And More Changes!

And More Changes!

For the last while I’ve been having problems with my oxygen. It’s complicated, but finally, as of this morning, it got “fixed”.

It goes like this. The cylinders were not filling properly part of the time. My setting is 3.5, and they turned it back to 3 so that the machine would work properly…but I didn’t! This has been going on for a couple of weeks or more. We had to supply a paper trail to prove what my setting was supposed to be.

Okay? Once we got the paper trail (via computer email and fax machines,) they brought me a different machine that would handle the higher number.. Clear? Maybe not? All I really know is that it makes a big difference in how I feel with my oxygen setting at the right level for my breathing.

Here I go again… wandering all over the place.Danielle, Louise, Quinn, Norma and Elsie

I have a niece who lives in Quesnel, B.C. About five hundred miles or so from Vancouver… in the Cariboo. We hadn’t seen each other for a few years, although we’ve kept in touch by phone or emails.

I got a call to let me know that she and three of her family were coming down and would come for a visit. I thought there might be some illness requiring a doctors appointment…but no, they came to visit me!

The first visit included Ra and Debbie, my son and daughter in law and was very special… Five generations were here! Of course I’m the oldest, then my niece, Elsie, her daughter, Louise, Louise’ daughter, Danielle, and Danielle’s daughter, Quinn…a sweet little miss who is four years old.

They stayed in a hotel down by the beach, and the second day just my niece and her daughter came, while mom and the little one got to play on the beach. And the third day, they all came in the morning, and left for Vancouver at noon, and flew home the next day.

I love them dearly, and this visit proved just how important family is.  Hard to hold back tears when you think that we might never see each other again. I feel so blessed that they came to see me this time.

As my son keeps telling me “You’re a lucky girl”!

Yes, I am!




It’s already September, 2014!

Time to get back to some sort of a routine.I love September…usually still beautiful weather, but minus the heat!

Most years, it means that kids go back to school… not this year in British Columbia.. Teachers strike.

I remember the first day of school for each of my three boys. Gary was so proud that he could now go with his two brothers!  And even more so when he could come home at lunch time and tell us “I got A in spelling!”1958-09-00 - Gary's going to school!

While the three of them were at school, we had gone out and bought a tape recorder, with only one tape. We hooked it up under the table and didn’t tell them it was there, and turned on all through lunch. When they had finished eating we played it back for them. Pretty funny!

I would like to have saved that first tape, but we only had the one, so it got used over and over. Ra used it to record his puppet shows, then all he had to do was operate the hand puppets when the show was on!!

We recorded one of our sing-a-long sessions…and my husband said he would never sing again after hearing himself on that tape! Instead, he would play the mouth organ…blues harp. He was really good at that.

Here I go off in another direction….want to follow?

You know, sometimes when you sit down to write the words just seem to flow through your fingers…. other times…nothing. Tonight is one of the ‘nothing’ times. So, I might as well go and do something else for this evening…might even watch some TV.

Another day….maybe it will get in the mood today.

One  of my friends at our assisted living place is a pretty good card customer of mine….she is always asking me if I could do smaller cards to minimize the postage on cards being mailed to Europe or Britain. And I have told her, each time, that I don’t do smaller cards.

Well, things have changed a bit.

There’s a table in the craft room down stairs… anything you don’t want, leave it and anyone that comes along can have it .

The other day there were two packets of different sized card stock, and envelopes…Guess who got them?I’m doing the smaller cards, but have to do each one by hand. Not putting them in the  computer, or I would have to set up a whole new system!

Doing these smaller cards by hand triggered a long lost memory! I remember when I was sixteen, seventeen doing cards by hand and I sold them for ten cents a piece or a dollar a dozen!…That’s how bad the money situation was back at that time.


1958:08:24 career, PNE Gate designed and built by HArryPNE.

I mentioned that the PNE was on now. (Pacific National Exhibition)

That was a very busy time for us as we built some of the booths. One customer wanted a ceiling put in their booth. I got a bright idea that we could use pea vine , tacked all around the sides and gathered to the middle.

We went back out after supper, and took the boys with us.

