Archive | April 2012

My Gift… and More.

When I was twelve we moved back to Vancouver to a house at 6243 East Boulevard. (Kerrisdale area). Lena married Al Campbell about two weeks later, November 21, 1934. For their wedding dinner mom cooked the huge turkey gobbler that we had brought down with us…. That was the one that used to attack us…. Then they headed back to Al’s ranch in Beaver Valley.Lena VoglerMy Dad, Russell Vogler

No one had a job, and things were pretty tough. When we moved, more things had to be left behind, including our Christmas decorations.

Christmas Eve was rather bleak for a twelve year old (and my parents and two brothers.)  There was no money, so when I went to bed there was no tree, and of course, no decorations.Clendon Vogler

About 1:30 am my parents woke me and told me to come down stairs. My two brothers had bought one box of Christmas tree baubles, and one package of tinsel…. Then waited until midnight, and then they cleaned up a Christmas tree lot for a free tree. It was a big one and it stood from floor to ceiling. We carefully decorated it, and it was absolutely beautiful!Horace Vogler

For Christmas that year I opened a small package containing two handkerchiefs… and found my mother’s watch nestled inside. My brother, Horace, wanted to see it, and as I passed it to him, somehow we dropped it. For quite some time I had a watch that didn’t work. Eventually Dad took it to Grassies Jewellers and had it fixed.

As usual, I start out with one story, and then ramble off to another as my memory kicks in with more events. Please bear with me.

I remember Mama making Grandma Andrew’s Christmas cakes and selling them for one dollar a pound… and she made a bit of profit to help out. I decorated the cakes, using almond paste to make oranges, apples pears and bananas, coloured with food colouring. I piled them in the center of the cake with some leaves and they looked really nice. We put fringed cellophane paper around the outside.Sadie Vogler

I made raffle tickets… only twenty-five each time and we sold them for a dollar each. The winner of the draw could then pick the pattern and the colour of the wool and Mama would knit a dress or a suit for them. All that work for about $12.00 profit ,,, but it all helped out.

We survived!


The Pupil that wasn’t

All the time that we lived in Beaver Valley, I didn’t go to school… there wasn’t any school. I was supposed to be taking a correspondence course from Victoria. I even had a teacher that was assigned to me! I did send in a few lessons…. but not that many.

My mom and siblings didn’t think I was smart enough to do the lessons. They did them, and had me copy them in my handwriting! I never before thought of my mom connected to dishonesty…. But there it is, in black and white.

I missed two years of school, but skipped a grade, so was only one year behind when I graduated from Grade 12. I missed long division, and fractions, so had my next door neighbour, a teacher, tutoring me until I caught on.

I remember that Dad, Clendon and Horace did road work to pay the taxes on the property. They hauled gravel and filled in the pot holes… and there were lots of pot holes and ruts.

Dad must have been waiting for something important because one time they let me go for the mail. … I rode a total of 32 miles. You picked up everyone’s mail and dropped it off at each ranch as you headed for home. I was warned that when I delivered mail, I was “Not to get off my horse.” At the time I didn’t understand why, but I do now.

Winters were cold ­… at times -40F below zero. When it was that cold, only basic chores were done.

Our house had three bedrooms. My sister, Lena, and I shared one. I remember going to bed with a hot water bottle at our feet, and finding it full of ice in the morning!

They put a bed up in the large dining room where there was a pot bellied stove. My brothers took turns “sleeping” in there and keeping the fire going.

I had the job of bringing in the kindling for the kitchen range. They made a harness for Whuskie, and a little sled to “hitch” him to, and he pulled the load of kindling for me.

The kitchen stove had half a boiler tank attached somehow behind the firebox, and that was how they heated water. Bath night was once a week in a wash tub behind the stove, with a sheet hanging to give some privacy. Remember, the well was down by the barn and buckets of water had to be carried up the hill to the house (and carried out to dump) so you only used what you had to.

Clothes were washed on a scrub board, including sheets, and hung outside to dry. In winter they froze. Ironing was a chore as there was no electricity. We had two “flat irons” that sat on top of the kitchen stove. They had a removable handle so when the one you were using cooled, you switched the handle to the other one and continued ironing.

I loved Beaver  Valley. It was like being on a holiday most of the time for me. Lena had to help mom with cooking and household chores… me… I was free as a bird. I spent a lot of time with Dad and the boys as they worked outside.

Lena would also go to the neighbouring Campbell ranch and help with the cooking when they had a haying crew there. Al Campbell’s first wife died on the way to the hospital in Williams Lake, from a ruptured appendix. He batched for a couple of years, but when we moved back to Vancouver, he and Lena decided to get married.

Riding The Range

About a quarter of a mile from our house in Beaver Valley was McCaulley Lake – a place to swim, row a boat, fish, and even, in winter, where to cut  and get your supply of ice,

My brothers, Clendon and Horace, rowed out to the Island in the middle of the lake and came back with a deer fawn. The doe had twins, and they said she abandoned one of them… We named her “Baby” and we raised her on a bottle. We had a permit from the Game Warden to keep her. She ran free, and if we called her name she would come running.

We also had a dog named Whuskey- named after one in a book that my mom read. Also a cat, named Kitty.

Around this time the doctor had said that my father needed to drink goat’s milk… it’s richer than ordinary cow’s milk…A neighbour, Billl Beatty, loaned us a goat­,  and because I had the smallest hands, I got the job of milking it twice a day.

I would often go out riding on Barney Google _ out across a field, and trailing behind me… the deer, the dog, the goat and the cat! Whusky and the deer played together, running off,  and then, with one jump, the deer would change directions, The dog had to skid to a stop and then turn around!

