Childhood Memories & Other WEM Matters

Good Evening.  A few matters to bring to your attention – sort of a mini-update.

1.  The Vancouver Sun recently published an article by John Mackie to commemorate the opening of the new Granville Street Bridge on Feb. 4, 1954.  Evidently is was then the only eight-lane bridge on the continent outside of New York City.  This may bring back some memories that people might wish to share.
2. In the same paper was a report about a UBC study to look at fitness of over 65 year old persons.  The researchers got a grant of $332,399 for their two year study of 500 people.  Good luck to them.  I am struck by the irony of how much dough they are getting for their study in comparison to our poor cousin WEM undertaking that I believe is at least equally significant.  Sure would be nice to have a generous patron or sponsor.  Do we know any wealthy, kind West End alums?
3. Also in that edition of the Sun was a story on 94 year old Olga Kotelko who is still running in Seniors Track and Field events.  I’ll bet that some of our old WE gals would give her a run for her money if they were still at it.  A book just written about her is entitled, ‘What Makes Olga Run?” if you are interested.  Back in 1972 I had the pleasure of taking Olga, her daughter and 30 other teachers to Europe to study physical education there.  NB I am pretty certain that this had no influence on her passion for running.
4.  Diane Matier (Neibel) has suggested that others might be interested in completing a Childhood Memories questionnaire that I have been using to collect stories from adults for the past 20 years about their childhood play.  She feels that it may facilitate sharing of stories and anecdotes about childhood, particularly from those who would prefer to answer questions rather than compose things on their own. So, I am attaching a copy of the Childhood Memories form for people to consider.  Please take this as an invitation to contribute in that manner to WE Memories if you find it useful for that purpose.
5. King George 100th Celebration.  I understand that this is likely to be the last week in Sept or the first week in Oct of this year.  I will let you know as soon as I find out more.
6.  We recently finished a second draft of a Prospectus for WEM.  The main person putting it together for us was Matthew Giquel, our graphic designer friend and colleague from Half Moon Bay.  Thanks Matthew!  We will send it out to you soon.
7.  Old friend Herb Nolan sent along a wonderful Juke Box collection of songs from the early days.  When we next gather we should certainly play some of the old favorites.  Thank you Herb.
8. Roy & Lynn Broman & I recently did a bit of a Walkabout along Denman Street and around English Bay.  Lynn kindly sent me some photos that he took.  I will try to forward them in an email in the next while.
As Bugs Bunny used to say in the old Bay Theatre cartoons,   “That’s All Folks”.  (our was it Elmer Fudd?)

Invitation to Contribute


Hi West Enders.  As you may know, we have been talking for some time about doing a history of the old West End through the stories of those of us who grew up there.  Ken Berg, Bob Adamson and I have taken things a bit further in terms of the project.  The idea is to create a legacy website as a repository for stories that we are able to collect.  We believe that this kind of collection will be a real contribution to an understanding by all of us in terms of what went on there in earlier times.  We also want to publish a book in the short term that will be a collection of stories about being West Enders when we were young.Image

So far we have at hand over fifty stories that have come to us in the form of correspondence and emails from of our former friends and classmates.  Numerous candid photos have also been loaned to us. The stories are very revealing of what life was like where and when we grew up.  Many offer new and surprising insights in what they have written.  Lots of the stories are humorous.  Both the agony and the ecstasy of being kids in the West End are portrayed in the stories that have been shared thus far.

This little introduction is in aid of asking you to please join us in this work (actually more pleasure than work) by writing one or more stories for the archive and the book.  Those of us who have written and shared some of our stories have been very pleased with the benefits and the re-connections that the process has afforded.  I’m not sure how you feel about this, but as I grow older I have come to believe that friendships, particularly lasting friendships, and sharing of memories among friends and family are some of the most precious things in our lives.

As a student who scraped by high school by the skin of his teeth and couldn’t write a paragraph in English 12, I am well aware of the hesitancy that some feel about writing.  I can only say that I believe writing honestly from one’s heart overcomes any lack of formal or academic writing skills.  The Irish aphorism says it all, “It is better to have broken Irish than clever English”.  What we envision is a history of the people and the place written by the people.  The letters and emails that we already have are the very kind of thing that is needed to provide the reality of life in our old neighborhood. We just need many more voices to be heard.

So, please take this as a sincere invitation to write your story or stories about Growing Up in the West End.  Use whatever styles that suites you. Stories or letters can be anywhere from 25 words to 2,500 words.  We may have to break down lengthy pieces into shorter stories in some cases.  We will not indulge in any extensive editing other than what is absolutely required.  Prior to portrayal on the website or publication in print, we will ensure that issues to do with potential libel or defamation are dealt with to protect writers and those written about.  While we encourage candor and disclosure, if there are things that you feel are too sensitive for real names to be used, please use pseudonyms and state this in your writing.

Because those of us who are leading this little venture are well above the legal drinking age and may not live forever, we would like to ask you to contribute your stories as soon as possible so that we can get this endeavor well underway while we are still alive and kicking.  Enough of this long introduction.  Please send your stories, pictures, memorabilia, and certainly any ideas that you have about the project to the address below.  If you have tech skills please send stories as attachments in PDF format.  If you don’t have that skill set, even writing on an old napkin from the Comox Dairy will do as long as we get your story. We also need contact information for other former West Enders.  Please send us any addresses that you have.

Thanks very much for considering this invitation to be part of what we feel will be a truly grand project for us and those who follow.  Again, please know that what we wish to do is to give voice to much of the joy and sadness that marked our lives as West End youth.  We are happy to answer questions that you may have.  All good wishes.

Gary Pennington, 2838 Hwy 101, Roberts Creek, BC, V0N 2W3
E:  T: 604-886-5746

Bob Adamson,

PS  Ken and Bob have both said that they feel it was a privilege to have been kids in the West End in spite of some of the real difficulties that many faced, and I sure agree.  While West End youth may not have had the affluent life style enjoyed by other young people, we did have many things that marked our lives as being very special and unique.