Personal narrative of Ann Warr
From: Ann Warr
Medium: Audio Micro-cassette
Date: Sunday, April 26, 1999
Place: Fairmount Historical Museum,
Collected by: Sanjay Patel (sp)
00:00 sp: I am Sanjay Patel. This is April twenty fifth nineteen ninety-nine. Recorded at the Fairmount Historical Museum. I am speaking with Ann Warr. Please state your name.
aw: Ann Warr,
00:21 sp: Do I
aw: Fairmount Historian
00:24 sp: ok, do I have permission to interview you?
aw: yes, you do have permission
00:29 sp: Do I have permission to submit this interview to Marion High School?
00:33 sp: And do
aw: you do
00:35 sp: Do I have permission to submit this interview to the Marion Public Library?
aw: yes you do if you think it’s good enough
- 1 Oral History of Ann Warr
- 1.1 The Farm during the Depression
- 1.2 Marriage,Parting, and War Work
- 1.3 Life and Work in Fairmount
- 1.4 Home on the National Register
- 1.5 Son in Viet Nam War
- 1.6 War on the Home Front and School
- 1.7 Fairmount Famous Folks
- 1.8 Skunk in the vents
- 1.9 Hitch hikers
- 1.10 The Old Academy
- 1.11 Father's Death
- 1.12 Factory Work
Oral History of Ann Warr
00:41 sp: ok, um could you have uh, could you briefly describe in a few sentences what life was like in the nineteen-thirties?
aw: lets see… well it was, it was still depression days. I went to school in depression days. Um…I attended all of the Fairmount schools although I was born in Liberty Township. Uh… I never got to attend a country school. I had one sister that did so I wish I could talk about a country school, but I can’t because my father paid tuition there was five of us and four of us paid tuition to come into Fairmount to the public school. At the time, uh… I rode a school bus uh ugh when I entered high school before that uh my brother and I were fourteen months difference between us why then we would uh a schoolteacher lived out near us and she hauled us. My dad paid her to bring us into Fairmount.
The Farm during the Depression
The clothes, my mother was a seamstress, so she made my dresses my clothes and my coats. And being on a farm and of course it was the old farm tools then, ugh they ugh my father farmed with a team of horses. Ugh, we didn’t have them modern conven, conveniences of all these tractors and all this today, but we had plenty to eat, vegetables. Um it was a two hundred acre farm and we raised chickens and turkeys and hogs and cattle and um so we had all of our own meat and my father had the big old iron kettle out in the yard um barn yard and he would butcher, and so we can’t complain chickens, did I mention them, we had plenty of eggs. So I, we didn’t we, we didn’t go hungry. And um another thing uh my father was able to uh in the thirties to maintain the farm out there when there were a lot of them that that uh couldn’t handle it they lost her, they lost everything they had, and we’re the thirties and um uh really you might say uh things did not pick up really pick up and I hate to say this until World War Two come along.
Marriage,Parting, and War Work
And uh I graduated from high school in ‘38 but I got married in ‘38 too. And uh my husband went to the service in um oh I was just looking at that, forty well he was discharged in ‘45 so he went in in forty, I think about forty one, I am sorry I should have the correct date but you wont be putting all this in your gonna clear this up and smooth it up real neat aren’t ya. Uh (laugh) And um but he served in the war um he was in Italy twenty one months uh he was in the ground crew with the air uh fifteenth air force and he was discharged then in ‘45 he was home on uh lets see August I wish I had that August anyway somewhere in there and he was home for a thirty day furlow ready to go to the South Pacific and um the war ended. And I was working at Peerless of America at Marion where they made shells and the my job was an inspector to check the detonator to see if it was ok to set the bomb off which I did not I was not aware of that but the minute the war was declared over everybody jumped up machines were all turned off everything stopped immediately everybody whooped and yelled and clapped and uh I walked out of the place after that and I just don’t remember whether it was in the afternoon but we were still all at work but that was one thing that has really stayed in my mind. And of course that Peerless of America that little car they made that small car isn’t that terrible it left me you probably know what I’m talking about that was where that small car was made in Marion, Indiana. Crosley!And that was the plant that was where I worked that was later the shell where they made the shells.
