You can’t go back again

One of my fondest memories is of staying at the former Blue Boy Motor Hotel at Marine Drive and Fraser Street in Vancouver.

Off the Line –

Karen Haviland

Isn’t it funny how, years later, some memories just stay with you?

What I find curious is that those memories are crystal clear, right down to the smallest detail and yet, sometimes, if you ask me what I had for breakfast yesterday, I would be hard pressed to tell you.

Usually those memories are golden ones. I guess that’s because we are all human and for the most part have the propensity to block or dim those not so good memories out of pure protection.

One of my fondest memories is of staying at the former Blue Boy Motor Hotel at Marine Drive and Fraser Street in Vancouver.

I was just 12 or 13 at the time and my parents and other siblings stayed there as well.

Dad designed and sold air compressors for Joy Manufacturing at the time, I believe, and had just hired on with them. This was at a time when companies had a lot of money to spend and didn’t mind doing so, especially when it came to securing bright and upwardly mobile employees.

My dad was all of the above. He quit school while in the eighth grade and helped support himself by, at first, digging ditches. But, dad being dad, he wasn’t content with that physically demanding job, and so he calculatingly worked his way upwards. He became even more driven once he and mom started having children. By the time the fifth child came along dad had accomplished an amazing lot of skill, education and experience. He even taught himself to use a slide rule, which, I have been told, is no easy feat.

Thus we found ourselves transplanted from Seattle back to the hometown of my birth, Vancouver. Dad was elated about his new job. We were back on the soil of our homeland and the company which hired him agreed to pay him more than dad would have ever imagined he would have earned. We were on easy street! Or so we thought.

At that time good housing for a family of seven and their menagerie was not that easy to find. We did eventually find a beautiful home on Wellington Ave. in North Vancouver, but until then we had to live in a hotel, all at dad’s employer’s expense.

So, we settled down at the Blue Boy, a prince of a hotel at the time.

As I said, prior to that my parents barely squeaked by, so you can imagine, I am sure, the rags to riches feeling when all of a sudden expense was no problem.

Want an omelet for breakfast? No problem. The company is paying for it. Get what you want. Just mind your manners and act as if you were born to this.

The same went for all three meals and other such expenses my parents incurred. For the first time in my life I discovered room service and I have been hooked ever since.

The Blue Boy, during its time, truly was a Vancouver landmark with it gracefully reaching towards the sky wearing its trademark partially blue exterior. Best of all, for us kids and I guess to my parents’ relief, the motor hotel had a 10-pin bowling alley. The place was cavernous and quite accommodating to kids. My parents were happy that their rambunctious children had an outlet for their energy.

All in all, to say that my memories of the Blue Boy are fond would be a huge understatement. My stay there ranks right up there along with some of the best moments of my life.

The other day, for no reason at all, the Blue Boy popped into my head and so in a rush of nostalgia I decided to consult with my old friend Google to find out what had become of it.

Bingo! There it was after my Google search. The first picture I saw was exactly as I remembered it. I felt a pang of longing but after searching a bit more I found a current picture of it. It was nothing like I had remembered.

It is now part of a chain of hotels. The Google reviews are enough to make an owner of such a vilified place want to commit hara-kiri. According to reviewers, the former grand motel has sunken to its lowest level, such as what occasionally happens to old hotels. I was sadly disappointed to see and read those things.

I should have just let it alone and skipped the research. When I first became a reporter I was told by my very wise editor, “If you don’t want to know the answer, don’t ask.”

At first I was puzzled as to what that meant, but as life went on it became clearer.

This is one thing where I could have done without the answer.


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