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Florence Partridge

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Abstract

Florence Partridge graduated from Macdonald Institute in 1926, having completed the two-year Associate Course. She speaks at length of her years on campus as a student and her time in New York and Toronto working as a dietitian and in restaurants following graduation. After completing a Certificate course in Library Science at the University of Toronto in 1932, she came to the OAC as an assistant librarian. She became the Chief Librarian in 1944 and served the OAC, the Federated Colleges and the University of Guelph in that capacity until her retirement in 1971. She doesn’t talk of her years as Librarian other than to state that they were very pleasant ones that gave her the opportunity to enjoy the fellowship of faculty and students.

Graduation Year

1926

College

MACS/FACS

Interview Date

Interviewer

A. Grubbe

Call Number

RE1 UOG A1340035

Audio

Florence Partridge interview

Transcript

ALUMNI-IN-ACTION ORAL HISTORY

FLORENCE PARTRIDGE, MAC ‘26

By: A.G. Grubbe

June 21, 1989

EDITED TRANSCRIPT

 

G         This is an interview with Florence Partridge of MacDonald Institute, class of 1926. 

        Conducted by Arthur Grubbe  on June 21st, 1989 for the University of Guelph

        Alumni Association and the Alumni-in-Action Committee.

 

Well, Florence, I gather from the information  I’ve gathered that you were a Toronto girl.

P    No, Arthur, that’s not right.  My family moved to Toronto after I came to Mac Institute. They were living in Orangeville at the time I came to the college.

G   Yes, well, of course, there you are.  I got information but it wasn’t right so that’s all right. What factors influenced you to attend the college at Guelph, namely Macdonald Institute?

 P: Well, I suppose finances were one big reason.  My father was a clergyman and there were two of us ready to come to college at that time.  My brother and myself.  And the University of Toronto was definitely much too expensive for two children to be financed so Guelph was the choice.

G         And I’m sure that, in retrospect, a very admirable choice too.

P          Yes, yes.  It worked out.

G: Of course, I guess things were ... I know in the thirties when I was there. . . things were highly subsidized.  Many times I heard we could   hardly afford to live at home.  The price was right.

P: Yes, oh yes.

G: So, what are your memories of campus life?  I guess, in your time, there was only Mac Hall.  Watson Hall hadn’t been built at  that time.

P: No, Macdonald Hall was the only girl’s residence.  And, it was all a great, new experience.  I can’t say that I have any very definitive memories of it.  The whole thing, of course, being put into a group living situation was different.  The rules were not too strict.  Mrs. Fuller was our House Mother.  She was a Victorian lady and I can remember her admonishing us. And, the streetcars ran on the campus at that time.  And she would tell us that a young lady allows herself time to walk out of the front door with her gloves on and walk to the streetcar.

G:   And, of course, well, sometimes in those longer skirts, you had a bit of a hoop to hold up so I supposed she’d tell you to hold on to it going down the steps. [Laughs].

 P: [Laughs].  Now, wait a minute Arthur.  We’re not that far back. 

G: [Laughs].  Very interesting.  Well, then, you’re dining place was in Mac Hall then, was it not?

P: No, it had already been moved over to Creelman.

G: Creelman, right.

P: But the girls sat at one end of Creelman and the men sat at the other end.

G: And never the twain shall meet, supposedly. [Laughs].

P: Except on the steps outside. [Laughs].

G: Very good.  [Laughs].  So that became a Common Room.  Do you remember the date would be on that when it was dropped as a Dining Room?

P:    Well, before I was there. 

 G: Well, OK. Right.Yes, well, that’s it.  So, you then travelled over to Creelman Hall and went through the process.  We all , of course, had to wear jackets and, I guess, the girls were appropriately  dressed  too  and  so  on.    What was your experiences with food?

P: There was never enough of it.  [Laughs].  Somehow, we developed tremendous appetites when we came to Mac.   We would go to the Dining Hall, eat a meal, go home, reach into our secret little cache in our room, and sit down and eat again.

 G:   And, yet, you never showed that . . . showed your keep, so to speak, then?

P: [Laughs]. Well, yes we did.

G: [Laughs].  There were . . . the diets weren’t necessary such that didn’t allow for putting on some weight, eh?  So then, you’ve already alluded to the fact that, one of the reasons, the expenses . . .  do you remember any part of what it did cost in terms of room and board and that sort of thing?

