THE ARRIVAL OF THE 1940s
In January 1940, Charlie was 37, Stella 41, Joy 19, David 11, Joan 8 and Lawrence 3.
Their extended family were:
- the children’s paternal grandparents, Charles James and Annie Florence Adams, now in their mid to late 60s
- their maternal uncle, Walter Alan Mozley, 36
- their paternal aunt, Elsie Winnifred, now married to Murdoch (Murdie) Anderson. Elsie was 36.
- their paternal uncle, Cyril Adams, 13 days shy of 29
By the end of this decade, David and his siblings would gain another aunt, when Cyril married Nell Vryenhoek. During the 1940s, cousins would be born:
- Son of Elsie and Murdie Anderson, Leslie Anderson on August 31 of 1940.
- Daughter of Cyril and Nell Adams, Carol Ann Adams, born not long after Leslie Anderson, but no dates available.
- Son of Cyril and Nell, George Adams, somewhere in the mid 1940s. He was, I believe, about 7 years older than myself (born in 1951), but again no actual dates are available.
Here are some photos of the extended family of David Adams and his siblings:
Murdie Anderson with son Leslie
Late 1940s, Grandparents Adams with Nell Adams and probably her mother and in front Carol Ann and George
At the end of the decade, David, himself, would meet his future wife, Lois Smith while in Vancouver, B.C.
He would move from being in the Junior Ballet Club to being a touring member of the Winnipeg Ballet. When the opportunity presented itself, he would spend two years in London, England, and work with three different ballet companies. The expectation of military service forced his premature return to Canada. By the end of the 1940s, he would leave the family nest completely to pursue his chosen profession. Very shortly after, sister, Joy would also leave the nest to follow her brother to the west coast.
Charlie entered the 1940s with his beloved 1928 Essex, but replaced it with the much larger 1937 Hudson. He drove out of the decade in a newly bought 1949 Ford. There would be two moves:
- In 1941, they would purchase Charlie’s personally favourite house at 197 Birchdale.
- In 1948, they would move to Havencroft, a very large home on a 3 acre parcel of land by the Red River, situated about 20 miles out of Winnipeg.
World War II was escalating, but none of the Adams men were required to serve in that they were deemed by the government to be working in essential services within Canada. Just as they were recovering from the effects of the Depression, now the war years would bring the challenges of rationing, although in the early 1940s, the Adams family would do surprisingly well.
During the latter half of the decade, the family would begin their series of journeys to the West Coast, where they would end up moving in the early 1950s….
As the Adams family story continued to be told, there were so many stories being told that young Lawrence had not been a part of and this was something that aggravated him intensely. The expression coined to describe this deep frustration was that these things all happened “bLVA”, (before Lawrence Vaughan Adams). Around the family dinner table during my lifetime as a child, I remember the family chuckling about how annoyed Lawrence would get as a young child. To him, it just simply was not fair that all these bLVA events should have happened without his being a part of it all. At times, I must say that I can relate to how he felt. I can remember Joy and Joan recalling the further frustrations of their younger brother’s efforts to keep up with his older siblings. There would be everyone riding their bicycles somewhere, and poor little Lawrence would be peddling like mad on his tricycle calling out: “Wait for me!!! Wait for me!!!!” Such was the life of the youngest member of the Adams family.
CARS AND HOMES
Which year Charlie traded in his 1928 Essex for the 1937 Hudson, I am not sure except that it was in the very early 1940s. The 37 Hudson was a huge car, so David told me, big enough to comfortably seat 7 people. This most certainly came in handy when the family began their cross country journeys to the West Coast. There were indeed 7 people in the car on those trips, the six members of the Adams family plus a Lightbearer friend.
The one downfall of that car, so David recalled, was that the axles were prone to breaking, so Charlie always kept a spare set with him in the car. It was lucky that he did, because on one of those long trips, the axle did indeed have to be replaced.
On the other hand, the car had one enhancement that was wonderful during the cold Manitoba winters. There were special pipes in the floor which led from the engine. This helped to keep the feet of those in the back seat lovely and warm!
Wrote David in his memoirs:
Fortunately, we only stayed there most nights, so that during the day we were at 197 helping with the finishing. The second floor which had two bedrooms, was to be where the younger Adams would sleep.
On the talking tape made during the 1970s, Joy also recalled this disastrous stay with the Grandparents Adams, as she too had been there with her siblings.
From the words said by Joy, Joan and David, it is obvious that the Adams children were exposed to a side of their grandparents that they had not ever seen before in their young lives. Under these particular circumstances, their grandparents felt like very impatient and unkind people, and the four grandchildren did not feel welcomed.
Considering the realities, in that Charles Adams senior was about 71 years old with Annie Florence being around 63, used to the quietude and privacy of their home with a visit now and again from their families, the arrival of four grandchildren staying at their house for a week or two must have felt like a great imposition. Albeit Joy at 21 was a young adult, the others were 13, 10 (and outspoken) and 5. As anyone 50, 60 or 70 something will tell you, it’s lovely to have the grandkids come to visit, but then it is also lovely to see them go home!!! Imagine having 3 youngsters 13 and younger suddenly thrust upon them for a week or two, every evening and night, and one of them a strong willed 10 year old with a mind of her own and outspoken!!
As David said above, their grandparents did not agree with Stella and Charlie’s methods of child rearing. No doubt, in their world, children were to be “seen and not heard”. It isn’t surprising that Granny would consider Joan to be ill-behaved and administer frequent scoldings and smacks.
Joan told me she felt so misunderstood. She was after all just being Joan, an inquisitive and spirited child. Even Grandfather Adams smacked her when he got tired of her great interest in his garden. No doubt the poor man had reached the end of his tether and the garden may have been his retreat to “peace and quiet”.
Both Joy and David attested to the fact that Joan cried an awful lot at the Grandparents’ house. The thing that shocked both Joy and David was the total lack of affection they were given at that house, finding especially Granny Adams to be very negative. Even during a thunder storm when both Joan and Lawrence were frightened and crying, there was no understanding comfort provided. That empathy came from Joy and David.
Sadly, from that time onwards, Joan harboured a resentment towards them which has lasted all her life. No doubt this was additionally fuelled by her mother’s total dislike towards them. This memory was one of the contributing factors in her final purging of the anger and bitterness towards her Grandparents Adams when she destroyed most of her father’s lifetime collection of photographs in the 1980s following his death.
