Morton Dodek: Summers at English Bay in Vancouver
Location:Roberts Creek, BC
Date:Saturday, July 18, 1992
ID:Digital audio recording #: 19.92-01
ID: You told me some stories about entertainers on the beach.
MD: Oh yeah.
ID: Tell me about them.
MD: Again we’re talking about the Depression years.
ID: What years were these now?
MD: So we’re talking about 19…okay, so we arrived in Vancouver in 1935, I was five in the summer and just turned six in November. And in the summer months things really are much the same now as they were then with the concrete boardwalk that we have there with the…right on Beach Avenue. And people were poor. People were trying to find some means of earning a living and particularly the entertainers. The entertainers were lined up…Now the entertainers that we see now are these, what do you call them, buckster…hucksters?
MD: Hucksters, whatever. Anyhow they were more down on the beach…
MD: Bus, yeah. Buskers. But these were real professional entertainers, they were ventriloquists, they were dancers, they were singers…
ID: Did [inaudible]?
MD: They [couldn’t]. These were people that at one time were probably on radio or vaud…mostly vaudeville. And they were lined up and there was series of them. And it was like, it was really, it was like a series of vaudeville acts all going on at the same time.
ID: Would they put a hat out or something for money?
MD: Yeah, yeah, people had their hats out for money and you’d walk and you’d put a few pennies in. And the area where Milestone’s Café is, where…
ID: At the corner of Davie and…
MD: Yeah, Davie…and Den…Denman and Davie. And all the way up. As a matter of fact all the way up to Pendrell, along there on the west side of Denman there was a series of hotdog stands. These were actually built into the homes and at the back people and upstairs people lived. And in the front these were all concessions. And there was the aroma, you walk down the street in the summer on Denman Street and one after another hamburgers, hamburger stands. People were selling hamburgers and hotdogs.
ID: All along Denman.
MD: It was a like a huge carnival there. So if you can just picture the carnival atmosphere of the hamburger stands, the hotdog stands on one side and across the street on Beach Avenue facing the English Bay were all these entertainers. It was lively.
ID: Every night? Every day? All day?
MD: Almost, almost every night. Obviously during the day the hamburger stands were still functioning particularly on the weekends but at night the combination of the entertainers and the sounds and smells of the hamburgers, sizzling hamburgers, was unbelievable.