Day 236 - Richard (2nd person I approached)
August 24, 2014 - I was sort of resigned to the fact that today might take me a while to find someone to chat with. Some days it’s challenging just finding someone willing to chat, tell me their story and let me take their photograph. Today, another ‘request’ was added to the equation. I had a small film crew following me around and the goal was to find someone willing to be filmed while we chatted. It’s for a project that I’m both excited for, and sworn to secrecy about. Richard, it seems, was delivered to us by the powers that be!
Born at Vancouver General Hospital (British Columbia - BC), Richard grew up in Kerrisdale, an affluent neighbourhood on Vancouver’s westside.
“I have one sister, she’s two years older than I am. She was protective of me when I was a small boy, and then at some point the roles reversed and I became the protective brother. We lived in a small cottage in Kerrisdale,” he said.
“When I was about twelve years old, we moved from Kerrisdale to the Little Mountain Housing Project off of Main Street.” The Little Mountain Housing Project was built in the 1950’s and was Vancouver’s oldest and highly successful social housing project.
“My father had Parkinson’s Disease, and the house in Little Mountain was more accessible for his wheelchair and to get around. My mother became the sole provider for our family. The cottage in Kerrisdale didn’t have running water or other amenities, so the move really was a step up,“ said Richard, laughing.
In school, Richard was a science guy.
“I liked physics and chemistry. I was good with mathematics. I was naturally rather quiet and I was also a bit of a nerd, as well. I guess you could say it made me somewhat more isolated. Geeks hanging around with other geeks, that kind of thing,” he said. Immediately after graduating, Richard went to university to study Science.
“I didn’t really know what I wanted to do, and so I did that for a year. I decided to stop going to university. I didn’t want to pursue something, without knowing what it was I wanted to do. I managed to get a summer job working with United Airlines, as ground crew at the airport. The job involved working with at check-in for passengers, baggage handling, and ground crew. It covered a lot of areas. The summer job turned into a permanent job, and I stayed there for six years,” said Richard.
“Working at that job really helped me learn how to work with people and overcome the shyness I had in school.”
“I knew I wanted to do something else,” he said.
“I wanted more of a challenge after six years with the airline. I went to the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) and studied Marketing for twos years. There was a difference between going to BCIT and when I had gone to university. I had some life experience and actually wanted to study marketing,” he said. After completing his marketing program, Richard went into real estate sales.
“I was able to apply what I had learned from working at the airline, connecting with people and the customer service aspect. And then couple that with what I had learned at BCIT in marketing,” said Richard. This was during the late 1970’s before the condo and apartment building boom in Vancouver. Richard also spent some time working for a marketing company.
“We came up with the ‘Expo Ernie’ mascot for the Vancouver (World’s Fair) Expo 86,” said Richard, smiling. (*Fact Check - see links below.)
“I went back to working in the airline industry,” said Richard.
“It was something I enjoyed, and this time I went into it in a proper, full-on marketing capacity,” he said. Richard had gotten married and divorced as well.
“I’ve been in the common-law situation since then, but never remarried. I’m currently single,” he said.
After a career span of over twenty years in the airline industry, Richard is once again working in real estate sales.
“I work with clients buying and selling homes,” he said. I asked Richard how a realtor in Vancouver could be out for a casual stroll on a Sunday afternoon, instead of doing showings.
“It’s August,” he said with a big smile.
“I've learned not to overdo it. I take time when I need to and ensure that I’m enjoying the things I’m doing. When I was in my twenties, sure I worked until two in the morning most nights. Those days are over. I was out for a walk, and it was go left or go right, and going right brought me to you,” he said.
I thanked Richard for his time and took his photograph. The camera crew wanted to get a few more shots from different angles of Richard and I, so we sat and chatted a while longer. Richard asked me where I was from. I usually say Vancouver, even though I was born in a small gold mining town in the interior of the province. No one ever knows of Bralorne, and my family moved to Vancouver when I was two years old. I’ve always considered myself to be a Vancouverite. For some reason, I told Richard I was born in Bralorne. As soon as I said it, Richard's reaction told me that he knew of the now almost ghost-town.
“Really? You were born there?” he said somewhat incredulously.
“My father spent some time there,” he said. Of course I was curious why.
“Well, an interesting side story - my father was a rum-runner in his early days. There was prohibition in the States (USA) and he and two other fellows would run rum down the coast. He worked with Henry J Reifel (of the Reifel Bird Sanctuary in Richmond, BC), who had an incredibly fast and powerful boat built for rum running. (The SKEEZIX is now restored and housed in Steveston, BC. **Fact Check - see links below.)
“My father was in Bralorne doing some car repairs in a small, dirty garage. He was working under a car. Someone threw a lit match on the ground and the garage caught fire and my father was trapped under the car. He suffered severe burns to ninety percent of his body. That eventually contributed to the onset of his Parkinson’s disease,” said Richard. When he was sixteen years old, his father passed away.
“It was a very difficult time and it’s still hard for me to talk about. My sister, mother and I became even closer through the time leading up to his passing and afterwards. We were each other's support network,” he said.
“We were always a close family. This brought us even closer.” #notastranger
*Fact Check - http://bit.ly/XLpvsv
**Fact Check - http://blogs.ubc.ca/hist305/histories-of-bc/rum-running-in-vancouver/