THE 1943 MOVIE INCIDENT
Sadly, there was conflict between Stella and Charlie, as shown in this most unfortunate incident two years after they moved into 197 Birchdale. Charlie thought a great deal of his parents, but, as he spoke on the tape made in the 1970s: “Your mother couldn’t understand why I didn’t hate them (his parents).” On the other hand, Charlie’s mother did not approve of Stella’s spiritual views nor did she think much of Stella’s childrearing methods. In Charlie’s words:
“She (Stella) took you to a show and I took my mother and dad to a show, and there was one helluva row when we came out afterwards. She (Stella) wouldn’t talk to me for about a year, and if that was a crime, I don’t know why it was a crime to take them to a show.
It was all done casually (my interpretation of that would be ‘innocently, without any malice intended). When I went over to see them I had no intention of doing such a thing, but they were looking at the paper and I happened to glance at it, a show that was on, and I says to Mother and Dad, ‘How about going to a show this afternoon?’. So we take off for Tiverly (where the show was) and your mother did exactly the same thing. She picked up a newspaper and saw the same show, and took you kids there.
Now I had no intention of doing that when I left home. If I had, I might have said something to her. But when we came out, well, by God, you’d have thought I’d shot somebody or some goddamn thing. It was a crime!!!”
WEATHER EXTREMES AT 197 BIRCHDALE
“ The seasons were quite frightening during the first couple of years,” wrote David. There was the winter of 1941 which brought us the day I shall never forget For some reason, we all got up late, although my father had already driven to work. The frost on the windows was half an inch thick, so we did not look at the thermometer. I just knew that I had to dress very warmly that morning.
The long johns, breeks, shirts, sweaters, many pairs of socks, moccasins, then the fur coat, the hat, scarves, earmuffs, everything!! and then some…
When I stepped out the front door, the air cut my lungs. The big buffalo mitts were held in front of my face to protect me from the wind.
The walk to school was long and crossed many open areas. Finally when I reached the school, there were no students in or around the school. I found the janitor and asked where everyone was ‘Hey Kid, there is no school today. Didn’t you hear? Go home…’
I did what I was told, and went back into that wind and cold. With much difficulty I got home.
‘Why are you home?’ asked my Mother. I explained what had happened. We went to the window to look at the outside thermometer. It read minus 60 Fahrenheit. Cold I had known. That cold I had never even heard about!
The fact remained that my Father had started his car and driven to work at that temperature. How? I have never been able to fathom. Anti freeze was not used in cars in those years. Fortunately, that weather did not last for long.
The summer following that horrendous winter, was equally strange. One day I took the thermometer on to the front steps. It reached 120!! There were also strange storms, where the sky was blood read at night, and the air was electric. Not so much rain, but a lot of electrical storms.”
ILLNESS AT 197 BIRCHDALE
It was during the Birchdale years that Lawrence developed rheumatic fever, rendering him with a heart condition.
As per The Family Health Encyclopedia, rheumatic fever is no longer common in the West, but in the 1940s, it was much more common in North America. Apparently, the precise cause is not known, but tends to occur after a respiratory infection, and is thought to be caused by the streptococcal bacterium.
It is primarily a child’s disease, where “it begins suddenly with a fever in which the child sweats profusely, refuses food and becomes constipated. The fever is often accompanied by a racing pulse, pain, swelling and stiffness in the joints. In the majority of cases, the membrane surrounding the heart, and the lining of the heart, and heart valves become infected. In the short term, this may cause a heart murmur. In around 50% of cases, the long term result may be damage to the heart valves.”
What the treatment was in the 1940s, I don’t know, but my reference book named above, indicates that in the year of its printing (1983), the treatment was aspirin to help with the inflammation and pain, antibiotics, and a whole lot of bed rest. I expect bed rest was the order of the day for Lawrence primarily. The indication is that the convalescent period is very long.
The resulting heart condition Lawrence suffered from his rheumatic fever was something which had to be addressed during the 1950s before he could embark wholeheartedly upon his career in dance.
KINDERGARTEN AT 197 BIRCHDALE
When the family moved to 197 Birchdale, Stella and Joy began an in home kindergarten for the neighbourhood. This was Lawrence’s first experience of school. Here the small class poses on the front steps of the house.
LAWRENCE BEGINS SCHOOL
I can only guess from David’s writings, that Lawrence’s rheumatic fever may have struck him in the early years of the 1940s. Of Lawrence’s education David wrote:
“Lawrence was finally able to start school. He did not attend public school as I had done, but was sent to St. John’s College, a private school. It took him three years to grasp reading and writing. He had his own script that he tried to use, which no one could understand except himself. Finally he learned to read and write.”
JOAN COMPLETES HER SCHOOLING
Joan, in her school uniform, and Joy sit with Peter, our dachshund, on the front steps of “197”. It would likely have been in 1947 or 1948.
Joan persevered with school as long as she could manage, but Grade IX was as far as she wanted to go.
From that point on she began to shoulder a much greater amount of the household responsibilities.
THE REMAINDER OF DAVID’S SCHOOLING
The handsome young man posing at the back of 1970’s none other than David, looking very debonair in his suit. At a guess, it would be around 1944, at the age of 15. Younger brother, Lawrence, looks on at the left.
“I lasted a year longer than Lawrence at school” recalled David. “I finished Grade IX.”
Of his time doing dance classes at the Winnipeg Junior Ballet Club, David wrote in his autobiographical musings for the years 1935 to 1947 from “Dance in my Life”:
“All this time, of course, I was attending school. I had managed to keep the dance side of my life quiet, until I forgot and mentioned what I was doing on Saturdays to a school chum. It spread like wildfire. I was in real trouble. One other talent saved me. I could run faster than anyone in my school. They could not catch me.
My teachers were fascinated with my outside occupation, so, one year, while we were having a special day at the school, I did a dance for them all. My problems were over. No one else could do what I was doing. No one else had the courage to get up in front of the whole school and perform. I was accepted as a dancer.
We moved, so a new school had to be broken in. This one was near the high school, which had a theatre. It was there that I began dancing for school shows and choreographing dances for my fellow students. My special was a dance about a newspaper boy, danced to a Harry James recording. It always got an encore..
We were in the early stages of World War 2. There was rationing and we knew men who had gone to fight. There were occasional dramatic newspaper articles, and at school, we were being trained to march and use weapons, with live ammunition, but the war was not on our doorstep. It seemed almost unreal…
At school, I always got good marks.”
AND SPEAKING OF THE WAR…
“Tashay” (spelling uncertain) was the school which provided the military training. Such training in preparation for enlistment was the order of the day, with the war going on. David was fortunate that the war finished before he was required to enlist. In his own words in another piece of his writing:
“I came close to that situation (enlisting) at school with the army cadet corps. We handled weapons, from rifles to anti-tank guns and used live ammunition. There was also the gas mask drill, using gas as an incentive to put on your mask. We did not need the real thing…” .
