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.
ID: And were these the years that you went to Camp Hatikvah? Were you one of the first campers at Camp Hatikvah or…
MD: This was, I’m just trying to remember the year, this would be probably about the same time, yes, would be about the same time, and this was a totally new experience for me because this was the first time that I was to be exposed to anything that had any kind of Zionist or religious overtones. And it was a, sponsored by the Zionist Organization. And the camp was located at Crescent Beach. And we went there by train and I remember getting off…Camp Hatikvah, this was the first Camp Hatikvah…
ID: Was it the Zionist Organization or the Council, National Council of Jewish
MD: Oh, maybe it was the Council, could have been. But it was Zionisitically oriented, same with the songs and the whole concept was.
ID: And who was the camp director, do you remember who it was?
MD: One year Morrie Rothstein was camp director. This may have been the second year I went. I think there was another, there was a husband and wife, the first year I went there there was a husband and wife from Israel who were camp directors...they shared the directing of the camp. And I thought it very strange because this was the first time that I was ever learned to sing in Hebrew. And I remember I really wanted to go home…the first few days because I felt so strange.
ID: Why did you feel strange?
MD: Because I, there were a lot of other children who were there who I guess knew the Hebrew songs, there was another, Young Judaea, who was existing, coexisting with AZA, not very strong, coexisted with AZA. So I actually this was the first exposure to a lot of other children, other people that ordinarily wouldn’t have associated with.
MD: But as it turned, we arrived in the camp, there was a whole, there was a pile of straw or hay and some, and we had to stuff some sheets, and that was our mattresses. And things were very, very primitive.
ID: Did you sleep in tents?
MD: We didn’t sleep in tents but they were wooden huts with outdoor plumbing. But after the second day it turned out to be a beautiful experience.
ID: So then in your teen years you were involved in AZA I think.
MD: That’s right.
ID: Tell me a little bit about AZA. Where did you have your meetings?
MD: The, all of a sudden there just seemed to be a sudden appearance of a large number of young Jewish people my age, young kids. And the AZA seemed to be a focal point where everybody met and were able to get together and became very strong. And we used to meet at the Jewish Community Centre. We had taken over…Chapter 119. It was, by the time we got to 14 or 15 years of age the previous member of the 119 were all gone. They all went in the war. And so there were only a few left. And there was just, like a just a sudden surge of new blood that became available in the community, this youth. And the movement was so successful that within about two or three years another chapter was formed called Totem AZA. So there’s 119 and Totem.
ID: And what about the girls? Same thing?
MD: And same thing, the girls obviously whether boys or girls, and the BBGs [B’nai B’rith Girls] became very…successful as well.
ID: Did you have to pay rent in the centre for your meetings or how did they work?
MD: I’m not sure. We had the basement and I don’t think so. I’m not sure whether the B’nai B’rith sponsored it and paid rent. Whatever it was it must have been nominal.
ID: How often would you meet?
MD: We would meet once a week.
ID: Once a week.
MD: Yep, once a week.
MD: On Sunday night. And we would, we planned some very successful programs but one of the highlights of my life in AZA, of course I eventually became an Aleph Godol, president of my chapter, and prior to that I think I was Aleph Mazkir, that’s secretary. And a good friend of mine Gordie Katznelson was Aleph Godol during that year. And Gordie Katznelson and I were at school since Grade 4, when I was on 16th Avenue went to Cecil Rhodes School with him and knew him since that time. Anyhow, we put on a regional convention and this would have been about 1945, ’46. And it was an unbelievable convention. Very successful. People that came Seattle, there were at least two chapters in Seattle, there was at least two chapters of AZA in Portland, and there was a smaller chapter from Spokane.