Charna Plottel: Growing Up on the West Side
Date:Thursday, November 30, 2000
ID:Digital audio recording #: 20.00-35
CP: The first place where we lived that I can recall was called Pine Court. It was on 10th Avenue between Fir and Pine. And there’s a beautiful high rise on that spot right now [laughs]. After that we moved to 7th Avenue in the 1500 block, that’s the block west of Granville. And we lived there for quite a while. I remember we lived there when my brother was born in 1929. It was a, if you want a description, I would say it was a lower middle class area. My father had a manufacturing business and in the house we lived in there, there was a huge room on the main floor and attached to the house and he had his manufacturing business in that room. Then we moved, why I don’t know. We moved up to 22nd Avenue, one block east of Oak. And I remember when we lived in that area, because we lived [laughs]…We lived in three houses there: 22nd Avenue one block east of Oak, 21st Avenue one block east of Oak, and 20th Avenue just into the second block east of Oak. And I remember in those days, well you know what Oak Street is like today, but in those days there was a single track streetcar line and I can remember at about 23rd or 24th the track doubled. And the streetcar coming up, going south or coming north would have to wait there until the streetcar going in the opposite direction came and they passed a baton and then they could go on the single track. Now, if that’s a bit of history of Vancouver, so maybe…
SA: Well that is. Well, that’s interesting. The next question I was going to ask you was: What are some of your earliest memories as a child?
CP: Oh, well, that’s one of them.
SA: If you have another one, maybe we’ll just do one or two.
CP: Well, I can remember swinging on the gate on 7th Avenue on August the 5th, 1929, while my brother was being born in the house at home. And I didn’t even know my mother was pregnant [laughs].
SA: Times have changed.
CP: Have they ever! I do have other memories. I remember when I was going to Edith Cavell School my father very often would come up at lunch time, drive up from wherever his factory was then—because we weren’t living on 7th then, I think his factory was on Broadway then—he would come up and he’d bring me wurst sandwiches. And we’d sit in his car and eat them. I mean, I don’t have too many memories that would be interesting.
SA: Well, those are quite colourful ones. Yes, definitely. So were there other relatives living around you?
CP: No, no, when my grandmother came to Vancouver she lived in the West End and my uncle, Dave Genser lived with her. And my other uncle, Gordon Genser lived over on Dunbar Street and 11th. And then when Dave got married he and his wife lived over, they didn’t live right around us but…
SA: They were here.
CP: They were here, yeah.
SA: You did have family here.
CP: And my mother’s uncle Bill Genser and his family lived on the West Side too. I don’t know when they came here, whether, they must have been here about the same time we were.