So who were your mentors growing up?
Well, Mrs. Hickman, the neighbour next door was the best one, I could say. She was from the Williams family. Her husband passed away, but she was like a big sister for me. When I had any problems, I would run over there and sit with her. And she had her own little garden, so I’d help her with that. She taught me how to play the piano. She had two grand pianos, one big grand and a little one. Not that I kept it up! I learned a lot from Mrs. Hickman.
Was there any quality that stood out for you, that she taught you?
One thing she did say was, all the education in the world does not make an intelligent person. I guess I was having some problems, because I was not the greatest person for school. She says, common sense is the main thing. And all the education in the world doesn’t teach people common sense. So I’ve kept that in mind all the time.
What was it like for you to see the town grow, and everything change?
I lived there until I was married, with my dad actually, my mother had taken off to Penticton to find work. We were there until we had our house built on Fitzgerald. It got paved, electricity was there but not so much growth. The most growth is now, what’s across the street – the thing is, we moved around a bit, my husband and I. We moved back here, in 1981. Put this trailer in, and we’ve been here since. So in the last 20 years, the growth was mostly across the river – then it’s started here, bit by bit. Once these places are all in place, 69 homes, and the ones at Rod and Gun go in, well, gee – that completes this area. Totally. It was a beautiful spot when we first moved in. It was trees all around us… you’ve got to move back somewhere to see the difference.
How did you meet your husband?
At Headquarters. We were living on Black Creek, and we caught the bus into Headquarters. And my friend there, one of the girls, Mimi Miner, she says, “these guys are coming up from Courtenay on Sunday, how about you come in and see them?” So I rode my bike into Headquarters to meet her, and I waited for these boys to come up from Courtenay. And one was Bill Glowasky. And when I saw him, I thought, oh for gosh sakes! I’ve come all the way in to see those boys. And the next time I saw him, he delivered the paper when we lived down here at Lake Trail, and came to collect. And my dad was quite upset with him, because he hadn’t delivered all the papers, and he wasn’t going to pay him. So that was my second time seeing Bill. And of course I didn’t think much of him then, did I?
Then the next time I saw him driving around in a car. And I was 14, 15. And all the girls were going, aha. I thought he was stuck-up thing. Because his nose seemed to be in the air, because he had a car. The next time, a friend of mine who stayed at our place, Wolf Rothenberg, we were going to a ballgame with him and a few others. That’s when he introduced us, so I started to go out with him. And believe it or not, I invited him to the Sadie Hawkins dance! It was the big event in school. And from that time on we went together. We were married in 1952, November 1st.
What’s the Sadie Hawkins dance? Wasn’t it that thing from Lil Abner?
Yes, the women asked the boys out to dance. Believe me, it was a struggle to phone to invite him to go to the dance. We argued, my sister and I, over the spelling of the his name because we had to phone. And I got his name right! She spelt it wrong, so I’m one up on her. So that’s how we started going together. I was 15.
My mother, my sister, and our friend Helga Rothenberg, we went to Steveston with Aggie Kharki to work in the fish cannery. We went as native Indians, because that’s the only way she could get us in to work in the cannery. I was filling cans. And we got kicked out of the residence, because we weren’t supposed to be there, so we found another place to stay until we finished working there for the summer. It was a great experience, I tell you, canning fish. We took the trolley into Vancouver from Steveston, to the PNE, and around – it was quite an experience. But we had night shift, so we slept through the daytime. I came back from there, and started school again, and that’s when I started out with Bill. And we were married just a few days from 59 years. And he passed away. Then, at Lake Cowichan, he spent a little bit of time working around different places. Worked in logging camps, so he was away a lot.
Are there any stories you’ve missed, that you want to share with us?
When my dad quit Comox logging, he decided to move back onto the property at Lake Trail and Arden. There’s the logging truck my dad had. And coming down Condensory Road, he took the Condensory Bridge out. Got the wrong post coming around – and the bridge went down, the logging truck with it. And he was very lucky that he walked away from it. Yes, the bridge went down – totally!
