Miss Beck’s home was in Guelph and she attended Macdonald Institute for the two year course. She relates several of her experiences of commuting to the college daily, of her initiation, and of serving a banquet meal to all of the senior girls. In cooking classes, all of the girls wore blue uniforms with white aprons, and she describes some of her classes, the professors, and the equipment available to them. Miss Beck did some intern work at Sick Children’s Hospital in Toronto. She prepared the meals and ate with the student nurses in the dining room. The pay was $10.00 per month. Later she prepared food for the children. After graduation, Miss Beck worked at dietitian and special cook in a tuberculosis hospital in Detroit for a year, then returned home and got a job as assistant dietitian at the OAC. She later became Chief Dietitian at OAC in 1928. She describes in detail the dining hall format and the foods before WWII.
AudioKatherine Beck interview
Florence Partridge (00:00:00):
What year, um, did you, when did your class graduate from Macdonald Institute?
Katherine Beck (00:00:05):
22, year 22.
Florence Partridge (00:00:08):
And what course were you in?
Katherine Beck (00:00:10):
In the associate course.
Florence Partridge (00:00:13):
And what different courses were there at that time?
Katherine Beck (00:00:16):
Uh, there was normal course, that was for the teachers, and the, an institutional managers. I suppose it was for institutional people, and then there was a three-month short course. That was called the Diamond Ring course, I think.
Florence Partridge (00:00:35):
That was for people who just wanted a crash course-
Katherine Beck (00:00:38):
Florence Partridge (00:00:40):
And where were you living when you entered Macdonald Ins-
Katherine Beck (00:00:43):
I lived in Guelph.
Florence Partridge (00:00:46):
And were you in residence or did you stay at home while you-
Katherine Beck (00:00:50):
I stayed at home always.
Florence Partridge (00:00:52):
Mm-hmm (affirmative). How did you travel up to the school?
Katherine Beck (00:00:56):
On the bus. The bus was very convenient.
Florence Partridge (00:01:00):
Were there buses-
Katherine Beck (00:01:00):
Well, it would be a, it would be a streetcar then, mm-hmm (affirmative).
Florence Partridge (00:01:03):
Yes. And how often did they go?
Katherine Beck (00:01:07):
Oh, I think they must have gone every 15 minutes. They still went up from the square, we collected there-
Florence Partridge (00:01:15):
Katherine Beck (00:01:16):
And went up. Um, I guess they went, they went, uh, far parts of town, as they do now, of course, not so far because Guelph's grown so much.
Florence Partridge (00:01:34):
Were, were there others, uh, living out of residents who would be on the same car?
Katherine Beck (00:01:39):
Yes. There were four girls in our class who lived downtown. Ellis Buckingham...
Florence Partridge (00:01:50):
Katherine Beck (00:01:51):
K. Hobbs, her father was the head of the Homewood.
Florence Partridge (00:01:55):
Katherine Beck (00:01:56):
Myself, and Florence Baker. She just moved up here on Suffolk street, so we always traveled the tea hops. She, uh, they had a driver at the Homewood that did message us and he very often drove her to class. And then we benefited that by that too, we often got up or down with her.
Florence Partridge (00:02:23):
Was there any initiation at that time for Mac students?
Katherine Beck (00:02:27):
Oh, yes. We were initiated quite royally (laughs).
Florence Partridge (00:02:31):
Katherine Beck (00:02:32):
Uh, we were all told what to do. The night of initiation, I had to go as a rabbit. So I went all stuck up was cotton batting. And it was in the base-
Florence Partridge (00:02:46):
You didn't ride up on the streetcar that way?
Katherine Beck (00:02:49):
Oh no, I don't know how I got up that time (laughs). I, I think I'd have been (laughs) probably caught and shot.
Florence Partridge (00:02:57):
Katherine Beck (00:02:58):
Um, the initiation was in the basement of I think Macdonald Hall, and it was all weird and dark at that time. I don't think they had any cement floor. I think it was just a dirt floor, and they had a lot of tables, joining like this table. And the one thing we had to crawl under on our hands and knees. And at the end I think we had to, uh... Oh, they had skin grapes. And we had to put our hands in this guck of (laughs) grapes and I don't think we had to eat them, but we, that was supposed to startle us. And somewhere along the way we got well stuck up with corn syrup because I know I had my cotton back and all stuck all over my face and everything.
Florence Partridge (00:03:58):
Katherine Beck (00:03:59):
And of course I suppose they, uh, sort of jumped out at corners to scare us because it was all dark. I don't remember what the final thing was. I suppose they fed us afterwards, but it was a dirty messy thing.
Florence Partridge (00:04:15):
It was just one day then.
Katherine Beck (00:04:16):
Oh yes. It was just on the one day.
Florence Partridge (00:04:20):
Did, did you have a, a sort of buddy system with the senior students?
Katherine Beck (00:04:27):
Uh, really not. Uh, the only time I can feel that we were associated with one person, uh, during the course was the juniors had to give the banquet for the senior class. And, uh, we e- each had, what you might call a buddy, and, um, we were supposed to give them a bouquet of flowers at the banquet. And we, the juniors, had to prepare the whole thing, and it was done very well. I remember that was quite a highlight because they held it in the library. And another room, another, uh-
Florence Partridge (00:05:19):
In, in the library of Macdonald Hall?
Katherine Beck (00:05:22):
Uh, Macdonald Hall. Yes. And we all had to our teacher, Miss Roddick, was very meticulous, she was a fine teacher. And we had the... Our... What each person had to do was allotted to us, so it all came together at meal. And my chore was to make, uh, sponge cakes, and I had to go a day or two before make about five different sponge cakes to make sure that the last one would turn out well.
Katherine Beck (00:05:56):
And the meal I remember was spring lamb it was in the spring when the apple blossoms were out because what I, uh, um, transmitted was, we had finger bowls, and we had floating apple blossom. Everything looked awfully pretty. We, um, there was one woman in one of the classes, see, all the classes were together on this, all the juniors. Uh, Mrs. McKinnon and she had beautiful things in her home, so she brought a lot of things to enhance the dinner like cantilevers and bars, and... Anyway, we had Lux, uh, and apple blossoms mixed you know, for flowers around the room, really awfully pretty.
Katherine Beck (00:06:45):
And I can't remember the first course but we had spring lamb and we had minced sauce, and I presume peas. And all these things had to be done by the individual girls, and it was a real success. So one-
Florence Partridge (00:07:03):
This, this would be just about the end of your first year.
Katherine Beck (00:07:05):
Yes, I would think so. Be... Well, you see an apple blossom time. One thing as some of the girls had to make ice cream, and it was not just plain scoop ice cream. It was ice cream in a brick, and I... It had fruit in it, and it was really very lovely. They had some kind of tin containers that I guess they pressed it in, you see. And then they cut it in slices and it looked very lovely. When with my sponge cake (laughs) and of course I guess we had coffee and finger bowls.
Florence Partridge (00:07:42):
Quite a meal.
Katherine Beck (00:07:43):
But it was really very nice, and that was I always remember. And as I say the senior so they came all dressed up. And we, we came in our, um, uniform, we always had a uniform. It was blue and, uh, with the way they bring this as what we had for classes we always had that.
Florence Partridge (00:08:08):
Was this just for your cookery classes or did you wear them all the time?
Katherine Beck (00:08:12):
Well, it was really just for cookery, but if we had to hurry to another class, you could have a good habit on. See some of the classes were across the campus, and, uh, it was quite a hurry as you would know. Oh yes. We had a lot of class, uh, classes in the old Macdonald Institute. Uh, I suppose a massive library and then the bacteriology, and the chemistry the... Building. And then of course of the different classes like associates and normals and institutional they would take those classes all together. I mean, it was not individual for the institution, we all went for that.