Of course the war broke out in 1939 when they were still living at 616 MacMillan Avenue. “Those beginnings were announced by the long sessions of “EXTRAS” from the local newspapers. The paper boys would come down the street, night or day, announcing the next phase of the war and carrying the special reprint of the newspaper in their bags.
Each EXTRA brought us the latest update on the war. We got a blow by blow description of the war by this means. There was the radio, but, of course, not television. We saw the war on the movie screens, at the local movie house, called in those days “newsreels”. Each screening at the movie house contained the news on film.
There were a few friends who did volunteer, but then they began calling up men, the draft.”
Rationing brought difficult times, as only so much of any commodity could be purchased over a particular period of time. People were issued coupons that allowed them their ration. When the coupon was used up, so was the ration. Food supplies were very limited over the war years, and the program actually lasted a few years beyond the end of the war. David’s hosts in England from 1946 to 1948 thought of themselves as very poorly off, and David recalled that they could not imagine that the “poor Brits” were actually far better off than the Canadians as far as rationing went! He was surprised and delighted by the fact that when he got to Britain, there was way more meat allowed, more candy than he’d seen in a long time, and twice as much sugar as was allowed in Canada.
During the war years, Joan told me that she, Joy and their mother spent a lot of time preparing toiletry packages for the Red Cross, to ultimately be sent to the men serving in the war. Joan was not a knitter, but Joy and their mother also knit socks for the same purpose. It was a way the women “back home” could help the war effort.
None of the Adams men went into active service during the war. Charlie’s father was beyond the enlistment age, and the work done by both Charlie and his brother, Cyril, were deemed by the government to be essential services. Both were exempted from enlistment.
Charlie did have the option of volunteering, but chose to serve by continuing his employment with the Winnipeg Bus Garage. Stella, however, believed that like her own father, and her first husband, in the first world war, all men should make it their duty to volunteer. It was the patriotic thing to do. Those who did not do so, she regarded as cowardly.
Needless to say, her view point and that of Charlie’s were not in agreement. Charlie took pride in serving his country at home by ensuring the running of an essential service of public transportation in Winnipeg. Stella, however, was ashamed of his stance and of him. I can remember being told this about this situation by Joan, David and Charlie, himself. It was another area of conflict between Stella and Charlie, this one developing during the war.
CHARLIE TALKS ABOUT 197 BIRCHDALE
AND HIS COMMENTS UPON
GIVING IT UP TO MOVE TO HAVENCROFT
This is quoted from the talking tape made during the 1970s:
“…But, you know, that was the place we should never have left. We had it made there. We bought it for $4,500 in 1941. We had more goddamn guts than 3 elephants! War on – and rationing on – 1941 – and we buy a new house! However, we bought it at a helluva good figure: $4,500.00. We had it half paid for, for Chrissakes! It was exactly one mile away from the bus garage. We used to get such fantastic snow clearing service there. Do you know they would clear the sidewalks before they’d even clear the road? It was fantastic the service we got there!
We had everything we needed. I had a damn good garage for the car. We were on best of terms with our neighbours. We had everything there!! And that was the biggest mistake we ever made – or that I ever made to agree to ever sell the bloody place. We should never have moved out of there. It was a good house. It was a damn good house! I had it all rigged up and everything – and I had that table for their kindergarten – you know, Joy used to have a kindergarten? We were going great guns there! Because up until then, we always seemed to be in the bloody hole. We never seemed to be able to make ends meet, but at 197 Birchdale, as I could see it, we were doing fine.
There was nothing on the horizon that I knew of. We’d made two trips to the coast – successfully – and everything was hunky dory – in 1948 – and then, by Jesus, we gotta move out to Havencroft. And we just could not handle Havencroft. That’s all there was to it!! It needed people with income twice what we had.”
I can only think that Stella’s and Charlie’s comfort zones were totally opposite, and that neither one of them were able to meet one another half way. Instead, it seems that Stella made the decisions and Charlie begrudgingly went along with it all. It strikes me that my grandmother, Stella, was someone very willing to take high risks to go after what she wanted, whereas my grandfather, Charlie, wasn’t happy with high risk situations preferring low risk comfort where he could feel safe and settled.
AND CONCERNING INCOME
WHAT ABOUT EMPLOYMENT DURING THE 1940s?
All through the 1940s, Charlie continued to work at the Winnipeg Bus Garage. After the move to Havencroft in 1948, he still drove the 20 miles each way, through all weathers, to go to his job.
At 197 Birchdale, I believe Stella worked with Joy in running the kindergarten from their home until moving to Havencroft in 1948.
I am not sure it she started working outside the home in the late 1940s or early 1950s, but I do know that somewhere in there, she began working at a law office near the famous windy corner of Winnipeg, known as Portage and Main.
At the beginning of the 1940s, Joy and Stella worked together running their in home neighbourhood kindergarten, until the move to Havencroft in 1948.
It is not clear to me where exactly she was employed, but after an unsuccessful attempt to arrange post secondary education at a college in the USA, where she hoped to pursue the sciences, I get the impression that she ended up working in Winnipeg for a floral wholesaler. It was here that she developed her love of working with flowers and plants.
DAVID BEGINS TO WORK
David’s first job was in 1941, when he was 12. Hired by a mushroom plant, his job was to shovel the manure on to a trolley, and for his troubles, he was paid $5.00 a day. It did not bode well when his father learned that he as a foreman at the Winnipeg Bus Garage was making less than his son!! It was something of a slap in the face for Charlie, who was furious about it all!!!
When David began giving Stella much of his pay, Joan recalled: “That’s when we started to eat properly!!” I can only guess that if Charlie’s daily wage was less than his son’s that it was limited as to how far it could go, given the various costs of running a household, operating a vehicle, caring for a family, not to mention the extras such as ballet lessons. The funds which David brought home allowed for a much needed healthy boost in the food budget.
Another job David tackled in the first half of the 1940s was to work in the Street Car Barns doing odd jobs such as cleaning and sweeping. Nothing was said about the wage he earned. What was most recalled was his experience with high voltage electricity. This incident is described under “Zapped with Electricity” in the 1930s section.
DAVID’S GROWING DANCE TRAINING AND EXPERIENCE
The following is the second part of:
“Dance in My Life – David Adams Autobiographical Musings: 1935 to 1947”, as it pertains to the 1940s. Again, the words are found in other parts of this website (www.davidadams.org)
His own words describe this part of his life so well:
“It somehow did not seem to take long to get the hand of it. French was the language, and the reasons for that were carefully explained.
When I think back to my early training I am grateful for the thoroughness with which it was taught.
They have both shuffled off this mortal coil, but thank you Betty and Gweneth, you gave me such a good foundation.
Saturday was the Junior Ballet Club day, but we were soon asked to come on another evening to start work on a ballet for a performance during the Royal Visit. We would be working with the big people.
