Interview with Barbara Stroda Wright in her home in Monroe, Oregon 4/17/07.Interviewer: Kathleen Ryan
BW Are you going to be asking me questions?
KRI'll ask questions to start. And I'm going to start with one that's reallyreally easy.
KRCan I please get you to say your first and last name as well as your maidenname, and spell you last name and your maiden name.
BWYes. My name is Barbara Wright. And my maiden name was Stroda. That'sS-T-R-O-D-A and my last name is Wright W-R-I-G-H-T.
KRAnd Barbara, you spell, I know there's B-A-R-B-A-R-A -- that's you're spelling?
BWThat's correct, yes.
KRBecause I know there is also another.
BWNo, that's correct, yes.
KRI just want to make sure we have it correct on the transcript so that's whyI'm asking. And you were born and raised here in Monroe?
BWYes, just half a mile down the road. I lived away in Detroit, Michigan, well,in the service where I met my husband and then in Detroit, Michigan for 35 years. And when he retired we had bought this property, 20 acres, so we came back out here. After all those years, I had come home.
KRWhat was it like -- has Monroe changed a lot?00:01:00
BWYes and no. It hasn't grown that much. It is now in the process of growing.It's become a bedroom community. There's no, nothing in the way of employment in the city of Monroe anymore. Everyone goes to Eugene or Corvallis. There's nothing for employment. Residential area is basically all it's become. It's expanding rapidly now because everybody is moving to this area. It's having its struggles, because it's just been a little old community. It's not geared for the schools and the sewers and the water and so on. But they're making it.
KRWhat was it like growing up here?
BW Wonderful. Just wonderful. I grew up on a farm and I had two sister and twobrothers. The brothers were younger. Let's see, one was nine years younger and the other one would have been 14 years younger than I was. So they were both 00:02:00quite small when I left and went into the service. But, yes it was a very rural community. You only knew the people in your immediate area because transportation and roads were so bad. There weren't cars to do like there are to do now. So the high school only had 100 student in the high. Most of them I had gone to grade school with. So, a very close community. Some of those are still my friends today, that are left. We still, from the first grade we've been together. It's a wonderful place to be and I'm so glad to be back here. We lived in Detroit, Michigan. Big city, right in -- and that's where I raised my boys. Our boys. It was great to get back out here in a rural community. My boys are out here too. Came back here. The big city life wasn't for them, and so (laugsh).
KRWere you the oldest?
BWNo, I had a sister two years older than I. And then I had a sister a year and00:03:00a half younger than I.
KRThen there was a little break and then the two boys.
KRWhat did your family -- farmers? What sort of farmers?
BWWell, when I was first growing up they had a dairy. We had a dairy. Theymilked 60 cows night and day and we never had any time to go away, because by four o'clock in the morning you were in the barn milking and by four o'clock in the afternoon you were in the barn again. So our life was pretty restricted. WE three girls just grew up on the farm with each other and that was fine. We had lots of freedom. We were allowed to run and do pretty much anything we pleased. We had a crick to go swimming in. But we had lots of chores. We were expected to do them, and if they weren't done, there were no excuses. That was our job. Our folks worked hard and we were supposed to take care of our chores too, which we did. It taught us a lot and we grew up to be very responsible. We learned to 00:04:00cook at an early age. We learned to do anything that was assigned to us. There was no excuse for why you didn't get it done or couldn't do it. That was your job. So you did your job and that was good training for us.
KRYou said they first had a dairy. Did they continue to have a dairy?
BWWhen the Depression came there was no market for milk anymore. So consequentlythe dairy could not pay for the milk so they just had to dump the milk. You couldn't just quit milking the cows at that point. They still had to be milked. They still had to be fed. So, they just, different people would come and take three, four different cows or even ten cows and do what they could simply boarding them. And eventually they were able to sell all the cows, but we never had a dairy after that. So my family when into grain farming and really didn't make much -- well farming wasn't then like it is today. And the equipment you 00:05:00had. It was backbreaking, everything you did was backbreaking work to achieve it. So anyhow, they really never made any money as such until World War II came along and things were in such demand at that point that prices went up. Of course, there were restrictions too. You were only allowed so much gasoline. Your tires were rationed. There was -- we were better off than a lot of people because we raised our own food and such and so the stamps that were needed for clothes and the stamps that were needed for tires and the stamps that were needed for sugar for canning and everything else were a part of our life, but they weren't as essential as people who lived in the city. We were more self-sufficient, so to speak. But anyhow, the price of grain and everything went up. Finally, my family was able to make a little money.
KRHow old were you when the Depression --
BWWell, I was born in 1923. So it started in '29, so I was -- I really never00:06:00realized what it was all about until after it was over. It was a gradual thing. We had always lived on the farm. Pretty much self-contained in everything that we did. So I wasn't so aware, we weren't so aware of the Depression as other people would have been. We always had food to eat. We butchered. We raised our own garden. So it was not hard for us. People who used to come work for my dad -- that was before the hi -- before the road was like it is here, just up and down road. It was about two and a half miles, three miles. They would walk from Monroe, work a ten hour day, walk home for a dollar. I mean, they worked hard. Like in haying season or anything else, it was a difficult time, but we didn't know any different. It was a difficult thing we went into, but times had always be hard. 00:07:00
KRA farmer's life is never easy.
KRCertainly many people ended up losing their farms
BWYes, they did.
KRSo you were a little bit luckier than most.
BWYes, we didn't lose the farm. The farm was 640 acres. It was a whole sectionof land. It was part of an original land grant, back in the old, back in the 1800s. My grandfather bought it in 1918. My parents were married in 1920. My father was in World War I. When he came home and married my -- my mother and he were married and moved to the farm. And now it's a fourth generation is on the farm still running it still.
KRWho has it now?
BWOne of the Stroda boys. My brother's sons. Well, there's four of the boys,three boys. And the three boys run the farm together. It's a big operation. They now own several thousand acres. The raise Christmas trees and mint -- real 00:08:00diversified. Back when, we were very limited what you could -- if you had a hundred acres you had to clear the land to start with. It was not, 300, 640 acres were not able to be used up to farm. You could put cattle or something on it, but it was not farmable lands. It's come a long way since then.
KRIt's nice to hear it's still in the family. So many of the lands getsubdivided up into housing developments and things like that.
BWYes, and that's happening all around here. Across the road here, that now isgoing to be a housing development. Measure 37. And the Monroe Tree Farm down here they're putting in 15, 17 new homes. Just half a mile down from us down here. It's sad, it's taking over good farmland. Driving the farmers out. And the other thing is, even the people who stay, eventually the people encroach on 00:09:00them. Just like the animals, then they complain because you spray. They complain because you do, the smell from what you're doing and such. And so eventually the farmer is forced out, even though he has been there for 50, 60 years. He's forced out by the growth that's coming in. Eventually, they'll just take all of this land, I'm sure, and put housing in it. It's sad, but it's happening. Not much you can do about it.
