For Seniors Week 2021 we wanted to acknowledge and celebrate the integral part seniors play in our community with their stories.
I was born in 1928 at the Salvation Army Hospital. Nurses weren’t allowed to birth babies then and my mother said I was nearly coming out by the time the doctor arrived! At that time my family lived in an apartment in Mount Pleasant, but soon after, my dad saw some land when he was working on a job. He picked a higher lot so it would drain well. He was a carpenter and helped build the house. (The house she still lives in today on 12th. ) The Edwards family who owned a funeral parlour on Granville lived two houses along.
When I was 5 1/2 years old I started elementary school. They wanted to send me to General Gordon but my mother refused because she didn’t want me to cross Broadway by myself. I ended up going to Lord Tennyson. I remember playing hopscotch. After that I went to Kitsilano High School. We went there for Grade 7. In Grades 7 and 8 we were in a smaller building. In Grade 9 we moved to the “new building”. Now the building is newer again! Before I finished high school, I also went to a night school on Broadway and Granville to study typing, shorthand and other things for business. My first job was at a wholesale jewelers on Granville and Dunsmuir.
Diane Rae’s Story
I’m an old lady pushing my walker up Broadway. As I pass each block I’m flooded with memories. Memories I want to share. When I’m in a car, on my way to an appointment, I want to tell the driver: “This is where I grew up… My family lived here on the 2300 block West 8th Avenue… I remember the trams that ran along Broadway and then down Granville, all the way to Woodward’s and beyond…
Once a week we ventured down to Woodward’s where we did a big grocery shopping. Most of our needs could be met right in the neighbourhood at our local Overwaitea and other stores.
At Broadway and Balsam there was a Guernsey Dairy milk processing plant. My mother would walk down the lane with a big spaghetti pot which the men would fill full of skim milk. The manager at the dairy said he considered us to be a farm because we had chickens and rabbits as well as a dog and a cat, so he let us buy milk in bulk for twenty cents. Bottled milk and other dairy products were delivered throughout the city by horse and carriage. After school, we would go to Guernsey Dairy, when the milkmen would be arriving to turn in the bottles of milk they had not sold during the day. We went to pet the horses and to drink some of the chocolate milk that was returned. In the front of the dairy building, right on the corner, was an ice-cream parlour where a huge single scoop ice cream cone could be bought for five cents!
Perhaps I’ve given something away by mentioning the spaghetti pot? We were one of the Italian families living in Kitsilano. When I was in Elementary School, most of our aunts, uncles and cousins lived between 4th and 14th Avenue and between Arbutus and MacDonald. We had a few relatives who lived outside these boundaries, on the East side and in Fairview, but for immediate aunts, uncles, cousins and our Nana, this was our ‘village’
When Broadway was widened, the tram tracks were removed along with part of the wide sidewalks and boulevards. We couldn’t believe how wide Broadway was going to be! One evening, after dinner a group of us gathered at the corner of Broadway and Vine to dance on the newly-laid road.
Bert Emery’s drug store, was first situated on the north side of Broadway near Yew Street. It subsequently moved to a new big building on the south side of Broadway., where the Medical building is now. His drugstore was more like ones we frequent today, it even had a soda fountain. It was so much more than a pharmacy, offering such a variety of non-medical items like perfumes and cosmetics, magazines and comic books. By the way, Bert Emery was known as ‘The Mayor of Kitsilano’ He often had one project or another on the go to improve life here.
Across Yew street were two buildings that some of my aunts, uncles and cousins lived in. On the north-east corner of Broadway and Yew was the Dairy Dell, where we went to play hooky from mass at St. Augustine’s, spending our ‘collection’ money for donuts and cokes. Mmmm – just thinking of them, I can taste the sweetness of the donuts and the pure wickedness of skipping mass.
One of my sisters and I attended St. Augustine’s Elementary School. Another sister went there for a short time but then transferred to General Gordon School where my youngest sister also went. We all went to Kits High.