The notice board told us that we would be performing two ballets, Grain and Kilowatt Magic. We would be part of a celebration called Happy and Glorious to commemorate the arrival in Winnipeg of King George the Sixth and his Queen.
In Kilowatt Magic, I was a young boy who could not read properly because we had no light. In Grain, I was a farm boy. I had a few steps to do, nothing dramatic.
I did sense that the performance was a very special occasion. The Royals did not come to our performance, but the theatre, the Playhouse, was full. We were only a small part of a very long show, with a lot of performers.
New reference points for me, costumes, make-up, dressing rooms, backstage, an orchestra, a stage manager. Everyone seemed very pleased with how we had done our ballets. Soon we were back to our Saturday classes and learning new things at each class.
I soon had a vocabulary of French terms for ballet. I became aware of a talent which had not come to light prior to the ballet performance. I had, have, a very good musical memory. I sat one afternoon on our front porch and whistled my way through the entire score of Kilowatt Magic and Grain…..
We began working on syllabus classes, something called the R.A.D., nothing radically different. We just had to memorize the class for a given grade. I was told that Grade 4 would be for me.
1941 was the year for the R.A.D. Examiner to come to Winnipeg. Her name was ADELINE GENEE and she was coming from the British Isles.
Genee was absolutely delightful. A tiny woman with gray hair but with energy plus. When I took my exam, she smiled throughout. I received a very good mark, which seemed to please everyone. At school, I always got good marks, so I could relate to a degree, except most of my school marks were higher.
I was beginning to grow finally. I even got my first paying job, working in a mushroom plant. Mushrooms are grown in manure, need I say more?
My dance roles were always governed by my size. Miss Lloyd was very clever in using her only small boy in various roles. Some of these with the Junior Ballet group, some with the Senior group, such as The Knave of Hearts, the Hero in “Alice of Wonderland”, a Gendarme in “An American in Paris”, the Valet de Chambre in “Finishing School”.
After a growth spurt, I finally found my self partnering some of the girls, doing pas de deux.
The relationship with the girls in the company was interesting. It was almost like sisters and brother, not at all like the relationships which happened at school. I could not have one girlfriend in the company. They were all my girlfriends. It was, in fact, very healthy.
1942 was for most of us in the company, a very important year for another reason. In that year, the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo performed in Winnipeg. We saw an actual ballet company perform, something which did not happen very often. As a matter of fact, between 1938 and 1946,when I left Winnipeg, this was the only ballet company to perform in Winnipeg, apart from our own company.
……One of the dancers in the Ballet Russe was Nicolas Beriosov. I would dance with his daughter, Svetlana Beriosova, in the Metropolitan Ballet in England in 1947 and 48. We became quite well known in that period for our performances in “Designs with Strings” by the American choreographer, John Taras.
Soon I found myself doing the leading roles in a lot of the ballets.
During 1944, (note that at this point, David was now 15 going on16) there was talk of going on tour, which excited all of us. We were now know as the Winnipeg Ballet officially, no more Club.
February 1945 saw this dream come true. We went by train to Ottawa to do two performances. We stayed in the Chateau Laurier and were treated, or so it seemed, like Royalty. For many, it was the first time away from Winnipeg. First time on a long train journey, first time of sleeping on a train, first time in a hotel.
We knew how the audience in Winnipeg would respond to our dancing, but to have the same happen in Ottawa meant we were getting somewhere.
November of 1945, we went on tour to Regina, Saskatoon and Edmonton.
It was on this western tour where a happening made a far reaching influence upon my entire dance life. We were invited to view some films of Russian Ballet. I saw (Galina) Ulanova doing the act two pas de deux from Swan Lake, but more important for me was the dancing and partnering of Chabukiani. His strength, his musicality had such an effect upon me. It took some time before I was able to transfer what I had seen to myself.
That image stayed with me for years. I did not want to copy him. I needed to make my audiences feel what I had felt that day. By the way, after the films were over, a man stood up and started speaking. Turns out we were at a meeting of the Communist Party. We made a hasty exit….
The Winnipeg Ballet was making an historical move, which has since faced in to the background as an event that for some is nothing special. It was very special for those on that tour, and those who saw the performances.
Even as early as 1940, I had decided that this was to be my chosen profession. I, of course, was told that this was folly, and would never work. As mentioned earlier in this work, sixty years is not bad for folly. I think I made the right choice.
The talent of Gweneth Lloyd in creating works to suit the abilities of her dancers, the energy and enthusiasm of the dancers and all who worked towards the performances was quite incredible. Some of the so called professional dancers of this time in history would benefit from that drive.
We were called amateurs, but only because we were not paid for our work. Money does not create a professional, the standard of the work does.
My introduction to the ballet world was unusual as were my early days within it. I would not have missed one second of those days. “
“The Turning Point:
Dance was very central to my way of life. The Winnipeg Ballet had taken that extensive tour in 1945, east and west. We were closer to a real situation. During that tour and the weeks following it, there was much discussion as to what was next on my agenda. Do I stay in Winnipeg, or do I go further afield? First England, then the Sadler’s Wells Ballet was talked about. Eventually Gweneth Lloyd offered to write a letter of recommendation to the Sadler’s Wells Ballet.
“IT’S A GO!!!!”
In April of 1946, the letter arrived. It was a contract with the Sadler’s Wells Ballet Company. I had a scholarship to the school, then, all things going well, a position in the company. I could not quite believe my luck, but there it was. The only question was, when?
A coach was being sent from London, England, to assist us. Mara McBirney was a powerhouse. She put the finishing touches on our work in a very short time. Mara would enter my life again in 1949, in Vancouver.
The RAD exams:
Our examiner this time was Phyllis Bedells, a very soft spoken, very English woman. She arrived in Winnipeg on May 16, 1946, in time to see some performances by the Winnipeg Ballet, before beginning the examinations. I managed an honours mark for the Elementary exam and a fairly good mark for the Intermediate exam. We all adored Miss Bedells.
MEANWHILE, BACK ON THE RANCH…
Meanwhile, back at my family, there had been much talk about my going to London, but also about a trip to Seattle, Washington. We had friends down there, and decided that this would be a good year for a visit.
Details of the road trip are found in the section on “Science of Being and the Adams family”. Quite an adventure is to be found in this particular story of the family!!!
