I arrived in Vancouver by train in the morning as the sun came up, and found a crumpled 5 dollar bill in my back pocket. I was 28, hung over and in a new city, but I wasn’t broke.
You could go to the welfare office, get a check and pay for a hotel room all in Vancouver’s east end, all in the same day.
I did that. The Hotel Manager was a German named Frank with a severe limp and major anger issues on East Hastings Street.
My room was in the 3rd floor and there were about 200 rooms on 4 floors. There was a sink and mirror as soon as I opened the door and the light forced the cockroaches to scatter.
I had never seen a cockroach before. Things were looking up. A double bed sat just beyond the sink and a window to a back alley world beyond that… I had arrived on skid row!
The first night I got quite drunk on the few dollars I had left over from what Frank the angry German didn’t take for rent; and made a speech to the ‘COCKROACHES’
“I will be on the side of the room with the bed… You guys can have the sink and I will leave some food for you on the floor under the sink. Cross this fucking line!”
I made several lines with my hands and gestures. (drunk)
“And it will be war. Don’t cross the line and we will be OK. “
That was in October 1985. I left skid row in March 1896 just before Expo 86 began.
No cockroaches were harmed during my stay.