Talking History

February 3, 2014

The other day I agreed to meet with an undergrad who is writing a sociology paper on the identity and the definition of space, using Commercial Drive as its core location.  He had come across my books in the City Archives, wanted to buy a copy of “The Drive” and to talk.  I was happy to meet with him.

I got to Continental Coffee a little early and, as usual, it was busy, with all tables taken.  Near the back, a young lady was plugged into her notepad and the other half of the table was empty.  She happily shared the table with me.  While I waited for my student to arrive, I took “The Drive” out of my bag and placed it on the table.  The young lady immediately glommed on to it and we started to chat.

It turned out she was a graduate student researching postwar women in Vancouver. I gave her my spiel about how the Drive was, and had been, replete with strong female characters, mentioning Catherine Bufton and, indeed, Anita Allen, owner of the coffee shop in which we were comfortably seated.  We were deep in conversation when the other student arrived.

When, finally, he and I had chatted enough for a first meeting, I left, leaving him and her to continue their explorations together, at least for a while.  What fun!

Happy 6th WordPress Anniversary!

February 3, 2014

Today is the 6th anniversary of the start of this particular blog.

It is the third version of my blog:  the second was on Typepad and lasted from 24th April 2004 until 3rd February 2008. Most of that seems to survive and there are some interesting essays on that site if I do say so myself,

My first blog was on Blogspot and has deteriorated over time.  I started it on 23rd September 2001 in response to 9/11, and transferred to Typepad in April 2004.

We’ve had over half a million views on version 3 of the blog which, I know, is puny compared to a lot of sites, but which seems like an awful lot of visitors to me.  I am truly grateful to each and every one of you who takes a moment or more to read these scratchings.

Onward for the next six years!

The Day The Music Died

February 3, 2014

A long, long time ago…
I can still remember
How that music used to make me smile.
And I knew if I had my chance
That I could make those people dance
And, maybe, they’d be happy for a while.

But February made me shiver
With every paper I’d deliver.
Bad news on the doorstep;
I couldn’t take one more step.

I can’t remember if I cried
When I read about his widowed bride,
But something touched me deep inside
The day the music died.

— Don MacLean


You have to be almost as old as God herself to remember this, but 55 years ago today Buddy Holly, Big Bopper and Richie Valens died in a snowy plane crash at Clear Lake , Iowa.  I, too, learned about it from the headlines I read during my paper route the following morning.  It’s a long, long time ago, but their music does survive.


February 3, 2014


We begin our passage

by passing

through a passage,

the passing through of which

seems like a lifetime

to both passenger

and bearer