Friday, August 21, 2009

The Boarding House

What ever happened to the boarding house? In the 50's all the out of town students I knew stayed in boarding houses. The boarding houses where I lived in Winnipeg usually had a variety of single working people and students. No student I knew rented an apartment with a friend or friends. I don't see how a student can combine the work of study and the work of maintaining a household to the same advantage! It has to be furnished, usually with "early attic". The boarding house was often more comfortable. I am not lamenting the demise of the boarding house. There was a sacrifice of privacy for the benefits. Most of them were better than the boarding house of Major and Martha Hoople, but they certainly varied in quality. In Winnipeg in the 50's there were hundreds of boarding houses. The boarding house I finally found as a student was a Godsend. Mrs. Hall raised her two daughters in a ten room boarding house of mixed students and white collar workers. We had two good meals a day, clean surroundings and quiet living. It was hugely conducive to study and other than keeping your little room tidy there was no other task to do. It did however require a regimented life style with respect to meals and the needs of others. So, what's new? Women could make a living running a boarding house. There was no lease to sign and no damage deposit. It was relatively cheap for its day and housekeeping was always at a minimum for the boarder. If you worked at a regular job and took the bus, you could save money. If you were a student and close to the school you had a lot more study time. If it was a big boarding house you had company at meal times. My grandchildren are students and they all rent apartments with friends to share the cost. It works for them. I guess it's true that the past really is a foreign country.

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