Florence Partridge (00:09:05):
Uh, where did you get your uniforms?
Katherine Beck (00:09:08):
Well, (laughs) when I came to Guelph, there was a woman by the name of Mrs. Chamberlain Style across from the fire hall. She had a little store and, uh, they told you would... Where to go to her. And the material we bought at John Armstrong's it was all the same material. It was not an on...An ugly shade of blue, it was rather nice. And, uh, they were made pretty much, she made them all I guess.
Florence Partridge (00:09:41):
Uh, so I think wasn't there some difference in between juniors and seniors that, um, juniors wore a different tie on their uniform.
Katherine Beck (00:09:53):
I don't. Yes, I think that's true. I'd rather forgotten. I think the seniors wore black tie and the juniors I guess wore a white one, although I, I don't remember if we did have them whether that was essential or not, but they did have the black tie-
Florence Partridge (00:10:14):
[crosstalk] Mm-hmm (affirmative)-
Katherine Beck (00:10:15):
To, to indicate that they were seniors.
Florence Partridge (00:10:18):
Mm-hmm (affirmative). Uh, who was the principal when you were there?
Katherine Beck (00:10:22):
Uh, Miss Cruickshank. It was her first year. She was a junior when I was a junior.
Florence Partridge (00:10:30):
And you mentioned this Radek, can you remember any others of your professors that you...
Katherine Beck (00:10:37):
Yes, there was a Miss Dickey. She was an American woman, and she taught sewing. Uh, and these people, uh, we were young, and we thought they were sort of, (laughs) you know, older and they were older much than the people that are now teaching. Uh, Mrs. Dodi I thought taught me and, um, uh, Miss Kahnover she was a young, one she my first year she was away at Columbia. And then she came back the second year and she taught cookery and, uh, she, she was very nice person. She helped me (laughs).
Florence Partridge (00:11:25):
Which classes did you like best?
Katherine Beck (00:11:29):
Well, I fancy, I like the cookery best. We were active, you know you and you could chat and they had very outdated equipment. Little wee gas stoves about as big as a dinner plate or smaller, and you had to light to them you know and of course, we started from scratch, I guess we were taught how to boil water. And, uh, as I say Miss Dickey, she had gone to us, a school of cookery in Hamilton. I can't remember what the name was, but it was very good, and she was an outstanding teacher.
Katherine Beck (00:12:15):
Um, I don't know whether Miss Cruickshank didn't seem to take tour. I don't know what, uh, why it was, but, uh, all the girls that, uh, took her classes, were, uh, pleased to know they felt they really got a grounding in, in the cookery. And we had quite a bit, I don't know often, but I'm sure we had a whole afternoon you know, it wasn't just go for an hour or something.
Florence Partridge (00:12:49):
Uh, you mentioned that you perhaps like the cookery classes best. Was it because you had an interest in cooking that you decided to go to Mac or what interests-
Katherine Beck (00:13:04):
Florence Partridge (00:13:04):
You to go there?
Katherine Beck (00:13:06):
I went to Mac because we had moved to Guelph. And I was at the stage, and I was through high school and so it was just sort of general continuation, and I enjoy that very much.
Florence Partridge (00:13:22):
Could you describe, uh, a typical day starting from when you went out to get the streetcar? What did you do? Yeah.
Katherine Beck (00:13:32):
Well, there was a cloakroom in the hall, a small-
Florence Partridge (00:13:38):
[crosstalk] Back in Macdonald Hall-
Katherine Beck (00:13:38):
Uh no at Macdonald Institute-
Florence Partridge (00:13:41):
[crosstalk] In the hall-
Katherine Beck (00:13:42):
In the hall. And that was for the home of the girls who lived in residence. And we met there and took her clo- or... Of her clothes off. And I suppose if we went to a cooking class, we'd change into our, um, our apron and, uh, uniform. And then, uh, if it were a cooking class, we'd probably be all morning long, and then in the afternoon, I guess I, I came home for dinner. Um, we might have English and we might have another subject. We might have child study in the afternoon. I think we were through at 4:30 in the afternoon, and, uh, old Dr. Annie Ross, she was an outstanding person. Uh, she taught psychology, and physiology, and child study, and she also was the medical person for the institute.
Katherine Beck (00:14:57):
She, at one time, she lived all over in old Johnson hall, you know, upstairs, because I think eventually she was the doctor for the boys too. I can't remember when that ended, but she was there a long time. And, uh, she was a very wealthy, kind, and lots of fun. And, uh, as I say, she was very kind, if anybody was sick out of her own purse, she'd gone by... That was special strawberry season or something, she'd gone by these things. And I don't suppose she had a very magnificent salary, because in those days, they weren't too outstanding. Maybe I shouldn't say that (laughs).
Florence Partridge (00:15:48):
You, you said that you, uh, came home for your meals.
Katherine Beck (00:15:54):
I think I went home, but one thing that bowled me over, the first day I went there, somebody said, "you have to wait on table at noon today." And I thought, "how funny, what's this all about?" So I inquired, "oh, yes, this was part of your course. You had to at noon time, you had to serve." Now, I don't remember how may- uh, may- maybe a week or maybe two weeks. But anyway, I found out what happened, and you see that the dining room, uh, was in Macdonald Hall.
Florence Partridge (00:16:36):
That was just for the Mac students?
Katherine Beck (00:16:38):
That was just for the Macdonald students, and they go through three meals there. I don't know. And dinner was at night, I think. And I can't remember how they got waited on, I suppose some of the maids in the, in the instit- in the hall would be called in to serve the meals at night. I know I didn't have to stay. And of course, that didn't go on very long, but this was an in- sort of an initiation into what went on. The food was all cooked in the, in that building. They had a kitchen there.
Katherine Beck (00:17:20):
And I think there would be probably about 100 girls, and they live great in Macdonald Hall, and of course, they had lots of good times. They were mostly to the room, but there were the odd few that had a private, Mary Singer had a private one. And, uh, the, the rules are very strict, as to going and coming. I, uh, not living in residence, I don't know too much but... And certainly, if you're out at night, you'd only be out maybe one night in the week, and then I think you had to be in at 10:30, something like that. And there'd be somebody at some of the girls on duty at the door and you'd sign in and out. Um...
Florence Partridge (00:18:13):
Did you sometimes sleepover with your friends in the middle-
Katherine Beck (00:18:16):
No. I never, I never stayed over. Actually I didn't get to know many other than those in my own class. There were only 24 girls in our class. And we ended up I think with 22 because, um, uh, one, (laughs) one girl, her father was Admiral Stories. They live down College Avenue, and (laughs) she certainly was in the wrong course. She didn't like it and couldn't get interested, and she was a daydreamer. She'd be sitting while the teacher was introducing what was going to go on that, in that class. And I can remember Miss Roddick saying this story asking her question, (laughs) and she was as far as the moon, but anyway, she never finished her course.
Katherine Beck (00:19:11):
She was a very clever girl. She went on to, um, to Ottawa and she... I can't tell you what department but she had... Did very fine work for the government down there. Well, then the other girl who didn't finish was, uh, Virtude Sorbie. She, uh, I don't know why Virtude didn't finish. Her family went to Florida for the winter, and maybe, uh, that, uh, you know, took her away. I, I don't know if she didn't finish, anyway, but I think the rest of us all went through.
Florence Partridge (00:19:49):
Uh, what about, um, events in the evenings? Were there lectures or concerts or anything that you can remember?