Life and Work in Fairmount
And um let’s see what else could I that stands out in my mind. Course of course uh my husband and I as I said we got married in 38 uh we attended ball games for about nine years before our son come along. And I could remember uh James Dean there was a triple overtime between Fairmount and Swayzee and he put the winning shot in. In the triple overtime and I whooped and yelled just as loud as anybody else but I said If I would ever known and I know if anybody have ever known James Dean was going to be this famous a movie star that made three films and had died at the age of twenty four, I would have had my camera, I would have taken a lot of pictures. But I don’t know is there anything you’re still talking about the forties. Well that’s when it began to pick up, everything began to pick up I hate to think prosperity thrives on war but I guess that’s what happened that year, when they declared war, World War Two. Then everything has been up, been going up, ever since, money. Ugh, the old canning factory that was another thing um… Sniders. N-i, S-, S-n-i-d-e-r-s canning factory was here in Fairmount, and I think I went to work around sixteen years of age, they didn’t know my age, but I was working and I was making um fourteen dollars with all the hours I put in fourteen a week, but I could go to town with that check and I could buy shoes, hose, dresses, I could buy I don’t know I couldn’t name all that I could buy for fourteen dollars but that’s when the boss come back to me somebody had said I wasn’t old enough and the boss come back to me and he says I’m gonna do something I hate to do, and I said well what, and I knew right a way he said you’re not old enough and I’m gonna have to let you go. And I said ok, he said you come back when you’re old enough he said you’re a good worker and I’d like to keep ya (laugh). So I really don’t remember going back until I was eighteen, because that’s when I got my social security number. Franklin D. Roosevelt, that was the first man I voted for president (laugh). And from there on this town basically, Fairmount, is basically about the same, it’s a, I say a rich farming community, that has two banks, and the bank on the south side the Citizens Exchange Bank, is the oldest bank in Grant Count, I expect you’re aware of that are you?
09:01 sp: Right.
aw: And um, then uh, were getting up past the forties, though but it’s a way back to the turn of the century both, both of them the State Bank, Fairmount State Bank. But um, we do have some a oh a business here that’s been down here on East Eighth Street, here for a long time, um there’s not too much here were ‘bout a thirty three hundred population.
09:32 sp: Right.
Home on the National Register
aw: And uh but as far as the store fronts and things they have tried to go back and make them the fronts near like as they can and this, this, this house here is the only, the Pattison, the J.W. Pattison house which we have a landmark out here is the only place in Fairmount that is on the national register of historic places, so basically the woodwork you’re looking at is the same, they painted everything else in here but this woodwork and you can see the doctor and his wife, Doctor Pattison, sitting in front of these two windows. Can’t see it because of that thing, but uh as far as Fairmount is planned and laid out here in 1850, so I don’t know how much they’ve done on other towns or anything have they done much history on it or not or just interviewed like you’re asking me questions.
10:32 sp: Right, but we are wanting to focus mainly on personal life, like how, like how the war maybe affected you personally you and your (not Audible)
aw: Well it affected me quite a bit, because I lost my husband, well he’s alive, but he was gone but he was gone a good three years, you know he was in Italy twenty-one months.
10:52 sp: Did you have children?
aw: And I have, we have one son, Jerry, Jerry Allen, and uh he turned around and then he got in the Vietnam War later. So I’ve, I’ve done my share, only had one, we only had one son and he served in Vietnam one year and uh then he uh worked at Delco-Rayme America at Anderson you’ve heard of that one haven’t ya? At thirty one years, and he retired at forty nine and uh my husband is not very well now and he comes in every day and he helps me with him and uh I am just now using the Veterans Administration at Marion. Uh and your fathers the doctor isn’t he? Oh your fathers oh I thought you were Doctor B.D.’s son.
11:45 sp: Yeah, I am
aw: Well but uh.
11:48 sp: He’s not at the VA.
aw: But he’s not the doctor? Well is there another one with the same initial?