KRIt's a shame. It's pretty land. It's pretty like this.
BWIt is pretty. We had an op -- the winery over here that we have this strip ofland between us and the winery. It's about 10, 15 acres. We have 20 acres here. They wanted us to put, asked if we were interested, my boys going ahead and putting grapes in over there. But it runs about 140,000 dollars an acre. It 00:10:00would be a vast sum of money, and it's -- something happens and you get a disease. Last year the voles took out a couple of acres up here. And so, the boys just decided no, they didn't want to invest it. So we just have this little strip of land out here that someone's making hay out there for the very reason to give us a little space. They're just moving in.
KRI understand that.
BWJust keep it away from us for a little while longer (laughs).
KRDelay it. So what grade were you in when Pearl Harbor -- when the attack happened?
BWOh, I was out of school.
KRYou were out of school by then?
BWMmm-hmm. I had gone to Portland.
KRYou and Dottie (McDowell) were in the same grade?
BWYes. That was another one where we knew each other forever. I was in Portland,going to business college. And when December 7th happened, my dad and mother wanted me to come home from Portland. It was bad enough that I was in the big 00:11:00city, anyhow. I should be home when this was happening (laughs). And I did. I went to work in the bank in Monroe then. I had been out of school, let's see I graduated in 1941. It was just shortly thereafter that Pearl Harbor happened.
KRYou said that your parents, they though it was bad enough that you were inPortland. Did they not want you working in a job or doing that sort of thing?
BWNo, just leaving home. My older sister had gone to business college inPortland, and, you know, we didn't have the opportunities like now. Kids can decide where they want to go to school. The Depression was just getting over, so consequently there was no money. There was probably only two options my family felt were open, was office work or schoolteacher. So, they pretty much decided what was best for you, rather than you making -- now you decide to do what you 00:12:00please. But the finances weren't that great and so they pretty much determined what you could or would do with your life. I always wanted to be a nurse, but that was not an option because it was more money and everything involved. So I went to business college. Not because I wanted to, but because it was the best thing for me.
KRBy your family, by your parents.
KRWas that your dad or you mom or did they both?
BWProbably my dad. He was pretty much the dominant one in the family. Made mostof the decisions and so forth. And his sisters were schoolteachers and business, worked in offices. So that seemed the natural thing for us to do then.
KRWhy the school in Portland and not Eugene or Corvallis? Because they were botharound then.
BWThere was not near -- yes, but there was nothing offered like that then. Therewas Binkey Walker Business College and there was nothing like that in Eugene and certainly nothing like that in Corvallis. Corvallis was just a little cow town. 00:13:00It wasn't until recent years that it really began to expand at all. And Eugene -- we're talking the 1920s. It's a vast difference in what Eugene is today.
KRI'm just thinking, the University of Oregon was there certainly then. So it'sso close, why --
BWBut it, it was a different -- you would be other courses. This, you would goto business college and after so many months you could come out and get a job. To go to college it was a prolonged thing. And my folks were both high school graduates. But education was not such a big thing as it is now. Everybody has to be educated. Back then, if you could simply get a job an provide for yourself, you were doing well. Which is, so this seemed a fast track to getting something that you could make a profession out of.
KRSo the assumption was you would go and work and have a like a working career,00:14:00was that the idea?
BWYes, yes. And, as it ended up, that's how I ended up in storekeeper's schooland a storekeeper that I got in the service (laughs). I guess they knew what they were talking about.
KRSo did you come back home after Pearl Harbor or did you continue to stay in Portland?
BWNo, my folks wanted me to come home so I left. I had been rooming with anothergirl and her brother. They were from Tillamook and she was going to business college. He was going to radio-technical school of some sort. We all had an apartment together. She also, her folks wanted her to come home, so everybody -- it was a scary time. It really was a scary time. They lived over in Tillamook on the coast and that was just, you know, you didn't know what. They had the blackouts over there. You couldn't -- put up the curtains and everything at 00:15:00night. You couldn't drive your car at night over on the coast and such. So they wanted their kids to come home and my folks wanted me home. So I did come back and worked at the bank in Monroe for awhile.
KRI'm sure it was really -- you just have no idea -- something like this hadnever happened before in the United States. To be attacked by another country.
BWAnd, you know, this is kind of off the side, people are just, "It was soterrible what they did to the Japanese," and yes in that respect it was. But. That period of time, they were, they had submarines along the coast. They bombed up in Astoria. They bombed -- had incendiary bombs in Southern Oregon and a couple of people were killed because of that. They had, the Coast Guard had horse patrols up and down the beach. They had big gun emplacements on all the banks along the coast over there. There were submarines spotted along the coast. 00:16:00Nobody knew, there might be an invasion of some sort. Or maybe not invasion so much, there used to be the fifth column was the thing. That would be the subversives that came in. And you never knew, one of the themes at that point was "loose lips sink ships." Consequently, you didn't talk about anything because you didn't want maybe the enemy to get some information about it. So it was scary. They had dog patrols. The Coast Guard walked the beaches with police dogs besides horse patrol watching for submarines or possibly some invasion of some sort. And it really was scary. Nothing that -- we had always had such a secure life here in the valley. Or here in the state. So consequently, when they sent the Japanese off to the camps. Well, a good fellow by the name of Eugene 00:17:00Davidson, he's a survivor of the Bataan Death March, lives over here by Alpine -- and he worked in the shipyards in Portland. One of the Japanese fellows who worked with him in the shipyards at Portland, at the death march, who should be one of the people but the fellow he had worked with in Portland. And because he knew Gene, he particularly took it out on him. And Gene is still alive today. So there were a lot of subversives. A lot of the Japanese loyalty was still to Japan. They lived here, but their loyalty was to the home country. Just like the Irish have the loyalty to there. Consequently, there was a lot of subversive action going on. Now, it looks like it was a terrible thing. But at the time we were talking survival. They had hit us at Pearl Harbor. Who knew where they were going to hit us next? So, it it now looks bad, but at the time it wasn't. 00:18:00
KRIt seems like -- did you ever go over to the coast and see these things or wasthat just something you heard?
BWNo, I used to go visit a friend, Wilson, and her family who lived atTillamook. They lived at Hebol actually.
KRThis is your friend who was living up in Portland?
BWThis is who I was living with in Portland. Oh, yes. To go out at night theheadlights were painted black over the top half. Of course, cars weren't what they are today, either, 1930s, the Depression, everybody was driving an old car to start with. Consequently, they weren't flying around like they do today. But yes, and you had black out curtains. Anybody who was on the coast, it got to be dark, you pulled the black out curtain before you turned the light on. Or if there was a public space, you stepped inside. There would be like a vestibule. You had a blackout curtain or door. You step in. Then you the lights were out 00:19:00you could go into the other part of the building. They didn't want any submarines or boats at sea to be able to see where those towns were. There were no lights in the streets. There were no lights in stores. Everything closed up before dark and remained dark all the time.