At the end of Part II, entitled “The Road Trip” is the following piece would shows the next transition of preparing to leave Winnipeg and family for the beginning of his career and, of course, the completely unknown…
FIRST VOYAGE TO LONDON, ENGLAND
It was just after the war ended that David, first traveled to England, where he stayed in London with a Mrs. Wallace. For the next year or two, David worked with companies in London. More information is in David’s work life as is prepared by Meredith Adams. In September, 1948, David returned to Canada via the Cunard White Star Line. In his own words, David best describes this time in his life on his website in the section entitled “Transitions”
Back in Winnipeg, I knew that there were many things to attend to. I had not had a ballet class for a long time. That was necessary. Then, of course, there was the trip to Britain. I was just beginning to take in the fact that I was going to leave Winnipeg for an adventure that was as yet an unknown.
Tickets for the train, tickets for the ocean voyage. Because I was considered under age, permission from my parents to allow me to travel alone, and, of course, the passport.
The passport photo has me with wavy hair. This was due to the fact that the last performances I did with the company that year made it necessary for me to have my hair showing. I guess I usually wore head gear. They did not like my hair very much, so it was suggested that I have my hair curled. I had a procedure called a cold wave done. My hair was not curly, but had a wave in it, which helped to keep it in place. I arrived in Britain with that hair. It soon left me.
A suit had been purchased for the tour across Canada, but now Mother insisted on many other things, right down to gloves to protect my hands. I was told that my hands were very important.
Bring on September!! That is when I leave!! I was going to travel across Canada to Halifax, board a ship, then sail across the Atlantic Ocean.
Everyone thought that I should be nervous… I was not. It was an adventure and I could not wait for it to begin.
The journey by car to the railway station was the usual combination of argument and just plain conversation. Had we forgotten anything? Not that anyone could remember… At the railway station, there was the need for some kind of farewell, goodbye. We were not a particularly tactile family, so there were handshakes, and the odd hug..
PART III: BY RAIL AND SHIP
The Rail Adventure:
They remained as the train pulled out of the station, waving. I had boarded and taken the luggage on board. I stood at the door, then went to my seat to wave at the window.
A combination of things crossed my mind. I am leaving. I am going far away. I am free. I am on my own. Five minutes to suddenly learn to face the world that was ahead of me. No fear, just the feeling of adventure.
I had been on several long train journeys in 1945, so this was not a new experience, but, (now) I was alone. The journey took something like three days. A lot of scenery. Sleeping again on a train, eating again on a train.
I did try to strike up a conversation with a woman and her child, but, when she asked me what I did, and I told her that I was a ballet dancer, she got up, took her luggage and left the car, never to be seen again. It took me quite a few weeks to even vaguely understand why she had left. It was of course the ballet dancer remark. “Male ballet dancers are homosexual, and to be avoided.” I had to just let that episode go, and get on with the journey.
The food on the train was even better than in 1945 and I was so pleased to discover that I could still get Lake Winnipeg goldeye, a favourite fish of mine. Province after province, the finally the “boat train” as we were called, pulled in beside the Aquitania in Halifax harbour.
Into the Little Pond:
We could only see the lower side of the ship, a huge black object. A desk to report at, passports, tickets, and a note to give us our location on board. No cabins for us on this journey, just a large room filled with wooden beds. I had a bed number. The ship had been a troop ship during the war, and we were in the rooms occupied by the soldiers. Hand baggage in this room, large luggage elsewhere.
The note told us to go to the purser’s office on another deck. There were would get our mealtime schedules. The ship was massive, endless corridors, then finally the upper deck, where I would spend a great deal of time. The announcement for meal time took us to the enormous dining room. This was the only part of the ship that looked even vaguely like this might have been a luxury liner at some point in history. A table with several people, perhaps ten.
Ship side Luxury:
Smiles and nods, then a slow exchange of names and locations. The menu was something that I had not seen since before the war. We were going to eat like royalty.
There was still rationing in Canada, and some things we had not seen for a long time. It was all here, everything we had missed for years. We all over ate that evening.
The ship’s horn told us we were leaving, plus the rumble of the engines. A short time on deck, then to the room we were calling home for the sleep time. An introduction to the large bathroom, toilets all in a row, no compartments. Showers or bath tubs, fresh or salt water. Get undressed in full view, and put the clothes on the end of the bed. The sleep was not bad. I was aware of movement, but not a lot.
Breakfast, then the pursers office for some information. I had a telegram from my mother. That was where I would learn that during the night, we had just missed a German floating mine in the harbour. Charming!!
After breakfast we were in more open water, and I did detect some folling of the ship. Some people clutched the railings then retreated to the lower decks, looking rather pale. My Uncle (Walter Alan Mozley, our ‘Uncle Boy’) had told me about handling myself at sea when it got a little rough. ‘Walk around the deck, and keep walking until you are in tune with the movement of the ship.’ It worked, and I became a good sailor. ‘Water, water, everywhere….’ etc.
I soon fell firmly in love with this situation. I spent hours looking out to sea and watching the water against the side of the ship. It is not for everyone, but it was very much for me.
Day after day .. fresh air to burn, more food that I had eaten for years and miles of walking around the decks. The purser’s office became a point of reference. Long talks with the head purser. I learned from him that we had 250 German prisoners of war in the lower quarters.
Five days? Six days? I do not remember, but it did not matter. I was enjoying that vast expanse of water.
Finally, “Land Ho!” We could see the western tip of the British Isles, then we sailed along the English Channel to Southampton. A nasty wind had come up. We had trouble landing. We were to pull in beside the Queen Mary, but it proved to be more difficult than anticipated. After much pushing and pulling by tug boats, we landed.
PART IV, ENGLAND:
At the Quay:
I knew that I was to be met by Cyril Wallace, but I did not have a clue what he looked like. This had all been arranged through a mutual friend in Winnipeg. Somehow the luggage came off the ship. I was able to find it, then I just stood and waited. A man with a sign that said ‘DAVID ADAMS’ passed by me. ‘Here I am’, and I ran after him. Introductions, then hurry, because it is late and we have to get the train to London then East Sheen.
Having traveled from Winnipeg to Halifax on a Canadian train, I was not used to the difference in sizes. This English train was like a ‘dinky toy’.
Hesitant conversation, apart from the obvious remarks about the journey, then finally the lecture about the War and what it had done to the Island and people. Everything was small, the train, the houses, even the people.
After a couple of changes the sign read ‘East Sheen’. We got off the train. Found the luggage and a trolley to carry it, all in the complete dark. No lights. Cyril explained that it was because of the WAR, an expression I would hear many times during my time in Britain. They still had the blackout like when the German bombers came.
A fair walk to Paynesfield Avenue, a narrow street filled with attached housing. At last I was at my new home.
Small door, narrow house, small room with a fireplace.
Cyril had an English accent. His mother had an accent that took time to understand, a London accent.
Cup of tea, of course, and “Are you nervous, David?”
“Yes” said David.
It was already late. Cyril had to get up early to go to work, so I was sent to bed. I was to sleep on the second floor, in a room of my own. The room was not a bad size. A single bed that was comfortable, a desk, and an easy chair.
