When I was 8 years old, my parents had very little money and we lived in what today would be called a slum. We couldn’t afford magazines or anything of the sort, but we did get the Daily Mirror. The walls of my bedroom were covered in smudgy newspaper black-and-white photos of my heroes, Manchester United, and, most especially, their young superstar Duncan Edwards.
Sixty-five years ago today, an airplane carrying the team on a flight from Munich back to England crashed on take-off in the snow. Twenty people died at the scene, including ten players and trainers, and three others, including Duncan Edwards, died later from their injuries. It was a tragedy that brought England to a standstill.
Clubs didn’t have huge bank accounts in those days and the disaster almost caused the club to fold. In the end it took manager Matt Busby (who had been seriously injured in the crash) ten years to rebuild the team and win another championship. Being young, I didn’t have the patience to wait, and I had already switched my allegiance to Chelsea by then.
As our world winds
through the stars,
do we leave sparks
in our wake?
Do we leave others guessing
what voices we use,
and what good
friends we’d make?
Are we more than
a falling garnet or
just a crashing bore
for heaven’s sake?
As anyone who has read the papers or seen the news in the last few years knows, banks around the world have broken numerous serious laws, have had to be bailed out with taxpayers money, and yet still pay millions of dollars to inept executives and billions more to stockholders. It is estimated that Canadian banks will make $57 billion in profits this year, and pay out more than $19 billion in bonuses.
Many of the banks’ issues involve their connection to complex financial transactions that do nothing but make money for already-rich individuals. There has to be a better way, and there is.
I would oblige all banks to become credit unions and I would strictly limit their functionality.
Credit unions are not-for-profit institutions cooperatively owned by their members. They operate solely for the benefit of their members rather than for outside shareholders, of whom there would be none. Their senior management is elected by the members and their policies are offered up for approval at regular meetings of the membership. Senior management remuneration would require members’ approval. The billions of dollars that are currently paid out in dividends to outsiders would be used to increase services and lower costs for the members. Any surplus could be re-paid to the members or added to the credit union’s capital.
Just this year’s profits alone would amount to a $1,700 payment for every Canadian, adult and child.
I would limit their functionality to the taking, managing and disbursement of members’ deposits, and to the issuance of personal loans (including credit cards) and personal mortgages. Any member or corporation that required business loans, corporate mortgages, investments or insurance would turn to investment companies, mortgage brokers and insurance companies designed specifically for that function.
No one would be limited in their desire to engage in stock market or other investments. But these would be handled entirely by companies separate from banks. No longer would bank depositors’ cash be at risk in the marketplace for derivatives, for example.
Competition between credit unions, if such were needed, would become a function of service and accessibility. I believe this would get us more branches on the streets and a more personalized service between member and bank. It would bring banking back to the people, to a smaller scale that we can understand and control — after all, it is our money they are using.
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.
You have to be almost as old as God herself to remember this, but 64 years ago yesterday 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.
The Vancouver dailies included scores of pages of ads. Many of them were corporate material just trying to sell you stuff; but a significant number were “swap” ads, where individuals offered up something in exchange for something else. For example, on Saturday 3rd February 1923, someone offered a short silk plush coat with fur collar and cuffs in exchange for “anything useful.”
Someone else was willing to swap their Edison phonograph and records for a heater or pullets.
A bed with dresser, skates and boots, a Briscoe roadster “in good shape,” 40 acres of unimproved land in the Okanagan, an 8-day clock and a Mackinaw coat were offered. A late model light touring car, a lot in South Vancouver, chickens, and a modern typewriter were sought after items.
Several people offered help around the property in exchange for rent.
It was an efficient way to recycle and re-use.
Source: Sun 1923 Feb 3, p.10
Further to the discussion about the pedestrianization of the Drive (see here and here), the City has announced significant changes for the southern half of Commercial. The following information is from recently published notices on the Vancouver City website.
While I am always pleased to see improvements to our transit network, it is clear from the language used in the notice (and the discussion at last month’s GWAC meeting) that the City’s primary interest is for the businesses on the Drive — and that the wants and needs of the 30,000 residents of Grandview are of only secondary (if that) concern. Apparently, what constitutes neighbourhood consultation these days does not involve talking to those ordinary folk who live here.
(H/t to Nathan Davidowicz)
We are back with edition #129, thanks once again to Penny and Steve for walking the walk and feeding me information.
The big news of the month was, of course, the closure of Santa Barbara Market at 1320 Commercial. That has been covered elsewhere (here and here). There are hopes that the new owners will be re-opening as soon as this week, and we await what changes that may bring to the street. In the meanwhile, our report goes as usual from south to north.
At 2245 Commercial we have just what we needed — yet another smoke shop! This one is called Haze.
The dope store at 2223 Commercial, which was Cannabis Cantina, appears to have changed its name to VanCity Weed.