Katherine Beck (00:19:57):
I don't remember any, no. And, uh, I don't remember... In later years long after I was... I think they used to have a hop at seven o'clock in the dining room, but that would be after... I think that the food and the... Was moved to the re- the Creelman Hall in the second year that I was there. And then you see that room was, uh, sitting. And I think after, the after, I think it only lasted till seven o'clock, but the students with boys and girls could go in and have a hop. But, uh, then from then on, of course the girls took their meals [inaudible].
Florence Partridge (00:20:47):
When, when you say "a hop," you mean an informal dance?
Katherine Beck (00:20:49):
A little informal dance, yes.
Florence Partridge (00:20:53):
Uh, were, were there compulsory gym classes?
Katherine Beck (00:20:57):
Yes, there were. I didn't have to take them because I lived out of resident. I expect they thought I got enough exercise.
Florence Partridge (00:21:07):
Going and coming?
Katherine Beck (00:21:08):
Florence Partridge (00:21:09):
So did you participate then in any sports at all?
Katherine Beck (00:21:13):
No. I didn't. I didn't have anything to do with it.
Florence Partridge (00:21:18):
Uh, do you, in general, do you feel that, um, that the course was a good one for the, for your career afterwards?
Katherine Beck (00:21:29):
Yes, I think it was an excellent course for any woman. If you, uh, I, I know we went... We work together by initial like two bees, and, uh, two girls worked together in a group. And the girl I (laughs) worked with, they'd always had help in her home. I don't think she knew apart from, uh, lampshade hardly, and certainly she didn't know anything about cooking. She never had to do it, but, uh, I'm sure that she learned, learned you know, a lot that would be a benefit to her.
Katherine Beck (00:22:13):
And there were girls who were not like that, they had come from homes where they'd done a lot. And they were excellent students, they liked the course, and they took, uh, they were leaders in the thing. Now one person I recall was Helen Gayman and she was... Afterwards, Helen Smallfield. And (laughs) you couldn't get a, near her hardly she was a wonderful cook. And she could sew beautifully, but there weren't too many like that. And I don't know if too many girls went on into the, um, into the field of work. I can't remember.
Florence Partridge (00:23:00):
Uh, what was your, what was your own training before you went to Mac? Had, had you learned to cook at home?
Katherine Beck (00:23:10):
Well, yes, I'd helped a bit. Mm-hmm (affirmative), I had. I've been shown how to wait on table and wash the dishes. My mother was a very real homemaker. And, uh, actually, I, uh, learned a lot at home, but you see, the course was broad. Look, you had English, you had physiology, child study, and chemistry. All these different things, that they're really very, uh, uh, very fine for anybody. I know bacteriology, I'll never forget all the things we had (laughs) to do. We had to scrub a little patch on the floor and make a Petri dish. Uh, you know, was the bacteria and sure was an eye opener to see what's flying around.
Katherine Beck (00:24:03):
I'm sure it was an eye opener to see what's flying around (laughs).
Florence Partridge (00:24:04):
Who was your professor in that subject?
Katherine Beck (00:24:08):
I think it was Professor Jones. He's the man that did all the art that's cropping up now in the Macdonald-Stewart Building. And in th- this, um, art book that the university has. You know the one I'm talking about?
Florence Partridge (00:24:29):
The catalog of the [crosstalk].
Katherine Beck (00:24:30):
The catalog of the art. And I'm just having a lovely time because it seemed to me I started in the dark ages when the thing started with Dr. Stevenson, and so many of those pictures hung in the dining hall. And uh, actually, the one that I liked best of all is The Willows. I think that's-
Florence Partridge (00:24:56):
That's the painting by Suzor-Coté?
Katherine Beck (00:24:57):
... Mm-hmm (affirmative). And, you know, I, I know that I didn't dream this up, two other girls and myself, we put on a little party to raise money to start that picture. Uh, it was a, it was a, on Saint Patrick's time, and we had a bridge party in the basement of Memorial Hall, and everybody came, rest, I forgot what they had to pay, it was sort of a black tie affair, 'cause this was quite a picture.
Florence Partridge (00:25:35):
This was not while you were a student though?
Katherine Beck (00:25:38):
Uh, now just let me think. No, no, it wasn't while I was a student, no, no. And the girls, one was Mrs. Child she was, had been a student there, and worked over in Trent Institute in the, um, mill, uh, mills, send in samples of green. This was done at the college to help the uh, flower mills.
Florence Partridge (00:26:03):
Katherine Beck (00:26:04):
And this grain was sent in, and she had to do all, she, from the mill, she milled it with a small mill, and it, put it through everything until, and made bread, and the mills paid a small pittance to the club. Metal cases, you know, like milk bottles come in. And, and those were very heavy to lift, and we had to pile them up in there, and turn on the steam, and then they were ready to be done tomorrow. But uh, we had to work very, very hard.
Florence Partridge (00:26:42):
What were your hours?
Katherine Beck (00:26:44):
The hours went from 7:00 to noon, and you were off till 3:00, and then you were on until I think 6:00, you had this time in the afternoon. And we were always short, we were supposed to have help from the nurses because they were supposed to learn this too, but they were always called away to other sections where they were short, so it fell to the student dietitians to carry this on. And it was really very hard work, and I remember my fingers all got sore from ladling things, you know, way to hold a ladle.
Katherine Beck (00:27:25):
But anyway, it was, we were young and strong, and there were other activities that we enjoyed. I had friends at the university, and I spent all my extra time with them, we'd go to the theater at Saturday afternoon or... And then they had nice dances, and uh, you went on a blind date, and it was fun, you know.
Florence Partridge (00:27:53):
These were at the university or?
Katherine Beck (00:27:55):
No, these were at the, at the hospital, they held it in the nurse's residence. And uh, the food wasn't so good (laughs). And all that, it was very, very formal. When the head nurses came into the dining room, we all had to stand up, the, the pupils, and the student nurses, see it was a big dining room.
Florence Partridge (00:28:22):
You had your meals in the dining room of the hospital?
Katherine Beck (00:28:26):
Yes, right in the dining room with them all. And uh, it was, it was fun, I enjoyed it, but I thought it was terribly hard work, and we got ten dollars a month for it. And the first ten dollars I got, I thought I was a millionaire (laughs) here. And there was a woman sat at our table, she was sort of a deformed woman, but she was a protege of the hospital, she must have been brought in as a baby, and nobody claimed her, and they brought her up, and she worked in the office, she was bright. And she sat at the table, and I remember the day I got this ten dollars I said, "Oh my God, my pay, I got ten dollars, I don't know what to do with it." Well she said, "Just turn it back into the hospital."
Florence Partridge (00:29:13):
(laughs) I bet you didn't.
Katherine Beck (00:29:16):
I didn't (laughs).
Florence Partridge (00:29:19):
Well, when you finished... Well you, you talked about making baby formulas, you did some solid food [crosstalk].
Katherine Beck (00:29:26):
Yes, that was a month there I think. Then we went into what they call the diet kitchen, and that was for little children that were running around. And uh, it, it was very simple food, you know, they had scrambled eggs, and, actually I can't remember what they did have, I guess they had lots of milk, and we had to um... There was a little uh, pantry right up on the ward, and I remember I had to go up and prepare some of the things like scrambled eggs right there, then we had to put them on the tray, and, and take it to the child. As I said, it was very primitive, but we didn't have much equipment, I mean things were sin in old jam jars. I mean, they were clean, but all these things were thrown into usage. And the refrigerator, you had to walk about a mile for the kitchen refrigerator way in the corridor, and it was, I never saw anything like it before (laughs) since.
