “You can’t do that with someone else’s painting.” He said,”If I buy it I can do anything I want with it.”  So I said, “It is not for sale to you!”

He left in a huff, but returned a short time later with a camera, and was attempting to take a picture of the painting.  I turned the painting around so he couldn’t see the face of it.  As he hung around, I took the painting and locked it in the van.

Now, back to the original story!

We moved from Vancouver out to Langley, next door to the best neighbours you could find. We hadn’t been living there very long when they invited us over for tea… and they were going to show us some of their slides. They were very interesting, and all of a sudden we were seeing paintings on display in Stanley Park that he thought were really good, so had photographed them… and I said, “Heh! Go back a bit! Those are our paintings!” Yes, he had photographed our paintings! And here he was, showing them to us! Coincidence?  He had a print made from  the slide and gave it to us.

Attitudes

Maybe I have written enough about our friends, but I really don’t think so. Too many non-Indians judge all of the native Indian people by a few who do become ”undesirable”. Isn’t that just like in the Caucasian race, but here the whole race is not judged because of a few drunks or undesirables.

At the time when we were busy with the Native people We were censured by very close relatives. They said, “You spend too much time with the Indians.”  They had no idea what those Indians were really like, but they were ready to condemn them.

So one day we had Chief Dan George with us, and were heading out to Langley to let him meet someone… but stopped off along the way at our relatives’ home. Well, you should have seen the change in their attitude! Was it because he was a Hereditary Indian Chief, or was it because he was an actor who had won awards, or was it because he was our friend? Your guess is as good as mine, but I don’t think it was because he was our friend!

I’d like to introduce you to some of our friends.

Audrey Rivers, Percy Paull’s sister, (and my sister) A very sweet lady. Her friend in Squamish had phoned  her, all upset because her daughter had gone to Vancouver, and was missing. Audrey called the police in North Vancouver, and was treated with scorn and ridicule.  They said “just go and look on skid road, and you’ll probably find her there.”

Audrey was devastated, and called me. “What can I do, Norma?”

I phoned the North Vancouver Police and talked to the head man, and demanded an apology for Audrey… and she got it. And then they put in the effort and found the missing girl.

There’s Dan George, and his dance troupe who came out to Guildford and entertained … no charge… just out of the goodness in their hearts.

And Bob George, who calls me his sister! I love that guy!

And let me show you our friend, Chief Dan George, who we knew long before he became an actor.

These are some of the people who enriched my life and I am ever grateful for the gift of their friendship.

Painting in the Mall

My husband had stopped painting years before I met him due to an unfortunate incident that is better left unknown. I had been trying to get him to paint again, but with work, there was little time left for that.

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After we started our own sign business I would say “I’ll paint that plywood… you go paint a picture!’ And he started to do what he loved to do. After a while, I started taking his paintings out on shows, but he wouldn’t go near them.

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Finally, Brentwood Mall had a competition, “An Invitation To Art.”  The public were to pick the winner by their votes.  You had to paint your entry there, in the mall. If you entered the contest, you were allowed to show (and sell) your paintings.

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He was very nervous that first time, but he did it.  He did a  painting of August Jack Hautsilano, the painting discussed in a previous post, and he won second prize! One Hundred Dollars!

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It got easier as time went by, to the point where he did pastel portraits of people right there “on location!”

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Bruiser

Danny phoned Sunday night to tell me more of a continuing story that has been going on for the past two years.

Two years ago, their neighbour and their eight kids moved. Moving is a trying time for us humans, but their cat, Bruiser, got so spooked that it took off, and they weren’t able to find it. Danny said not to worry, he would keep an eye out for it, and would put out food so that it wouldn’t go hungry.

The neighbour would check back with him every so often, but when there was no cat to be found, had given up hope of ever seeing their pet again.

Danny loves animals He fed a raccoon and her yearly family for many years, until now she has gone on.

He would see Bruiser in the bush but it wouldn’t come near him or his wife, Jean. They kept putting food out, daily, and it would disappear. Finally about two or three months ago, it started coming while they were outside, and eventually allowed them to pet it. It was starving for affection!

Danny and Jean were able to take it inside, and the cat was very affectionate, craving their human touch. Danny figured it was time to phone the old neighbour, but had lost the phone number! He called one of the other neighbours, got it, and called the owners. They could hardly believe their ears.

They came to get it today, expecting to see an eleven-year-old scrawny cat, but it was fat and healthy. There were a lot of tears shed today as that cat returned home… a lot of them were Danny’s and Jean’s as they had bonded with this guy. They cried over the two years it had spent alone, craving affection… but, for sure, it will get plenty of that now from eight kids and their grateful parents.

What an awesome ending for the two families, and their cat.

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