They got pretty tired while we were trying to get the ceiling in there… so we drew up some chairs, covered them with newspaper and they went to sleep….while we struggled on. It wouldn’t drape like we  thought it should, so had to take it all down and come up with a better idea. I don’t remember what the better idea was.

Another customer was a furniture store. (Not the one that wouldn’t pay us!) We got burlap and had it dyed black and fire proofed. I cut it and sewed it together for a large drape. Our house looked like a barber shop after a full day of cutting hair! We draped the back of the fairly large booth. Mickey cut “frames” out of plywood,and even though they were flat, with some painting they looked three dimensional.

He wired large branches into the three frames…and I made large flowers from some kind of foam, and wired them onto the branches…some leaves, as well. They looked pretty good. It was a very attractive looking booth.

The first year we put the paintings in the PNE we were on our own. We were set up across from a food court, and they had an organist playing there. He got to know our favorite songs. He would look over and see that we were tired, and starting to sag a bit, so he would come on really loud with “our” song, and it helped to get through very tiring days.

The following two years we went as part of a group. MIckey had a broken leg during one of these sessions, so I had to do all the “bull” work.

Before this time, while the boys were around six or seven, we would take them to the PNE. I made sandwiches to take so we could save on food. They had a pretty good time, even though they didn’t get to ride on the train that took you around the areas.

One year we had ‘seen everything’ and were heading for the exit gates. Ra found five dollars on the ground, and was so excited… he paid for all of us to go on that train. What he didn’t know… his dad  dropped the fiver for him to find!

The PNE runs from the middle of August until Labour Day, and then School starts. For the exhibiters, it is a long stretch… we were there from before ten in the morning when the buildings opened to the public….until late in the evening. I’m not sure, but I think it was ten at night.

When I was a kid, the PNE booths would give out small boxes of their samples… that was fun to collect them and then we could play ‘store’.

The PNE parade used to go through the main part of down town Vancouver, ending up at the PNE grounds. Even that has been changed!

My husband designed the view that greeted patrons as they came to the main gate one year…., and quite a few of the booths.

Back Up

Back Up!

I’ve left out so much of when the boys were young…so I’ll try to get back to those years.

We moved quite a bit when we were first married…up until we had the three young ones, and we moved to Muirfield Drive where we stayed for thirty-five years! And my husband and I moved to Langley and were there another 20 years…and I’ve been here in White Rock for eight years (in December).

Muirfield was wonderful, but there were some disadvantages. Every family had an ‘oldest’ child, boy or girl. We had the “youngest oldest “ in our family.. That can be a disadvantage if there were any disputes.

One of our next door neighbours had two kids, the oldest being eight, when Ra was four. They got the first television in the area… an eight inch screen. The boy told Ra to ask his mom if he could go into their place to watch Captain Puget. Ra came running home, all excited to  see if he could go. Of course!.

When Ra got to the door, the boy said “You can’t come in! My little four year old was heart broken… and thats when we went out and bought a fifteen inch


We had a lot of the neighbourhood kids sitting along the  floor to watch shows, but one was not allowed to come in.!

I tried to have things for the boys to do. I went to a furniture store where they made teak furniture. I asked if I could get some of the cut offs  for my boys to make into jewelry. They gave me quite a bit. I had the findings, so they would make pendants that were really quite nice.

We spent a whole day tearing up newspaper…to make paper mache . I made home made paste and used that with the newspaper.  We used a small piece of material  over the top of  a pop bottle and made puppet heads on them.

The next stage was to paint the puppet heads… Gary was three, still sitting in his high chair, and he painted his all green!  I made clothes for them. Another interesting day for my boys.images

Ra was writing poetry at this early stage in his life…all three had fun with their dad, doing parodies on some of the songs of the day. Some of these were pretty  funny.

Now, with the hand puppets as the characters for the plays that Ra wrote he needed a place ‘to perform”. He recorded all the voices on the tape recorder, then did all the hand work as the tape played his story “back”.

His dad built a puppet stage for him, and every evening there was a puppet show at McGuires’. When parents started calling their kids to come in for the evening, the call back was ‘puppet show’ and the answer was always ‘okay’. Ra did all of the characters!

