Monterey Faces profiles two members of the Monterey Recreation Centre as a couple, Jutta and Woody Woodland.
What is your background?
Jutta: I was born in Hamburg, Germany and lived through the extensive bombing of the city during World War II. My family lived in cramped quarters so when I was 23, I decided to immigrate to Canada. I had friends there, including a boyfriend and I wanted to get away from post-war Hamburg. As well, I was adventurous. I sailed on an immigrant ship from Bremer Hafen to Montreal and from there, I took a train to Toronto. Although I did not speak a word of English, my three-years apprenticeship in Hamburg to become a window decorator helped me get a job readily.
Woody: I was born in China where my parents served as Salvation Army missionaries. When I was 6, my parents sent me to the Shanghai Boarding School for Salvation Army children. One day, my friend and I skipped out of school to go to the movies, causing a widespread panic in the city for two lost boys. We sure got in trouble when we were found. My father was a major in the Salvation Army and travelled a lot in northern China. For a time, we lived in Beijing.
In 1937, the Japanese took over Shanghai. My father caught typhus and was restricted in what he could do. The Salvation Army posted him back to his home country of Australia. We got the second to last boat out of Shanghai harbour. We sailed to Singapore where we saw survivors from the sinking of the British Royal Navy battleship HMS Prince of Wales and battlecruiser HMS Repulse in 1941. I remember that when we left Singapore for Australia, I looked up from the deck of the ship to see a Japanese bomber overhead. Luckily, he didn’t think our ship was worth bombing.
My father was well enough to work and we lived in Brisbane. After I finished school, I went to Sydney with the Salvation Army then did an apprenticeship with Otis Elevators. When my roommate was offered a job in Toronto, I decided to go with him. We sailed to New Zealand where we hitchhiked around before we sailed to Panama and took a train to the east coast of Panama. We then got on a boat to New York. I remember people in Times Square looking at a tiny TV in a window, wondering what it was. It was quite easy to get a job in those days so I took a job with Otis Elevators in Toronto.
How did you two meet?
Jutta: We were both living in Toronto and met at a party on Centre Island in Lake Ontario. I noticed Woody dancing and thought he had beautiful legs. Later we walked to the lagoon, and he put me on his shoulders. We went into the water to swim, and as we were treading water, I looked a him and knew that he was the man I wanted to marry. Six weeks later, we got married – and that was 60 years ago.
Woody: We got married on Centre Island and at Toronto City Hall, then lived on the island. I got a job playing the trombone in the house band at the Casino Theatre, a burlesque theatre that was located across the street from what is now Toronto’s new City Hall. I had always liked music. When I was a child, my father played the violin and I played his trumpet. I also played with Salvation Army bands in Shanghai and Australia.
Jutta: The Casino ran several shows a day, including Hollywood movies and the stage show. Woody would start work at 1 pm and I would go with him and watch the movies. One of the stage performers was Sally Rand, famous for her balloon bubble dance.
Woody: I spent 2 ½ years as the trombone player in the band. Now when there are cutbacks in a band, it’s always the trombone player that is cut first. So we moved to Hamburg with the first of our two sons and lived with Jutta’s parents for 1 ½ years. There I played the trombone with dance bands and taught.
When we returned to Toronto, I joined the Airforce and played in the Airforce Central Command Band. I was transferred to Edmonton and then Ottawa, spending a total of seven years in the band.
Jutta: When we were in Edmonton, I joined the theatre group that shaped my life.
What brought you to the Victoria area and the centre?
Woody: The Airforce sent me to Victoria to the Navy RCAF School of Music for a year to become a band leader. When we returned to Ottawa, I decided to leave the Airforce as we found that we had liked Victoria. We took the train across Canada with two children to Victoria. In Victoria, I tuned pianos at the University of Victoria – there were about 50 pianos. About 1969, I began to work at the Butchart Gardens. I played my trombone together with an accordion player and we wandered around the gardens playing for the visitors. Mr. Ross wanted a band in the Piazza so I became the band leader of a 7-piece Dixie Land band. I went on to perform on the stage as a featured entertainer – as both a musician and a comedian. I would go from one to the next of five microphones telling each part of a joke. I entertained at Butchart Gardens for 32 years, and it was the best job I ever had.
Jutta: Meanwhile, I was raising our two sons and working in the theatre. In Ottawa, I designed sets and costumes. In Victoria, I joined Langham Court Theatre where I took part as a designer, an actor, and eventually a director. In all, I directed twelve plays, the last of which was “The Heiress.” I went out on a high note. I also joined the Victoria Operatic Society where I designed costumes and sang in musicals for over 15 years. Now I am a painter and a member of the Federation of Canadian Artists and the Oak Bay Art Club. I enjoy painting in oil and capture the images which get my attention.
How long have you been a member of the Monterey Recreation Centre?
We have been members for 1 ½ years. We had been going on the Monterey Outings to the theatre in Chemainus and thought why not join the centre. So we did.
What do you like about the centre?
It is a wonderful place to meet people. The sun room is so bright and warm. People there are happily involved with music. The food is out of this world – there are really great cooks.
We enjoy the Special Events there, such as the Oktoberfest and the Glitzy Affair. We go to the morning fitness classes on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and then enjoy lunch in the café.
As you have been married for 60 years, what would you say it takes for a happy marriage?
Jutta: It’s all about give and take. We never argue and we do what the other wants to do. We are supportive of each other’s ideas.
Woody: We are individuals and that has been important over the years. We live our lives and come together to discuss our interests. We have both been successful in so many areas and we have had so many experiences to draw upon. We had interesting lives before we met, and even more interesting times after.
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.