Interview with Kathleen (Kae) Haugh in Roedde House

(Recorded approximately March 1983. Also present were Kae's two daughters and one son, their spouses and D. Peddle, Civic Buildings Department) Kathleen is a granddaughter of Gustav and Matilda Roedde.

The hospital two doors down, where Gwen and I were born, used to be a gentleman's home and then it was a hospital. We lived here at the Roedde House during the First World War. Then, there was a tall fence separating the front lawn and Grandma's vegetable garden. She had every kind of bush, and Gwen and I had to pick these berries. These big trees were tiny maples along the boulevard at one time. They were beautiful. Things looked so small; I guess we were small, so therefore....

The colours--well, I remember this house white, the woodwork varnished.

From 1914 to 1924 we lived and spent most of our time here. When Daddy did come back from the war he was very ill, but we were evidently here then.

...The stained glass window (in the entry) that was here and there was one on the stairs, too. (David: We didn't know about that one but this one's in my office.) Right here grandmother had a huge palm fern. I remember once I thought it would look prettier if the palm fronds were thinner.

There were doors here. Isn't it a tiny room?

Grandma Roedde was under 5' tall. Imagine her reaching to the top of the living room windows to hang the lace curtains. Of course, she dried them up in the attic on these stretchers with the pins. Gwen and I always said she prayed too hard for us that we wouldn't be short...a little too hard. A little tiny grandma; she wasn't nearly as big as Gloria is. You know those old fashioned hat racks? That was there (in hallway).

At the dining room table if I had to cough or anything, Grandfather would always send me out here and I had to close the door. We didn't go in there (parlour) at all.

This is where we had the Christmas tree, in the dining room.

Grandmother's kitchen table was here (in kitchen). It was full of baking. She baked bread and coffee cake and cinnamon rolls, you name it. It covered half the table and there was lots more room.

That first room was sort of like a pantry and she had her flour and sugar and everything like that and the coffee mill. My sister and I used to go in and grind the coffee for supper. Behind there was the cool room where she kept her preserves and there was a meat safe there. (The old stair going up to the attic was back there as well.) Yes, that was what the maid used. Where that went to, I don't know, because behind this was grandmother's room which was a nice room. The den is off of it. You saw that from the outside. There was a door into a washroom, a storage place and then off that was a room where they had a huge bath for the St. Bernards, and then down below was a place for coal. There may have been a toilet there, I don't know. They had an ensuite bathroom after. You see that sink? That sink was built for Grandmother. It looks like the original one, about the same type (it probably hasn't changed), just a few feet off the floor. To go into the bathroom, there was a hall that went through into the maid's room, and voices from the kitchen came up...we could hear.

Shall we go upstairs? The doors, you know, might have been there by the dining room, but we never used them. Yes, it's too bad this stained glass window is gone (halfway up stairs).

As I remember, this was Gus''' room (first bedroom at top of stairs). During the war, one night I was sleeping in here for some reason or another and we were told armistice had been declared. Everyone was celebrating. The first thing Gwen said was, "Good, now I don't have to knit the other sock."

I used to sleep in that back room sometimes and I would sleepwalk and come through that door. This little room was a darling sitting room. It was more a get-together room but it had this small chesterfield there and two chairs, well it was like a loveseat. I'm sure the veranda did have a roof. (It just looked so ugly, we figured we'd take it off. We felt it was an addition anyways, because it was sagging.) Well, this is so pretty you wouldn't want to cut it up; that's the kind of thing that Rattenbury did.

This was the maid's room and this is where Grandma had her lace curtains stretched... (Fire escape window leads to this shed at back, we took off. It didn't look very nice.) No, actually it did have chickens at one time. I don't suppose I was born, but a Chinese cook fed the St. Bernards chicken bones. The dogs were prize animals. In fact, Grandfather showed one of them pulling a cart in about 1889, at the Chicago Fair, and carrying one of his beautifully bound books. (How was it heated when you were young?) Hot water. (It's still down there in pieces. The old boiler used to be where the stairs came up. I think its covered over now.) (This was all divided up into suites until about 1 1/2 years ago.) Yes, it looks like it, doesn't it?

(What did she use this room for, the top of the tower?) It was the flower room. Gwen said there was a bed in here at one time, but I don't remember a bed. Who would want to sleep here anyways? There were lots of flowers in here.

It looks as if they could take the windows in the tower out if they wanted to. They're like shutters, but I always remember them being up, because there'd be quite a wind up here, wouldn't there. (Somewhere somebody thought that there was a lot of water damage; the rain was flooding in and causing problems, so we put this type of window in to protect it.) Well, they sure use pretty old wood if they just put them in recently. (Oh no, a long long time ago, after the original house was...) Well, this has been reshingled. (Yes, we did that a couple of years ago. It had Duroid shingles on before for quite a while.) Yes, well, they wouldn't have Duroid shingles when it was built. (They had to build a new one of those finials. A few years ago I sketched the house from across the street, and I don't think it was on then. How long has it been on? (Well, it's always been on because we took the old one off for a brief period and the rebuilt one was put back up.)

One chimney was through the kitchen and the other chimney was through the furnace. The chimneys are new. (We rebuilt them a couple of years ago; they're not quite as the original ones.) They go with the architecture, don't they? Well, it was quite a small lot when there was all that property, but I suppose it was wooded because they had to bring the lumber down a trail from the City. (That's the window that's in the front of the doorway. We took it out about a year ago when there was nobody in the building.) Madelene Roedde brought that (lamp on newel post) down and put it back where it was. This is my mother, Emma, in the picture when they were at the bookbinding office and there's little grandma and grandpa. (Refers to pictures in the Vancouver Historical Society Magazine.) They didn't stay there long.

The bedrooms, I think, were white. They didn't have that purple on then, no! I think that varnish is original because this is original (speaking of one of the old light switches, still hanging there). And these stairs, of course, were carpeted. Just imagine how old that is. These two rooms I thought were so large. The Christmas tree took up that whole corner. My sister, Gwen, has the original dining room suite. (What do you have that's original?) I don't think I have anything. Oh yes, I have a little statue, The Three Graces, that sits on my dresser. I also have one of Grandfather's eggs that he cut and covered with velvet and lined. He used to put little bottles of perfume inside and give them as gifts.

This was the entrance hall, the clothes and hat rack there. (Did you entertain very much?) Well, Grandfather entertained a great deal. He liked taking his clients to the Hotel Vancouver and occasionally here. Little Grandmother stayed at home and had all the office staff from the business come to lunch, which was quite often. Of course, Gwen and I were always here. You know, they'd have steak and pie - maybe they came once a week. It always seems to me they were here.

Every Sunday night Grandfather would drive Grandmother around the park, and Gwen and I were usually allowed to come. In those days it seems we had a tree that you could go through in the park. Of course, he had one of the first cars that were on the market, you know, with the Isinglass curtains. They were happy, very happy. Grandmother worked very hard and so did Grandfather, but he was a perfectionist. Everything had to be perfect. I do remember one thing, that just before Grandmother and Grandfather went to bed, right down here, they used to sit on either side of the dining room table, each with a glass of beer. You see, they could talk on and on and Gwen and I hadn't a clue what they were saying because they were talking German and mother would not let us learn one word of German. My mother couldn't talk English when she went to school. Grandmother was brought up British. She was born in Heligoland. Grandmother's family moved to the United States, to Cleveland. That's where she met grandfather, at a dance at the "Y". Then they went to San Francisco before the fire. My sister and I are so old now we remember different thing. I mean, we remember them differently.

 

 

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