He hit the bridge?
That’s right, it was an old bridge – but apparently, one post was the more stable one, and hitting that took the whole thing down. And he didn’t have to pay for it apparently. About 1953 – it was all in the papers.
These pictures are of the 1949 worst snowstorm. Down the main street of Courtenay, the snow was just piled way up in the middle, you couldn’t see over it. And of course, no school which was nice.
Oh gosh, you want to know about the earthquake? The earthquake was ’46 I think – we were at Black Creek when the earthquake happened, and I tell you, I remember it quite well.
The neighbour’s house had burned down, and my dad was going to take a Cat and move a building in place for them to live in. I was in the pantry, and my mother was in bed, my two sisters in the front room, and the house started to shake. But what went through my mind is, “why is daddy taking our house?”. Because with the roar I heard first, and the shaking, I put those two thoughts together. Until my mother started yelling, “turn off the stove! Get out of the house! Turn off the stove! Get out!” She could not get out of bed, the shaking was just so hard. I was in the pantry, and had to go through the kitchen but to get through the doorway, I was going back and forth. I was able to get to the next doorway and I could see my mother through a crack, trying to get out of bed – her feet were just flying, and she just could not get out. And all the time, yelling, “get out! Get out!” So I had another door to go through, back and forth, and there were five steps down to the ground. And when I hit the ground, it was like it came up and slapped me in the feet – I had a bit of a sprained ankle after that.
Then finally, she was able to come out, and the cow was spread out like that, legs out – it was something (laughs). Something you never forget. And when we got back in the pantry, there were no shelves. My mother had been out to milk the cow, and milk was splattered all over, and it was quite a mess that she had to clean up. That was the earthquake of 1946. But the interesting part was, across the road, you remember the old buildings that were tall, high-ceilinged? A few days later, the old fellow who lived in it had ropes strung up around his house to the trees. I don’t know what he thought he was doing, but it was like that for a long time, with all these ropes tied around the trees.
And we got in the car. My dad was a great one for getting in the car, let’s go see the damage, so we did. We went down to the Comox Road, and saw the crevices in the road. And we went to the post office, and saw the bricks all down on the sidewalk. And the school – my aunt would’ve been killed if it had been a school day, because her desk was right below where the ceiling came down. We were so fortunate it was on Sunday.
We didn’t talk about Abraham Lincoln!
Oh, Abraham! We were out picking blackberries, up in some part of the mountain. We could hear this little crying, and my dad says, “it’s a raccoon. I think its mother is missing”. So he took his shirt off, went over, and got this little baby raccoon out of its hiding place, and we brought it home. So my mother named it Abraham Lincoln. Abie for short. Abie gave a run for her money, because he was a teaser. He slept with my sister, with his head on the pillow just like her, all night long. And the neighbors thought he got out at night, into the chicken coop – but that raccoon never did, it just couldn’t, the doors were shut. He was quite a little raccoon. He followed her wherever she went. I think at the end, my dad sold him to some circus that was in town, because he knew it could become dangerous. Anyway, the money came in handy. We had a lot of good times with Abraham Lincoln.
Well… I think we’re out of time, we’ve got to get these girls back to school. That was so marvelous! It’s a lot, bringing out whole a life in one interview.
That’ll be interesting – see what my life was like!
And Courtenay is a great place to live. We just keep coming back to it. There was five generations of us here at one time. My grandmother to my great-granddaughter were born in Courtenay, and the other in Victoria.
Living here’s been 30 years now. Saw big changes, just galloping along. It was really nice when we moved in here, the trees on both sides, it was nice walking down along here. We’d have the dog and the cat follow us, we’d sit on the top of the hill and look down, watch the cars down the road. And you could look straight across, over to Ryan Road, and watch the traffic from there. And walk through the garbage dump, come down through there, before any development.
Any words of advice, Maureen?
Enjoy life (laughs). You only have one.