Check out our Calendar of Events It’s updated regularly.
For more information see our About Us page.
Check out our Calendar of Events It’s updated regularly.
For more information see our About Us page.
In 1964, Carmelo and Ella Renzullo established Renzullo Food Market on Nanaimo Street, adjacent to Kitchener. They also set up housekeeping in a home on Nanaimo, directly across from their store. Aptly named “Casa Renzullo,” it is reminiscent of their Italian homeland with fig trees and summer-grown basil gracing the garden. There they raised six children who all attended neighbourhood schools. And at the store, a neighbourhood institution was born. In the ‘good old days’ it was a place to find food from the ‘old country’ as yet not easily available in Vancouver: grapes for making wine and dried fish for special occasions, real olive oil and pasta that didn’t come in a can. It was open all hours.
As the clientele grew beyond its Italian roots, the services offered also grew: a space to relax, drink real espresso and its many offshoots, enjoy a panino made from among a vast array of Italian meats, cheeses, olives and onions, and chat with an eclectic mix of people from just about everywhere. Advice, a few shoulders to lean on, life histories, current woes and triumphs, a chance to try out your Italian, and more are shared, chewed over and ingested. Kids are welcome and soon learn to love hot chocolate: heavy on the whipped cream. As a local filmmaker notes: “I come here because it’s way better than going to a psychologist.”
The shop is a cornucopia of all foods and condiments Italian. Want Romano beans (the best bean in the world, someone once attested) as fresh as picked yesterday, how about some luscious Ricotta cheese that doesn’t come in a plastic tub or truly pure olive oil? These and more are on offer.
The wooden floorboards and colourful displays of real food create a feeling of comfort and welcome. Those are qualities increasingly rare in grocery stores and so, Renzullo’s offers both a nod to what is past – because the city used to have many such shops – and a reminder that a family effort to keep old-school traditions alive is thriving and much-loved. Today, Mirella Renzullo and her husband Franco Valenti run the store in concert with employees who come, originally, from Italy (both north and south, if anyone is interested), East Van, Saltspring Island, and Israel. They, too, are part of an open-ended family that welcomes everyone.
On August 22nd, 1964, Empire Stadium succumbed to the first volley of the British Invasion of North America: the Beatles performed at Empire Stadium. It was seven years after the Elvis Edition of Rock ‘n Roll mayhem, and, it seemed, a repeat performance, at least in terms of the irrepressible enthusiasm of fans.
Three months earlier, in June, the ticket booths at the stadium played host to another kind of invasion. Beatles fans, determined to get good seats, camped out overnight so as to be first comers. I was one of those kids. I was 14 and shocked that my parents had allowed me, accompanied by three friends, to stay out all night in, as they noted “the middle of nowhere, in a veritable parking lot. “ They were, no doubt, comforted by one of the dads, (not mine, ruefully reminding me that he had had more than his share of ‘camping’ during the war) who agreed to act as our chaperone. He was certainly comforted by the mickey of rum he had chosen as his companion and which he consumed from a safe distance in his car. It was my first entirely sleepless night (not fun, as I would much later admit) and my first mixed gender wild pillow fight. I survived, bought my ticket – 5 bucks, with an extra 25 cents tacked on for handling – and went home to wait much too long to see The Beatles.
The Beatles came, they played all of 27 minutes to a 20,000 plus crowd of screeching, unhinged teenagers, and, pulling an Elvis, they left. They ran off the stage, into waiting vehicles and drove straight to the airport. Their Vancouver
stay lasted an afternoon and an evening. Period. During the concert, at least I had the presence of mind to check their feet for authenticity. Yup. They were, each and every one of them, wearing Beatle boots.
That night marked another star was placed in the Hastings – Sunrise heaven. It is, surely, the very best place to be in the entire town.
There is a long history of live jazz and blues in Vancouver, where, even before World War One, artists jammed into Chinatown’s commercial district. They played at small clubs and pubs, including The Patricia which still hosts live music. When Rock ‘n Roll rolled around, East Van was a first choice for travelling, world famous rockers. Empire Stadium at Hastings Park expanded an established musical tradition. The stadium and the Park’s other venues became action central, punching above their weight on the global music scene because, in the 1950s, Vancouver was still a small, sleepy town at the end of the railroad.