 P: No, I can’t remember any specific amounts.  I know that it was very, very little compared with today’s prices.  We provided our own bedding, I think.

G: Yes.

P: But  there were bedspreads provided for us and blankets, I think.  So, maybe it was only sheets and pillowcases that we provided.  Our laundry, our bedding, was done for us by the College.   We did our own personal laundry in tubs, not with machines, in tubs down in the basement of Macdonald Hall.  Our meals, of course, were provided. Our rooms, and furnishings of the room, were provided.  We were required to wear uniforms which must be made of the material which was sold in Macdonald’s Store downtown in Guelph.  Macdonald’s was a department store on the corner of Carden and   Wyndham Streets.  And we had to buy this material there and have our uniforms made up before we came to the College.  Also, we were required to have white aprons with bibs.   And, these uniforms we wore to all of the labs in Macdonald Institute.   We were not required to wear them for lectures, some of which we took on the other side of the campus.  But we were required to wear them for all of the labs.  As Juniors, we wore white cotton ties with our uniform.  When we were Seniors, we graduated to black ties.  I think I’ve got those colours straight. 

G:    Didn’t you have to  wear green berets as a part of the initiation process?

P: Oh, yes, but that was probably a very short time.

G: Yeah, two weeks or ten days or something or the other.  Right.  Yeah.  So, actually, you must be able to remember that that was the ... I was going to say uniform, but I guess that’s really what it was, even into the mid ‘30s and then later. 

P: Yes, I suppose so.

G: I seem to recall that at any rate.

P: We also had a uniform for Physical Education.  We had a navy blue serge jumper which we wore with a white shirt.  White blouse. The skirt of the jumper was above our knees and then we wore black cotton tights [Laughs] below that.

 G: [Laughs].  Sure.  Yes, indeed.  Oh, yes.  So, classes. What size would they be, the classes   at that particular time?

P: I would think in the lab we were about 20.  Our classes were probably divided into two groups.  There were so many different courses.  There were three, two-year courses.  The Normal Course, the Institutional Course and the Associate Course.   The Normal Course was for people who had already a teaching certificate and who were expecting to teach Home Economics in the schools.  The Institutional Course was for people intending to go and work in the kitchens of hotels, hospitals . . . well, not hospitals, perhaps, but . . . correctional institutions.  Something which did not require a   medical knowledge of nutrition.

G: So,   you were in the . . .

P: I was in the Associate Course.

G: The Associate Course so you’re saying that may have been 20 of you, all told?

P: No, there would be more than 20 but they were  divided into 20.  Then in addition to the two-year courses, there was the one-year homemaker course and  a three-months   course . . .

G: [Laughs].  Oh, that’s what was called the ‘Diamond Ringer’.

P: That was only three months.  That was a crash course.

 G: Yes, right.  But, I think I remember, but I thought it was the Homemaker Course, the one-year course, that my aunt took away back when.  I’ve never established what the year was, but I think she also termed it as the ‘Diamond Ringer ’ course. So, anyways, that’s the class size.  And, I suppose, as I recall it,  you had, sort     of a practical course where you actually put on a meal for, in your case - Mrs.  Fuller.  And two or more of you would work the whole gamut of cook, maid and   so on.

P: [Laughs].  Yes, but that was not for Mrs. Fuller.  Mrs. Fuller was matron of the residence.  Miss Cruickshank was Director of the Institute and it was for her, for Miss Cruickshank that we had the trying ordeal.  She lived in an apartment in MacDonald Institute and, in our Senior year, we were required to work in the apartment for three weeks.  One week, we were hostess which meant we had to boss the other people to see that they did their work properly.  Another week, we were cooks.  And, the third week, we were housekeepers.  And, the traditions of course, the legends, were passed on from one group to another. And we were always told that we must dust carefully behind the radiators because Miss Cruickshank dropped hairpins there to see whether or not we cleaned in there [Laughs]. 

  G: [Laughs].  A test pattern in other words, eh?

 P: Yes.

  G: Well, yes, you’re saying then Miss Cruickshank lived in ... I thought she had  an  apartment in  MacDonald Hall, in the thirties.

P: No, she was in MacDonald Institute and Mrs. Fuller was in MacDonald Hall.

G- Do you think there was any change in later years because, as I recall, I thought she was in, and had the apartment in MacDonald Hall.

P: No, up to the days of Margaret McCready it was still in MacDonald Institute.

G: Yeah.  So that pretty well covers the class activity and the  . . .