Katherine Beck (00:30:38):
But they had the ordinary old-fashioned ice refrigerators on the divisions. And every day, we had to go around with an orderly, and a card, and we took broth, and orange juice, and things in these old gingers. And we'd go up, and we'd, if there was something left from yesterday, well we'd have to take it, and discard it, and put a new fresh thing there. But it really was. But uh, in spite of it all, it was a famous place, and children got better.
Florence Partridge (00:31:23):
Did you make any friends there that you kept in touch with any of them?
Katherine Beck (00:31:27):
Uh, no, not for long. There was one girl there, she was older than we were, um, they were always short of pupils, hard to get them. And this girl had gone to Toronto Tech School. She was an only child from a very wealthy family, and had gone abroad into Bermuda for... And she got fed up doing this, so she took the course, and then she came in and did the same work that we did. Of course she was far ahead of us and everything, she could do, you know, she knew how to um, organize things better than we did. But anyway, well this girl, she finished the course, and I don't think ever did anything, she got married. And I heard of her afterwards, but I didn't, wasn't in contact with her.
Katherine Beck (00:32:22):
Then uh, as I say, they were very short of, of pupils. So they asked me one day if I knew anybody that might come, and I said, "Well I knew a girl that lived at west." And then she was really smart, she'd taken the, well, I guess the associate course too. Anyway, she was at home, and I said, "Maybe she would come." They phoned her up, she came down that day and learned what she had to get in the way of the uniform. Went on downtown, started the next day. And she was lots of fun, and I enjoyed her, we had good times together. I think she finished, but I never heard of her afterwards.
Florence Partridge (00:33:05):
Well then, when you finished your course, did you get a diploma or something like that from the year?
Katherine Beck (00:33:10):
Yes, we got a diploma from the MacDonald Institute.
Florence Partridge (00:33:15):
You got that from Mac Institute, but did you get a diploma from the hospital?
Katherine Beck (00:33:19):
No, we didn't get anything, no. And anyway, when I finished at the hospital, I came home. And I wasn't home long, when the dietitian at the hospital, she lived in Fergus, and she called at my home one day, and she wanted me to go back and do the same work, and they'd give me thirty dollars a month. Well I didn't go back because it, it really was just, you learned things, but it was just work to help the hospital along. And it was an experience because I had never been away from home, and never had to do anything to, you know.
Florence Partridge (00:34:08):
The um, the $30 a month would be in addition to your room-
Katherine Beck (00:34:14):
Florence Partridge (00:34:14):
... Or your board, and your laundry?
Katherine Beck (00:34:17):
Yes, any laundry that had to be done.
Florence Partridge (00:34:20):
But you had to buy your own uniforms?
Katherine Beck (00:34:22):
Yes, we had to, mm-hmm (affirmative).
Florence Partridge (00:34:25):
So what did you do then?
Katherine Beck (00:34:27):
Well I, uh, a friend of mine from Guelph who had been in the course, we, uh, registered with a, a, American um, company, well, who placed dietitians, was called Pattees, P-A-T-T-double-E. And you wrote to them and said that you were dietitian, and you'd like to get a position. Of course, there were practically no places in Canada. And they sent out each, whenever they had openings, they'd send the same one to everybody, so my friend and I would get the same thing. Well I applied to some, not many. But anyway, she applied to one and got quite soon, and it was over near Detroit, a place called Howell, Michigan. And she went, and she said, "K, would you, if I hear anything over there, would you come?" Never thinking it would really materialize I said, "Oh sure." So before too long she phoned me, and she said, "There's an opening in Detroit. As a matter of fact, the girl in our class had the position so she hadn't, wasn't there too long. Betty [inaudible last name], her name was from... And she said she's leaving, and if you would like it, you could have the job."
Katherine Beck (00:35:57):
So I, well I went, and uh, Betty stayed a week to initiate me, and I was, I had-
Florence Partridge (00:36:08):
Where was this, where was the job? It was in Detroit, but-
Katherine Beck (00:36:11):
... In, in Detroit.
Florence Partridge (00:36:12):
... Yes, but in what?
Katherine Beck (00:36:13):
It, it was in a small tuberculosis hospital.
Florence Partridge (00:36:17):
Katherine Beck (00:36:17):
I think they had about 125 beds. It was a private hospital. And I had, hardly didn't know what TB was. Anyway, uh, Betty took me there, and it was, I'm glad I was young because otherwise I'd been come landing home the next day. And I thought I have to stay here a year so I'll have a recommendation. So anyway, she stayed and the job was rather strange when. We had to call on the real sick patients, the ones who had got me on being able to eat, you know, they, they didn't want anything. So I, I, the head doctor would tell me who to call on, and of course some of them I'd call on first weeks. And then I'd do that in the morning quite early, maybe nine o'clock, and I would go back to a little kitchen I had and concoct something, it was from soup to nuts, they even made stuffed dates I remember. And desserts, and things, just that there'd be something that was different. Even the fact that they knew they had somebody who was interested in them, uh, help them.
Katherine Beck (00:37:46):
Now these people, a lot of them are very ill, in fact I'd call on them today, and they weren't there in the morning. But anyway, it wasn't my food (laughing).
Florence Partridge (00:37:59):
Katherine Beck (00:38:01):
Anyway, uh, at first I thought, "Oh I cannot stay here, I, I couldn't stand the people being ill." There was a dining room for the up patients, the other patients had... There were two to room, but if the weather was nice, they pulled their beds out onto a long screen and porch. And of course then they chatted away and everything. Well, it got to the point where some of the patients, I had to call one woman, I had to call in the morning, and get her egg, her family bring it, and it had to be cooked three minutes, and if it was cooked one second beyond that, she knew it. And, and then another person I had to go make toast for her.
Katherine Beck (00:38:52):
And another woman, she, her husband was a butcher, and he used to bring her meat, and I'd have it in the refrigerator. And this, one day she was in her room, and she could see when the food went up in bulk, you know, on the card, and to the pantry, then the trays were made up there. Well for some unknown reason, she knew when her lamb chop got there (laughs), and it was put on a tray with the rest of ordinary things I suppose, potatoes, nothing. And the order, they carried it into her, and she lifted the lid, and looked at it, and anyway, she knew it wasn't hers, and she wouldn't have it at all.
Florence Partridge (00:39:37):
So you were really then cooking the food.
Katherine Beck (00:39:40):
Yes I cooked the food in small, you know, I'd make a dessert that would be served 5:00 or 6:00. I remember I used to make pineapple bavarian cream and chop with all kinds of things.
Florence Partridge (00:39:55):
There wasn't any concern about how many calories people were getting?
Katherine Beck (00:40:00):
No, there was nothing like that, and I didn't have to make the menus out for the patients. Uh, there was a business manager who did that, he and his wife lived in the building, and he was the man that did the buying, and he must have been filling his pockets because the stuff he bought, you know, he'd go to the market and I remember one day asparagus came, we just threw it all in. But anyway, finally they asked me to make the menus, so I did. But I was there about a year.
Florence Partridge (00:40:36):
Was there someone else then preparing the meals for the up patients?
Katherine Beck (00:40:41):
Uh, just a chef in the kitchen, yes. And this, this administrator, he and his wife made the menu, so, and they would know what they had to buy for it. Uh, all the people in the hospital were tuberculosis cures or arrested cases. The head doctor, he was an arrested case. They were very nice people, and I remember, well I got to the point I thought I have to go home. So, and I got a nasty cold, I was very healthy, but I got this cold, and I was... So I went to him and I said, "Dr. House, I'd like to go home." And I said, "I'll stay till you get somebody." Well that was the wrong thing, they never made any a- action to get anybody. So in about two weeks, I saw what was going on, and I said, "Well now I want to go in two weeks or a month." And so I came home, well then I was home, well, indefinitely.
