We had both gone to Expo in Montreal in '67 so neither of us had very much money. Kerry and I went back on the train (half the price of the plane...$129.00 including three meals in the coffee shop) and shared a lower berth. There were actually some fairly large guys sharing the upper berth...that must have been tight! Three days and three nights on a train. The worst part of it was the day and a half we went through the prairies. Jim had given me 1984 to read as a "wonderful book I should read". Not a great choice of reading material while going through this dismal landscape. It's a wonder I married him. If I had known he was going to read a Graham Green short story that was about a dead baby when I wanted distraction when I was in labour, I wouldn't have married him! (In fairness, he hadn't read the story himself.)
Beth had been on some special program where she worked in Montreal but didnt make much money. We put $5 a week each in a pot to buy food and sometimes added an extra dollar each to tide us over. We were amazed how much of that small budget went for toiletries...toothpaste, TP, etc. We had a lot of tuna casserole with cream of mushroom soup, noodles, and frozen peas. A can of tuna was 23 cents, 2 lb bag of peas, 39 cents, soup was 15 cents. We bought some sweepings off the floor patty for 15 cents from Rob Roy Meats. For a special treat we bought one of Paul's 50 cent steaks.
The trick to making it work was being invited out a lot and making sure we ate heartily I had been going with Jim in the summer and in September I had the first meeting with his parents. It was a beautiful evening and his parents didn't seem too shocked that I arrived on my motorbike (a Honda 50). We ate outside in the back yard and the food was a bucket of KFC chicken and corn on the cob. Well, I love corn on the cob and the chicken was a special treat.
I was really enjoying myself and we were all getting along famously. Towards the end of the meal, my future mother-in-law looked over at my plate in astonishment and asked if I had actually eaten all that corn! She wasn't being catty..she just couldn't believe it. I looked down and counted up 9 empty cobs along with a huge pile of chicken bones. Jim's parents smoked heavily at the time and didn't eat much. Each of their plates had a half empty cob and a few lonely bones. I think Jim at least had a full empty cob and a few more bones.
Note to self: If what you're eating leaves evidence, keep that in mind....
I remember we hated the dull curtains so splurged on $1.49 day and bought orange burlap to make new curtains. As the term ended we were really broke. We could have asked our parents for money but I was getting married after exams and had told my parents I had saved some money. It was a bit tricky for Beth too. She had run out of money in Montreal and her parents sent her money for bus fare home. Then, friends of hers talked her into joining them for a trip round the Gaspé since she now had money to help out with gas and for meals. They knew some guys who were hitching back to Vancouver so she could join them. She didn't tell her parents about how she spent the bus fare and how she got home until she arrived.
So, to get money for food we took down the curtains and made book bags/purses out of them dripping paint on them in an abstract design. They probably looked quite cool if you were on LSD (which we weren't). We sold them in a little hippie shop on 4th Avenue.
Kerry and I met these friends she had gone with on the Gaspé trip. They invited us over for a drink which was a bottle of gin infused into a watermelon which we drank with straws. They had picked up a large fishnet and wanted us to transport it on the train. No problem taking a box on the train and the fishnet was part of our apartment decor! I remember being in the old clunker of a car they had driven around the Gaspé which at that point had no brakes....and nobody had any money to fix them.
When Kerry and I were in Montreal, we stayed shared a room in the dorms at Marianopolis College for $7 each a night. It was a nice location and lots of trees as I recall but we had to walk about a mile then up 142 stairs from the metro stop. This was after walking all day at Expo. And of course we wanted to go back into downtown Montreal to have dinner in the evening....too exciting to miss! People really dressed up in Montreal in those days and being young women we certainly wouldn't have done anything else so it was skirts and high heels for our second trek of the day.
Ah...to be young.