And then there was: DAT SUN

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And then there was: DAT SUN

Post by bertvorgon » 12 Jul 2019 07:27

As the story will tell, as I was doing some research in the Richmond Review archives........

I sat there, chilled from the cool air in the room, the micro film slowly rolling by on the screen and feeling like one of those characters in a film, sitting in some obscure corner in a darkened library, looking for the missing link, as to who the spy really was. I started my search in March of 1963.

Bear with me as there is a car component to this story, as I looked back in time.

It is not too often that we really get to revisit our past to see where we came from and the significant events that help to shape our lives. For me, this was one of those times.

My brother and I grew up in Richmond, B.C., arriving in 1962 and living there till mid 1968. We truly lived the life of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn; the vast tracks of undeveloped land and the mighty Fraser River were our playgrounds. Richmond was just starting its post war boom and my family moved into what was one of the first new neighbourhoods. Our new house cost $12,000.00!

Our “playground” was from the end of #6 Road( Richmond dump), the lagoon where the Deas Tunnel was built (now the ferry maintenance docks) and then ran all the way to Steveston, along the Fraser. To the north of our house were miles of peat bog forest where we built forts and generally got lost for a day. We really did live the…”Be home before dark!” rule set by our parents. It was a time when there was NO FEAR, no over protectiveness and we made our OWN decisions.
To this day, that time period gave me my sense of adventure in exploring unknown things and, most importantly I think, making wise decisions…as much as a 12 year old kid could do.

With that being said, like any kid(s), we did get into some things we should not have been doing, which as you will see, was the reason for the research, but, led to many other things too.

My brother and I have now been trying to fill in some missing information in our collective memories, some 57 years having gone by. Time distorts things. Each person saw things slightly differently but, some things ARE burned into our memories. One such thing was a tragedy that befell one of the young fellows who chummed with my brother’s group of friends. We all ended up playing in a place we definitely should not have been, and it was one day my brother was there that it ended so very badly. I won’t go into detail here, but should you ask, I will tell.

This and a couple of other events led me to go to the RICHMOND REVIEW newspaper archives, to see if I could find any information from so long ago. Some of the paper has been scanned and available as a PDF file up to December 22, 1965, where I could peruse in the comfort of my desk, coffee in hand. The rest were on micro film, cached in the Archives at the Richmond library, so off I went on Monday.

You could have heard a pin drop in the archives room; I was the only one there other than two employees. The very nice young lady gave me 2 rolls of micro film, each covering a year of papers, 1966 and 1967. After being given instructions on how to run the scanning machine, I was off into history. The memories flooded back as I saw the stories and pictures from a time gone by, some of which had direct influence on me.

I will try to not be too wordy here; this is a car site after all.

The REALITY of the time…..HIT ME.

Drinking and driving…..HUGE…terrible accidents, no safety stuff in cars. LOTS of drag racing issues as Richmond grew. The paper printed the names and addresses of those in the crash, along with gruesome photos; things you would not see now, on the front page.

The ditches in Richmond were deep, deadly and everywhere then. This was something that I was very fearful of when I started driving and when I got my 1948 Austin A40, with ZERO shocks. #4 Road was a narrow, crowned road with undulating lanes and it was 10 feet down to the bottom of the ditch. Lots of people drowned in those damn things when the car would roll upside down into the water. These taught me to drive VERY carefully!!!!

Scams also abounded then too, something I lived in my working career, they called a lot of them “BUNKO” artists.

The paper was maybe 8 to 10 pages, so the front page was the main news, then the sports, then social stuff and some ads. As the years went by on micro film I could see Richmond growing from the shopping center proposal in 1963, which has now become the behemoth of Richmond Center, to housing areas starting to come into play, with of the ads featuring…NO DITCHES!

There WAS a chainsaw factory at the airport, something I toured in 1964, but even at that I wondered… did I really do that school trip?

Smoking and cancer was linked in 1964..nuff said.

Now to cars…….there was virtually nothing for car dealers in 1962, but, I saw in a September of 1964 edition, the first ad for a DAT SUN, and I have left that space deliberately, as that is how it was stated then. A dealer was going to carry the line. They talked about its performance compared to other cars of the time, mostly English, as that was mostly what we saw; excluding Detroit iron.

It was tons of fun reading as I went from 1964 till I stopped scanning in 1967 which is where I saw the first ad for a 1968 DATSUN 510 WAGON, for $2,495.00 I have attached a few of those early ads from CEDAR Motors and SINCLAIR DATSUN, where I used to buy some of my parts, before I met Bruce and Marty at SOUTHSIDE DATSUN.

A 1967 ad for a Datsun truck was advertised for, $2,049.00

As I mentioned, accidents were severe and there was much discussion about driving safely and NOT drinking…Jeez, nothing changes does it? I did catch this little side bar about braking distance, which to me speaks of how horrible drum brakes were….a foot ball field….

1967 was the “SUMMER OF LOVE”..but… NOT in Richmond. I ran across the story of when JEFFERSON AIRPLANE came to Richmond to play and how the dope smoking hippie hordes were coming. I drove over in my Austin that night, to see if I could grab some of the ambience and to be part of the “scene” outside and maybe hear some of the music. There were a ton of RCMP, a few crowds outside and, I could hear nothing but muffled sound…. I left.

Finding the ad for the opening of the Richmond Go-Cart track was very neat, as we spent a large amount of time there as kids, collecting bottles to cash in for a few laps. We were there the 2nd day after opening. In the 70’s, the car club I was involved with spent many a race session there and, like the 510 Club of B.C. races at the indoors carts, many a rivalry was born. The track is there to this day, with the same configuration.