KRSo you were seeing this when you went to go visit your friend?
KRWow. Because that's something you don't even think about now. It was so different.
BWYes. It was different to us too, you know. It was really frightening. Anyhow,that's kind of the way things were going.
KRHow did you hear about the Coast Guard?
BWWell, I had gone back up to Portland to visit one of the girls I had gone toschool with up there. She was from The Dalles, and we decided to meet each other in Portland. In order to get to Portland you had to take a bus. The roads were really bad between here and Corvallis. Here and anyplace for that matter, number 00:20:00one. And number two, tire rationing, gas rationing, so you just didn't go and drive around like you do today. You limited what you use your gas for. So everybody rode the bus, Greyhound bus. Anyhow, she and I made arrangements to meet in Portland. We went to a show and (laughs), you've probably never heard of it, but there used to be a small fellow and he's Phillip Morris. And he wore, like a bellboy. A little teeny cap and a uniform. There was a little car for Phillip Morris. "Call for Phillip Morris." And outside the theater was this little fellow with his little car and advertising. Of course, they gave cigarettes away. Phillip Morris, if you went into the theater, they gave you little packs of cigarettes. They promoted, everybody promoted. Chesterfield, 00:21:00Camels, whatever. So anyhow, that's why we decided to go there. When we went inside there was a recruiter in the lobby of the theater and so he approached us and gave us some literature and talked to us. We went in and saw the show. And while I was in there I kept thinking about it. And when we went out he was still there. So I went over and talked to him again. At that point was when I decided to join the SPARs. He was from the Coast Guard. And (laughs) anyhow I signed up all the papers there in the lobby of ht theater. When I came home, I was only 20 years old. And you had to have your parents' permission at 21 to join. And I was only 20. I came home and I told them what I had done. They just had a fit. I didn't tell them they had to sign the papers at that point. That I was just 00:22:00going. So after everybody resigned themselves to the fact that that was going to be, I had to tell them that they had to sign for me to go.. (laughs). But they already consented to it pretty much, sot they did that.
KRWhy did they, why did your parents not want you to go?
BWOh, a lot of reasons. They didn't know what it was all about, and neither didI. I just knew I did not want to grow up on the farm. All that hard work, number one. Number two, I wanted to go see something else in the world. All I knew was Monroe. Number three, I wanted to be a part of what was happening during the war and this seemed like the way to do it. And of course, he, the recruiter, just made it sound so wonderful. And he was right. It was. (laughs)
KRNow what year was this that you joined?
KRDottie at this point, she had left, right. Had she already joined the WAVES at00:23:00this point?
BWI think maybe she joined at the same time, yes.
KRDid that have any bearing?
BWNo. I did not know she had even joined at that point. Our, after we hadgraduated from school, I went to school and I don't even remember what Dottie was doing at that point. WE weren't that close anymore. After we got out of school each kind of went our own way. So, no. One other interesting thing -- this little town of Monroe with a study body of 100 or so. Five girls enlisted. One was an Army Nurse. I was in the Coast Guard. Dottie was in the WAVES. Norma Jean Hibbs was in the WAVES. And Jean Yonkard ended up being an Army Nurse. And Margie Howard was an Army Nurse. We all married while we were in the service and 00:24:00not one of us ever divorced. Every one of our marriages lasted until one of the mates was gone.
KROr in the case of Dottie, she's --
BW She's the only one --
KRWho's still married.
BWShe's still married.
KRAre the other ladies still alive?
BWNo. Just Dottie and I are the only two who are still alive at this point.
KRThat's pretty amazing. This tiny town.
BWIt's it incredible? Divorce wasn't an option then. Nowadays if it doesn'twork, so what? You just do it over again and do it over again. But divorce wasn't an option then. Divorce was not something that you just did. It had to be very drastic before -- but most families just frowned on it. Society frowned on it. But that was not the reason all of us stayed together. I just think -- I made a good marriage. I married a wonderful man. And the others did too. It just worked out.
KRWhy do you think so many girls from such a small high school joined the military?00:25:00
BWWell, not only the girls, but the young fellows, when that happened, quit highschool in their senior year, never even finished and went off and enlisted. There were 15 casualties from Monroe area. Young fellows who never came back. It just breaks my heart to this day. They were just kids. That's the way they are still to me.
KROf course. It's just tragic when that happens.
BWBut I don't know. Yes, I do know in a way. My dad had been in World War I anda lot of the people in the area had been in World War I. They had a very strong American Legion Post. Like I said, a lot of, almost all of us had grown up together, so we had all -- that was pretty much the social life when we were growing up, was the American Legion. They had all kinds of dinners and Memorial 00:26:00Day services and everything. And all the young fellows, young families, that's what we did. So there was a great sense of patriotism in our families. I'm sure that had a lot to do with -- I know at least three of them, their dads had been in the service at the same time as my dad was, the girls that went. And the young fellows too. That was a little community that was very patriotic I guess.
KRThere were other branches of the military. Was it just the fact that there wasa Coast Guard recruiter was it dumb luck? If it had been an Army recruiter would you have done the same thing do you think?
BWNo. No. Unfortunately, people had given then women, WAACs, that was a badname. They were pretty much considered like camp followers or that type of 00:27:00reputation. Not that they earned it, but that was the perception that people had of them. So WAACs were -- oohh, you didn't want to be involved with them, The Navy, WAVES would have been OK. I just always happened to have a preference for Navy, anyhow. I though it would be great to be a man or a boy and join the Navy and see the world. This was a golden opportunity. So, that's how come I ended up, and it turned out to be a Coast Guard recruiter, otherwise (laughs).
KRSo you signed up, your parents finally bergrudgingly signed the forms. Lettingyou go. And you headed off to boot camp.
BWYes. I went to Portland. There's probably about 15 of us. One girl, Dorothy00:28:00Sutton, I remember well, was assigned to take us. She didn't know anything more than the rest of us did. We were all in the same age group, a lot of them from Portland and different areas. We all rode in that, met the train. There was a recruiter that took us to the train depot. We rode from there to Palm Beach. When you got to Chicago. I don't know, back then -- you've probably never ridden in a train -- the trains back then are not what they were today either. The seats turned around and everybody smoked, whew, it was. But anyhow, we did have Pullman berths. It took us almost a week to go from here to Chicago, because -- and the Pullman berths just had a little curtain that pulled back and forth. We got to Chicago. Then you used to have to take the Parmelaide Transfer to go from one train depot to the other train depot to go down south. It was kind of a hub 00:29:00for the different directions, you have to go to different stations. We were just young green kids who had never done anything. We went to Chicago then we were able to catch a train and we went to Palm Beach. It almost took us 10 days from Portland to get to Palm Beach for -- well, you see, troop trains and such had priority. So if you had a troop train coming through, the train you were on just pulled off on the siding so the troop trains could go through, or whatever they were hauling that was essential. They were allowed to go through. So it took a lot longer than it would have then.