We had a Marionette that Mickey made. That’s the one you control with strings attached to it. His name was Johnny and the kids loved to see him trying to jump up on the chesterfield! He never did quite make it on his own. There was also a ‘giant’ marionette… both of them long gone. Might be at someone else’ home…who knows.

Mickey made toys for the boys…so did I. Mine were stuffed animals…his were boats, and all the buildings for the train set they got one Christmas.. Some of the toys were made after hours at the shop where he worked.

Ra was an avid reader. There was a mobile library that came to Bobolink Park ( used to be the bush that got cleared out.) Ra would pick out the books he wanted and they wouldn’t let him have them as he “wasn’t old enough” for those books.The principal of the school, Mr. Capon (?) wrote to them and Ra was to have any book he wanted! To this day, he is still an avid reader.

Sign Shop 2

Sign Shop 2

One time we were really busy with signs. Mickey was lettering shocards for a butcher shop… you know……..T bone steaks 39 cents lb.. etc. , and we got another job that required eight sheets of 4×8 plywood painted two coats in preparation, so we hired a guy to do them.

The first day he finally got one coat on the eight sheets, but every time he had to move one, he would stop Mickey to come and help him move the plywood…he was also very slow at what he was doing. He was being paid by the hour, and I did not like the way he was stalling. He took about twenty minutes to paint one sheet He was to come the next day for the second coat.

Before we went to bed I talked Mickey into getting the paint ready for the next day so the hired help could get an early start.

We went to bed at our usual time, and I waited, and waited… until Mickey went to sleep. Then I got up , dressed and headed for the basement. I painted one sheet in ten minutes, and moved the plywood without help…finished all eight sheets, cleaned up and went back to bed.

In the morning I had Mickey phone and tell the guy that he wasn’t needed! I was not only the ‘gofer’, but the plywood painter as well! I even went for the plywood, and the guys at the lumberyard would tie stuff on the roof of the car for me.

When we did Christmas windows, we both wore white coveralls. While Mickey was drawing the design on the window, I was painting a snow scene all across the front of the store window. I would go to the back of the store and get a can of water to wash brushes as we went. We had fun doing the windows, even though we were working quite hard to minimize the time we took in each store.. We did not want to cause any problems, getting in the way.

The boys were in school while we were doing windows, but if we weren’t home when school was out, they went to a neighbours until we did arrive. (Hi Bev and Linda!)silkscreen

I nearly forgot…another one of my jobs…runner for silkscreening…Take the newly created ‘thing’, and lay them out, one at a time, on the basement floor to dry…but if the job was bigger than that, at one point we had to take those now dry signs out to the back yard and lay them out there…then start over again in the basement.

One thing I refused to do…learn how to clean a silk screen! It was a very messy job. I think Danny got that job quite often.

And… I was still the main cook and bottle washer, although the boys had to help with the dishes.

Non Paying Customers

Some Non-paying customers!

I’m about to do another break in the time line…back to the sign painting!  Here I go again… all over the place! Want to follow along?

My husband worked for a sign shop.  He made wages for the jobs that he did, and the company “got the gravy”. He was discouraged  thinking about how much he took in for the company with his days’ work, and how little they paid him. No overtime…straight time, no matter how long he worked to get a job out on time. They showed no appreciation for his talent… and he had a lot of that.

He had served his apprenticeship with them to become a ‘Pictorial Artist’… but when the time was up, they refused to give him the papers. Jobs were difficult to come by in those days, so he stayed there until the war came along. When he came home from the army, he went  to his old working place and got his old job back.

I had complete faith in his ability to handle any of the sign or display work, including gold leaf.

We had three growing boys , and ninety-six cents in the bank! We took a huge chance…and started out on our own.  It was well worth it to see his confidence in himself come back.

This was one very big reason for not buying anything that we couldn’t pay for…a very good habit to get into!

We started going looking for sign work. If I remember correctly, the first thing we got was a show card… so I went to Henderson’s Paint store and bought one sheet of show card. When we got a silk screen job, I went to Henderson’s and got one piece of Profilm to cut the stencil.