In 1933 or 34, The Dad’s Cookie company put out four little song books with the words to all the Western songs. If you bought their cookies, you would get one of their song books free!

One of my mom’s friends in Vancouver collected those song books and sent them for me. I learned them all and would ride along on my horse, singing loudly. No one around so it didn’t matter how loud I sang. My family had another chance to laugh at me!

Hay Crew Meals

In Beaver Valley, Dad had 588 acres of land, but not all cleared. That’s a lot of property! The hay meadow was  about a mile from the house…. Too far for my dad and brothers to come home for lunch!

Mom would have a hot meal ready, and she packed it in buckets (with lids) and tied them to the saddle on my horse. I would walk, leading Barney Google, and have some lunch with them.

One day as I was taking their lunch to them, I scared up a grouse. It seemed to have a broken wing. I tried to catch it, but it kept leading me away… just far enough away to make me think I could catch it. I had to give up, or dad and my brothers would have a cold lunch.

I told them about the grouse, and they laughed at me!

Her wing wasn’t broken…  it was her way of leading me away from her nest and her young ones.

On my way back home I went to the same spot, only this time I didn’t follow her when she tried to lead me away. The babies were there, hanging up-side-down, clinging to the under side of a leaf that was hiding them. They are so smart!

If dad and the boys were working in a field closer to home I was sent out at ten and at three with tea and a treat.  Our team of horses, Dick and Baldy, would see me coming and would stop where our paths would intersect… and would not start up until they had a drink of tea (in the lid of the bucket).

After they had a drink they raised their heads and curled their upper lip way back. Funny to see!

My Brother Horace

My two brothers were a little older than me. Clendon was ten years older, and Horace was nine years older.

They went to Brentwood College in Victoria, and the two of them were the top students of the school. Horace studied very hard, and was in first place. Clendon had a photographic memory, didn’t bother to study, and came second.

After the few years that our family lived in the Cariboo, we moved back to Vancouver… jobs were very hard to come by. Horace got work as a tallyman, and book keeper for Gibson Bros, and went to work at Port Hardy on Vancouver Island in May, 1938.

One day the crew was going out to a location, riding in the back of a truck. As they were going up a hill, the brakes gave way, and the truck started rolling backwards, down the hill.  The driver yelled for those in the back to jump… but my brother Horace didn’t get clear. The truck rolled on him.

He was flown to Zebellos, but he died there. It was  ten days before his twenty-fifth birthday.

I was 15… he was my brother and my pal. I was devastated. It must have been even worse for my mom and dad. 74 years ago…but I don’t forget.

The best picture they had of him was taken at Brentwood College when he was part of a sports team, so they had one copied from that.

Horace Gordon Vogler

18th October, 1913 – 8th October, 1938

Life After The Crash Of 1929

In 1929 when the stock market crashed, my parents, along with most everyone else, lost a lot… some lost everything.

My Dad moved our family to Beaver Valley in the Cariboo.. We were fifty miles from Williams Lake and sixteen miles from Horsefly, our nearest store.

An old bachelor , Jack Teasdale,  lived 2 1/2 miles back in the bush behind our place. Dad needed some hay and bought a ton from him. Ten Dollars a ton for hay, but Jack wouldn’t take the money… he said “Buy the kid a horse.”

Dad traded ten dollars worth of oats for my horse… an old pack horse, so they weren’t afraid to let me ride him.

I named him Barney Google… I was 9 years old!

There was no money – and I mean NO Money. We  grew a big garden, and Dad had a permit to shoot game out of season. We ate a lot of moose meat.

If we needed staples from the store, it was barter and trade. Dad grew a big crop of oats, but wild oats grew along with it, and wild oat seeds are black. I remember sitting around the table in the evenings, taking those black seeds out, giving us clean seed, for which we got a better price when trading with the store.

We had chickens, so were able to trade some eggs for things like flour, sugar, and yeast. I don’t know how mom managed, but we were never hungry.

I loved gathering wild flowers… Indian Paint Brush, Tiger Lilies and especially little wild violets. Best time to find them was after a rain storm… and I would come home soaked to the skin.

Wild strawberries grew on the hill just behind the barn. They were small, but oh, so delicious.. Saskatoon berries made great pies…

We didn’t have a radio, nor a TV…. not even a telephone. The phones through the valley were “party line”. Each phone had a special ring… like 2 longs and a short. Everyone knew who they belonged to, and would pick up the phone and listen in to the conversations. News traveled fast!

It was a very different way of life… but a good one.


Through our painting display at Brentwood Mall during one of the Hawaiian promotions, we got to know Loretta Chin, Jesse Nakooka, and Kaui, Aloha and Moana, the entertainers that came from Hawaii. We spent quite a bit of time together, and started a wonderful friendship.

Two of the girls were going to graduate that year and wanted us to come to Hawaii to be at their graduation ceremonies. Loretta invited us to stay with her and her family.

We spent two weeks there, back in 1974… and had a wonderful time. Loretta worked at the Maui Lou, owned by Gordon Gibson, of West Vancouver, so we were on our own during the days. We rented a car, and traveled all around the Island of Maui.

One day-trip we took was to Hana, at the far end of the Island… the song “54 Bridges to Hana” was right, but some of those bridges spanned a very small distance.

On the way there, we saw Keanae… just off the main road. The beach was black lava, and you should have seen the crashing waves that came in. Have you ever tried to “catch” a wave as it hit its highest point? We never did get the full force of one in the camera, but we really enjoyed watching the display!

As we traveled on towards Hana, we saw many awesome waterfalls. It has some extremely beautiful scenery along the way to Hana at the far end of the island.