P: Oh, no, it doesn’t Arthur. [Laughs].

G: Oh well, let’s go! [Laughs].

P: Well, one thing I can remember very clearly was that, at eight o’clock in the morning, at least I think it was eight o’clock.  It was certainly before classes started in the Institute.  We were expected to go over to Memorial Hall, as were the male students, to attend a worship service.

G: Morning . . .

P: . . . the prayers, yes.  And, I can’t remember anything about those sessions, except Professor Blackwood leading the singing.

 G: Yes!

P: That was in your day as well, was it?

 G: No. We didn’t do that, but I well remember Prof Blackwood as being a tremendous singer .

P- After, the men, of course, finished their school year before we did.  So, after the men had left, we had our morning prayers   on the top floor of MacDonald Insitute.

 G: Which was really a gymnasium, was it not?

P: No. The gymnasium was in MacDonald Hall.

G: Oh, the top floor of the Institute.  OK.  Right.

P- It was a lecture, a large lecture room.  And Miss Cruikshank, then, conducted the service.   One of the students would play the piano. Miss Cruikshank would ask for a choice of hymns.  And, one of  the girls who played the piano had been very much preoccupied by one of the male students who had, at the end of the term, left to go back to England.  So, she was playing piano this morning and when the call for choice of hymns was given, three or four people, among the students, shouted out, “For Those in Peril on the Sea”. [Laughs].  Miss Cruikshank appreciated the situation and we all sang for those in peril on the sea. 

G: Very good, yes.  Where was the gymnasium then?

P: It was the second floor of MacDonald Hall over top of the Common Room . . .

G:   After it was the Dining Room then it became the Common Room.  Right.  And, of course, they had the Common Room - what was it, Thursday Night Hops?

P: I think it was Friday night.

G: Friday night, OK.

P: Doesn’t matter.

G: I think it was, in our time, it was Thursday night but  . . .

P: Yes, you had long weekends, we didn’t.

G: [Laughs].  We still had classes Saturday morning.

P: [Laughs].  So did we.

G:   Yeah.  Right.  So, that’s very interesting.  No, we didn’t . . . there wasn’t any devotions.  There always was a prayer   to start the meal, in Creelman Hall, of course.   But, there was no   morning devotions, or anything of that nature at that time.  Well, that would make Mem Hall spanking new too. Wasn’t it the class of ‘23 or something or other that did great and wonderful things to get that going?

P: Yes,  I’m not sure of the year.  It was ‘22, ‘ 23 - somewhere in there.

G: Yeah.  You’d remember, of course,  Moff  Cockburn?

P: Why?

G: Well, he was the one that I got the story from of how they weren’t getting anywhere  so they cut down the trees and then they had to go ahead.

P: Yes,  Moff was not there during my time.

 G: Oh  no, that’s right he’d be 22 or 23 I think he was 23.  I’m forgetting about the time frame here.  Any other interesting antics or capers that took place? I suppose  when the end of the school year, for the men, there’d be a raiding of Mac Hall and a few other places?  Things like that?

P: Oh, no, no, no, no.

G: Never! [Laughs].

P: No. We were ALL well-behaved. Both male  and female.

G: No window hopping? [Laughs].

P: Well, I didn’t do any window hopping in my first year because I lived on the third floor.

G: Oh yes? [Laughs]. Yes, well, that’s . . . that’s a long jump that’s for sure.  Yeah.  Any other interesting aspects of campus life?

P: Well, of course, there were the usual weiner roasts and all that sort of thing and, we’ve mentioned already, the Friday night hops when the men came over and somebody played the piano. On occasion, I think we even had a small orchestra come up from downtown to play for those occasions.

G: Well, you see, in the mid-thirties, they were . . . well, I shouldn’t say any more enterprising than in your time frame, but they had made their own orchestra.  It was really quite an event.  But I’m pretty sure it was Thursday night and so on which doesn’t matter.  But, it was quite an event.  Right after supper.  We’d parade over and the girls would be lined up on one side of the hall and the boys on the other and away we’d go. Well, you must be able to remember some other . . .

 P: One thing in the residence, which is no longer there, was the well.

G: Ah ha!    Right.

  P: This was  an opening in the floor which happened on each floor and continued from the main floor on up to the third floor. There was a railing around it and the communication system in those days was not what it is now.   There were maids in the residence who looked after our well-being to some extent.  And, if some person called on the telephone or came to the door to see one of the people in residence, the maid would stand in the centre of this well and shout.  And her voice would be heard up to the third floor because it just carried up through this open space.  And so it would be, “MISS JONES! DOOR!”.  Miss Jones would duly appear.