This way, we paid cash…. but when we could afford to pay for more , we saw how much difference there was if you bought in quantity.

A roll of Profilm was $21.00. Buying a sheet at a time, for three dollars…. it would have cost over a hundred dollars for that same roll!   If we bought 12 sheets of show card, it was like getting two sheets free over what we paid for a single sheet at a time. It didn’t matter, we didn’t owe anyone!

One time Mickey was out on a job and ran out of something he needed, so went to one of the other paint stores that we dealt with. The young clerk would not let him have what he needed without cash.  Mickey didn’t carry much money with him, so asked for the manager.

He told the clerk to let him have anything he wanted in the store. His reference card did say ‘cash’, but meant that he ‘preferred to pay in cash’.

We had two or three customers that had decided they wouldn’t pay our bill when it was due. Always something else had come up that they had to pay for and there wasn’t enough left for them  to pay us. In each case, this story had been going on for more than a few weeks.

Our first stop was a trip to the butcher shop. We ordered a roast of beef, and five steaks, Then we got some of the different cheeses until we reached our limit.When it was all added up. we owed him another twenty five cents. He was flabbergasted, but there was nothing he could do about it.


The other one  that owed us at the time was a furniture store, We went there to get a new dinette suite. The  owners  were  quite pleased that we were shopping there, until they suddenly realized what we were doing.  I think we had to pay them ten or fifteen dollars and marked their bill paid in full! I still have that dinette suite!  (Not the one shown in the photo!)

Hotel Vancouver.

Hotel Vancouver

Hotel Vancouver called us…they wanted some sign work..banners for the Grey Cup (I think!) Anyway, they wanted to be sure he could paint portraits that would look like who they were supposed to be… so… we took some of his paintings down to show them.

At this time they were renovating the dining room, and while that was going on, they set up for meals on the main floor. There was an area that you had to pass through from the lobby to the dining area…The manager asked us if we would put a painting display in there. One condition… we had to raise the prices! Sales would be allowed, no commission. I doubled the prices, and Mickey kept saying ”they’l never sell.”

Mickey set up a great display. These were his black velvet paintings, so he had lights spotting them. Every night at five o’clock I put dinner on the table at home and headed for the hotel….and sat with the paintings until eleven…. Anyone that wanted to buy, just had to come to me!

1954-05 PNE Float,I sold three or four paintings that first night… when I went home , as I showed the money to my husband, I kept saying “They won’t sell, eh!”

We had that spot for three months, then a friend of the managers wanted it, so we were out. We were there long enough. I wanted some time at home with my family!

I got to know security really well… they kept an eye on the display during the day for me.

One day this woman started coming to visit me while I was there…and actually phoned the hotel to talk to me. That I put a stop to right away. She would  go in and look at the paintings for a while and then take off. She would maybe come back later.  I finally smartened up… she was using our painting display as a good spot to pick up guys, and would go to their room with them! I didn’t need that reputation to get mixed up with the paintings, or me!

I talked to security. They followed her right to the guy’s room and put a stop to it. Then he came down and with her standing there he bawled heck out of me for allowing that kind of behaviour..  Later he came and appologized  (spelling?) to me, he did it so she wouldn’t know that I had “fingered” her!

My husband had said he didn’t want  to do any more portraits. He had been charging fifty Dollars. Most of the portraits were of people who had died…and it became very depressing.  O.K At the hotel a man wanted a portrait of his daughter who had become  Nun. In the photo of her that he had, she was dressed in the Nun’s habit.

i told him that my husband really didn’t want to do portraits any more…… but he kept insisting.  Finally I said “ all right… but it will have to be one hundred and fifty dollars.’

“That’s just fine !” I wish you could have seen that portrait…it was like there was a light shining out of her face. It was beautiful, and the father was well pleased.


Another man asked me if I had a catalogue. I said “No, these are one of a kind paintings and a catalogue wouldn’t be much use.”

“That’s what I wanted to know, he said.” Over a period of time, he ordered a clown painting for each of their offices across Canada…Theatres International. They supplied the candy for the theatres.