Florence Partridge (00:41:49):
And you had been there then how long?
Katherine Beck (00:41:52):
I think I've been there the best part of the year. Well then as I say, I came home and sort of forgot about life, you know, in the hospital. And then I think I um... There's a big hospital there, Harper Hospital, it's been there for years, and this one girl that-
Florence Partridge (00:42:15):
That's in Detroit?
Katherine Beck (00:42:16):
... In Detroit. This one girl that got me to go over there, she had to instead of going to sick kids as I had done, she had gone to Harper, and she told me all about it because they had wealthy people, and lots of private, and, and a lot of diets. So I thought, "Well I'll go back there and learn something." So anyway, I did just for three months, and then I came home again. Well then I, uh, I guess I applied at the college, and uh, I must be home quite a long time because uh, I didn't get the position, because, (laughs) well I won't go into that. But anyway, the girl that did get it, she was the girlfriend of the president's son, and she got the job (laughs).
Katherine Beck (00:43:14):
So then I guess I was home for maybe a year. And anyway, I know I was in Ottawa visiting at my uncle's, and my mother sent word to me there'd been a letter from the college. Uh, see this girl that got the job, she was the assistant then, and the head girl was, uh, there was one ahead of her. So anyway, uh, the, the one that was the dietitian, she got married, and then Helen McFar- ... Helen McMullen her name was, then she got the job, then I got to be pupil. Being-
Florence Partridge (00:43:51):
Katherine Beck (00:43:52):
... Assistant. And I was assistant I think for two years. And Helen, uh, eventually married Scotty McFarland who was a professor up there in the chemistry. Well anyway, uh, I was assistant, and it was very pleasant. Helen was a wonderful person, and we had uh, I guess you might have known her. She really was, she came from New Brunswick, and she was a very happy person, nothing worried her except Scotty, and she was crazy about him (laughing). So then she was married, and then I was put in. Well I-
Florence Partridge (00:44:37):
Now, by this time, there was no dining hall in Mac?
Katherine Beck (00:44:42):
... Oh no.
Florence Partridge (00:44:42):
All the students in residence, both boys [crosstalk]-
Katherine Beck (00:44:45):
That's right, uh-huh (affirmative). I think that must have started them about uh, the year '21 or 2, because I was there from '20 to '22, and it started I think when I was there that they were all over into the Creelman Hall. So anyway um, I enjoyed it very much, and then we got new president. I guess, uh, Dr. Christie came about '28 I think.
Florence Partridge (00:45:18):
'29 or something around there.
Katherine Beck (00:45:19):
Something like that.
Florence Partridge (00:45:22):
So what year then did you become the chief dietitian there?
Katherine Beck (00:45:27):
Well I think it was about '28. Helen was there, I was there two years. It was about '28 I think.
Florence Partridge (00:45:35):
And can you tell us what, what was the service like in the dining hall, and in Creelman?
Katherine Beck (00:45:41):
Well that dining hall was built to serve, to accommodate 500 people. And the tables were round, they were to hold 10 students, so there must have been 50 tables. And it was all family style, they had lovely tablecloths that were made in Ireland, and the college pressed on them. And they were, uh, we changed the tablecloths twice a week, and they had beautiful serviettes, the same, and they had fresh ones twice a week. And, uh, each waitress served three tables. The food was all put on in family style, the meat was carved on a platter, and the vegetables were in vegetable dishes, and the dinner plates were there. I expect as a rule, the person at the head of the table would serve the meat out, and then they'd maybe pass the vegetable dish.
Katherine Beck (00:46:49):
There were great jugs of milk and water on the table, and um, the waitress, if the students wanted uh, more than they had on the table, why, all they did was put it, held it up in the air for the waitress to notice.
Florence Partridge (00:47:13):
They held up the empty bowl?
Katherine Beck (00:47:14):
That's right, they held the empty bowl, and then she took it to the kitchen and had it refilled. And they could have all they wanted, there was a great big piece of butter, I think it would be about a half a pound on the table. And bread, we made our own, and the bread was made at Trent Institute for years. And the butter, uh, we, was bought. And they bought it in June, and we had a wonderful refrigerator, they bought enough butter to do, seems to be till the next June. It was all in 50 pound boxes, and uh, some person was, that was his work to do to cut, they cut it with a wire.
Katherine Beck (00:48:02):
They cut us with a wire. And the students, they could take out butter or bread to their room, and they didn't run short of ... the only thing, they never had seconds in pie. The pie was cut in five, and the only way you'd get a second piece of pie was if the other person didn't turn up for the meal, or they didn't like the pie. Then they'd have us.
Katherine Beck (00:48:34):
But they had all the food they could eat, and it was the very best that could be bought. We bought nothing that wasn't the very best, and um-
Florence Partridge (00:48:42):
Did you get some food that was produced at the college?
Katherine Beck (00:48:52):
Yes. Very little, though. You see, for so many people, it wouldn't go far. It would be experiment, you know. We might have had a bit of butter. It wouldn't be much. We had quite a little bit of ice cream, but not much. And the milk all came from the college. It all came ... they must have kept spec-, cows just for that purpose. And they could drink all the milk they wanted. So I think most of the people that went through there, came through liking milk, too, because it was very good.
Florence Partridge (00:49:33):
What about meat? Where did you get that?
Katherine Beck (00:49:36):
Our meat mostly all came from the Reformatory. At that time ... later, after ... I don't know whether it was after the war, we bought mostly from Schneiders. But our meat was very good. It was made into roasts in the kitchen before the meal, you know what I mean? The meat'd come in the day before, and then in the morning the chef would get at it and make the roasts up. And they wouldn't be small, of course.
Florence Partridge (00:50:11):
And about how many pounds of meat would you cook for one meal?
Katherine Beck (00:50:15):
Well, Florence, honestly I can't say. I would think you'd allow a half-pound anyway per person. It seemed like what you were getting inside the meet, all kinds of things. But anyway, they had all the meat they wanted. We ... I never recall running short of meat. And then, of course, there'd be maybe two pulled meat left for ... And the potato, all the vegetables were bought mostly. We did get probably some potatoes, some apples. Um, I don't think we got any small fruits from the college. But all our meat nearly came from the Reformatory for years.
Katherine Beck (00:51:07):
And the help, they served three meals a day. They, the dormitory was there, and they lived there. They got up in the morning and had their breakfasts and served the meal.
Florence Partridge (00:51:23):
There ... where was the dorm? What building was it?
Katherine Beck (00:51:26):
Well, it ... when I went there, the dormitory was there, so I think it was built at the same time that the Fieldman Hall was built. And it housed all girls. And as I say, they ate their breakfasts, then they ... well, the table would be set the night before for breakfast. And they had very hearty breakfasts. They'd have fruit, grapefruit or oranges or bananas or ... and then they'd have ... they wouldn't have a choice of cereal. They'd have cereal that was for that day. And-
Florence Partridge (00:52:10):
Would it be a hot cereal?
Katherine Beck (00:52:12):
Yes, it would be a hot ... not always. I think Sunday mornings they had cold cereal. And then they had eggs, made mostly in the shell. You know, we didn't ... they had another kind of eggs. We called it scrambled egg, but really, they didn't scramble it. They cooked it in big pans in the steamer. And it was like, just a solid custard. And then they'd take a whip to it.
Florence Partridge (00:52:48):
For breakfast, you served fruit, cereal, and eggs, and what else?
Katherine Beck (00:52:56):
And some bacon. We never served bacon and eggs together, but we had marmalade and various kinds of jam. Cherry, strawberry, raspberry.
