Personal narrative of Daisy Freeman
From: Daisy Freeman (df)
Medium: Audio tape
Date: Thursday, April 29, 1999 (Continued May 7, 1999)
Place: Home of Daisy Freeman, 800 E S B St. Apt. 6 Gas City, IN 46933
Collected by: Amanda Freeman (af)
0:00 af: I am Amanda Freeman. This is April 29th, 1999. This is being recorded at 800 E S B St. Apt. 6 in Gas City, Indiana. I am speaking with Daisy Freeman. Please state your name.
df: Daisy I. Freeman
af: Do I have your permission to interview you?
df: Yes, you do.
af: Do I have your permission to submit this interview to Marion High School?
df: Yes, you do.
af: Do I have your permission to submit this interview to the Marion Public Library?
df: Yes, you do.
0:30 af: Ok. What were the options open to a nineteen-year-old girl in 1940?
df: In 1940, the options, um, were you could go to school if your parents could afford to send ya, and, um, or marry.
af: And which one of those did you do?
0:51 af: Ok. Um. What forms of entertainment were there available in Marion?
df: Oh, in Marion, of course there’s always been basketball at the school, you know, Marion High School. Um, and entertainment at home was you could put a cylinder, what they called a cylinder. It was just round and just so long, you know, and you put that cylinder on and you wind up an ol' Victrol and you could sing with it, you could dance with it, as there was no television or anything at that time, but, uh, then we’d have a scream.
af: Did you listen to the radio?
df: And to the radio, of course. Mmhmm.
1:31 af: Were there any special rules or restrictions concerning dating or going out with boys?
df: Yes, let me know where you’re at, what you’re doing, and be home on time.
1:41 af: Ok. How was a young woman expected to dress in the 40s?
df: Oh, in the 40s, the dresses went from being short to long, long to short, it was the trend sorta changed if I remember correctly.
1:57 af: What was the popular music at that time? Or what did you listen to?
df: Oh anything, but, probably Bing Crosby, um, and uh, oh what was his name? I should be able to remember his name.
2:40 af: Ok, we’ll come back to that. Were there any special events in Marion that you participated in?
df: Oh, you mean, in school, outta school, after school? No, not too many. Always, was just kinda laid back I guess.
2:58 af: Ok. How was your life affected by the events of World War II?
df: Well, the events of World War II when, um, there weren’t as many women employed in the factories and things like that, and, of course, then they were because the government didn’t send you enough money for you and your family to live on. You had too supplement your income. So, that’s primarily when women went to work in, um, majority.
3:32 af: Where did you work at?
df: I worked at, uh, Essex Wire out on 26th and Adams Street. I was a patcher.
af: What was it like working there?
df: It was ok. It was an experience. I had never been in a factory before in my life and we, uh, plastic rubber was hard to get, so, they went from coating of rubber on wiring to plastic, so, we patched that. We were patching wire for airplanes.
4:07 af: What was life like in Marion after the war?
df: After the war, things were in Marion, started to become in Marion, like, other places had been. You know, things began to pick up. Um, depression was coming to an end and things were becoming more prosperous than before.
4:34 af: Um, how was life during the depression? Were you affected by it?
df: Well, yes, I was affected by it. My mother passed away at that time and left my dad with three children and at that time, uh, my good father had worked with Insulated Wire, which was later to become Anaconda and he had worked there for years, but, uh, I’ve seen him go out and hunt a job and have soles on the bottom of his shoes when he’d start out and come home and have to put cardboard in ‘em in order to go out and work the next day. Work was just not available at that time. Things were not very pleasant. You could, groceries were, of course, a lot cheaper then what they are today, but the average person didn’t have the money to buy. So you bought the necessities and you did without the other frivolous things, then, um, so that’s just kinda the way it was.
af: Did you you ever have any shortage of food or anything else?
df: My father always, it might’ve been beans or potatoes or something to this nature, but there was always food and we always had a warm house to stay in, but, things were not too easy especially for a father who was left as a widow with three children like my father was. And there was not social security to supplement a man or woman in those times. That, that came after the war when F.D.R., I believe, was president, which, you know, today one or the other parent passes away and you have underage children, uh, social security does kick in to some amount and back then that was not available. So, times were just a little bit rough, I’m sure. (Inaudible)
6:38 af: Do you, were you, did you know anyone that was involved in World War II?