 G:  You wouldn’t remember when they put the PA system in?

 P: I have no idea.

G:  You went up to the desk and then, whoever was on duty at the time would . . . that would circulate.  And I guess they must have had speakers on all floors.

P: Well, that was modern.

G: [Laughs].  Very modern!  But, the story I get  was the fact that   then everybody on every floor came to the well to see who was coming to picking up who.   [Laughs].  And even maybe, you waited there to see that special fellow that would come along.  Was supposed to be coming along.

P: Of course, he could always stand out of view.

G:  [Laughs]   After a while, maybe you leaned hard.  

                                                       -  -

P: Then, of course, there was the morning when  one of the students who frequented the hall very often, was thought by his classmates to be just as well living over there.  So, they strapped him into his bed, carried his bed with him in it, and left it in the front hall at the bottom of the well.  Naturally, there were several people looking over the railing of the well at that moment.  And, Mary, an English lady who was one of the maids there, had to come to the poor man’s rescue. He   may have slept in a part of his pajamas, but certainly not in all of them.  And, so Mary had to gather up a sheet and wrap it around him and send him on his way back to the residence. [Laughs].

G: So, you mentioned Mary. Now, she was a fixture for a   longer while. –

P: Mary was a fixture for a long, long while and Mary lived to be a 101. How she managed to live that long after the hard times the students gave her, I wouldn’t know.

G: [Laughs].  Hard times, eh?  She was quite a persistent lady that’s for sure.     Any other tidbits about this campus life?

P: Oh yes, our year was very, very unusual. In our senior year, at that time, I had been promoted - or demoted - from the third floor down to the main floor in a wing that was at right angles to Mrs. Fuller’s room.  There were, I suppose, ten or twelve of us who lived in that wing.  One of the girls developed scarlet fever.  There was no medical service on campus at that time. Dr. Andy Ross was there and looked after minor sniffles and so on.   But, in order to prevent the possibility of an epidemic, all of us who lived in this corridor, where also the girl who developed scarlet fever lived, were quarantined in that corridor for two weeks.  She, of course, was shipped off to the pest house.   [Laughs].   Isolation hospital, excuse me.  But, the rest of us were confined to this corridor in the hall.  No hops were held during that two weeks.  The Common Room was closed to any person from the other side of the campus.  In fact, it was closed to most of the people in the residence but it was open to us.  We had free run of it.  Scotty,  from the dining hall, this was in winter, loaded food onto a little sleigh and hauled it over to the side door of Macdonald Hall.  We met in there, and brought the food in, and had our meals there in the corridor.  We were not allowed to attend classes, of course.  But, in the interests of maintaining our good health, after everyone else was in class, we were allowed to go outside.  Not to mingle with other people, but to go outside.  So, we would go out snowshoeing or something of this kind.   We, on one occasion, snowshoed several miles down Dundas Road - as it was then.  And, then we were feeling a little tired and a sleigh came along.  A horse drawn sleigh.  So, we all took off our snowshoes and hitched a ride on the sleigh.   And the driver of the sleigh, was questioning us about where we were from and so on.  We said we were from MacDonald Hall.  Sure, he wondered why we were at large at that hour of the day.   He said he heard they were having an epidemic there.  We said, “Oh, no, no, no.  There’s no epidemic”.  And, so we did not divulge to him the fact that we were supposed to be in quarantine, but we enjoyed a good sleigh ride back to the hall.

G: [Laughs].  Very interesting, yes.  And nobody was reprimanded for it?  Or anything that you were aware of?

P: No, no.   There was a fair amount of window hopping went on during that period, too.  But, another interesting thing was . . .[Laughs].  It is funny to think how primitive things were.  They just were not prepared for this sort of situation and so, the janitor of MacDonald Hall, was required to fumigate any letters we sent out.  I don’t know what stove he used.     But, he would put our letters on a metal tray and put them into an oven to fumigate them.  And unfortunately, sometimes, he would bring the tray back with only charred fragments of our letters [Laughs].  However, the two weeks were very enjoyable.  We didn’t have to take any notes.  Some person in each class was assigned to make carbon copies of their notes and hand those over to us.  Everybody felt sorry for us.   People from the cafeteria sent beautiful iced cakes in to us.  We had a gramophone.  We had the piano in the Common Room.  We lived the life of Reilly for two weeks.