Florence Partridge (00:53:17):
Was toast made at the table?
Katherine Beck (00:53:20):
No, toast, that was a, a difficult proposition. We never could afford toasters enough to feed the whole dining hall as they came in for breakfast. So we finally had to allot certain rows each day. We might have four rows that get toast, then the next day, four rows more. And it was made out in the serving room by the waitresses, and they'd take it in. And, of course, it was sort of a bone of contention, because they thought they should always have toast. But anyway, we survived.
Florence Partridge (00:54:08):
And did you serve tea or coffee?
Katherine Beck (00:54:11):
We only served coffee at breakfast.
Florence Partridge (00:54:14):
And what would an average lunch be, or did you have dinner at noon?
Katherine Beck (00:54:18):
We always had dinner at noon. And the dinner consisted of meat and potatoes and a vegetable and a relish, like lamb and mint jelly, or pork and applesauce. And then we would have brown bread and white bread, and then dessert of lammage, rice pudding, and we had assorted pies. I mean by that, one kind of pie each day, but they were really good pies. And the plate was cut into a 5-piece pie, and quite a large, good piece. And if I do say it myself my pies were tops.
Florence Partridge (00:55:18):
I'm sure they were. Then did you serve coffee again at lunch, or dinner?
Katherine Beck (00:55:25):
No, at lunch I think they just had milk.
Florence Partridge (00:55:31):
And then what about the evening meal?
Katherine Beck (00:55:34):
And the evening meal consisted of maybe cold meat and scalloped potatoes and relishes or salad, maybe a tossed salad, or a beet salad or a Waldorf salad. And they'd have the brown bread and the white bread, and maybe muffins, different kinds of muffins. Bran muffins. Muffins, white muffins with raisins in it, something like that, and if they had that, they wouldn't have cake that night. But we had all kinds of cakes. We called them slab cakes mostly because they were made in a large, flat pan and would cut into about 75 pieces. And they'd be quite ample, and they'd be iced, the cake. There'd be chocolate cake or white cake with chocolate icing, and-
Florence Partridge (00:56:45):
Would you serve a stewed fruit?
Katherine Beck (00:56:47):
Yes, oh yes. We always had, we always had fruit in the evening. Peaches, pears, raspberries, strawberries. If we had ... we'd have honey and muffins sometimes, and sometimes ... pardon? Sometimes it would be macaroni and cheese with catsup and celery, or a tossed salad. Sometimes with just cold meat. Then we'd have shepherd's pie and tomato catsup, and also maybe a pickle with that. What else did we have?
Katherine Beck (00:57:42):
Oh, sometimes we'd have liver and bacon, but we'd have that mostly I think at noontime. And with onions. Not I'm getting off the robe.
Florence Partridge (00:57:57):
What about seating arrangements. Would people always sit at the same place?
Katherine Beck (00:58:05):
At one time, they did. They had serviettes, and they had the serviette rings, you know. But that petered out after years, and they just came and sat where they wanted to, even though they had linen table serviettes, it didn't seem to bother them that they might have their neighbor's.
Florence Partridge (00:58:27):
And did the boys and girls mingle together at the tables?
Katherine Beck (00:58:34):
No, they never did in my time, but ends the students sat at. The boys were at the south end, and the girls at the north end.
Florence Partridge (00:58:50):
And did any faculty eat in the dining hall?
Katherine Beck (00:58:54):
Yes, Mrs. Barber, who was superintendent, or Mrs. Fuller in her days, she always sat in with the girls at a table that was for her. And she, they chose the ones the wanted to sit, and I suppose the alternated from week to week to give them all a chance. And the boys, at the boys' end was the real faculty table where the dean and any assistant deans, that means deans of residents. They would sit at the table where I sat, and very often, or practically always, the bachelor professors took meals at the dining hall. Not always, but very often.
Florence Partridge (01:00:00):
So you would have more than one faculty table.
Katherine Beck (01:00:03):
Yes, we had three faculty tables in the south end ... in the alcove ... the south alcove.
Florence Partridge (01:00:18):
What was the dining room like at that time?
Katherine Beck (01:00:22):
Well, the dining hall was really just as they built it. It was very plain, um, plain. It was a beautiful dining room. For the purpose it was built it couldn't have been more wonderful. Either in the dining area or in the kitchens and the working places, the ... It was built for 500, and each student table had 10 students at it. And there were five tables in a row. Now, I don't know how to divide the ... but anyway, in the alcoves there were 3 tables, and I don't think we had 10 at faculty table. I think we had about eight to give them more elbow room.
Florence Partridge (01:01:22):
I think the ceiling has been lowered now.
Katherine Beck (01:01:26):
Well, it's been covered up some way. Uh, it, the original dining hall had a lovely high ceiling, and it had squares. It was in squares, you know, up ... that was a decoration.
Florence Partridge (01:01:45):
There's a glass?
Katherine Beck (01:01:47):
No. Well there were glass, too, I think. Not many, though. But the whole dining room there were big squares. And those squares were painted a corresponding, or a nice color. If the dining hall were painted, say this color, I remember it was so lovely. It had a turquoise ceiling. Yes, I think in the center of the dining hall, there were glass squares that could be moved out, and I'm not sure why they were ... whether it was to let air in, quite likely.
Florence Partridge (01:02:27):
Then, I heard that there was a sort of balcony above the main entrance.
Katherine Beck (01:02:34):
Yes, there was, and that's where for lots of affairs people would congregate up there, maybe waiting for the dinner to start. Of course, it wouldn't hold too many, but I suppose 100 could be comfortably put up there. There were no chairs there, they just stood and looked over, you know, the dining room to get a good view of the whole thing.
Florence Partridge (01:03:04):
Now getting back again to the maids' dorm, can you tell us a little bit more about it? The girls who worked in the dining hall lived there, and did you also live there?
Katherine Beck (01:03:18):
Mm-hmm (affirmative). There were two entrances of the dormitory.
Florence Partridge (01:03:26):
Now just where was the dormitory? It was on, on the lane behind [crosstalk] Hall?
Katherine Beck (01:03:32):
Yes, it was on what they called Trent Lane. Anyway, there was an entrance for the staff, and they all went in there, and the other entrance was a little apartment where I lived. It was a nice, good-sized bath, bedroom and bathroom and walk-in clothes closet and a little sitting room with a fireplace.
Florence Partridge (01:04:04):
Then you were responsible for the girls' deportment in the dorm.
Katherine Beck (01:04:10):
Yes, I really didn't have any trouble with that. I don't remember anything. The girls loved their building. It was very nicely built. They ... two to a room, and the halls had such nice red tiling, and we always had a housekeeper. A girl, one girl was housekeeper, and that was her job, to see that dormitory and the basement and the laundry and everything were kept in readiness for what was to be done. And really, you could see your face in the floor that one of the girls who was the housekeeper. And then she allotted the linen to them, you know, their sheets and their pillowcases and dresser scarves. And they turned in to her the soiled ones, and then she got them ready for the laundry. And also, the girls had to be in, I think, at 11:00 at night. And when they went out, they signed a book that they were gone. And then when they came back, they signed in.
Katherine Beck (01:05:34):
Well, there wasn't much difficulty. It ran very smoothly.
Florence Partridge (01:05:40):
Now, I think that within the last year or two that building has been given a special name.
Katherine Beck (01:05:49):
Has it? Well, the building was given ... the common room was ... my name was given to it, and it's the Katherine Beck Lounge Room.
Florence Partridge (01:06:05):
And that is a building which is now used for what purpose?
Katherine Beck (01:06:11):
Now used for a girls' residence.