df: Oh, yes. Uh, probably every man in my dad’s generation, that were friends of his, or family and, uh, and you said World War II?
df: Sure. My brother-in-law lost a brother-in-law in World War II and every family, possibly every family, had somebody in the war, in World War II. After about 1930, in the late 30s, the depression was coming to an end and the, uh, country all over as a whole was becoming somewhat more prosperous, so, uh, living was becoming was becoming just a little easier. Things were becoming more modernized. Places that didn’t have electricity in their homes or inside bathrooms and things like that. All of those things began to take form, so, things really changed after the war. And up to this time it seems to have grown, continue to prosper and grow. So, I’m sure, like my father, that really participated in those times was glad when those times were over and become better.
8:11 af: Were there any forms of segregation in Marion at that time?
df: I would say that there was probably a form of that, but, it didn’t seem like it was that many problems in the school or if they went to school together and they worked together and it seemed like that people got along. I believe, I believe they got along better back then than they do today. I really do. I suppose it was there, but, I guess you didn’t go home and things like that weren’t discussed I guess too much because you all went to school together and you played games together and you done things together. And then after school was out everybody went their separate ways and went home.
9:14 af: So, how was it being a young woman employed in Marion?
df: It was great. I, um, as I said, I worked out at the wire mill, um, making, um, fixing wire for airplanes during World War II and I probably had some of the nicest bosses and, um, always tried to get to work and and give eight hours work for eight hours pay and I did very well.
af: How much did you get paid?
df: Well, I think, when I started it was about, um, probably sixty cents an hour. So, it wasn’t very much, but, even then, with those wages, um, pork chops were cheap and a loaf of bread was about a nickel or a dime, you know, and you could get about eight pork chops for a quarter and things like that. So, if you found a quarter, um, you know, um, you got along.
af: Were you ever treated differently because you were a woman?
df: Absolutely not.
10:25 af: Ok. Tell me a little bit about when you got married.
df: Well, when I got married I went to Anderson and was married. And, uh, I had an aunt and a cousin that stood up with us to be married. It was no fancy wedding. And, uh, come back and my in-laws had a big shower and everything and Belvis and they threw, there used to be a big tank out by, uh, Callamara’s drug store on the corner of Bradford and Washington and, uh, it was like a horse trough and, um, Belvis and then my husband went in that trough and practically drowned him that night, but, it was a fun time. The neighbors come out and his friends come out and our friends all came out. It was a good time. So, (laughs).
11:27 af: What was being a mother like in the 1940s?
df: Oh, probably like it is today. Uh, baby food and bottles and everything like that was available. We had cloth diapers. Um, Pampers and things such as this that women have today weren’t available then, but, um, it was an enjoyable time if you had a healthy baby and, and, um, such, it was a happy time. So, uh, it was pretty much then like it is now, I guess. Things have just become more modern, (laughs), you know? I guess we didn’t know what a Pamper was then and we didn’t know what Pull-ups were at that time or anything like that. Baby bottles and baby food and things like that were always available. So, things have remained pretty much the same. (Inaudible)
12:44 af: What about their schooling?
df: Well, um, all the kids have had high school educations and I had, um, one daughter that went on to Ball State and, um, she was a teacher here in Grant County School System for thirty-two and a half years at Kendall School and, um, so, life’s been good to the kids. Life’s been good to us because of the kids.
13:12 af: What school did you go to?
df: Marion, Marion schools. Like Emerson, went to Clayton Brownley and McCullough, Emerson, Marion High.
af: And did you participate in any extra curricular activities?
df: Oh, yes. Volleyball and anything I could sing in I used to do. I always enjoyed fun times at school. Yes, and, um, but, those are primarily what I functioned in. Give me a volleyball game and I’d be in the front row. (laughs).