We are not sure if Dr. Tong at 2105 Commercial is still in business? It is padlocked and never seems to be open.
The Holy Smoke Bangladeshi Restaurant at 2017 Commercial seems to have failed. That’s a shame — lost a bit of our diversity.
The purchase by Dava Developments for $62.5m of the Il Mercato Mall from Millenium City Malls is listed as one of the top ten commercial real estate transactions of 2022. The entire site is scheduled for re-development within this decade.
The space that used to be Drive Cafe at 1670 Commercial has people working inside, so hopefully this will open as something new soon.
People’s Co-op Bookstore at 1391 Commercial is now officially open 7 days a week!
Party Rock at 1314 Commercial is now sporting a Closing Down Sale sign.
We have lost the Spank boutique at 1027 Commercial.
The long-time “opening soon” Nicli Pronto at 935 Commercial finally looks as if it is close to being open.
The former Covid Cafe at 931 Commercial is re-branding as the Pizza Bagel Cafe, with a new menu and some decorative changes.
Although it is a couple of blocks outside our usual boundaries for these posts, I believe it would be sad to move on without mentioning the death two weeks ago of Nick Felicella, the owner of what used to be Nick’s Spaghetti House next to the York Theatre at Commercial & Frances. Nick’s was always a warm and welcoming place to go for huge family-style Italian meals until it closed at the end of 2017. He will be missed.
Vacancies on the Drive this month:
2111 Commercial, 2096 Commercial, 2058 Commercial, 2017 Commercial, 1861 Commercial, 1858 Commercial, 1733 Commercial, 1670 Commercial, 1428 Commercial, 1340 Commercial, 1230 Commercial, 1124 Commercial, 1027 Commercial, 1020 Commercial, 935 Commercial
Previous editions of Changes on the Drive
In a previous post today, I reported on the farewell party the community held for the closing of the Santa Barbara Market at 1320 Commercial. As part of the celebration, I gave a short speech on the history of the building. Several people asked me to write it down, so here is an extended version.
In 1926, businessman Clarence Webber opened the Old Mill Gas station at 1350 Commercial. He ran it until 1945 when he sold the business. With the money he received, Webber purchased three large lots which today are 1320, 1338, 1340 Commercial. Once wartime restrictions on building materials were lifted, Webber built two new buildings on his lots — 1344 Commercial which housed a hardware store on the ground floor, with doctors’ offices upstairs, and 1320 Commercial.
1320 Commercial was designed to have offices upstairs while the rear of the ground floor housed Webber’s new business — 1200 food lockers, which local residents used in the days when home fridges and freezers were far less common than today. He also built a small produce store to front on Commercial Drive. While the food lockers were a big hit, the grocery store became even more popular. It featured the first ice cream bar on the Drive and also was the first store outside the downtown core to feature muzak for the customers.
The popular market stayed in business (as Artic Food Markets, then Arctic IGA, and finally, Kaufman Meats) until the early 1960s.
In 1965, a major fire destroyed the interior of the building, which was then occupied by Thomas Furniture & Appliances, but it was restored and eventually became the home of Italian Furniture by Marano, with apartment suites upstairs. Italian Furniture stayed in the building until August 1972 when they and the suites were badly damaged in another fire.
Later in the 1970s, the building was used by the Vancouver Community College as a space for skills development, and then was occupied by Italian Sporting Goods until 1979. The offices at this time housed the Marco Polo Italian newspaper, and Radio Italia CJJC. It then fell vacant until 1981 when Paco Celador opened Santa Barbara Market, which flourished until this very day.
Today was the last day of business for the hugely popular Santa Barbara Market at 1320 Commercial Drive. The current owners are retiring, and the business closes after 42 years of wonderful service.
A couple of hundred fans, organized by Penny Street and supported by much of the Carnival Band, held a thank you celebration outside the store at lunch time today. It was an emotional affair, with songs written for the occasion, lots of dancing, flowers for the staff, a quick history lesson from me, and memories galore.
Santa Barbara has been an integral part of the Drive experience for so long, and the community came out to show just how important that has been.
We understand that new owners will be taking over the business, probably with a new name. However, I know that for me, like many others, it will be very strange walking that block tomorrow without Santa Barbara Market being there.
The smog-laden tangerine fog
tinted by a million lamplights
lays heavy tonight;
the busy rustle of the city’s moves
lost in its depths
like the delicate harmonies of a dulcimer
played in the attic as heard in the basement.
Closer, much closer, I hear
the lazy rustle of the scorpion
picking carelessly at a pecan shell.
I blink in the orange darkness.
It was a big day for Grandview — January 29th, 1923 — as the Grandview Theatre debuted its brand-new $15,000 orchestral organ. It was, they said, “the last word in organs.” You got all this, plus a Jackie Coogan feature, for just 30 cents!