From an early age, we spent much of our waking hours at Kits Beach or walking to and from it. In the morning, my mother would load the baby into the carriage and we would walk north and down the steep hill to Kits Pool, where we would take swimming lessons. Then we would climb back up the hill and go home for lunch. After the baby’s nap, we would walk back down the hill to swim some more, and dig in the sand. Then back up the hill on Vine Street we would go so Mom could prepare dinner for Dad’s arrival home from work at his garage. After dishes were done, on Showboat nights, down Vine we would go again, to watch the free Showboat concerts that featured local entertainment.
Before the concert began, lifeguards would gather to dive off the very highest diving platform. Then, the Showboat song would begin… “Here comes the Show Boat, Here Comes the Show Boat, oompah, oompah oompah chugging along…” and it was time to be further entertained by the people who were taking to the stage.
When my sisters, cousins and I took dance lessons, we transformed from audience to entertainers, dancing at the ShowBoat several times over the summers.
The neighbourhood that we lived in helped shape my life. In our block, in almost every house there were children; children of all ages, from babes in arms to almost grown-ups. We were encouraged to include ALL the kids on the block whether it was for a game of tag, street baseball or for a birthday party. This is where I learned to just ‘be’ with people who had disabilities (there was a boy, Johnny who was blind, Sheila, a girl who had Down’s Syndrome and Wendy, a girl who unfortunately had polio.)
We were an international neighbourhood with families who came from different parts of the world and held different spiritual beliefs. There were English, Scots, Eastern European, First Nations, Irish, Italian, Scandinavian and, of course, Greek; there were Roman Catholics, Greek Catholics, Protestants, Jews and people who had no particular spiritual beliefs. Everyone was included. The adults were from all walks of life. Some musicians, dance teachers, school teachers, carpenters, jewelers, mechanic; small business-owners to a doorman at the Vancouver Hotel and a driver of a BC Electric bus. And in this neighbourhood, my neighbourhood, all were included.
My name is Naz Bahmanighadjar and I married when I was 16 or 17. It was an arranged marriage then, but I was married for 30 years.
At the beginning it was a good marriage. My Husband was a Station Manager of Iran Air and so we traveled all over, to Miami, California, Florida, and other countries as well. We had so many get together with Family and friends and we enjoyed our life together Very much.
We have 2 wonderful children; my son Reza is 44 and my daughter Niloufar is 42. Now they both got married and have beautiful children of their own. I am very proud of them.
After 30 years of marriage, on the other hand, my husband and I got divorced for personal reasons, but after that he passed away 7 years ago.
I still miss him, and I always remember the wonderful times we had shared together.
Kits is a wonderful place to live: whether you are single, married, young or old, starting a family, or retired. Having the mountains and beaches near by is a bonus.
I have lived in 4 different places in Vancouver, and three of them have been in Kits. Kitsilano just keeps calling me back.
I moved from Victoria to Vancouver in the 60’s to attend UBC, lived in the dorms for a year, then moved into a top floor suite in Kits with a girlfriend for $80 a month. That building is now an apartment complex.
After I got married in 1967, we lived in the top floor of a house next to the tennis court on McDonald St. The house is still there.
When I was ready to move out of the family home in Dunbar where we raised two children, I told the realtor I wanted a place north of 16th, and west of Cambie. Now, as a senior, I am living in Kits again, and I love this community for all that it has to offer.
I live in Kitsilano and enjoy driving my 1959 Austin Healey in the neighbourhood where I meet many people who stop me and reminisce about when they or their Dad “owned a Healey”. Originally my student driver when I drove it from Vancouver to Boston and back in the sixties, the car was fully restored in the mid nineties. I bought it in 1966 and have done many road trips, the most recent in 2017, when I drove it down the West Coast to a Monterey California Austin Healey meet. It is Ferrari red with a tan British Connolly leather interior.