KRSo you weren't on a troop train?
KRBecause some of the ladies I've talked to were on troop trains.
BWNo. There were only 15 of us. Then we got to Palm Beach and we went to boot00:30:00camp there. Graduated from boot camp and then went on to storekeeper's school. Stayed maybe another -- Marge House ended up being just a company ahead of me and we never knew each other until we got involved with the Cascade Seafarers. But she was just a company ahead of me in boot camp and a company ahead of me in storekeeper's school.
KROh, how funny. Small world.
KRTell me about, a little bit more about boot camp. I've seen pictures, and Iknow the place that you trained was known as the pink palace?
BWOh, yes, but it was hardly a palace. They had taken it over and made abarracks out of it. When you came in you saluted the quarterdeck just like you were coming aboard ship and so on and so forth. We were billeted on the fifth floor. Let's see, we were billeted by our initial, last initial. So there was 00:31:00Sutton, Simon, Shackleman, Stroda and one girl named Irma Quom because she had a problem with her feet, so when she got out of sick bay she was put with us. The hotel room had bunk beds. There would be, what, six of us in this room with bunk beds. One bathroom. (laughs) And you got your linen done every week. But if there was lipstick on your towels or lipstick on any of your linen -- whoa! You were supposed to have all of that washed out. You were docked, got a back mark, if you had lipstick on. One think I remember, there were no such thing as Kleenex in those days. Everybody had handkerchiefs. We washed out our handkerchiefs -- and the bathroom was all tiled. So you washed your 00:32:00handkerchiefs out and put them to dry against the tile and didn't have to iron them. They were, you would just peel them off and fold them after (laughs).
KRSo you would just put them out and stick them to the wall?
BWYes. And you, all your undergarments and that sort of thing you had to washthem yourself in your room and just hang them out to dry. You didn't have any laundry service. You had laundry service for our bedding. But other than that it was up to you. And our white shirts, we had to iron our white shirts. We wore, had seersucker, let's see what date -- we had shorts, but we had skirts that we wrapped around it that we wore most of the time except when we had regimental review or something. Then we wore our white shirts. We lived on the fifth floor and every time you just get up to the fifth floor they'd yell, "Muster!" Well that meant you got out and no one was a allowed to ride the elevator. You walked five floors down to mess and after mess you could go back to your room. But then 00:33:00it was muster and you went down to drill and you walked back to your room. So you got lots of exercise up and down, you know? Regimental review. First, every Friday we had a Captain's inspection. They would come, literally, with white gloves. Good grief! Every week you cleaned everything so that there wasn't any dust to be found, of course. But everything had to be in its place, absolutely so. We had this one girl, the first time I had ever, growing up here, everybody was pretty must the same. One of our roommates was Shirley Shackleman. She was an Orthodox Jewish girl. So Shirley always got to go to temple on Friday night. Everybody had to go to church, regardless, on Sunday morning. Except those that were Jewish or whatever. She would go to temple on Friday night. We used to get so mad because she didn't have to help us clean for Captain's inspection the 00:34:00next day (laughs)
KRWere there a lot of Jewish girls in the service?
BWQuite a few, yes.
KRReally? Because I haven't, I'm just asking because I haven't met anybody. I'vebeen talking to a lot of people but I haven't met any Jewish women who joined.
BWYes, Shirley was, Olive Simons, she came from Illinois. Her family were coalminers. Lillian Sutton. Simons came from, they were lobster fishermen up in New England. Then Sutton was a coal miner. The other girl, what was her last name? She was from a farm family in Kansas. Shirley Shackleman was from Philadelphia. We were all just as different as can be, you know. It was interesting, it was a 00:35:00real experience learning to live -- well, maybe not learning to live, but getting acquainted with all these different people. Because they all, like me, all they'd ever known was just the little community and area that they lived in. Because you didn't travel around like you do today. It was really interesting.
KRI'm sure it was really interesting.
BWOh, it was.
KRAnd such a challenge.
BWIt was. Then on Saturday morning was always regimental review. We had woolgabardine suits, skirts and jackets. White shirts, a tie, a hat, cotton lisle stockings. The horrible old lady shoes, the lace-up shoes. We all wanted to be, whoever did the best at regimental review -- this would be the entire training 00:36:00station out there now. So several hundreds. Each company. And they, we'd have inspection. YOu'd have to march past the reviewing stand and everybody had to do it just right. Everybody aspired to be the honor company for the next week because you got to be the head for regimental review. It was in Palm Beach. Gosh, there were all kinds of ants, red ants and they'd bite you. You stood at attention and you were not allowed to move. Period. I can remember, if some of the girls would faint, you didn't even look left or right. They just dropped. It was so hot. This whole thing took an hour to get through it. They would just drop and the corpsman would come and take them away. You didn't even see who had fallen or what happened to them, you know? It taught you a lot. 00:37:00
KRWhat time of year was this?
KRSo it would be very pleasant in Florida.
BWOh yes! (Laughs) In, let's see - oh yes, we used to have drill masters. Theywere all men. The drill masters were all men. All of our teachers were men. We did have one or two women officers, but basically everybody was men at the training station. If you messed up while drilled, he just marched you against the wall and left you standing there. He marched off and you were left marking time until he decided you had learned you lesson for whatever you had done wrong. And it didn't matter, one person could be the screw up and the rest of you all ended up -- you know it really taught you a lot about discipline, though, and following orders. I really think every young person should spend 00:38:00some time in the military. I think it's entirely different today, but it also teaches you that you have to live within boundaries. And rules. It's good training. It really was.
KRWhat about, did you like -- you were describing the uniform for me and I couldtell you didn't like the shoes. Or the stockings. Did you like the rest of the uniform?
BWOh, yes, yes. I thought it was -- let's see who was it designed by. A designerat that point. I can't remember now. But anyhow, it was a real, it would be like top of the line something today that you would wear. But we were very proud to wear it.
KRSo you went on from there -- how did you get to be selected to go tostorekeeper's school?
BWYou put in for it and you had to have a grade average to get it. Which I did00:39:00have. So you just stayed right there at the training station. Storekeeper's school was at the training station.
KRWas that your first choice? Was that what you wanted to do?
BWYes, yes. Some to cooks and bakers. Some went and became drivers. Some becameyeomen. There were lots of different opportunities, but that's what I wanted. I knew from attending business college something about bookkeeping, so it was easier for me.
KRSo you were there for another few weeks learning. What was that education like?
BWVery regimented. You went to class all day every day. Again, it was menteachers. Not only did you go to storekeepers school, but you still had to go to drill and do a lot of things that you did in boot camp. As far as your meals and 00:40:00marching back and forth to your rooms and so on and so forth.
KRDid you have the same roommates?
BWNo, all new roommates at that point.