13:47 af: Do you remember Pearl Harbor Day?
df: Yes, I do. Um, on Pearl Harbor Day, um, believe it or not a, um, cousin of mine were sitting in the theater and, um, we came out and it was all over every place the war had broke out and the only thing you could do was cry. It was a very emotional day. And, uh, I think another day that was very emotional was when John F. Kennedy was shot and I was going through, uh, lunch break that day, and, uh, I remember eating my lunch and I thought how horrible this is that we would assassinate a president. So, that’s what I was doing when that happened. I was on a lunch hour and then when World War II ended, um, this town went wild. It was absolutely wild. And down where the old, um, I think it was Woolworth, used to sit on the corner of Washington and, um, 4th Street, there across from First Federal now. Which I believe that building’s vacant now. But we went in to that end and oh my garsh there’s rocks being throwed and I remember that glass bein’ knocked out and those, I mean people went wild. People were huggin’ and lovin’ and there were people you’ve never seen before and you didn’t feel like you’ve ever seen before in this town, but, everybody was just so jubilant (laughs) that that war had come to an end and it seems like a long time ago in years, but, it seems like a shorter time, you know. That was, that was a night that it wasn’t safe to be on the street. And where was I at? I had to be jubilant, too. I was downtown.
af: So, what did you do on that day?
df: On that day, I stood and watched everybody else and I came home. I thought, I never seen, I have never seen anything like that before in my life, but, it was a time to be happy and play.
16:07 af: So, did things get better after that?
df: Pardon me?
af: Did things get better after that?
df: Yes, uh huh. Mmhmm.
af: How so?
df: Well, work began to pick up and, uh, all the towns became, were becoming a little more prosperous, and, so, things, yes, were getting better. Not all at once, but, they did over a period of time.
16:34 af: Did your life become better after the war?
df: Yes, my life became more modern and you got a place where you could have enough money, enough time that you could buy a home and you could buy a car. Things like that. Yes, things became prosperous enough that you could go forward financially in a lot of ways.
16:51 af: Do you remember the hanging that occurred in Marion?
df: Yes, I do, um, um, they went down, it was always my understanding to the city jail and, oh, (pause) and, um, what I remember of that is that, um, um, it happened here on the (inaudible) road that fell on a girl ran a car and they wound up, uh, you know with the I think the girl’s name was Ball and the fella’s name was I believe Deeter and, uh, they hung ‘em right down on the square and, um, and, um, as far as racial tension and things like that in there I don’t think there was, but at that time it, it probably would have, you probably would have thought that’s what it was because the fellas they hung were black and the girl that, um, was murdered was white. So, that was more or less maybe some what of a racial tension.
18:12 af: What was Marion High School like in the forties?
df: Oh, Marion High School in the forties, I’m sure was a lot different than what it was today, but, um, I think students respected teachers and, uh, maybe more so and I don’t say that about everybody, but, um, when you went to school your teacher was your teacher. You went, you respected her above, him or her, above all and you pick up a paper today where somebody’s made a pass at a teacher, an unkind pass and that that would have never happened back in my days I don’t believe and not only that, but you had an average parent if that ever happened at school you’d pay for it when you got home. It just wasn’t allowed.
af: Was the high school famous for anything when you went there? Sports or other things?
df: Sports and, and I think that if, uh, if anybody wants to go to Marion High School and learn I think that it’s a wonderful place yet today to go. So.
19:22 af: What were the hangout spots for teenagers?
df: Drive-ins, drive-in movies, and, uh, things like that. Course the average individual at the high school never had a car and you didn’t take dad’s car, you know, you just didn’t have a car. So, you were lucky enough when somebody in the crowd had a car where you might go to a drive-in movie.
af: Did you have one?
df: No, I did not.
af: Did you ever go to Custer’s Last Stand?
af: What was that like?
df: Oh, it was just another drive-in. Just put your order in and a lot of kids used to drive around there for to look, you know, see who was there. It was a good place to to go.
