Tuesday, September 19, 2017

1968 - 1978 - Dick Cavett, Loretta Young & Gastown

Continuing my story....

                                                        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.

Stay tuned.

Victorian Paper Lace Pretties!

Sometimes, during the course of a day, you spot something so pretty, you just have to share with friends.  I don't know if anyone will ever read my blog, but I can certainly add tidbits every now and then (especially since I am in the middle of my life story right now and trying hard to get it up to date).  One thing I do like is looking at Facebook and seeing all the creative people and their designs, as well as antiquers who display at antique shows and brocantes.  Goodness knows, I sure miss traveling overseas but travel these days is a very scary thing and I prefer to remain closer to home.  Anyway, here's a few goodies I just have to share.  There is beauty in old age - and these items just prove it.

If you're wondering, the background is old ANTIQUE VICTORIAN paper lace.  The graphic is an old Victorian die cut.  The decoration, which is  hard to determine is either ribbon embroidery or a painted embellishment.

These beauties would have been crafted with love and then framed so that they may remain in pristine condition their entire life.

I like to think of the above image as having been on a decorative box - gifted to a little girl.  You know, they really knew about decorating the outside of a gift as well as the inside!

Till my next writing.....

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

1967 - The Beatles, The Monkees & Twiggy

Hello Everyone - Well, I have a little time so I will write another chapter in my life - eventually I will get to present day but in the meantime, here's a little more history as to how I got where I am today.....

1967 was the year of Twiggy, The Monkees, The Beatles, Expo 67 and the dawning of a new age of crafting.

As a normal, all-Canadian teenager, I was a fanatic about purchasing fashion magazines each month. My favorite was 17, but there was another that ran a close second but I can't seem to remember the name of it. Anyway, I purchased "17" each and every month religiously. I was babysitting most nights and earning a grand total of .35 per hour for doing so so I had plenty of money to indulge in whatever extravagance I could afford. I was also still collecting my .35 a week allowance from my father so most days, I felt pretty flush. I was still beading and selling my creations so I had the money from those sales but I continued to look for new ways in which to create. And finally my creative fervor was ignited by one single issue of my favorite magazine - the May, 1967 issue of SEVENTEEN!

In the summer of 1967 my father proposed taking a family holiday - it actually would be the first and last I would ever take with my family. Disneyland or Expo 67? While the kids chorused DISNEYLAND, my father replied Expo 67. Why? Well, most of our family was located in Windsor, Ontario and he proposed to drive from Vancouver to Montreal and back again. My mother hemmed, my brother hawed, and my sister and I just groaned. In those days there was no no mini TV, DVD player to entertain - only the radio and maybe a few games that could be played in the back seat. And with two parents who enjoyed "the old stuff" in terms of music on the radio, us kids knew it would be a long, boring, journey!

Midway through the road trip, wanting something, anything to read, when my father stoppd for gas at a station somewhere in Alberta, I leapt out of the car and ran to see what magazines they had. While the new July issue of SEVENTEEN had not been posted on the newstands, a copy of the May 1967 issue (which had sold out so fast where I lived) just happened to be there. I purchased the issue immediately, ran back to my father's Parisienne convertible and began devouring each and every page. After thumbing through the fashion pages, I came to an article entitled "You Still Can Make Money This Summer" and on the 2 pages allowed for the article I saw that there were talking about CRAFTING items to SELL! And to my amazement, there were OTHER things to create instead of beaded jewelry.

Remember paper flowers? Well, they were there. String jewelry, Plaster of Paris jewely, button jewelry, there were a lot of crafts pictured that I had not even thought possible. But there they were! All I wanted to do at that point in time was get the car to turn around and get me back home. Since I couldn't do that, the rest of my trip lay in my quest for finding parts. Lots and LOTS of parts!

Expo 67 is a blur. I remember the family we stayed with in Montreal. They spoke fluent French. I spoke Grade 8 High School French. Still, I managed to communicate with the family. Expo itself was fabulous - the crowds enormous and the pavilions really something special. I enjoyed each of the 3 days we were there but I must admit I was chomping at the bit to get home.

On our way back from Montreal we spent a few days in Windsor, visiting my grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins. I didn't know I had such a BIG family!

The trip home was uneventful and once there I started experimenting. I never really came up with anything I really like but I sure enjoyed what I was doing!

The school term started once again in September 1967 and during that time my parents began to drift apart. They also started to argue. One family crisis led to another and in May 1968, the family was forced to move from our 3 bedroom home in Lynn Valley to a 3 bedroom townhouse on Capilano Road, just below Grouse Mountain.

With a change of schools and new teachers, I really came to love Handsworth Secondary School. It was a fresh change from Argyle where I had been for my junior years and I really felt I was beginning a new chapter in my life. WoW, was I ever!

Handsworth sits almost immediately below the tram up Grouse Mountain. It's high up on a mountain but the area is still very rural. Lots of houses, hills and a nice central shopping area for groceries and the like. The air was crisp, clean and clear. Smog was something unheard of at that time.

Orientation at the school was fast and my first recollection is the name of my art teacher, Miss Clay. Honestly, I kid you not. Talk about a portent of things to come. Miss Clay was a really wonderful teacher who was learning Mandarin Chinese. At class time there would always be a Chinese newspaper on her desk and it was amazing that this teacher was trying to learn something that looked so hard!