KRI'm amazed that you can remember all of their -- the names of the first group.Can you remember the names of the second group?
BWNo. Not really, because the first group we all lived together in the same roomfor a longer period of time. So I don't remember, no.
KRSo you get done with that -- were you able to request an assignment or didthey just assign you?
BWYes, you could put in where you wanted to go. By that point, I was homesick. Iwanted to go home, back to the west coast. So I put in for the west coast and I got the Sixth Naval District. Which is Charleston, South Carolina (laughs). Absolute opposite. Anyhow, I got leave to come home. I went back, I got out 00:41:00around Thanksgiving time. I came home. I was supposed to go to Savannah, Georgia and two of my other roommates had been, Sutton and Simons, had been assigned to Savannah, Georgia also. So, anyhow, my mother had gotten together things for them for Christmas and I had taken it back with me. When I got back to Charleston, that was the Naval District and everything was dispersed from there. They had a full complement at Savannah at that point. So, no, I wasn't to go to Savannah. So they said, "You're going to Jacksonville, Florida, now." So I went to Jacksonville and thre was maybe 10 other Coast Guard there. I didn't know anyone. I got there just before Chrismastime. They didn't have any barracks for 00:42:00us at that point. You just lived in rooms, rented a room someplace. I can remember when I got there it was just before Christmas. I had this little fold-up Christmas tree my mother had sent with me. Presents which would have probably been like underpants or handkerchiefs or something for the roommates I thought I was going to have in Savannah. And I set that little tree up and I was so unhappy. Christmas here it was (laughs).
BWYes, I was. They took over a wing of the Jacksonville Hotel and made that thewomen's barracks. They had a barracks, they took over the Flagler Hotel in Jacksonville for the men's barracks, but the women, they had no place for them. And they didn't billet us together. They took over a wing of the Jacksonville Hotel. Again, I had three roommates. They billeted us four to a hotel room there 00:43:00in bunk beds. But they did have maid service that came in a cleaned the room once a week (laughs), and did the sheets for us. Then we had quite a lot of liberty, freedom. We ate all of our meals down at the men's barracks, but they'd bring the troop transport trucks up and we would all the office, the Sixth District Office, that would have been at the Captain's District Office, they would bring the troop transport trucks up. All the men and the SPARs would get in the truck and they'd take us down to have our meals at the men's barracks. They used to take us to, on Saturday or Sunday, they'd run troop trucks down to the beach, Jacksonville Beach, and all of us would go to the beach and have a wonderful time. Our money was very limited. We used to go like to the penny arcade at the end of the day and we'd spend all our money. Then we spend the 00:44:00rest of our time, whatever five, 10, 15 cents we had just monkeying around in there. It was fun, it really was. It was great.
KRI'd like to go back to the time you went home on break. Thanksgiving time.What was your parents' reaction when they saw you in uniform?
BWOh, very proud. (cries) You know, a lot of people had, I said the WAVES, Imean the WAACs, kind of considered them camp followers. And that was probably one of the things in my parents' mind when I joined the service. That was a reputation that would go with it. However, people who were in, girls I was in the service with were exactly what they were before they went in. They didn't become anything different or loose morals or anything else simply because they 00:45:00were free. They were simply what they were to begin with. I think after that period of time, the other girls from this area had been in on leave and my folks and other people from this area found out we weren't any different from when we left. We were still just the same moral people that we were, you know? It kind of vindicated us. I'm sure there were still probably some people who had some reservations about what we were like. I never saw any promiscuity, anything like that. Everybody was what they had been.
KRI know when I was in New York, I had a chance to read the oral history ofMildred McAfee who was head of the WAVES. And she worked with Dorothy Stratton 00:46:00when the Coast Guard was being created. And that was a big concern they had. They had seen what had happened to the Army women. And they were really worried. They didn't want that sort of --
KRthose sort of rumors to follow the women in the Navy or in the Coast Guard.
BWAnd I don't think it was necessarily so of the WAACs, to be honest with you.It was just simply a perception that people had. It had never ever happened. Of course, women had been in the military before. The lady that was in charge of my unit when I got to Charleston, South Carolina, she had served in World War I.
KRShe was a yeomanette?
BWYes, she was. So, but those were few and far between. It wasn't a mass thinglike what happened in World War II.
KRI think only 17,000 of them. So not a whole lot.
BWNo. And they were just spread out all over. The WAACs were so many of them and00:47:00such big groups of them, you know? But I could even see that, before I went in the service, Camp Adair down here had all these thousands of men. Corvallis was just a little hick town by then. Very little going on. So all these young fellows, guys, they needed something to do and go. So they'd spread out. They'd go to Eugene, they'd go to Monroe. They'd go to every tiny town. They'd ride the bus. And they didn't know anybody. But they'd come. And oh, we high school girls, we loved that. Here all these (laughs) fellows from all over the United States were fromCamp Adair. So it was all sorts of activities, like USO sorts of things.
KRThis was before the war?
BWYes, before the war. So I can understand even WAACs, they too were put in a00:48:00new place. There were thousands of them and nothing to do. So they had to do -- if one did anything wrong, then they were all tarred with the same brush. Whether the rest of them had done anything or not. So I supposed that's kind of how the reputation got started. I don't know, but it seems possible.
KRSome people have talked to me that they avoided the WAAC for that reason.Knowing that these rumors had been spread about them, that innuendo. And they didn't want to be a part of it.
BWThat was true even, like I said, these young soldiers used to come from CampAdair to all these little towns. Well, our parents just weren't too happy about us going to the USO and these functions with them, because all they knew were the kids growing up with. And you don't date him and you don't go with him because they do so and so, see? And all these strange men came, they didn't know 00:49:00where. So they were not to happy to have you (laughs) get involved with them.
KROh, I would think not. Very strange. So you were in Jacksonville. And you knewno one. I would assume you began to make friends in Jacksonville.
BWOh, yes. There was not too many other people around that you were associatedwith. Captain Sullivan at some point in his life -- he was a regular -- had come to Oregon and gone to Crater Lake. So when he found out I was from Oregon, oh he used to want to talk about Crater Lake and Oregon, what a beautiful -- he was from back on the East Coast someplace -- what beautiful country Oregon was. And so it kind of gave me an in to start with. I had something. The rest of them were just people who were there, girls who were there. Then he had a choir that 00:50:00was his pet thing. He had a softball team. He had a basketball team. Well, I was always very athletic, so I played on his softball team, I played on his basketball team. I was an all star for the Jacksonville, what would be the -- there were several local teams. We were just one team in Jacksonville representing the SPARs. But these were like King Edward Cigar and different Pepsi Cola teams. But anyway, we played these local teams. I was chosen for an all star. He was so proud of me for that. I sang in the choir. So consequently, I ended up being kind of, well maybe not favored, but got extra consideration on lots of things from him, which wasn't all bad also.