I only unpacked my pyjamas and a tooth brush. I was shortly asleep. The sleep was not very long, but very deep. I began to surface with the realization that I was stationery, after ten day of movement. Gone was the “clickity-clack” of the Canadian train. Gone was the hum of the engines of the Aquitania. I was in London, England.
There was a musty smell. My room was not a bad size. My bed was comfortable. The curtains had been drawn so I got up to open them.
The view gave me a perspective on size. The houses across the road were very close, the street narrow. While attending to the necessary, I discovered the plumbing differences on this side of the pond. Flushing consisted of pulling a chain, which did not always work on the first try.
Get dressed before going downstairs. You do not know these people yet. I was greeted by that unfamiliar but attractive accent.
“Didya sleep well?”
The opening remarks were brief.
“Do ya like kippers?”
Not knowing as yet what kippers were, I simply nodded.
“Oh yes please”
“be careful, it’s ot”
“excuse me. How do you spell that?”
“O-T – OT”
How could I possibly argue with that?
The kipper arrived, after the “ot” tea. It was smoked herring. My first try at eating this fish was not entirely successful. I ended up with a mouthful of bones. There was a special technique for eating this delicious fish.
Getting settled was achieved. My room became mine.
That evening with the arrival of Cyril from his job, I was informed about a few things that had to be attended to the next day. An Identity Card, and Ration books.
Then followed the lecture about the WAR and the problems therein. I informed them that we had lived through rationing in Canada, but told that it could not have been as bad as there in Britain. I did detect during that evening that they considered me underage. Mental note to correct this!
I knew that I had to contact the Sadler’s Wells as soon as possible, so the gigantic London telephone (directory?) had to be consulted.
The next morning with passport in hand, I first found the Identity place, then the ration book place. It felt like I had to sign my life away in both places, but I did see the local stores (now called shops) and the lay of the land in my immediate area.
The call came about the Sadler’s Wells Ballet school. I was to report to St. Mary’s Church Hall in Chalk Farm the next week to begin classes with the Sadler’s Wells Ballet School.
At last, the reason for crossing the ocean was coming into place, the next stage forward in this dance life was opening. By now I had in hand a map of the underground system, so finding Chalk Farm was no problem. On the appropriate day, I took off for Chalk Farm with the necessary equipment in hand.
The Rehearsal Hall:
St. Mary’s Church Hall was exactly what it said, a very large church hall that was the central studio of the school.
I went straight into a class that first day. It was with Ailne Phillips, the woman who had conducted my audition at the Sadler’s Wells Theatre.
I was the giant in this situation, they could all walk under my arms. Not that they were younger, just smaller.
Ballet classes, character classes, pas de deux or partnering classes. Eurythmics, which was sort of like the Greek Dance that we had done in Winnipeg, and some straight academic classes. During this fairly busy time, a letter arrived for me at Paynesfield, a very official looking letter.
The Fly in the Ointment:
It was, in fact, my call up papers I was to report for military service. But!!! I have only just landed here. I went to the appropriate office and made my inquiries.
“Sorry Mr. Adams. We made a mistake. You can remain in Britain for two years, then you must do military service.” That puts a limit now on how long I can stay here.”
I seem to have been only a week at the school when I received a telegram telling me to report for a costume fitting for Coppelia. Shortly after that, a telegram telling me to report to Goodge Street studios for rehearsals of Coppelia. I was to dance with the Sadler’s Wells at Covent Garden in their new production of Coppelia.
All of this had to be arranged so that I still attended the school and did the rehearsals.
* * * * * * *
And so began David’s professional life in the Corps de Ballet in Sadler’s Wells Company. As a student, he took full advantage of free tickets to performances at Covent Garden, where he was able to observe some of the greats such as Margo Fonteyn. Much of this will be covered in the story of his dance life. From the family history point of view, this was David, on his own across the ocean far from his family, learning the ropes of his life’s work, learning how to grow on his own and fend for himself, becoming a young man of the world!
Indeed one of his first experiences of growing up was having to deal with the attitudes he encountered about his physical size. This was a disappointment he had to confront and win over. Ultimately Sadler’s Wells would reject him.
“David, you are so big!”
“I would like to be released from my contract, effective immediately”
His time with the International Ballet had much the same conclusion:
“David, you are too big for my company. I like your work, so I am giving you a scholarship to our school in London.”
Taking advantage of a teacher, Nicolai Sergueef, who drove him to work hard and do things hitherto he had thought impossible, he learned and studied, all the while making more contacts in the ballet world. When the opportunity to choose between more study and actively dancing with the Metropolitan Ballet, he decided upon the latter.
Signing on with the Metropolitan Ballet, June 2, 1947 in Birmingham, he was now considered to be average height, and had a contract that paidseven pounds ten shillings.
“I had a job. I was dancing, and I had money. I was a touring British dancer. I was accepted by the company very quickly as a dancer and a friend.”
Here, he would learn the facts of life of post war Britain, as they toured from location to location, in whatever “digs” were available. The realities were quite the eye opener for one so young just starting out. Imagine if you will:
- only one bath per week
- cold water in the theatre showers
- washing clothes in the cold theatre water, then praying that they will dry
- landladies who would take more than the share of ration coupons leaving you short
- pay for electric heaters that would work just long enough to get undressed and into bed
- fleas, fleas and more fleas. After returning to London after a long tour, “Open the suitcase and watch the fleas jump out”
The cold water became a familiar part of life touring, but in August 1948, a trip to Stockholm brought them treats they had missed for so long in the form of food. Other than meat rationing still, there was plenty of food. The Scandinavian tour was an eye opener for young David who saw first hand some of the contrasts of post war years. Whereas Sweden had been neutral during the war, Norway had been occupied, and there had been obvious devastation there. In Norway they ate the average Norwegian fare, which was fish, fake coffee, and cream cakes “for our morale”. One thing David recalled was the embarrassment of attending a function at the British Embassy and realizing that “they had absolutely everything at the embassy, while the rest of the country had virtually nothing.” It’s a lot to take in when you are only 19 years old.
After the Scandinavian tour, David would have to prepare to leave to go back to Canada, and experience the sadness of saying goodbyes to the many people who had helped him feel welcome .
Back to Canada:
On the 25th of September, I took the 8:45 from Euston Station to Liverpool, then sailed on board the Ascania for Montreal. Things were fine until we got over Ireland, then the rolling started. The rough seas lasted for seven days. I was the only person in the dining room for most meals. I enjoyed the journey. I did meet a few people, mostly Brits who were moving to Canada. I tried to fill them in on a few items. The end of the journey was quite dramatic. As we entered the gulf of St. Lawrence, the night brought a really spectacular display of Northern Lights. Most of the British passengers were terrified. They thought that the war had started again. I explained what was happening.