On August 31st, 1957, Elvis Presley, The King of Rock ‘n Roll and icon for a wartime born generation of kids, came to town. He arrived with The Jordanaires , his back-up band, by train from Seattle. It was only the third time he had performed outside of the USA, and it would be his last. The tickets ran in price from $1:50 – $3:50! Not bad, even for the era.
Empire Stadium was filled – 26,000 strong – with overexcited, screaming ‘teenagers. By the time the concert began, many had left their seats and occupied the field. And despite pleas from organizers, they refused to leave. When Elvis walked onto the stage, hundreds of them, en masse, rushed it. Elvis performed … for a grand total of 22 minutes, ran off stage, throwing his gold jacket to a helper who, acting as a decoy, was chased by ‘a mob.’ Elvis escaped and was driven back to the Hotel Georgia. He left town the next day.
One of Frog Hollow’s neighbours, Teresa, who was born in Italy but came to live in Hastings Sunrise as a young child, was an early Elvis fan. Now in her late 70s, she still remembers the night she saw him in her own neighbourhood. She was able to walk to the concert, join in the screaming and, a little annoyed that he sang and wriggled for such a short time, walk home again.
At the height of the Elvis phenomenon, perplexed adults were often heard remarking: “He’ll never last.” Last he did, and, while he never returned to East Vancouver, he put it on the map of his era’s popular culture.
When Sabatino arrived in Vancouver as a very young boy, his family moved to East Van and never left. The post – World War Two years were times of high immigration, mostly from Europe, and of initial hardship for many new arrivals. Sabatino, an Italian, recalls enduring the usual slurs and a little name calling, and having to change his name to Tony, so that his teachers could manage the pronunciation. By and large, though, East Van and the three schools he attended were safe and welcoming, homes away from home for other recent immigrants, offering places to learn and to play. Sabatino attended Franklin, Hastings and Templeton. He fondly remembers The Beavers, the name for all the teams at Hastings, and The Titans at Templeton. As people in the ‘hood know still: “Once a Titan, Always a Titan.”
While Sabatino attended Templeton, he also had a weekend job at The Track, a work site for many East Van kids. He walked horses every Saturday and probably neglected his schoolwork.
One Monday morning in PE class his teacher, a Templeton veteran even in the mid 1960s (the school expanded from a junior high to a full high school in 1963), asked ‘Tony’ what he had done on the weekend.
“I walked horses at the track on Saturday. I think I want to be a jockey!”
The teacher looked straight at his student. “Hmmmmm” he began. “How much do they pay you?”
“50 cents for the day,” replied ‘Tony.’
“Well, now, that’s interesting. I did that same job in the ‘30s, during the Depression, and they paid me exactly the same wage.”
Sabatino never did become a jockey, skipped his high school graduation parties and went straight to work after that. He does, however, attend Templeton reunions. “To make up for not going to grad.” And he still makes his home on Le Roi Street, near Frog Hollow, drinks a good, strong espresso regularly at a favourite meeting place, and happily details the many ways that East Van is “special.”
Come join us on a Nature Walk with Lori Snyder and learn about our local Indeigenous plans right in your neighbourhood! Rain or shine! See flyer below. Contact Eva for more info.
Second week of summer program! We are at Clinton park every Tuesday.
What do we have here? Check this out, Veggies provided by Spark BC. Seeds give away, did you know you can plant in august, come down and get your seeds! I have kale, lettuce, carrots and more!
See you next Tuesday!
Tomorrow we will be at Sunrise park.
Come and join us at Clinton Park tomorrow to have fun to create Art for ‘Before the Sunrise’ to share stories and memories of the Hastings Sunrise community. There are three days event Art fun on July 31, Aug. 14 and Aug. 28 at 10:30 am – 12:00pm. This Art project will be showcased sometimes October.
Did you attend the event? There were many useful resource to receive also many games to play for a prize as well as entertainment for you to enjoy. Kids had fun playing hockey there too! Frog Hollow had hand out many informations with regard to their summer program, also exhibit the outreach tricycle on the day which caught a big attention to others even Jenny Kwan had a go on it.
Three sister soup in the making! A yummy traditional indigenous soup!
Made with butternut squash, green beans, corn, potatoes, some soup broth, a little pepper, and a whole lot of love. You can find the recipe here.
While the soup was being prepared by our amazing volunteers, the parents and children play in the drop-in anticipating the nutritious and healthy soup and a story time read by Lea LaBerge and Maria Helena. The Indigenous story of The Raven captivated the audience of children ages 0-6 to celebrate this very special day.