11:55 sp: huh uh
Son in Viet Nam War
aw: I was just looking at that in the phone book. Well uh I thought he would be entitled to the Veterans check up, going through the veterans administration over there, and so he’s going through a series of doctors right now uh he’s at home but he started out with Parkinson’s disease and then he’s, uh, he had a stroke around Christmas around the holidays this year, and so he’s got two more doctors to go through and they want to give him therapy so I’ve been waiting from them about him but he’s alive and our son, but um uh, he didn’t have, my husband didn’t have any injuries and my son come home without any injuries except in the rice patties it’s a fungus they pick up but he don’t doctor for that. It doesn’t seem to bother him but their feet I guess almost you know turns dark and all discolored but that was he says that was one of the worst things they had out there them old rice paddies wet and damp. And uh, but he never did talk much about the war, and but I don’t know what we’re into now do you? But I tell you everything they’ve got them foreign countries Russia, China, they’ve got everything we’ve got. Somebody has sold the secrets or stolen, and who knows what may happen but we can’t worry over it can we? But I think they could do as much damage to us and maybe more, with all their knowledge they’ve got that we’ve had I don’t know what will happen.
13:49 sp: So, um during the forties food wasn’t much of an issue for you guys, it wasn’t really a problem?
aw: Through the forties?
13:55 sp: yeah
War on the Home Front and School
aw: uh… well I was gonna say we moved, I was out on the farm out there that’s between the two Fairmount roads on 9. And my father had started a filling station many years before so I moved out there uh during the war, then we bought a property down here on south Maine in Fairmount and that’s when things was reasonable. You could buy these great big homes, biggest home in Fairmount, for fourteen thousand, or the little ones that didn’t look a whole lot like anything you could buy for two to three thousand dollars now that I remember you know. So we bought a house very reasonable and then we put a bath it didn’t have a bathroom in it and we put a bathroom in, built a garage. And uh everything was, your groceries everything was reasonable not like it is today.
14:59 sp: How about quantity, was there a lot I mean did you ever…
aw: Uh I never um they sold war bonds and all that but as far as anything that I wanted that we wanted I did I was always able to seem like to get anything that I wanted, you may not have gotten a whole lot of it but I never did ask for much, I only asked for what I needed. But ugh food ugh well the microfilms they have all of them in the don’t they have all of them in the library ugh we had a newspaper, we’ve had a newspaper many, many years but ugh it was Fairmount News, for many years and now it’s the News Sum, that Sum means Summitville. Because Madison-Grant United School corporation took the two counties, you know, the Summitville in and Madison County and that’s why its called the Madison-Grant United School Corporation out here on nine. But as far as lacking for anything, I don’t remember, when I wanted to eat I could eat but it was a lot cheaper than it is today.
16:18 sp: What was school like? I mean, you were in school right?
aw: yeah, this old school, have you been over there, they broke the windows out. Uh, this old high school I graduated from this. And uh when I mention Jim Davis, you know who I am talking about…
16:34 sp: right
Fairmount Famous Folks
aw: don’t you, creator of Garfield the cat, he graduated in sixty-three. I got him up there. Phil Jones, CBS political correspondent, nineteen fifty-five he was with 48 Hours six years. And Robert Sheets former director of the National Hurricane Center, till he retired about four years ago. And Phil and Bob graduated in nineteen fifty-five. Then we have this Olive Rush, that was uh, well I guess you might of called her a famous painter, she died in New Mexico but was raised here in Fairmount. President Herbert Hoover, collected her paintings and placed them in the White House. And um then there was that one, Mary Jane Ward, she was born in Fairmount, and was the author of Snake Pit. And they made that major movie up, but I have not seen that, I have not tried to check it out, I would like to see the movie, I have forgotten all about it, they showed that in the foreign countries a lot, but here you don’t hardly hear of it. But it was a mental, she turned out to be kind of mentally unbalanced or whatever and the film was made from that and everyone said its been a good one and uh there’s a book, she wrote a book on it Snake Pit. And um I don’t know um…
18:02 sp: well how about your personal school experience? Like
aw: how many what?
18:06 sp: your personal school experience like what did you go through were there any problems or?
aw: I didn’t have any problems, my biggest problem was the cut up.