This receipt, dated March 10, 1948, was for payment of his passage from Liverpool to England. Obviously, it needed to be booked well ahead.
It looks like Stella must have booked the rail passage from Montreal to Winnipeg on behalf of David. This receipt dated September 8, 1948, is made out to her at her box number in Winnipeg.
* * * * * * *
“In 1948”, wrote David, “when I returned (from studying and working in England), the family had once more moved, this time, to a 15 room house on three acres of land, 25 miles north of Winnipeg. It was magnificent!”
The name of the home was HAVENCROFT, and was situated in a the small rural community of Little Britain, in the District of Selkirk. It was right along the Red River. The family’s mailing address at that time became Post Office Box 53, Winnipeg, Manitoba, although from the receipt above, it looks like Stella also maintained PO Box 34, Winnipeg, the mailing address of the Mozley family soon after they immigrated to Manitoba.
For most of the family, Havencroft was like a dream come true – a home out in the country – but it was also a home that left Charlie feeling burdened, financially and physically. It was a large property to look after.
Havencroft seemed to have been a bitter-sweet experience for the family. Charlie felt it to be a property that needed a family with about twice the income as the Adams family was pulling in. Stella and the others in the family fell in love with the place. Indeed, Havencroft stayed in David’s heart all his life, and the memory of that place was something that strongly influenced the decision of Meredith and himself to purchase the rural home in Stony Plain, Alberta. It always reminded him of Havencroft.
The house at Havencroft
The expansive lawn with the trees framing the house in the background.
At Havencroft, they developed a vegetable garden, raised chickens and geese, and sold eggs. Joan did a great deal of the work involved with these chores, as well as cleaning the massive house and making family meals. In 1951, added to her many duties would be the care of the newest family member, Janine, David and Lois’s daughter.
There were friends with whom the family socialized. The friendship with Miss Hayes, for example, continued on into the 40s. David recalled that Miss Hayes stayed with them for one winter at Havencroft . Given that David left home in 1949 to go west, I would say that Miss Hayes must have stayed with them during the winter of 1948. The most memorable aspect of her stay for David was that she was forever losing her false teeth!!
Esther and Madge maintained a friendship with the family through Science of Being.
I don’t remember Madge visiting us in Vancouver, but I do recall that Esther used to come out and see us every so often. And, of course, friendships were maintained with Svetozar and Rosalee Dent and others down at the World Centre for the Lightbearers in Seattle, Washington.
On the left at Second
Beach in Stanley Park
in Vancouver is Madge
Next door to Havencroft was the Lyall’s homestead. The two Lyall sisters also maintained a friendship with the Adams family that also extended to visiting with us after we had moved out west. At the right, a social gathering in the Lyall’s garden.
Next door to Havencroft was the Lyall’s homestead. The two Lyall sisters also maintained a friendship with the Adams family that also extended to visiting with us after we had moved out west. At the right, a social gathering in the Lyall’s garden.
The Yard and Gardens at Havencroft
Joan and her geese
WINTERS AT HAVENCROFT
In the wintertime, Charlie really had his hands full with snow removal at Havencroft. At first, he shoveled the snow from that long driveway, but true to his motto that “NECESSITY IS THE MOTHER OF INVENTION”, Charlie created a machine that would blow the snow and make his work a whole lot easier. Here is a picture of his version of the modern day snow blower.
“I used to keep over 1000 feet of driveway at that place – and I kept Lyall’s driveway open too! 1000 feet of driveway!! And I could clear that 1000 feet of driveway on two quarts of gasoline. But it was usually 25 below zero (Fahrenheit) when I did it, and that’s bloody cold work, believe you me!!! And you had to get out quick as soon as it stopped snowing, because in Winnipeg, when it stopped snowing after a snowstorm, the temperature drops to 25 or 30 below zero”
I recall Joy mentioning a day when she went off to work and when she came home, she discovered she had been out in 50 below weather conditions!
Charlie and his Invention
MONEY FOR A NEW CAR OR THE HOUSE?
Sadly, there seemed to be many times when the priorities for both Stella and Charlie did not seem to be in agreement. By his own admission, Charlie always regretted giving up 197 Birchdale in favour of moving to Havencroft, but he also knew that he had allowed it, so he was equally responsible for the unwanted move.
Something Joan recalled was that in 1949, she was aware that her parents had both managed to save a significant amount of money, which her mother assumed would all be put down on Havencroft. Charlie had other ideas. Given he was living 20 miles outside of Winnipeg and traveling 40 miles a day to go back and forth to work each day, and considering the long distant vacations they had been taking the last few years, he felt it important to get a new car that would withstand the distances. He bought the 1949 Ford rather than put his part of the savings down on the house. This, Joan remembered, produced some very ill feelings between Stella and himself. It was around this time that she also recalled her mother telling Joy that her lawyer had advised her (Stella) to divorce Charlie. Stella, being “old school” chose to remain in the marriage.
Joan told me she always liked her Dad, but there were things he did that she really disliked, and she often felt angry with him. Surprisingly, for all she sided with her mother throughout her life, she was also angry at her mother for NOT divorcing Charlie. She felt that Stella had done both herself and her family a disfavour. Joan felt that life would have been a whole lot better without Charlie.
When two people are unable to negotiate around their needs and priorities, it only brings conflict and unrest. In my late 50s now, I reflect upon the tension between my grandparents Adams with sadness.
LAWRENCE COMPLETES HIS SCHOOLING
As Lawrence got a little older, “…he was sent to woodworking classes” reported David. There, he learned the art of carpentry, thoroughly. He became, in fact, a Master Carpenter. To fill in the gaps, he attended Ravenscourt Private School, an expensive and very snobby school. After Grade 8, he quit school, and that was the extent of his (formal) education.”
Joan recalled that Lawrence was very good at high jumping. Wrote David:
“He was strictly a sports person, a real jock.” At this time in his life, David recalled, Lawrence was not the least bit interested in the world of ballet.
These pictures show Lawrence with some winning trophies for his excellence in sports.
DAVID MOVES TO VANCOUVER
“Things were going reasonably well with the Winnipeg Ballet,” wrote David. I was doing choreography as well as teaching, but I missed the ballet company life that brought me a living.
A letter from Vancouver changed things. It was an invitation to dance with Theatre Under the Stars in Vancouver for a summer season…
Off to Vancouver I went where I was to meet and dance with Lois Smith. Through a contract in Vancouver, we ended up in Los Angeles Civic Light Opera Company. We also got married in Los Angeles.