KRWhat do you mean by extra consideration? Can you give me an example?00:51:00
BWWell, if somebody, they needed somebody for publicity or something, I would bethe one they would choose. If the paper was going to do an article on something, I would be the one he might choose to do that. Or, let's see, some of the other things that came up. I can't think of anything specific right now. I was invited to his home. He had a lovely wife. And two or three others of us were invited to his home. They were having an affair and they wanted some of us to be there. So we went in uniform and just kind of represented, you know. It was -- I came home on leave one time, there was a flood out in Missouri. I had two weeks leave. 00:52:00Well, it took like a week to come and a week to go on trains at that point. So you had very little time at home. Well, there was a flood in Missouri and for three days the train just sat. The water, it couldn't move. So by the time I got home, it was time to turn around and go back, you know. So I wired him -- wired the station and asked for permission and he granted me permission for another week then. Because the circumstances weren't anything that I had anything to do with. So I felt, yes, that I got some extra consideration from it because of him. (laughs) Which wasn't all bad.
KRYes, that's not a bad thing. It always helps. Did you stay at Jacksonville foryour entire term of service?
BWNo. I worked in the district office as a bookkeeper and then one of thefellows -- they had the docks -- it's not like the Navy dock. There was a captain in the port. There were maybe 15 boats that came in and out. Not ships. 00:53:00Boats. My husband was in the Coast Guard and he'd sailed -- grew up in Detroit, Michigan and sailed all his life on the Great Lakes in the Mackinaw Races and stuff. So consequently, they took over a big sailing ships. He had a 74 foot sailing ship and a crew of eight or nine fellows on it. They'd send him out a hundred miles out to sea and they'd be on submarine patrol. Because there was no motor on a sailboat and so the submarines couldn't detect them. So anyhow, that was what he did. And all these other boats came in and out off of patrol. When the fellow that had been down at the docks, which was really quite a small 00:54:00operation, well then they sent a SPAR down to the docks as storekeeper to dispense supplies to all the ships, boats that came. Their payroll and other such things that they'd leave with. I was assigned to it. Great duty. I was the only girl down there in all the permanent crew that was assigned to the docks and all the boats coming in out out. I never had it so good! (laughs) And so they always had to come to me for all their supplies and all their requisitions for stuff and everything. So that's how I met my husband. When he came in off of patrol, well I'd have his paycheck. So he'd always have to come. If he came in late, he'd have to come to the barracks and get me to go down to the docks and get the payroll. So that's how I trapped him. I always had his paycheck (laughs). He had to come and see me whether he wanted to or not! So anyhow, I 00:55:00was there. We just got married.
KRHow long after you met did you get married?
KROh, very quickly.
BWYes. I wrote home to my folks that I was getting married the followingSaturday. Well, same way with him. He was about nine years older than I was. Everybody had a fit. "Wait, wait. What are you doing?" "Too late! We're married!" So we got a three day pass. We went to Sea Island, Georgia. He had a car, so we went to Sea Island, Georgia. We came back, he had orders to go to Baltimore, Maryland, and I had orders to go to Charleston, South Carolina. So that was our three day honeymoon. He dropped be off in Charleston on his way to Baltimore. He was on his way to firefighter's school at that point. They had stopped the submarine patrol, at that point it wasn't a problem. Actually, they 00:56:00had done away with the sailboats and taken over big yachts. He had a 62 foot yacht that he was skipper of. Again, he had a crew assigned to it. They patrolled, but they didn't go out as far out to sea. They were only 10 or 15 miles out to sea at that point. But the threat of submarines had subsided. So they didn't have that patrol any more.
KRSo then he went to firefighter's school in Baltimore?
BWYes. He came back to Charleston and was assigned, I don't know, just three,four months he came back to Charleston and was assigned to the docks down there.
KRSo were you able to live together at that point?
BWYes. In Charleston they had took over these wonderful old antebellum homesdown on the battery. They had two of them for the SPARs down there. They were gorgeous big old homes. It was a wonderful town to be in, you know? Then another 00:57:00young couple, Coast Guard, they got orders to go on their way. They call them apartment. The whole thing was probably as big as this room. The bathroom was half the size of this vestibule. When they left we got that.
KRAnd was it in one of these antebellum homes?
BWNo, it was in Charleston proper. That was something else, too. There would bethe regular homes and there would be the colored homes. That was something else too that I had never experienced. They had the colored bathrooms and the colored drinking fountains. It was terrible, that part of it. A lady, a colored lady, would come and do our wash. She'd put it all in a bedsheet and she'd take it and put it in a pot out in her yard. Boiled it and dried it in the yard. Ironed it. 00:58:00I don't remember what we would have paid for it. Because we had no washer, drier or anything. It was very little, but anyhow, she did our washing and ironing for us. Then we lived in this, it was upstairs. Cockroaches -- oh man! They were the size of little motor cars. You'd turn the light off at night and you'd turn it on and they were going every which way.
BWWe lived through a, stayed through a hurricane down there. But was at thedocks, so when the hurricane came, of course, the Coast Guard would have to be out there on the water. Charleston is at sea level, or below sea level. So when the hurricane came up, we had water on the bottom floor of the house where we were, we lived. I remember walking to work, down at the District Office, you just pulled up your skirts and took your shoes and socks off and waded through 00:59:00that old sloppy sewage type water and went to work for the two or three days it took it to subside. Because being below sea level.
KRHow bad was the hurricane?
BWOh, it was bad. It really whipped the, tore things up.
KRWhy did you stay? Why didn't you evacuate?
BWWhere were you going to go? Number one. There was no evacuation set up likethere is nowadays. It was a fact of life. Hurricanes came and people put up with it and when it was over you picked up and went on. It was an occurance all the time. Now they get all unglued over it, but it's been going on forever down there. It's just something that everybody, there was no place to go. Charleston, Savannah, all the other areas had the same problem because that's just where it is. 01:00:00
KRDid you end up going to a higher floor?
BWNo. Just simply stayed. There is no higher ground. Charleston is at --
KRNo, I meant a higher floor in the building that you were in.
BWNo, no. It never came up that high.
KROK. That would be so frightening to be --
BWIt was, yes it was. He had to go and I was home alone. It was, we called them"Arsenic" and "Old Lace", the two old maids we called them. I don't know what they were, probably just young -- to us the were old maids that lived downstairs and rented the room to us. Water came just to the level of the door. Just came right in their house down there. It was an experience.
KRI can imagine. What else did you do when you were there. Did you stay inCharleston for the duration of the war?
BWYes. When the war was over, my husband had gone in before I had. You had to01:01:00have so many points. You had years you had to serve, if you served active duty you got so many points. Everything you got points you had for your discharge. And so he'd been in long enough, he'd been in a year before I'd gone in. So consequently, he had enough points to be discharged. So they sent us to Coxspur Island, down in Savannah area. He was discharged. Then I had a lot of points besides, but if your husband, your mate was discharged, that gave you so many points, so that qualified me to be discharged. So after he was discharged well then, I had enough points. So I was discharged also. And he'd come from Detroit, Michigan. So consequently -- he was an apprentice electrician. So it was only natural that we go back to Detroit. That was where he was going to make an 01:02:00living. I didn't want to go back to the farm, I'm telling you that! (laughs).
