Sophie Waldman: Shopping at Hudson's Bay in Winnipeg

Posted by jyuhasz

Sophie Waldman and Professor Michael Quastel, standing beside [medical] equipment
Rights - JMABC
Waldman, Sophie
Vancouver, BC
Tuesday, July 14, 1992
Digital audio recording #: 19.92-03
                Interviewer: Irene Dodek & Cyril E. Leonoff
ID:          So you were impressed with the escalator?
SW:        With the escalator and the displays in the store and they had everything, you know, and when we came from Germany they had stuff but it wasn’t displayed so beautifully. It was actually almost immediately after the war, it was only a few years, and Germany was completely destroyed, completely destroyed and so we really didn’t see, and since I left Poland it was many, many years by then and so I liked everything, produce, I was impressed with everything. First of all it was so interesting that people were so easygoing and without any worries, no bad memories no bad experiences except maybe the Depression they went through but you know no cruelty, it was beautiful.
ID:          That’s true, no cruelty.
SW:        No disasters.
ID:          The Canadian experience at least and there was a lot of it was food rationing, sugar rationing, and butter rationing, and so on.
SW:        But nobody was going hungry.
ID:          Nobody went hungry, of course there were young people lost in the war going to fight for the Allies.
SW:        Yes, but they watched it from a distance, we saw dying, we saw dying of our closest friends, beaten up and mishandled and abused and cruelty all around and people who seemed to be friends who turned out to be traitors, those were very disappointing and painful things, but I was all over this now so I liked it so Monday morning I decided to go downtown and buy a hat and so Rose said, “How would you go, I mean you never went alone, you are here only three days.” I said, “Yes I will find my way, I can read and if you can read you have the whole world at the end of your tongue.” So she couldn’t come with me so I went alone and Ishu [Sophie’s husband Isaac Waldman] gave me some money, gave me $30; $30 in that time was a lot of money, a lot of money and I didn’t know the value of the money, the dollar. She told me which bus to take and I took the bus and I said to the bus driver, “Hoodsons Buy.” He looked at me and he said, “Hoodsons Buy.” He probably was a Ukrainian you know, there were lots of Ukrainians, his grandmother would probably say the same, so I sat close to him, next to him and when the Hudson’s Bay approached at the top of his voice he said, “Hoodsons Buy” [laughter] so I took off to Hudson’s Bay and I bought a beautiful hat and paid something like $22 for it when the average hat cost about three or four but that was the most beautiful and I didn’t know I just bought what I liked, I didn’t look at the prices, not because I was so lavish in spending money I just needed a hat. I came home and I gave the change to my husband and he said, “My goodness,” because all we had was about $80 to our name and we had to pay up for the flight and for our passage from the train.
ID:          Where did you get the money for your passage, did the Waldmans give you the money to come?
SW:        No, no we had money but we paid it up because I worked and he worked, I worked in the dispensary, I think I said I was in charge of the dispensary and he was director of ORT so not much but enough but not enough to come here and make a living so we had to work immediately and pay up these things.
ID:          How long did you keep that hat?
SW:        I had this hat for about 20 years, it was a beautiful hat as a matter of fact I went to a Hadassah meeting with Rose because there was a special opening luncheon right after Pesach you know to start the season and she invited me to come with her and I was the best dressed woman on the floor, I had a beautiful dress from Germany but we all used to wear hats at that time and I had the most expensive, beautiful hat and I was the best and people just couldn’t believe that this poor girl who came from Germany as a refugee was dressed so nicely, but that was my first experience with ‘Hoodsons Buy.’

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