18:15 sp: Cut up?
aw: (laugh) like to have fun,
18:20 sp: oh…
Skunk in the vents
aw: but I gra-, I did my job and I graduated, but I thought I would be a secretary and I took um two years, lets see I took typing, that was a course, and two years of shorthand, had every good intention of getting me a job and going to school to get a job as a stenographer or whatever, and I got married. And um my husband graduated form over there in nineteen um thirty five, and he held the half mile relay as they called it, well the half mile relay was held thirty years by he and three other people, and it hadn’t been beaten when the school closed, when the school ceased to be a high school but the broad, its called the long jump, they call it broad jump now don’t they?
19:27 sp: no its long jump still
aw: he held that seventeen years over here before it was beaten and he, he, he was there when he said the fellow would beat him, and he did (laugh), and um, no I um I didn’t have any problems going through high school, I am the oldest of the five children, and uh then my other sister, my baby sister, was the youngest one, she graduated in forty eight, and James Dean forty nine. Which he, I got a picture in here sitting with him in a class picture, and my other sister graduated in forty six, and um they don’t live, neither one of them lives here, but I have a brother that a played on the winning basketball team in nineteen forty two, that’s the year they beat Marion, but they got beat in the, I forget who the other one was, but they got beat in the final round here in Marion, but that was kind of it had been several years I think since Marion had gotten beat. Uh but they’ve won that sectional, or they’ve won the big one for what, four, five, five times isn’t it?
20:49 sp: Oh I
aw: In Marion, so you’ll have to do a little research, it used to be on the old water tower over there, um we um lets see I was just trying to think
21:02 sp: What was the normal school day like, when you went to school, when you ate lunch?
aw: Everything, I , I was just going to say, um, I didn’t know the word, how do you say this, what they’re doing today, what is drugs? I didn’t know what that was (laugh). We, we I don’t remember of anything although we did have a couple of ornery ones in our class that time, and they did put a skunk in the (laugh) the heating vent, the furnace vent, and you know what that did…
21:44 sp: Stunk up the place
aw: and I don’t think they held school for a day or two, and but it was you know things like that, uh, like they do today, drugs and this and that, now there was a little problem way, way back, uh, that they took a coach out in the night and he was that was the end of his career being a coach in Fairmount, now that was one time, now drugs and things like that and um I remember nothing we just it just wasn’t then, it could be, but it maybe it was so secretive nobody knew about it but how do you know? Now I’m talking about in the thirties up and around the forties. But just something, and we have all the class pictures, they’re all hanging on the wall in here because when the school ceased to be a high school um, and the last graduating class from the old high school was nineteen sixty nine, then it became a middle school, seventh and eighth, and that was from sixty nine then to eighty six, and that was the last time any class ever graduated from the old high school, and its been over there standing ever since, but they hadn’t done what they done, I was over there last evening, and I cannot believe they’ve even tore such the window frames out some of them, and I don’t know what, and the state preservation office would like for me to try to help to save that school, well I’d like to save the old high school part, and where the auditorium stage is at and the seats, but I don’t know the reason they’re probably after me I’m one of the founders of the museum, and one of the founders of the festival, and I served as president of this for eleven years, so that maybe why they’re trying to get a hold of me, they’re trying to see if I can do anything, and I am working on it, I am trying to see if I can get somebody to kinda help to preserve part of that and then tear the rest of it down.
23:58 sp: If there’s a, what’s one thing, one event that sticks in your mind, the first thing you come up with in the forties, most memorable?
aw: See there’s many things that’s happened since the forties, they had that big fire downtown here
24:16 sp: in the forties?
aw: sixty seven no, I was trying to think what might have, well I known it was hard time because my father built another little station on the farm, cause that made that farm go a whole mile, and out here at the end, and did you come in uh this Washington Street runs through town, well right on the farm, right over you look across there where that big pond is now, uh they dad started another little filling station and uh so I we, I was the oldest so I kinda worked at both of them you know helped out, and then he’d rent it you know to somebody, but uh, I , I can remember that what that was to make some more money, no w I don’t know how much he made, cause he bought candy and things like that, well you know how us young one are we like candy (laugh) so I don’t know where they’re.
