Daniel Francis

Reading the National Narrative

The Memory Train

Aug 20, 2014

It is a readily-acknowledged side effect of getting old(er) that the memory begins to lose its grip so I suppose I should not have been surprised when a friend arrived for dinner the other night with the news that he had just seen me on television and I had no idea what he was talking about. Turns out he'd seen a documentary on Vancouver during the Depression and there I was, one of those talking heads who fill in the spaces between the images.

As he described the program I began to recall a trio of young people (another symptom of senescence is that you start calling everyone younger than forty "young people") who had come to the house last year and recorded an interview for a program about the hobo jungles in the '30s. I guess I qualify as an "expert" because of my biography of Louis Taylor, who was mayor at the time.

Anyway I tracked down the program online -- it aired on the Knowledge Network here in BC and is called "Catch the Westbound Train" -- and it turns out to be a very nice half-hour discussion of the plight of the unemployed in Vancouver at the time.

According to the KN website, you can view it here only until September 16. Then you'll have to watch for reruns.