G: Isn’t that interesting.  [Laughs].  Yeah.  So, that is covering a lot of territory on some of the things that did go on.  But, I’m sure, you could  have lots more, too if   you could just conjure them up in your own mind .

  P: Well, of course,  there  were some professors who were more memorable than others.

G: Well, yes, that was going to be my next question.  What professors or teachers stand out in your mind?

 P: Strangely, the professors whom I remember were, most of them, not in Home Economics staff.   They were professors with whom we took classes on the other side of the campus. Professor Fulmer.  We took chemistry classes with him.  I was so distracted by the fact that he was ambidextrous.  He would stand at the blackboard and he would write with his right hand and then he would turn and write with his left hand.   And this was so fascinating to me that, at times, I forgot to listen to what he was saying.   The person sitting beside me must have been equally distracted because she was always nudging me and saying, “What did he say?  What did he say?”.   [Laughs].   And, as a result, my chemistry notes were absolutely useless when it came to studying for an exam. Professor Blackwood, of course, is another person for whom I remember for his singing ability.  Professor Stephenson . . .

     G: O.J. Stephenson.

P: O.J. Stephenson.  Taught English.  He came over to Macdonald Institute and taught us there.  Amy Unwin also taught us English.  Professor Stephenson. I remember, one day in class, in the room where he was teaching, there was a cupboard which held a skeleton.  This was a mounted skeleton which was used for our physiology classes.  And, it was mounted on the door so, that when the door of the cupboard was open  the skeleton was swung out.   Dr. Stephenson was standing at the front of the class reading, as it happened that day, the ‘Hound of Heaven’.  He was leaning against the cupboard and exerted just enough pressure that the latch was loosened.  And the door gradually swung open behind  him.  He could not understand why he was not  making the right impression on us.   Until he glanced over his shoulder and saw the skeleton dangling there.  And, I will give him great credit.  He simply closed his book, joined in the laugh with the rest of us and said, “I guess that’s the end, for today, of The Hound of Heaven”.

G: [Laughs].   You say that was in Massey Hall? And that was  in that lecture room there and it was a raised platform, if you remember and that’s   where we took all our lectures from O.J. Stephenson and  Chippy McClean What about your classmates?  Any of those people that stand out?  I guess the person who took the scarlet fever, that . . . she’ll always be branded in your mind.

P: Yes.  Well, of course, my roommate during the two years I was there, I had known in high school before we went over there so that was a continuing relationship. Yes, there were several others with whom I’ve kept in touch during the years.  In touch, that is, once a year at Alumni Reunions or at Christmas time or something of that sort.

G:  So,  obviously, there wasn’t the male person on the other side of the campus that attracted you.  That’s not a fair question, is it?

 P: Well, there may have been several.  [Laughs].

      G: [Laughs]. Yeah. Right.

       P: I was playing the field at that time.

G: Right.  So,  we’ve pretty well ...

 P: Another thing, though, that we didn’t mention about classes was that, in our senior year, we were required to prepare and serve a dinner . . . no, in our junior year we were required to prepare and serve this dinner to the seniors.  And, we had to plan the menus.  Plan the decor. Prepare the food.  This was done in the Dining Hall.

     G: So, you’d have to requisition the food and all the rest of it?

P: The whole bit.

 

G: And put it together and . . .

 

P: And, on that occasion, the Senior . . . each Junior was supposed to have a Senior who was their mentor during the year and, at this dinner, the white ties were discarded and the Seniors tied the black tie on the Juniors and presented them with a class pin.  This was quite an occasion during the year.  For that particular dinner, I drew the lot of making dinner rolls.  The only time in my LIFE I ever baked bread of any kind.  They were eaten, so I guess they were edible. [Laughs].Then, of course, the  Conversat which was another big occasion during the year and the Halloween Dance which was held in Macdonald Hall.  That, at one time, was a masquerade dance and, I remember, Baldy Young came in costume as a cave man wearing a wolf skin.  The skin had not been well tanned.  And, by general request, Baldy left the dance and changed his costume. [Laughs].

G: [Laughs].  That sounds exactly like something that W.A. Young would pull off.  He was really quite a figure, wasn’t he?

 P: Yes indeed.

G: Yeah   In other words, it would be a sort of a, in terms of the brownies and so on, flying up, eh? 