KRWhen did you get out? When was it? It was 1945, right?
KRDo you remember what month it was?
KRSo you moved back up to Detroit.
BWYes. Of course, there was no housing available period. Because there had beenno houses built. There had been no furniture made. There had been no refrigerators made. So we went and we lived with his parents for a few months. His brother and sister-in-law were able to buy a house after a few months and they lived in a duplex. They talked to the landlord and asked for us to have their duplex when they moved. So anyhow, in order to buy any furniture, we had to buy -- to get a refrigerator and stove, which were old at that point, because 01:03:00there had been nothing made during the war. Absolutely nothing had been made. But there was a refrigerator and stove they would sell to us, but we had to buy all our other furniture from them. If we didn't buy our other furniture, we couldn't get our refrigerator and stove. So we ended up buying an old bedroom set and and old davenport and a chair and tables. All their junk we had to take in order to (laughs) get the refrigerator and stove. So that's how we started out.
KRBut did you need the other furniture at least?
BWYes! We had nothing. We had nothing!
KRWell, at least you got something for your house.
BWOh, we were thrilled to get it. A lot of people were still living with parentsor, you know, that's what you did. You lived with parents or a relative because no houses had been built during the war. Everything had gone for the war effort so there was no new building. There were no sheets. There were no blankets, 01:04:00nothing! Linen, dishes, everything had been -- so you pretty much ended up with what people could spare and give you and that's how you ended up furnishing your things.
KRWhat did you -- your husband was working as an electrician?
KRWas he working for the car industry or was he working in houses?
BWNo, he worked for the Detroit Free Press. His father was buildingsuperintendent of the Detroit Free Press, he was an electrician also. So Bud was an electrician and worked for the Free Press for oh, 20-some years. Then he left the Free Press and went out and did, as they say, "one the outside" which was commercial electrical work then.
KRDid you start back working after the war?
BWNo. I had raised, I ended up having four boys. Greg and Bill were the oldesttwo. Vietnam came along and they were going to be drafted. The joined the Army 01:05:00before they were drafted so they could have some choice in what they did. Greg went into communications and ended up in Fort Monmouth teaching radio and taht type of thing. Bill, he ended up, he went to Vietnam twice. He went the first time and he was repair of artillery and that sort of thing So he went to Vietnam twice. Our third son, he joined the Army Rangers. He was a paratrooper in a united peacekeeping corps over in Italy. He made a jump and ended up in a tree and ended up all kinds of problems.
BWSo all of us, except our youngest son, have spent our time in the military. He01:06:00graduated just -- as Bud retired he was just graduating high school. He came to Oregon with us and graduated University of Oregon and went on, became a CPA and is now a partner in Kernit, Stokes and Brandt, one of the bigger CPA firms in Eugene.
KRDid, so you immediate went back, you started setting up a home and that sortof thing.
KRDid you want to work?
BWI did. And after the, when the two boys were in the military, it was verydifficult for me. Particularly Bill being in Vietnam. So I went back to work -- I had never done that type of work, but I got a job in a doctor's office. It ended up there were five pediatricians and eventually I became the office manager. I worked there for nine years then. I was working there when my husband 01:07:00retired. I quit then, and loved it. I enjoyed that a lot. It was kind of back to the nursing thing that I originally wanted to do.
KRI'm always curious, because during the war years, there were so many differentthings that you got to, you did. It was very interesting, different sorts of jobs. So I'm always curious if you decided to work afterwards in the professional side, or if you decided to raise your family, which is also a job.
BWNo, that was, of course. Nowadays, it's everybody is supposed to have acareer. We were stupid. We were very happy raising a family. And I still am today. I feel I had those kids, it was my very first responsibility and it was important when they came home from school at night to be involved in their 01:08:00school activities and to discipline when they were doing wrong. Just to be in the neighborhood. They all ended up being paperboys. That was something else! That was where they learned to smoke and learned to cuss (laughs), but the also learned how to manage money and responsibility delivering papers. It was just important. I felt when they were grown I could go on and do what I wanted to do. But that was my first responsibility been given to us. And that was something I had to do, take care of them.
KRAnd could you do fine -- some women had to go to work because of necessity,and you had, you could do OK on your husband's salary.
BWCertainly. Because we didn't have to have a second car and we didn't have tohave kids in nursery school and we didn't have to have -- the other thing is, his mother had had a stroke. She had a cottage over in Canada and we all thought 01:09:00she had gone there. As it ended up in her apartment she had had a stroke. When we find out -- she did survive. It was a whole week before anyone found her.
KROh my goodness.
BWBut for eight years she was in a nursing home. Of course, there was no SocialSecurity or anything else. No one had any insurance to take care of that. So my husband had, there were the three boys. They took care of all the expenses for eight years. So you simply did what you had to do. There was nothing, there were no agencies where you could go and get welfare help or get Social Security or those types of things. So consequently, we knew what our finances were. We knew what it cost us to live. I had a budget that was so much for food and all the things we needed. We were buying a house and a car. And that was it. You didn't have money for any other things and you just lived with that. 01:10:00
KRHow old was the youngest when you went to, when you did go back to work?
BWLet's see. That's another story. You're probably getting tired of all of this.
KRBecause you had the three and there was a break.
KRMy sister and I are sixteen years apart.
BWOh, really? So you understand that! Well, the youngest one -- let's see --
KRDid you go back to work when he was -- did you wait for the three when youwent tot he doctor's office.
BWWell, it was when the boys went in the service. Been in the '60s sometime.Scott was born in 1958. So it was probably in the early '60s that I went to work. But. We lived in Detroit and the race riots came at that point. Well, it was -- before that, they had what they used to call block busting. We lived in a neighborhood and primarily it was all young people that had got out of the 01:11:00service and raising our kids together. It was a very diverse neighborhood to be living in. Well, as soon as they started block busting and they -- what happened is they decided to integrate the schools. So they took all the kids from the school where my kids had gone to school, sent them to the inner city, bussed inner city kids to the other, to our schools. Well, it was like oil and water. The academic level was nowhere near the same. The social part of it was not the same. So there was friction from the word go. When that happened, everybody just left Detroit in mass. It was just like birds sitting on a line. You hit it with a stick and there was mass flight. So, we ended up with what they called block busting. People would put their house up for sale, but they would never tell anybody in the neighborhood that they were selling. And they would show it at 01:12:00night and black people would buy the homes. So when the next people realized what happened, they in turn sold their home, and it just emptied out the city in nothing flat. There was a lot of bussing kids back and forth. They didn't take them in school busses, they had to take public transportation. And some of the places where they had to stop and get on a bus to go to wherever they were going, lots of bad things happened. To both the black and the white kids at that point. So anyhow, we knew we were coming out where when my husband retired. We had already bought our property. We decided we were just going to stay on an we were not going to run with the rest of them. We did. Well, pretty soon we were two white families in our whole neighborhood. Scott, which is our youngest, and Bernie across the street if they went -- and even Doug, our third one -- like if 01:13:00they'd he'd go to the park. For instance they had bows and arrows and were at the archery range. And the colored kids came along and stole their bike and took off with it. They became more and more aggressive to the white kids because there were fewer and fewer of them. It got to the point that Scott, when he was little, and Bernie, they couldn't even walk to the drug store. If they'd catch them they'd take their money or take their watches or whatever, their bicycles or whatever they had.