Florence Partridge (01:06:16):
Now can you tell us about any of the special occasions in Creelman Hall? The Congress Act and things like that.
Katherine Beck (01:06:25):
Well, the Congress Act was once a year, and I think maybe it was in February. And it really was a tear-up of the whole place. It was entirely given over to the students, the whole building was. And each year that was responsible for it, they had their own plans, what it was to represent, and they were given great assistance by the whole college staff because so much had to be borrowed. The flowers from the greenhouse was just out of this world. They didn't, never seemed to end bringing things in, and of course it caused an awful lot of confusion. Couldn't help it.
Katherine Beck (01:07:32):
In the first place, the breakfast had to be served, and I guess we served it early so they'd get a chance at it. And I think it was served down in the basement, in a room in the basement so that they could have gotten ahead with the main dining room decorations the night before. Well then, after breakfast, then silverware was going to be used for the refreshments in the evening, that all had to be counted out and put in a certain place so that they could get it, and the dishes that they were going to use.
Katherine Beck (01:08:22):
And then the girls had to make up lunches for each student for the noon meal, and we pretty well tried to have a count that would be ... cover the whole thing, and it was sent to the different buildings. Some were sent to-
Florence Partridge (01:08:46):
This was a box lunch, was it?
Katherine Beck (01:08:47):
This was a paper bag lunch, yes. And they were sent down to Memorial Hall and to Watson Hall, and I think to Mac Hall. You see, we normally were 300 in one and so on. Well, there was trouble, and I supposed you'd understand it, that the boys would be working on getting stuff into the dining hall, decorations. And if they'd see the lunches going out, instead of going down to where they were to get them, they just grabbed some off the wagon, and they'd have it right up at the dining hall. So sometimes they were short down where the place because more would go than they had, you know, left things for.
Katherine Beck (01:09:44):
But anyway, everybody was happy, and they were all keyed up that the thing should be the best in the world. And it really was a big affair.
Florence Partridge (01:09:56):
You were responsible for the refreshments that were served?
Katherine Beck (01:09:59):
Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yes.
Florence Partridge (01:10:01):
What sort of thing would you serve?
Katherine Beck (01:10:08):
Well, we'd serve sometimes chicken patties with relishes, and sometimes would be a fruit salad, and I presume sometimes they had maybe cold chicken and potato salad, and relishes and things like that.
Florence Partridge (01:10:32):
Now the floor of the Creelman Hall would be cleared for dancing, so where did you serve the food.
Katherine Beck (01:10:41):
The food was served in the basement. There's a big room down there, and that's where they served it. Never bothered with the big room at all.
Florence Partridge (01:10:52):
And did we have an orchestra? Where would the orchestra sit for the concert.
Katherine Beck (01:10:57):
Sometimes the orchestra sat right in the center of the dining hall on the platform built. And sometimes, it would be on a platform at the end, alternate ends, maybe.
Florence Partridge (01:11:11):
Can you remember any of the themes that the students had for their decorations? Or is that just a-
Katherine Beck (01:11:19):
Oh, I remember one they had. It was like the Sahara Desert, and they'd done a lot of paintings, murals, you know. And I think they had camels on all that. That was one. And then, I think, some were just pretty things with flowers and evergreens and things like that. Wouldn't you think I would remember more? Because it went on for years and years.
Florence Partridge (01:11:51):
You were more concerned with the food, I think, than with the decorations.
Katherine Beck (01:11:54):
Florence Partridge (01:11:57):
Were there any other parties there, as apart from Congress Act?
Florence Partridge (01:11:57):
Katherine Beck (01:12:03):
Yes, that ha- we had the Halloween party there. And then we always had a Christmas party for the faculty. And that consisted of a dinner. And then when the dinner was over, they rolled up the room, so to speak.
Florence Partridge (01:12:21):
They had to move out the tables.
Katherine Beck (01:12:23):
Yes, they had to move the table zones. And I always had a big Christmas tree. It was always down at the north end, and paint off, and then blue and silver because I liked that it was so pretty. And it was a very large tree, because it's ceiling was high. And a- the reformatory were very nice. They let me go out and choose a tree out of a certain district. And I always took Mr. Laidlaw and the car, the truck and we went and chose the tree.
Florence Partridge (01:13:08):
Mr. Laidlaw was the groundsman was he?
Katherine Beck (01:13:11):
Florence Partridge (01:13:15):
And, um, can you remember any VIPs being entertained in the Creelman Hall?
Katherine Beck (01:13:24):
Well, goodness knows there were quite a lot. I just can't, well, the governor, governors general, uh, there was Alexander and Tweens Meera.
Florence Partridge (01:13:47):
Katherine Beck (01:13:48):
And I can just think of the other one.
Florence Partridge (01:13:52):
That would be quite exciting when they were coming for a meal.
Katherine Beck (01:13:56):
Yes, it was. It was, I, I it was a s- it wasn't a special dinner always, you know what I mean? They were just there for a little while. And they'd have a special lunch and for them up at the faculty table. I can so well remember the, the important person that this affair was Maryann Hearn with her father, her grandfather.
Florence Partridge (01:14:30):
Now which one would that be, do you know? Would that be Tweens Meera perhaps?
Katherine Beck (01:14:36):
Well, you could say it was Tweens Meera.
Florence Partridge (01:14:39):
Then, um, what happened when World Wa- World War Two came along?
Katherine Beck (01:14:47):
Well, when World War Two came along, everything happened. The place was really, dismantled and as far as college students was co- concerned, there were very few boys because there were all away at the war. And they, they did have a few classes in some of the buildings, I wouldn't have any idea how many.
Florence Partridge (01:15:17):
What about the dining hall? What happened there?
Katherine Beck (01:15:19):
The dining hall was completely taken over and run by the Air Force staff.
Florence Partridge (01:15:25):
So where were you then at that time?
Katherine Beck (01:15:27):
I was sent over to the cookery school for the che- Air Force chefs. And it was held in McDonald Institute. And some of the teachers who were instructors at this school were the, the McDonald Institute teachers. They were kept on, some of them left and new ones were brought in in their place.
Florence Partridge (01:16:02):
Then, after the war, did things revert back to the way they had been?
Katherine Beck (01:16:10):
No, they didn't it, the dining hall was quite different. When the Air Force took it over, they got rid of all the China crockery like bread, butter plates and everything. And they brought in stainless steel ch- divided trades, you know, with little sections. And they were very, very satisfactory. They were satisfactory to keep clean. They went into the dishwasher. They were satisfactory that there wasn't a whole lot of handling of dessert plates and all this, everything could be contained in this. And then In the amount of space it took, when they go through the dishwasher and they would be dried by the, the staff, they would just fit into one another that the amount of space they took was really amazing. And then-
Florence Partridge (01:17:22):
Did you go back to table service?
Katherine Beck (01:17:26):
... We never went back to table ser- the old fashioned table service, we never went back to that.
Florence Partridge (01:17:31):
It was cafeteria style.
Katherine Beck (01:17:33):
It was cafeteria style as the Air Force set up. And they also brought their own tables, they were sort of trestle tables. And they fit along the center of the dining hall just like the others did. But you could get far and more in because they weren't for great spaces, as were the round tables. And the, when they came in, they came in the main door, walked up to the far side of the dining hall. And there were two steam tables, one on each side, and they just split and went each there way.
Florence Partridge (01:18:13):
So you- you would not have any need then for the maids, which, who had been serving at the tables?
Katherine Beck (01:18:21):
No, we didn't. The, the girls were all gone. The, uh, it was purely Air Force staff and they were men.
Florence Partridge (01:18:32):
Yes. But after the Air Force left [crosstalk].