P: That’s right.

G: Yeah, very interesting.  I don’t know whether they carried that on later or not. So, no student pranks to think about.  What about your initiation?  The week or ten days.  Didn’t you have to line up  . . . or, no, I guess the men had to line up and the gals came parading down in their green berets.  Did that sort of thing happen with you?

P: It happened, but I don’t remember it.   It was   something    that I just took the attitude, “This too will pass” and it didn’t make any lasting impression.

 G: [Laughs].  Yeah.  So.  That’s very good.  I suppose another question at this point . . .we’ve pretty well covered all the details of campus life or at least . . .

      P: No, there is one more thing.  One other thing, of course.  It’s again, related to what  was the Juniors relation to the Seniors.  The Seniors classes finished about two weeks before the Juniors.  The two weeks, of course, was necessary to correct the papers and decide just who would graduate and who would not.  Then, for the girls, for the Seniors’ graduation, the Juniors formed a daisy chain.  They  field behind the Macdonald Institute.  The Cutten Club had not yet been established and that was a pasture field and was always filled with  oxeye daisies.  So, we went out and gathered buckets full of daisies and wove them into a daisy chain and we stood in line on either side of the centre aisle in Memorial Hall and the graduating students paraded down the aisle between this rank of daisy chain held by the Juniors.  That was another function which we performed for the Seniors.

 G: And, that was quite a spectacle too .  I didn’t see one but I heard so many descriptions of it.  So, any other features    of campus life?

P: I think we’ve covered them, pretty well, for the moment.

G: It sounds like a complete . . .

P: There were, of course, all the various clubs.  The Debating Club.  The Dramatic Club.  And we participated in plays directed by Scotty McClean.

G: Was she in there at that time?

P: Yes.  And, Mrs. Fuller played the music for graduation.

 G: I think, somewhere or other, I read that Florence was a musician or at least played . . . was   musically inclined, too.

 P: I think you’re information has been wrong there.  [Laughs].  In fact, I’m sure it is.

G: [Laughs]. Ah, yeah.  So, then, how do you relate to your years at  Mac, as preparation for after-life?  Well, not after-life.  I don’t mean it that way.  For your future careers and so on.

P: Well, it gave me a start.  At that time, of course, it was a two-year course.  We did not get a degree.  We got a diploma.

 G: Diploma.

P: But, a few years later, that diploma enabled me to go to the University of Toronto, get credit for two years at the University of Toronto, and complete a degree course there.  So, it was useful to that extent.  I started out going into dietetics.  It seemed the logical thing to do, having graduated from the Associate course.  I went to New York and interned in hospital there for six months.  Not a pleasant experience.  Dieticians were something new in the hospital field at that time and were very much resented by nurses.  And, the nurses felt that we were usurping their  contact with their patients.  So, that  ... it was not a pleasant  situation.    In  fact,  the  Head Dietician,  who was responsible for us as Student Dieticians, was so nervous about her responsibility for us that we were not allowed to speak to a doctor.  Not even if we met him in the corridor in the course of our duties were we allowed to say good morning.  We had to pass by.[Laughs].

G: On the other side of the street.  [Laughs].

P: So   our only contact in the hospital was with the other Student Dieticians.  There were, perhaps, they came in, I think, at two months or one month intervals.  And, so, there would be only another one or two in our own time frame.  So, our contact

would be with other Student Dieticians and with the kitchen staff. And, so that was not a nice aspect.  I did enjoy being in New York. I enjoyed the excitement of the big city.  But, I did not enjoy the work in the hospital.  From there, I stayed in New York for a while

G: Out of that, you would get a degree in Dietitics or . . . ?

P: No, we would   be awarded a Certificate, but I disliked the whole thing so much . . .

G: [Laughs].  You chucked it.

P: I didn’t even stay to pick up my Certificate.  I arrived in NewYork on the weekend.  There was nobody from the hospital to meet me or to assign a room or do anything of the kind.  There was another girl from Macdonald Institute who proceeded me there.  She met me. But there was no person from the hospital staff taking any responsibility for me.  And, I also completed my six months on the weekend.  There was no person there to check me out.  To give me my Certificate.  So, I said, “Thank you very much. Goodbye”.  And, having determined that I did not want to do hospital work, I

thought perhaps I might do restaurant work.  So, I went to Child’s Restaurant.  A learning period.

G: In Toronto.

P: No, no, no.  In New York.