KRSo this is the neighborhood boy and your son.
BWYes. So anyhow, it got to the point where Scott was maybe one of three whitekids in Verner School at that point. Now, he's -- discrimination. He's "Whitey" And he is. He's real blonde. And they used to push and shove him around in school. So we took him out of the Detroit Public Schools. The other thing is, 01:14:00when all this happened, they assigned you a school. And you could not transfer to any other school. You had to stay in the school they assigned you. So anyhow, we asked for him to be transferred to another school and they wouldn't. We ended up putting him in Oak Park, which was a suburb and paid tuition for him to go to school there.
KRSo it was a public school in the suburbs but you could pay tuition and go there?
BWYes. So anyhow, then we did put our house up for sale. The last year we livedin Detroit, we moved to Oak Park so we didn't have to pay, it was terrible tuition to pay. So we moved to Oak Park so we didn't have to pay tuition. We knew we were coming here. The other part of that, the bad part, the people who sold originally and slipped out in the dark, they got the high dollar. By the time it's come to the end of the line, you were lucky -- you had to take what you could get to get out.
KRIt's a shame -- I know that that's happened to some cities and it's a shame01:15:00when it does. You wish it could happen, that schools could get integrated in ways that were nicer.
BWWell, the race riots came and across the street for us was the artilleryarmory. And Doug, our third son, some friends had gone down, taken a bus, gone downtown to watch the Detroit Tigers play baseball, when the riots started. They set the town on fire between, which would be the area of Tiger Stadium downtown and the suburbs where we lived. They set it all on fire in there. By that point, we had almost all black neighbors. Very nice people. And the same way our church had become integrated. But eventually, it all, everybody left. There again, so when the riots happened, why the smoke was just burning and everything in between area. They lady who lived next door to us as a colored lady. She said if 01:16:00Doug called and wanted to get home, she would go and get him. Because we didn't dare go through the area and get him. As it turned out, the kids left the ballpark, they didn't even know it was going on. They got on a bus and came home and didn't even know what was going on!
KRYou must have been frantic at that time.
BWOh, that was terrible. Everybody went in their house. Hoped -- blacks andwhites in our neighborhood just went in our house. Nobody was out on the streets. There was just all these gangs of people roaming around. You didn't know what they were going to do. And they, it was -- oh, a car, a fellow -- now, I suppose he could have been Iranian or something like that. But he was driving through and they just pulled him over and tipped his car over and beat him up. Another man on the bus, they just ganged up on him and killed him when he was 01:17:00riding a bus. It was a scary time. At night, you just pulled your shades and kind of like during the war? Yep. It was war. It really was war. So anyhow, we were glad to leave Detroit. Things had changed. We lived there all our life and been OK, but now it was not anymore.
KRYes, I know there was some really bad --
BWIt was bad.
BWAnd it has never recovered.
KRNo, it hasn't.
BWPeople have never gone back downtown, when I've gone back to visit a time ortwo. They can do anything they want downtown, but people from the suburbs will not go to downtown Detroit. They might go to Cobal Hall to see, or go to the ballpark, but that's there and immediately back to the suburbs. The town has just decayed.
KRIt's a shame.
KRI knew a guy, when I working in television station in Hartford and Hartford01:18:00was pretty bad, but he said Hartford was a paradise compared to Detroit. Because he said, that you know, he said it was just awful.
BWIt was, it really was. It was just terrible. And as I say, the other thing ofit is, our neighborhood, which had really been a nice neighborhood. It was all built after the war. Brick houses. Three bedrooms, bath and a complete basement. All brick. It was basic -- all houses are brick to start with, you know. And all of us came out of the service at the same time, raised our families and everything. Well, after people left, a lot of people buying the houses defaulted on them. So they took them over and what did they call that? Anyhow, they sold them the houses for a dollar apiece. And, well, for a month or so people would live there. Then they would strip all the copper plumbing and wiring and by the 01:19:00time we were getting ready to leave, sell our house, everything had been boarded up. All these lovely homes that had been nice homes had been just boarded up with plywood over the windows. Other people that were there, living they, they brought in police dogs and put grates over their windows and grates over their doors and had police dogs. It was scary to live there, it really was. It just destroyed a nice -- too bad they couldn't have done it otherwise.
KRSo after your husband retired, you moved out here and you said all your boysended up following you too?
KRHow did that happen?
BWWell, as they were growing up, my folks had the farm. So every other year, Ibrought the boys and came out for the summer. When my husband got his vacation, he would drive out and we would all go out together. Well, there was an agency called Catherine Ray Drive Away Service. And what she did was, she delivered, if 01:20:00people bought a car. Everybody bought cars in Detroit. We didn't have all these other places. People bought cars in Detroit. So they bought a car and wanted it delivered out here, well you could go and she would pay you the gas mileage. Allowed you 75 dollars for gas, that's usually what it was. And I'd drive a car. I'd bring the boys and drive out myself. We couldn't afford to do it any other way. But by her paying for the gas and paying you for driving the car out, well they he'd come and pick us up. Every summer they grew up out here, every other summer. As they got older, they came and worked on the farm. So they all knew Oregon and liked it, so yep, they all ended up coming here individually.
KRThey're all living in the Eugene area? Or are they?
BWWell, my oldest one, this house right down here, he just moved in three yearsago from Detroit. He's an electrician also.
KRSo he just lives right down the block here. Down the driveway.01:21:00
BWThat's it. Our second son, he just lives up the road here. When we bought theproperty, there was an old house down here and so Bill lived on that first. When he got married and we were coming out, he bought the place up here and Bud and I lived in that old house. We built this house, I mean literally, wallboard, everything. We did all of it. He was a plumber and electrician and such. So then, ended up all the boys at different times lived in that old house. So when Greg and Stella moved out from Detroit three years ago, they lived in the old house 'til they got their house up here. Eventually, the old house had to go (laughs). It was over 100 years old and was in pretty bad shape at that point.
KROh, dear, oh dear. Is there anything else you'd like to add?
BWI've think I've talked enough. Good grief, you must be tired to death of it now!
KRWell, I'm going to go ahead and turn this off.01:22:00