JOY ALSO LEAVES THE NEST TO MOVE TO VANCOUVER
At some point during the late 1930s, Joy had graduated from the formal public school system in Winnipeg and with her interest in the sciences, she began to look for some options for post secondary education. I believe that her main field of interest was in botanical studies. She had always had a great interest in plants and flowers. Family friend, Alex Bykov, who was by now living in the United States, encouraged Joy to consider a university which specialized in her field down there in the States.
Joy was eager to sign up, but for reasons not clearly understood, a daughter under the age of 21 had to have signed parental permission to attend university outside of Canada. For whatever reason, said permission was not granted.
Understandably, when similar permission was granted to younger brother David, still 17, to go to Great Britain in 1946, there was some resentment. By the time I was old enough to hear about such things, I didn’t hear the tone of resentment coming from Joy herself, but from her younger sister, Joan. Joan certainly didn’t begrudge David his opportunity to begin his chosen career overseas, just the issue of equal opportunity not being given to Joy. Joan always felt that Joy had been denied a chance in life that she deserved due to being a woman rather than a man. Who knows today why the permission was not granted to Joy? It could have been a matter of funds unavailable to fund Joy’s studies out of country while also funding ballet lessons for David. It could have been any number of things.
Whether Joy studied locally in Winnipeg at the University of Manitoba is something I have never know, but I do know that in the mid to late 1940s, she did work with plants and flowers at a wholesaler’s greenhouse.
By the end of the 1940s, David had been to England and come back to Winnipeg to live with them at Havencroft for several months. In Winnipeg, he went back to work with the Winnipeg Ballet for a little while, but then the job opportunity that came from Vancouver beckoned to him. By the end of the decade, he had officially left the nest to live his own independent life.
In 1949, Joy was 29 years, and thirsty to follow in her younger brother’s footsteps to freedom on her own. She, too, decided to move to Vancouver. Where she stayed at first, I never knew, only that she did have one or two other contacts in Vancouver other than David. The Barnett family, for example, whom the family had met in Winnipeg, had already moved out west, to Burnaby I believe. We visited with them a few times, I recall, when I was young. One way or another, Joy found a place to stay, and whenever it was possible, she would get together with David to spend time touring the city, or sharing a meal together. Whether she had a job waiting for her, I never knew, but my guess is that she didn’t, so I expect that the move was something of a leap into the dark, so to speak!
In the early part of 1950 is when she would be drawn to the “Help Wanted” notice at the newly established florist shop on Oak Street. Heywood Flowers would become her source of employment for the next 45 years…
‘STARS IN BOTH THEIR EYES…’ DAVID MEETS LOIS SMITH..
My mother best described the meeting and early relationship of my father and mother in her own memoirs. Written under the section entitled LS17:
“While waking on a downtown street in Vancouver, I saw some of the dancers from TUTS (Theatre Under The Stars) across on the other side waving. I, of course, waved back, much calling to each other and excitement at seeing each other again that it took a moment to notice someone I didn’t recognize. After a longer look, I knew we were destined to know each other very well. Right, it was the old love at first sight! I had never felt that way about anyone before, and I didn’t even know him! I subsequently found out his name was David Adams, one of the dancers in TUTS that summer. I immediately wondered how I might….find a way to dance in the shows too.
It wasn’t difficult. When Aida found out I was back in Vancouver, she was delighted because the last show of the summer was Song of Norway, and I knew the choreography didn’t I? Well, yes, I did remember it quite well, as a matter of fact. How would I like to be the leading dancer in Norway and help her with the ballet choreography? Who would be my partner? David Adams. The answer was a definite YES!
To me, David was a man with a career in a ballet company under his belt already, a man with experience – he was all of 20 years old. He had been at the Royal Ballet School in London (England), performed with the Royal Ballet at Covent Garden (in the corps of course), on top of that he joined the Metropolitan Ballet Co. after he left the school. That is where he came in contact with Celia Franca. She was dancing with them too. So, you see, he was a man of the world..
He was also very good looking, blond, tall, with a wonderful build, very muscular, not a bit like most male dancers that I knew. They were kids that I had danced with, and just had lots of fun with. I remember him trying to get a pair of tights to fit as part of his costume for Song of Norway. They could not find anything that he could get into. I finally came up with a pair of black woolen tights, which I had bought in the States. They were stretchy enough for him to squeeze himself into. It was touch and go as to whether they would last the run of the show! They did, more or less, with a little help from Smith with her darning needle for the little holes that kept appearing.
Once the show was over, then what? What would we do? There wasn’t much happening in the way of dance in Vancouver, but being young and in love, I guess it didn’t matter too much. David got a small room to live in, maybe I should say tiny, room enough for a single bed, dresser, maybe a chair too. He spent a lot of time at my parents’ place. We kept him fed at least.
We did some teaching for Mara. She was great. We had our classes for free. We did anything we could in dance to make a little money. Some of the nightclub work was pretty awful. There was lots of drinking, smoking, table and chairs in the way, so noisy that it was hard to even hear the music let alone dance to it. The floors were always slippery so we devised ways to glue rubber on your shoes so you didn’t fall and break a leg.
One of those shows we did a balletic dance where David did a lot of overhead lifts with me. I had on a romantic tutu costume and I remember they were quite quiet for that one.
David did the choreography for all these numbers we did. They were certainly diversified: an apache dance, a Fred and Ginger number, even an authentic East Indian dance. That one, we went to the Library and got a book with pictures and explanations of the hand movements they made in order to tell a story. We made up a story and from the book did quite a long dance. It was the hardest darn thing to remember! The music was the same all the way through so there was nothing to help you with there. I remember to this day that phrase of music, which repeated over and over again, (was) monotonous! “
THE 1940S WIND DOWN
At the end of 1949, Charlie was now driving his brand new 1949 Ford and the family now lived at the 3 acre property known as Havencroft. Both David and Joy had sought their independence in Vancouver, B.C., David to dance at Theatre Under the Stars and then in California, and Joy, to seek work as a florist. David and Lois Smith had met in Vancouver and fallen in love, and would marry in the early 1950s.
The family had made two voyages across the country to visit the World Centre of the Lightbearers in Seattle, to spend some time at the retreat property at Archer Mountain in northern Oregon, and also to explore Vancouver, which would become their home in 1953.
Charlie and Stella’s children were mostly grown up now! Joy was now a 29 year old adult woman. David at 21 was now a man of the world who had already worked professionally for 3 ballet companies in England. Joan was 18 and responsible now for much of the running of the home at Havencroft. Lawrence, the youngest, was 13 and approaching the end of his school years.
Charlie was still General Foreman at the Winnipeg Bus Garage, while Stella was looking at going back to work at a law office in Winnipeg, employment she would attain in the early 1950s, or perhaps during 1949.
The 1950s would bring a total uprooting and tremendous change….