G:  In New York?   Yeah.   Well, there was, of course a Child’s Restaurant  in Toronto too, eh?

P: And, that also didn’t prove to be very satisfactory.  And, from there, I went to another restaurant.   A cafeteria down near Brooklyn Bridge.  And, that was an interesting experience, but not something that I wanted to make a career of.  From there, I went to

another place.  A restaurant which was being opened up near St. Pat’s Cathedral in New York.  About 50th Street and 5th Avenue.   That was more interesting because I was involved in the decorating of the restaurant and the designing of the menu and this kind of thing.  And, about this point, I began to realize, that it wasn’t food that I was interested in, it was the decoration.  The arranging special parties. But, not really food work. However, I didn’t get out of it yet.  There was, at this time of course, I was no longer living in the hospital.  Moving around from one apartment to another with various roommates.  One of whom, was the person who had graduated in the same class with me at Macdonald Institute.  And, her family lived in Toronto.  She was the youngest of the family and they had a large house and they were anxious for her to come home and start a restaurant in their home.  However, I’m getting a little ahead of things, here.   I had, meanwhile,  decided that food work was not my forte and the possibility of obtaining a degree in Toronto had opened up in the meantime.  So, I left New York at Christmas time.  Found I had to make up a couple of high school subjects in order to get into the degree course at the University of Toronto.  So, I went back to High School in January of that year and, it was in about March of that year that this friend decided to come home to start a restaurant in her parent’s home.  She agreed to do that only on the condition that I would work in the restaurant with her.  And I said,  “Well, I’m busy studying.    I’m, you know,  otherwise involved.”  “That’s OK, you can have time off to study”.  So, I completed the . high school courses.   And, we opened the restaurant and I attended  classes  at  the  University  and,  at  the  same time, participated in the running of the restaurant.  So, that was a rather full year.

 

G: Sounds like it.  [Laughs].

P: By this time, I was quite convinced that I didn’t want to continue with food work.  But, this at least gave me a degree which allowed me to go on to something else.

 G: Very good.  And that led you to?

P: Led me to Library Science which led me back to Guelph.

 G: Yes, yes.  Library Science.  

  P: That was at the University of Toronto.  And, again, it was a Certificate course. A Diploma course.  Not a degree course. 

G: Right.

P: So, after I had been working in the library field for a few years, I had then to go back to qualify for a degree which was established about five or six years after I had graduated with a diploma.

G: So, now we’re in the mid-thirties . .

P: Yes.

G: With all the Depression and hard times and so on.

P: That’s right.

G: Yeah.  Right.  So, that’s your entry to Massey Library?

P: Right.

G: What year would that be?

P: I came back to Guelph in the fall of ‘32 having left in the spring of ‘26.

G: And who was the librarian . . .   you weren’t . . . were you the full librarian?

 P: The full librarian.  [Laughs].  No.  Miss Louise Watt was the librarian.  I was assistant.

G: And she was there quite a while, was she not?

P: She left in the war years.  Early ‘40s.

 G: So, really, we’ve covered that . . . the aspects of your career following graduation very nicely there. That’s very interesting to think that all those things a little town girl from Orangeville.  The Presbyterian . . . was it Presbyterian?

P: Methodist.

G: Methodist.  Yes, oh yes, Methodist.

P: Well, United by that time.

G: Yes, 24.  Right.  Getting into New York City.  And all the rest of it.  Very interesting.  So, actually, Mac did prepare you, very well, for a lot enterprising moments and aspects of your life.

P: It was a start.

G: Yes, oh yes.  Well, of course, you had to persist and go on.     Well,   I guess we can go into what’s happened.  At least some aspects of what you’ve been doing.  You’ve had a busy, busy life since retiring and all these sorts of things.  But, shall we leave those for some other aspect of research and so on?  And   unless you’ve got anything else you’d like to contribute at this time?  

P: No, I don’t think so.  Except to suggest that ...  not to suggest.  To state.  That the years at the College have certainly been very pleasant ones.  It was a round-about way to get back to the College, but I enjoyed being here and enjoyed the fellowship of the faculty and of the students.  It’s an opportunity to become acquainted with a lot of people and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

 G: Yes, well, that’s very interesting indeed and I think probably at this point we will conclude.  And, just thank you very much, Florence, for this time.   I think I’ve picked up a lot of information   So, thanks very much.  It’s been very enjoyable. 

P: It’s been a pleasure.

[End of interview]

 

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