But I know uh when I was working down on the other station, um you weren’t scared of they oh ok, hitch hikers, you know people would walk from one place to another, you weren’t afraid of them. And they always said they had a place marked, where they knew if they wanted to go ask, knock on the door, ask for some food, they’d get it. Well it seemed like they all stopped at our house, and my mother made homemade bread and she made biscuits galore. That’s I remember making taking my biscuit sandwiches to school, I didn’t buy, she just made all our bread. And um, so they would always if that’s what she had she’d give em put butter on it or whatever she had she would give them, and you weren’t afraid of them you didn’t lock the door, now you want some things like that, we didn’t know what it was to lock the door. We weren’t afraid. But this time this fella drove in with this great big car, and uh had a star on it, but I didn’t pay any attention to it, they were very friendly, and I they wanted I don’t know how much gas I wish I could remember now, but after they pulled away this stranger across the street standing there said do you know who you just waited on? And I said I have no idea. When I was just sixteen-year-old girl or something like that, uh, he said that was the governor of Indiana. And that would have been Clifford Townsend, I believe, T-o-w-n-s-e-n-d. Some of his relations over here around Hartford City, and in that are and I said really, and he said well look at the star on the car, and I did and there was a star there. So that was kind of exciting to me, but I would have talked to them more, but they was so funny, him and his wife, and that that was a standout, in my mind and as years went on after the war, you begin to lock up, you lock your doors, and now it don’t do any good, because if they want to go in they’re still gonna go in aren’t they? So lets see what else might, but she never did turn any, we never had all that we raised on the farm, um we had plenty of that as I said, and so whatever she had there, my mom, when she would give that hiker maybe they were hungry and maybe they’re not you never know. Then you got so you was afraid, I wouldn’t pick up a hitchhiker today would you? But you didn’t you didn’t you wasn’t scared then. Now that’s my one of the things that I, I remember.
The Old Academy
And um, I know that I did go to the old academy, was out here in the sixth grade, on that was out here on twenty sixth, its where the Wesleyan camp ground is, now you know where that’s at out here, oldest, about the oldest campground in America or I think United States I mean. And um, I went there in the sixth grade but I don’t know why I went there but I’m but when you climbed the steps its cement, it was, it went like this, where the cement had worn down where you walk up and uh it ended up that the Wesleyan headquarters bought that and they intended to start schooling some schooling out there their own church. But the state had condemned it so they eventually had to tear it down, I tried to get the town to buy that I think was fourteen acres, I couldn’t swing the town very good, they got rid of the old town hall and I went to the meeting, I talked to them, I didn’t want them to tear the old town hall down, but they did. And there’s a liquor store in there now (laugh).
29:14 sp: How old were you then? When you?
aw: um well I was older then, but see the old town hall and all of them was there oh they see since, they had, I remember the old town hall um but uh they built the new one and dedicated it on my birthday, February the fifteenth, nineteen hundred and sixty nine. I’ll never forget it, but it was a big old red brick home, I don’t know if you’d like to, we got some pictures upstairs I don’t know whether you’d just kinda like to look at them, to see what they’re great big ones they been blown up. But uh I don’t know you’re wanting forties, if I’d a known, if I’d a (not audible), I would of really tried to rack my brain (laugh), but everything was reasonable, you didn’t, there, you’re money you didn’t make all that much money. I was trying to think what I made, I worked at the Foster Forbes, and I think I got around seventy-five dollars for a week. But that was in, I quit in sixty five, so see that tells you what there was nothing like it is today, even in sixty-five see that, that was not a very good salary, but I was working six hour shifts and when it was gonna go to eight that’s when I quit (laugh).