I found nothing pertaining to what my search was really for, I am going to go back and scan 1968, as the early part of that year could still be in question, as after that my parents moved to Fort Langley.

I have solved one mystery, not through the paper, but my own digging on the Internet, to do with a beached ship on the Fraser River. I have gotten quite good at looking sideways on things mentioned, which then hits upon what one is looking for.

For you locals, as a point of reference, imagine the area at the end of #5 ROAD, over to the ferry maintenance docks, next to the Tunnel. In the early 60’s the dredges had pumped sand out of the river and deposited it in that whole area making it a mini Sahara desert. We used to go and play on the “dunes” as we called them. In about 1962 or so a SHIP was run aground there, and I mean a SHIP, 168 feet long. It was done deliberately.

Well, Holy Hanna! For us kids, it was a whole new dimension to sneak into on the weekends, to play tag on, “guns” and, as the purpose of the grounding was to dismantle the ship, we too pillaged some cool parts off it. Ask me about that some time.

Can you imagine that happening now? The environmental outrage!

That none of us were seriously hurt was a miracle, as we did have a few things happen. One that could have been very bad, but, at the time made a couple of us almost pee ourselves with laughter.

Keep in mind the ship changed weekly as they dismantled it.

One morning we were all playing tag. I was chasing my friend Bruce at full speed. As we crossed though the interior of the ship going from BRIGHT sun to almost total darkness, Bruce just disappeared from right in front of me. I heard a quick…AAHHH…a hollow boom and thud. “BRUCE..BRUCE…are you ok????” “Where are you?”

As our eyes adjusted to the dark, we could see an open port in the floor; something had been opened up over the week. What it was, we thought, was a clean out or access to one of the large fuel tanks. Whether it was for the bunker oil or diesel fuel, I do not know. There was at least a ladder, thank God, that Bruce could come back up on.

Well, when he came out of the tank, we just cracked up, as he was as black and as oily as could be. Just a mess. It was lucky he did not break a leg or arm….or worse.

Now, the reality of the situation…HIT US .….his sneakers were ruined and everything was coated in this mess of oil. We went and found some rags to wipe him down with and we tried to rinse his runners in the river. That was no go and, now that we had gone through the river sand, which really messed him up, he faced the spectre of going HOME. He looked like an Oreo cookie!

Of course there was no way our parents were to know what we really played on at the river. It was time….as any 12 or 13 year old knows….time for….the COVERUP!

What a lot of people would not know to this day is that just to the east of Silver City Riverport Theaters, underneath where some condos sit, was the Richmond dump, where EVERYTHING was thrown, especially old cars. This was to be our story, as parents knew we did go to the dump and scrounge all sorts of cool bits and pieces.

Our story became that we were trying to get something out of an old car and Bruce stepped into an oil pan, covering him with oil, when he slipped and flipped it up. The fact that he smelled weird, we hoped would not be noticed.

We retrieved our bikes which we used to hide behind an old barn off #5 road and split for home, leaving Bruce to ride off into his fate, giggling that we were glad it was not us.

He survived what sounded like a serious grilling from the parents. I’m sure they knew we were up to no good, but, in so many ways, turned a blind eye to most of our antics.

Back to the ship’s history I will leave you with this:

It was built as a Bangor class Minesweeper in 1942, and given the name HMCS TRURO (J268) During the Second World War, it was involved during the Battle of the Atlantic and the Battle of the Saint Lawrence. After the war it was sold to the RCMP, where it was named the HERCHMER (NWMP officer 1886), but, NEVER commissioned. I suspect they looked at the damn size of the thing and decided they really did not need something that big. So in 1946 it was sold to commercial use and renamed yet again, the “GULF MARINER” in 1947

It did coastal duty with a major refit of super structure and at some point in the early 60’s was to become a suction dredge on the Fraser, which would have made sense considering where it ended up and that it had a very powerful 9 cylinder, 2,000 HP engine.

The conversion and the company’s plans fell through and it was run aground at full speed in the spring of 1962’ish and finally broken up by 1964. I never knew till now what its glorious background was and that we were playing on something with historical significance; at least in my mind. I wished I could have seen it hit that beach, as even if it was a high tide, it went a long ways up onto the sand.

Enjoy the ads’, I hope you enjoy some of my early history.

Keith Law
July 10, 2019
Datsun ad_000049 (Medium).jpg
From September 1967
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"Racing makes heroin addiction look like a vague wish for something salty" - Peter Egan

Keith Law
1973 2Door Slalom/hill climb/road race / canyon carver /Giant Killer 510
1968 Vintage 3HP Mini Bike
1971 Vintage 13' BOLER trailer

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Re: And then there was: DAT SUN

Post by 510rob » 13 Jul 2019 01:53


We used to ride dirtbikes out there at "triangle park" east of #6.

We used to ride dirtbikes in North Van, right down by the water front. It's an automall now. Haha. One of our friends used to meet us at the riding area, but he would get there by riding his CR250 through the streets of North Van from way up above the #1 Hwy. I can't imagine that going over too well these days!

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Re: And then there was: DAT SUN

Post by icehouse » 14 Jul 2019 04:01

Yep times sure change! Great story Keith.

Rob, I to used to ride my dirt bike everywhere. Turns out now you can make them street legal so I still do! Haha.
"People don't like it when shit doesn't match their rule of thumb." Sam

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