Katherine Beck (01:18:35):
Oh, when the Air Force, uh, left. And we carried on with this st- this steam table business and cafeteria style. And we did have some girls to serve on this steam table. But it was very, very minimal.
Florence Partridge (01:18:58):
Can you, uh, remember anything? Um, well, any pranks that the students played or anything of this kind?
Katherine Beck (01:19:08):
You mean at that particular time anytime.
Florence Partridge (01:19:12):
Katherine Beck (01:19:12):
Anytime. Well, in the beginning, way back when the dining hall I guess was first opened. They had green jardinieres one on each table. And the hort kept a nice fern plant in each jardiniere. And as it faded away, uh, they would replace it, they apparently grew them purposely. But the students fed the plant with rice pudding and milk and everything. So they didn't last long. So finally, we had to get out of that way of doing...
Florence Partridge (01:20:04):
I think I've heard something about the, the students not liking the stainless steel trays.
Katherine Beck (01:20:13):
Oh, no. That was a terrible thing. That was really, they couldn't abide them. Hence, they went so far as to just take them away and le- left nothing but soup bowls. We always had the soup bowls to sit on the trays. So to get around the meal, the students had to take their meat, potatoes and gravy out of the soup bowl.
Florence Partridge (01:20:46):
How long did that last?
Katherine Beck (01:20:48):
Well, I would say may be three days. They, uh, and, but there was great searching and great chattering about where were the trays. And they were found in the quonset huts that were somewhere around on the campus. They were huts that were put there for, by the Air Force. I don't know what the kept in them. But anyway, that's where they finally found the trays and brought them back. And that was settled pretty well. When our silverware was taken away, and I just can't remember how we got along with that. They must have, um, had things that they could eat with their fingers but I don't know whether they made sandwiches or what. But anyway they found the silverware under the, in the dining hall right under the alcove which had been elevated. And that's where they found the silver.
Florence Partridge (01:22:08):
Any other student pranks that you can remember?
Katherine Beck (01:22:14):
Well, uh, they were, I remember they brought a car up on the landing one time, but, and they had to get that down somewhere and it seems to be it was a Volkswagen. Well, on College Royal day, that was, um, in March I think. And there's great preparations, they always wanted to crown a girl as queen of the College Royal. And I suppose different girls were chosen to be, um, possible queens and they had their, their photographs taken very nicely and turned in. And then, uh, the final queen was chosen. And one time they, uh, the, the photographs had all been turned in for examination. And the next morning we found all these contestants for the position. Um, their pictures were all framed with toilet seats.
Florence Partridge (01:23:45):
And would they be in the lobby of the dining hall?
Katherine Beck (01:23:48):
No, they were all around the, all around the dining hall.
Florence Partridge (01:23:52):
That would be an interesting display.
Katherine Beck (01:23:54):
Florence Partridge (01:23:55):
Well, in spite of these pranks, do you think the students really appreciated the dining hall and the meals that were served there?
Katherine Beck (01:24:06):
Yes, I always have the feeling that they were appreciated. Maybe not at so much at the time, but as the years go by now, because, uh, so many people mentioned them, you know. Uh, one is this, I was amused, I was going into a building here in Guelph the Edith and there's quite a front lawn and I saw a man coming by me. I didn't recognize him. But when he got near, he says, "Those were damn fine meals at Creelman Hall." I don't know who it was.
Florence Partridge (01:24:50):
But he had enjoyed them anyway.
Katherine Beck (01:24:52):
But and that was years and years afterwards. And I do think that the students, tha- a- we only had the very best of everything. There, there was no food purchase for the dining hall that wasn't first class. And they always had ample, the milk came from the dairy. All of our milk came from the dairy.
Florence Partridge (01:25:24):
Now, how many years were you there?
Katherine Beck (01:25:27):
Well, I was 36 years at the dining hall.
Florence Partridge (01:25:31):
And you retired in?
Katherine Beck (01:25:33):
And I retired in the year 1962.
Florence Partridge (01:25:38):
So you had seen a lot of students go through there.
Katherine Beck (01:25:42):
Yes, I certainly did. And an awful lot of, uh, ones that through the years I've known, you know, and come, come along with.
Florence Partridge (01:25:58):
Yes. When they come back for Alumni day, I'm sure you see a lot of them then?
Katherine Beck (01:26:06):
Yes, I do. And a lot of them see me that I don't recognize them. There was a funny thing last Alumni day ye- the big dinner, you know, that's given to the 60 year people. I was there and also the room was full. And it was really very nice. Well, I have a friend who lives in Victoria. And after, in this winter, uh, she entertained a young couple at her home. Friends of hers. And when they were there, they seem to get talking about Guelph and how they'd been at the Alumni day luncheon, and this friend of mine who was entertaining them, she said that she knew Miss Beck. And these people who are grads of the college, both the gentlemen and the wife. They sa- they had sat right beside her the next table at this dinner. It, you know, it's interesting how far away things get, uh, together. But I thought that was sort of interesting.
Florence Partridge (01:27:33):
Are there any students you remember who have gone on to important positions?
Katherine Beck (01:27:38):
Well, I'll mention one that is very popular with the college but he's gone on and there is, uh, Kenneth Galbraith, John Kenneth Galbraith. And he, he's really one, very important one. He, he really went places. He went to India for the Kennedys (laughs). And oh, there were lots of other ones that had important, Johnny Moles, he was head of the Royal Winter Fair. And oh, offhand, I can't think of any special one but, there were lots.
Florence Partridge (01:28:27):
You mentioned that the college crockery was disposed of when the Air Force took over. What has happened to it s- since then or what became of it?
Katherine Beck (01:28:41):
Well, the alumni people, decided to auction it off on Alumni day. And they did it down Memorial Hall and people went there and I think Gordon Bennett was the auctioneer sometimes. And they had a real auction sale. And there must have been an awful lot of crockery, because it was not just one Alumni day, it was several. And of course, I guess they wanted this, just little mementos of the college days. I- I- I'm sure that every student who were at the college at the time of the sale of these dishes, that they all would take something home and have it in their home. That's a little bit awkward.
Florence Partridge (01:29:46):
Is there anything else that you think might be of interest to, uh, uh, people wanting to know about the days in the dining hall?
Katherine Beck (01:29:56):
Well, there was one chat that was very popular with the men students. He was the caretaker Scotty Taylor. And, uh, he was very good to the boys. And the boys were good to him. But if they were not going to get up in the morning, I guess they'd arranged the night before for Scotty to take their breakfast over to them. And as the years went on, he was really touched with the students. And he, and Scotty also did a splendid job in keeping the dining room in order and clean, because with all those feet, in all kinds of weather, it was a real problem.
Florence Partridge (01:30:50):
What about other members of your staff were, were there any outstanding ones?
Katherine Beck (01:30:55):
Well, uh, there were two brothers, a ma- gentleman from England by the name of Charlie Moore. He was the baker. And he was trained in England. And his brother, and he was the chef. Well, they certainly knew their business. And what they accomplished in a day is just beyond words. I'm sure now and coming after the war and after they were gone, that it took at least six men to do the job of the one. And that's true Florence. First times are different. But, and the food was really good and they were very clean in their work.
Florence Partridge (01:31:51):
You didn't have a great turnover of your main staff.
Katherine Beck (01:31:57):
No, no, not in the kitchen. You see, we have the Moores'. And then we had another chef who was really excellent. His name was Jess Jennings. And his main job was to wash the pots and pans. But he always help with the che- help the chef with carving the meat and bo- and boning the meat, and, uh, putting it on the platters. He, he was really excellent. That man is still living...