30:46 sp: You said your father was killed?
aw: uh huh, he um I think he went out of the house he was eighty nine, I think he went out of the house maybe and when you had to step down at the side of the road, um see that’s, our house was close to the road. He’s the only one that along there, well there may be a few others, the state tried their best so they could widen the highway out there and he, he would not give, he was gonna fight em, he was get an attorney, and all this stuff, and because it had to move the house, and he said they didn’t give him enough. Um four thousand I think is what they offered him, if I remember it, and that would be moving the house back, well you couldn’t even begin to touch anything today for four thousand. So that’s how things were still reasonable back then, but I do remember, and this is going before the forties, uh when that was a gravel, gravel road out there the old nine, and I could remember when they, when they built it the cement, um they had a little train that goes along and I forgot there’s a name for that, that would carry the um what the sand and everything they need to cement and I could remember that but I can’t tell you the year, but I maybe can give you some things in here you might want to they might want to or somebody else might know, and but my dad and even yet he owns out there he never widened it but the fella that bought the farm, then he did let em, then he did sell out to twenty six, going west going down to twenty six (not audible). He did and its set back but where the farm is the actual farm, its still the stakes is there. He never moved back. So if they ever want to widen that, why they’ll have to deal with whoever owns it now. But um talking about the prices that’s I was just going to say things um took a long time to get them where they’re at today. I told my son, I said my, I said I couldn’t hardly believe what he made you know and his pension, he gets, but he’s not got social security, see he won’t get that he has to be sixty two, and see he’s forty nine, fifty, (not audible), fifty two. So see it will be a while before he can get his pension, social security, but he can get the pension all right. Um.
33:15 sp: um. If there’s one word you can use to describe your life in the forties what would that be?
aw: In the forties, well as I said in thirty-eight, I got married, and our son didn’t come along for nine years. Um, I did work at the Farnsworth, where the um what do you call em Thompson's now, it used to be Farnsworth. Uh, it was located the same place where it is today for the, I worked there a while, but not very long, because every time I went to check a fuse or I don’t know its been so long, a battery, I got shocked. Every time, and it was making me nervous, so I didn’t last long, I quit, I think I must have been about nineteen then. And um, I was trying to think there was another place I went to a box factory and worked a while, and it was on the South Washington street in Marion, but I cant remember it , but I worked there for a while. Then I worked at um well its still over there, Anaconda wire and cable, and I worked there for about three years, I was trying to think I think my check was about forty dollars then, and um it had all be, but I quit there to go with my husband, I thought well I’ll travel kinda around with him, so I see I’m talking about the forties. Um, and he was stationed at Dyersberg, uh, well what’s the name, Dyersberg, there well it was an air force base, I guess Dyersberg Air Force Base and I was there with him for a while, then he went to Hampton, uh Virginia, and that’s where he, um, they sent him overseas from, was in Hampton, there in Hampton, Virginia. Uh, but I couldn’t stay with him very long cause he wasn’t there over three months or something like that. And uh, when he did go out to California for just a very long, I wanted to go and he says well you cant come out here because he said I signed a paper you wouldn’t be here, and they knew all the wives just went out there and that was the only thing, but I got to go to California later, so I, I was happy, years later. But uh, that’s my experience, and then the Foster Forbes was the last place and I worked there about um as I said seven, seven years, but I quit myself, because I didn’t want to work eight hours, and I, I thought I was working for Hitler, don’t, cut that out, don’t ever, don’t print that. I forgot. Because you couldn’t stop and they took the where you could eat on the layer as they called it, you packed bottles, beer bottles, or any kind of bottle, jug, and you could, it went slow enough that you could pick up a sandwich or you could drink coffee or you could drink pop, well they took that away from you, that privilege, and you couldn’t do that, well that sort of irritated me and it did a lot of others, so then when it was going to the eight hours I, I just up and quit.
37:03 sp: so this is forties too?
aw: uh this, yeah this is in the forties uh huh, yeah see cause I come back and uh I was working at Peerless of America, there in Marion when the war ended. So see after I left Anaconda, they wouldn’t hire me back because (laugh) they was irked at me, I reckon. And that’s uh, so then I ended up at well I quit there, when I quit at Anaconda, they wouldn’t hire me back then so then Peerless of America was the last place I really worked and uh they made them little Crosley automobiles the small ones, they made them there before they had the Peerless of America, and there’s history on that I know in the library and all that, on that little car. So after that why, and then I was in newspaper work after, after that I um worked for the Chronicle Tribune thirty years as a reporter for Fairmount, and I think I have to get this place on the map.
38:11 sp: Right, ok, well thanks a lot.