GOOD OLD HANDSWORTH!
School and crafts seemed to go well together. Monday through Friday I looked forward to my Art Classes with Miss Clay and on the weekends, I sold my product.
The Lonsdale shop stayed open one year renting space to crafters. It then decided to expand and took over the top floor space which meant us poor crafters had to find another venue to sell. There were really no "craft fairs" as yet in Vancouver so the Handsworth Girls (as we liked to call ourselves) built ourselves a cart, bought a peddlar's license, and proceeeded to set up shop on the streets of Gastown in downtown Vancouver.
I had a friend who owned a building and also sold leather hides and other crafty items from the top floor. Donna was her name and if anyone personified the 1960s, Donna did. Female, a woman all for liberation and a property entrepreneur to boot, she taught me a lot more about retail, wholesale and how to find the best suppliers. Donna was a mentor, a tutor and someone I still admire to this day. She's still in Vancouver, selling real estate now, and we do talk to each other from time to time She tells me she is still sitting on lots of products from "the old days" and boy, I sure would like to get my hands on some of it - she really did have an eye for the good stuff!
Gastown in the late 60s was a great place to be. There were peddlars all over the streets, great restaurants and crowds of people. Sales were not always good as there were so many vendors to choose from, but every now and then, one of Us Girls had a great day! We kept the cart for 2 summers and then sold it to another gentleman who sold leather belts. We got a fair price for it and managed to exit the business with profit for all. I went to a babysitting job that was steady and paid $12 per weekend. So I had money in my pocket and could experiment with anything new that came along. Let's just say I didn't expect love to come along so soon.
My parents decided to splt. My sister went with my mother while I and my brother decided to stay with my father. What I hadn't really prepared myself for was that my father still wanted a full time cook, housekeeper and companion and I just wasn't prepared to do it.
The situation took its toll. My grades went straight downward. The school counsellors wondered what was happening - when they found out, the daily "talks"started and I really was at my wits end. With the babysitting on weekends, cooking for my Dad - I was at the point of having a nervous breakdown. Finally, my father saw what was happening and from then on, he started helping out a little more with meals and cleaning. Things got better.
The start of my 1969 school term was hard. I was still having trouble keeping my grades up but about 2 months in I pulled up my socks and managed to raise them to a respectable level. After all, I thought, University was just around the corner and the Grade Point Average of Grade 11 and Grade 12 counted for entrance. About the 3rd month into the term I happened to get a crush on a guy in my class. The feeling was not reciprocal but I managed to get him to come around eventually. And then when he started pursuing me, I changed my attentions to someone else. My high school English teacher!
Well, to save time in this blog, I sort of fell for the guy. I had the biggest crush on Dick Cavett at the time and my English teacher was the spitting image of the gent. I just couldn't help it, you'd think I had fallen for a movie star. Anyway, by the end of Grade 11, we had a good rapport and I fully expected to see him at the start of Grade 12. I didn't. He actually had to move 500 miles north of Vancouver to find a job in the interior of BC. And I had to find all this out from someone who worked in the school office. Angry, I wrote a letter to the gent and for 1 full school term we corresponded and during the holidays, when he was in Vancouver, we spent time together. Now I know what you are thinking but believe me, nothing happened! I was pretty naive about everything! At the end of school term 1971, we saw each other for 1 month then got married. I moved further inland and another chapter in my life began. That of wife.
Experience has taught me that NO ONE should get married at 18. You really don't know your mind. My first year of married life I learned to cook. My second year I worked at a disco as a cocktail waitress. The next 5 years were spent at the Bank of Montreal. Then my husband and I went to Europe for 2 months. It was the days of Frommer's $10 a day rate and I must admit he was right. We did 2 months in Europe on $2,000 plus a $500 letter of credit. Amazing!
Europe was fun but it spelled the end of my marriage. I was getting too independent and didn't like being tied down. But I made the most of my trip by buying all sorts of beads from the different countries I visited. Denmark was the best place of beads and I bought so many that one full bag was filled with their contents. After a spell lugging the bag around I realized I had to mail it back to Canada. And the postage seemed to be MORE than what I paid for the beads!
When we got home from Europe I knew the marriage was over but I needed time to gather my thoughts and put some money aside for when I actually left. I started doing craft shows, actually running them myself, and doing pretty good. It was only when my husband decided to garnish all my earnings that I realized I had to start hiding the money in order to keep it. And once deceit creeps into a marriage it really is over!
1977 saw me leaving my husband and moving in with my father in Vancouver. He was still single but dating a much younger lady. When I got my separation settlement from my husband I decided to take a cruise from Los Angeles. The AFI was sponsoring a cruise that featured celebrities and I decided to join that particular sailing. Oh, it was wonderful! Charlton Heston hosted the champagne send-off and Old Hollywood was present on the voyage. Dana Andrews, Loretta Young, Bea Arthur and Rouben Mamoulian were on board and each night the small AFI group sat at one of their tables. The stories were fascinating and each night, Miss Young looked as ravishingly beautiful as she did on the screen.
When I returned to Vancouver I was ready to make a move out of my father's place but to where? The girl I roomed with on the cruise suggested where she lived - San Diego. But I wasn't ready quite yet. I took a silversmithing course at the Vancouver School of Jewelry and after a sudden appearance by my ex I decided it really was time to leave Dodge City. My ex was starting to scare me and I had to disappear completely. I couldn't stay in Vancouver so I decided to move to the States. But I wanted to move to Los Angeles and not San Diego but I figured a girl on her own ought to have a roommate so San Diego it was. The main hurdle had already been taken care of via my mother. I was already an American citizen, my mother having to register me with the U.S. Government upon birth. Oh the benefits of having an American mother married to a Canadian father! So into my car went all my clothes, supplies and anything else I could think of. Kissing my father good-bye I headed toward the border and to my new life in the States. The month was September. The year was 1978. And new adventures lay in wait. But I'll continue the balance in another blog.