George Post: Would you describe your childhood as a happy childhood?Oh yes, I’d have no difficulty answering that, because we were happy at home. We had lots. And when I look back now, we had our little fights I presume and so on, but we got along well. When we got into the car each one of us knew where we were to sit, there was no arguing. Not too much competition.We had one theatre in Haney, or Maple Ridge as it is called now. And we could only go to that with either an elder brother or with one of the parents. But we had sports, played all sorts of games as we called them then. You know, our vocabulary changes with the times. We didn’t have boyfriends like they have now; we had to keep our distance. That was something that you had to be careful about. Not ‘til we were older and out of high school. People go around now; it seems to me the ones in grade schools have their boyfriends and girlfriends and so on, but it was a whole different culture.
- George Post: Would there be high school dances and balls and graduations and things like that?
Yes, high school dances and my brother would always have to take me; I wasn’t allowed to go out. And he said, “She should get somebody else’s brother!” I remember him saying that, and Mother said “No, you’re taking her.” They were very protective in a way, I guess. Then there would be the graduation ball. It wasn’t the big affair that they have now, the youngsters when they are graduating now with mortarboards and so on. I imagine in smaller areas around Ottawa and across the river things might be less sophisticated than they are here now. Be more like my growing-up culture.
George Post: Would you describe it as a prosperous community in those days, Maple Ridge?
I really couldn’t judge it any other way, except that the farmers had good fields, and they had good cows, and they went into town. And of course there was the Japanese, they were such hard workers. They had all the strawberries, wonderful. All market gardening, for the Japanese, and they worked so hard, when I look back at it. And they lived in more primitive housing. When war was declared with Japan, my father was Reeve at the time. He had to go out, and they seized everything of the Japanese. My mother said he could never recover from it, because they were his friends, and he had to take their car. He was ordered to do all this stuff. It was a terrible thing, George, when I look back at it.
George Post: The Relocation Program.
Yes, they sent them up to Kamloops, and they had to leave everything behind. And Rose ___was a youngster then. It is very interesting to hear her talk about that time. They just picked them up, and left them in Hope or Kamloops or wherever it was. Well, they did the same thing in the States and I guess they thought it was good reason to do so.
George Post: Would you have been aware of the 1930’s depression in Mission?
Yes, in Maple Ridge, we knew there was a depression. My father was selling Ford cars, I remember that, and for about a year or two there were no sales. Then he went into General Motors. And yes, we were told, I remember our mother saying that things were not very plentiful but somehow we always had lots of food, and went to the movies once a week, and so on. But we didn’t have the elaborate lives that kids have now, with all the other things. It was a very simple life. But I was aware, certainly, sometimes I have a hard time dividing up whether I knew it at the time or knew it later, but certainly I knew there was a depression. But we all were well clothed. My mother sewed and made all our clothes. She sewed beautifully. Sometimes think how lazy I am, I don’t do any of these things.
George Post: She made clothes for all the children?
Yes, she didn’t make coats but she made all our dresses and she didn’t make the boys’ (clothes), she made our dresses.
George Post: Helen, you mentioned the experience of the Japanese people in Vancouver when the war broke out. What other memories do you have of the Japanese community? Would they have youngsters in the school system who would be classmates of yours?
Yes, some of our best friends were Japanese, and very studious. They all went to school, and they picked the berries and that after. I would say at that time, I might be wrong, but certainly a quarter if not more of our schools had Japanese students in them, and they were good friends.
George Post: Now, was there only one high school in Maple Ridge?
Yes, McLean High as they called it, after the Minister of Education. It is now Maple Ridge High. But it is the one for the whole of Maple Ridge. And they had a bus service. We just had about two blocks to walk so we did not use the bus, but there was a good bus service. And you see, the winters there, the weather, the living is easy out there. We didn’t have a problem of going to school in the snow and the cold and so on. It was just like this. This would be winter, in Vancouver.