_INVITATION TO CONTRIBUTE TO THE HISTORY OF THE WEST END PROJECT
Hi West Enders. For the past two and one half years we have been collecting stories and photographs about growing up in Vancouver's West End. The idea is to create a legacy website as a repository for stories that we are able to collect. We believe that this kind of collection will be a real contribution to an understanding by all of us in terms of what went on there in earlier times. We also want to publish a book in the short term that will be a collection of stories about being West Enders when we were young.
So far we have at hand over two hundred stories and scores of photos that have come to us in the form of emails and correspondence from about one hundred of our former friends and classmates. The stories are very revealing of what life was like where we grew up. Many offer new and surprising insights in what they have written. Lots of the stories are humorous. Both the agony and the ecstasy of being kids in the West End are portrayed in the stories that have been shared thus far.
This little introduction is in aid of asking you to please join us in this work (actually more pleasure than work) by writing one or more stories for the archive and the book. Those of us who have written and shared some of our stories have been very pleased with the benefits and the re-connections that the process has afforded. I'm not sure how you feel about this, but as I grow older I have come to believe that friendships, particularly lasting friendships, and sharing of memories among friends and family are some of the most precious things in our lives.
As a student who scraped by high school by the skin of his teeth and couldn't write a paragraph in English 12, I am well aware of the hesitancy that some feel about writing. I can only say that I believe writing honestly from one's heart overcomes any lack of formal or academic writing skills. The Irish aphorism says it all, "It is better to have broken Irish than clever English". What we envision is a history of the people and the place written by the people. The letters and emails that we already have are the very kind of thing that is needed to provide the reality of life in our old neighbourhood. We just need many more voices to be heard.
So, please take this as a sincere invitation to write your story or stories about Growing Up in the West End. Use whatever styles those suites you. Stories or letters can be anywhere from 25 words to 2,500 words. We may have to break down lengthy pieces into shorter stories in some cases. We will not indulge in any extensive editing other than what is absolutely required. Prior to portrayal on the website or publication in print, we will ensure that issues to do with potential libel or defamation are dealt with to protect writers and those written about. While we encourage candour and disclosure, if there are things that you feel are too sensitive for real names to be used, please use pseudonyms and state this in your writing.
Because those of us who are leading this little venture are well above the legal drinking age and may not live forever, we would like to ask you to contribute your stories as soon as possible so that we can get this endeavour well underway while we are still alive and kicking. Enough of this long introduction. Please send your stories, pictures, memorabilia, and certainly any ideas that you have about the project to the address below. If you have tech skills please send stories as attachments in PDF format. If you don't have that skill set, even writing on an old napkin from the Comox Dairy will do as long as we get your story. We also need contact information for other former West Enders. Please send us any addresses that you have.
Thanks very much for considering this invitation to be part of what we feel will be a truly grand project for us and those who follow. Again, please know that what we wish to do is to give voice to much of the joy and sadness that marked our lives as West End youth. We are happy to answer questions that you may have. All good wishes.
PS While West End youth may not have had the affluent life style enjoyed by other young people, we did have many things that marked our lives as being very special and unique.