Traditional art? Nope. Miss Clay was NOT for that. While Mr. Crumlin at Argyle (a perfect Scotsman with his thick brogue and bushy red beard) was for the classics, Miss Clay was for the experimental. While painting, drawing, sculpting and pottery were still the norm, Miss Clay ventured further into crafts. Leather tooling, Batik, Candle Making, Jewelry Smithing, Mosaics, Macrame, Copper Enameling - honestly, I think I tired every craft at least once by the time senior year came ar0und. The more I learned, the more I wanted to learn and Miss Clay was the perfect personification of encouragement.

The summer of 1969 found me renting a space, along with several girlfriends from Handsworth, at a shop on Lonsdale Avenue. Near the end of the street where the Vancouver Ferry once ran, the shop was an early incarnation of Cost Plus or Pier 1 Imports. The bottom of the shop was filled with items from every corner of the world, while the upstairs was filled with crafts from any North Vancouverite who wanted to rent. The space was cheap, about $15 a month if I recall correctly, and divided each month by "us girls".  We not only managed to pay the rent on time but actually made a profit. Each girl was responsible for a shift during the weekend when we could be present at the shop. Monday through Friday, the store took care of sales. You can imagine our excitement when we stormed into the shop on Saturday to see how well (or badly) we had done the previous days before. That experience in selling, to this day, remains another memory firmly entrenched in my mind. That was the true beginning, I think, of my understanding how a business was to be run. Some days I didn't sell anything, some days I sold a lot. But again, the sales only fueled the fire I had to create MORE. To experiment MORE. And again, my life was about to take another change. Maybe it was for the better. Maybe it wasn't. But I'll keep that for my next blog.

Till next time.

Friday, August 18, 2017


August 18, 2017

In the beginning......

I started this blog about 7 years ago and could never manage to find the time to "make it work." I love tinkering on the Internet and I find everything so fascinating that I want to try everything. I'm like a kid with a candy box when it comes to the Internet but to tell the truth, I just don't have the time to do everything I want to do.

As you can see from all the gadgets on either side of this mess of words, I'm an Internet retailer of jewelry. Yep, I've got an addiction that just won't let me go. So, first, a little background on that, which means I have to go WAYYYYYY back in my life for you to understand how I got to this particular place in my life.

First, I'm Canadian. Second, I'm also an American.

I grew up in North Vancouver and my first foray into selling was by way of "crafting".  My first foray into creating items was as a direct result of meeting a "Princess" of the Squamish Indian Band Tribe of British Columbia, Canada.  The year was 1965 and this very patient lady taught me to bead a simple ring. Little was I to know that this simple craft was going to open up a whole new world for me.

I took my creation home and from that point on all I could think of was beads, beads, beads! Where to find them, how much they cost, how I could get more. For my birthday I wanted beads. For Christmas I wanted beads. With my allowance in hand, I forewent movies and bought beads. Those test tube-like glass vials of 10 cent beads were my passion. I made ring after ring after ring after ring until I discovered that one of my fellow students in Elementary School ALSO did beadwork.  Her name was Janice and it was from her that I realized there was more to beaded jewelry than just rings. She created necklaces and bracelets and earrings and her efforts made my efforts look anemic! But Janice was kind and gave me a few pointers. First, there were books on beading. "Get one" she told me. (Pictured below is the first book I got on Indian beadwork.)

Second, there were outlets to purchase beads other than the local dime store. There was, she said, a fabulous shop on 4th Avenue in Vancouver called House of Orange that carried beads, beads and nothing BUT beads. I had to visit the store, she told me, but the problem was it was far into downtown Vancouver and I had only ventured by bus downtown a couple of times and really did not know my way to 4th avenue. 

After weeks of cajoling, my father finally volunteered to take me to House of Orange. Thank goodness he had business at that end of town because he set me at the store entrance and told me he'd be back in 1 hour. Little did he know that it would take more than 1 hour for me to take in the sights and scents of the place. Prices for the beads at House of Orange were a little more than the .10 a vial I was used to buying.  At .35 cents for a plastic pill container's worth of treasure I may have gotten more beads but the amount of color I could purchase had been drastically cut.

Walking into the House of Orange is still a memory that resides within me. It is so deeply engrained that I doubt I will ever lose it. That store. That wonderful, glorious, hippie-era store was simply magical. you could almost believe that a witch or wizard would walk in and order up something "not on the menu." The smell of incense and beads mingled freely with the scent of the wooden shelves, newly hewn as the store itself was only a few years old. To this day I can't really describe the scented air and I must admit I try to recreate it in my own living space to this day. I fall short each time but even the scent of burning incense can take me back in time to that first day I walked in the store.

My poor father. He waited patiently in the car while I doled out the small bit of cash I had. Still, $2 bought 6 different colors of beads and I was in seventh heaven all the way home. My father also sensed a change in me as normally I was quite a chatterbox while in the car but this time I simply picked up each container of beads, opened the lid and began to explore. New designs popped into my head with each opening. I couldn't wait to start creating!

Those first few weeks of playing with my new treasures were absolutely the best. But one thing became apparent quite quickly - once beads are used, you need more. And since I had an overabundance of finished product and couldn't possibly wear everything I created, there was only one thing left for me to do. Try selling what I made!

One day I took my creations to school and showed them to my classmates. I was surprised at how fast everything went. Not only did I sell everything, I also had orders. I don't think I had ever seen so much cash in my hands and, of course, the first thing I wanted to do was buy more beads. But my father didn't have a trip planned to Vancouver for awhile and I had to finally learn how to take the bus to get back to 4th Avenue.

My early years were all about beading jewelry. When I became a teen, I was still beading. And when my family moved from Lynn Valley to the region just below Grouse Mountain (Capilano Road), I was still beading. But all that was about to change. And on that note, I will leave this blog now and will start afresh another day.

Stay tuned!