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The China Adventures Of Arielle Gabriel

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A Typical Montreal Party, Post War Years

My mother and father had many parties. They were not rich, and my father did not have a university degree, yet supported our family by working as a flight dispatcher at Dorval Airport, Montreal, later taking a business degree at Sir George Williams, and going into Public Relations for Air Canada, at Place Ville Marie.

So. What's so typical.

Most of the people at the party were Married Couples, with children home, with babysitters.  Unlike the East Asian friends I now see, the couples had come a long way to work in Montreal in the post war years - no one had relatives around.

These parents ate dinner with their kids, before the parties started, and there was a more of an emphasis on booze, and talking.  I don't remember any musicians, which I would late have at my own Art Studio parties: we never paid for music, as they were my own friends.

The bedroom of my parents was where the women laid down their winter coats, many of them fur coats, and the men hung their coats in the hall closets.  A pleasant feminine scent of French perfumes exuded from these coats.

My mother hated smokers but ashtrays with books of matches were placed around the living room, dining room, and kitchen.  Many bottles of soft drinks and booze aligned themselves on the arborite counters.

Tonic water,ginger ale, club soda, gin, vodka, rum, and whiskey.  No wine, and maybe a little beer -

My brother and I kept a keen eye on the snack foods laid out an hour or two before the party, seeing which ones we could dip into, and sneak back to our bedrooms with.  For some reason, I like the Quebec brand of Humpty Dumpty red- tinged Barbecued Potato Chips.

With mom preoccupied, we could plug in our bedroom night lights, and stay up as late we wanted, reading comics, or listening to our transistor radios.  I helped Mom put out the party dishes of snacks, also dipping in the yellow mustard pickles, made from cauliflowers.  Green olives were one of my favourite foods, as I was addicted to their high salt content.

My mother also made special party foods, cheese straws the most delectable snack.  She rolled these on a cookie tray, and cut hundreds of narrow rectangles that I was never able to hide enough of, for my own late night snacking.

She also prepared sweetened snacks for the coffee made for car drivers, lemon squares with tart icing and Graham wafer crusts, or apricot bars with pureed fruit paste.

The women wore pretty dresses. That was part of the style then, not one wore slacks. They wore nylon stockings, and most wore shoes with heels. They curled their hair,they did not necessarily feel the need to go to a beauty salon.  We dressed for parties, as I myself dressed for Sunday School.  We made an effort to dress up.  It was fun.

The cosmetics my mom used, for these parties.  First, the hair curling, this involved bobby pins and brush rollers, quite uncomfortable.  You could avoid this, by having a permament first.

There was always lipstick, and a bit of face powder. And the perfume as a celebratory finish. 

The lingerie was quite different.  It was to emphasize a certain shape. The breasts went out, and waist nipped in.  Crinolines and petticoats were in vogue, and emphasize the female hourglass shape.

Men were not too comfortable either, to be truthful.  They wore suits to parties, to match the formality of their wives' attire.  These are winter parties I describe, indoor parties, as summer parties outside might be different.

A happy mood ended these parties, and there was a certain control, as the time schedules of the babysitters waiting in the homes of the party guests had to be considered.

People hugged and lightly kissed on the cheeks, not really touching, Montreal style.

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Lamma Island * Lantau Island * Cheung Chau Island
Hong Kong * Mui Wo * Peng Chau Island
Tung Chung * Shenzhen * Nanning * Hunan Province
Bobcaygeon * Pointe Claire * Montreal
Peterborough * Lake Sturgeon * Ontario
Vancouver * Richmond * British Columbia

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The China Adventures Of Arielle Gabriel

Bobcaygeon, Mui Wo, Lantau, Tung Chung
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