20:04 af: Is there anything else about life in the forties in Marion that you want to talk about?
df: Well, uh, we hadn’t talked about the mode of transportation or anything like that, but, back then you could ride street cars for a nickel. You could get a transfer to go, like if you went from the downtown to west you got to the west one to go south. You could get a transfer and you still ride on that same nickel, and, uh, downtown Marion on Saturday night, used to that would be, you would run into families, and you’d run into families with their kids and stuff like that and it was usually a pretty nice place to say hello and and see people a lot of times that you hadn’t seen in a while. It was more family oriented. So, that was a typical downtown Marion evening really at that time. And, um, the automobiles, of course, were model T’s and model A’s and no automatic automation 21:23 on those and, um, things were just a lot different. Of course the town growed and there’s a lot of changes been made and during then when they went into, uh, the World War Two, um, and into things like that why I think every home has, uh, part of the family there, either a son, um, son-in-law or maybe the father of the homes something like that, but I think there was very few towns that were homes during World War Two that wasn’t some how or another connected to the war. And of course, Wendel Ray Hurley was, um, was, uh, in the navy and he’s in the memorial in Hawaii now. He was one of them that never got off the ship and I don’t know how many men or how many people are still in that ship, but, uh, there was a lot of lives lost there and everything and I had a brother-in-law killed in World War Two and, uh, he was giving a buddy, um, instrument, uh, lessons. He had passed his and when they got up there the boy froze to what they called a stick, when he was trying to get his instrument hours in he froze to the stick and killed both of them. So, uh, but that happened on this side of the water, you know, it happened in by Texas and, um, course when World War ended, uh, this town went wild. It was not a safe place to be, I’ll tell you, everybody was so elated that times were going to change and everything like that. So, um, the depression really started in 1929 and there was a lot of years, it took a lot of years of recovery there and, uh, of course when, uh, um, when the war ended and after the depression was, you know, getting better, um, why they quit making a lot of merchandise that you used for households and things like that. So, after the, or during the, after the war was over and during that time why then they started making stoves, refrigerators and, see during the war you couldn’t even buy a tire. That’s when, uh, Thomas Edison and and, uh, Mister Ford and some of them were trying to engineer something that would take the place of rubber for tires and that’s when reet treads and things like that all came out, but you couldn’t buy a new tire and, uh, so there’s a lot of things happened during those times and by the 1937s and 38s things like that things began to get a little better.
24:34 af: Did any advancements take place for women?
df: Yes, there was a lot of women never worked in factories and things like that and I for one had to work in a factory and I patched wire for the airplanes and that’s what Anaconda and Essex Wire and such did here. They had these big vulcanizers and had these lines for this runs down, you know, so, when you come to a piece on the wire that was had a hole you patched it and the machine would stop and blow and, uh, then it went on into a great big tank test in a water tank to test if your hole, if the holes you patched, the patching you did was gonna hold and, uh, so, there was, they were, uh, fooling around a lot then with plastic. That’s when plastic began to take a hold ‘cuz we were patching plastic because there just was not rubber, you know, to, uh, to put on tires and things like that.
25:39 af: Did living through the Depression and World War Two make you a stronger person?
df: Yes, it did.
df: Um, as I said, I’d never worked in a factory or anything like that. So, I worked in a factory and because the government didn’t pay you enough money to supplement an income for you to live. So, yes, it was beneficial. Um, women did not work and do a lot like that other than maybe professionals. Um, women just were not in factories and things like that and after that, why, women went out, course when the war was over, if you were working in a man’s place in this factory, when he come back the job was him, was his. They held his job for him if he preferred to come back and go to work there. So, that was a good thing, too. So, the average man come home, if he lived through the war he had a job when he come home. So, women just left the factories to a big degree because the men still had first priority on their jobs when they came back.
26:53 af: How was kids’ life different than they are now?
df: Well, kids’ life were was different in a lot of ways when it comes to dress. Um, you kids today have much more abundance of clothes and washing was still pioneering almost and we had the old cradle washes where you washed on a wash board and now with the automation of the, of the automatic washing machine and dryers and things like that, but the average kid today has more clothes than his parent ever had when he went to school and it wasn’t an item, you just as long as you went to school clean it wasn’t an item was the way you dressed, but you did have a lot less than what you have today. You could buy a pretty nice dress for two dollars and ninety-nine cents and a pair of hose is that today nearly and, uh, shoes, everything was a fraction, of course, than what it is today, but people weren’t making the money in the manufacturing industry and things like that now, that they do now because the wage level wasn’t as such, you know. So, there’s been a lot of changes and I think a lot of them’s for the better.
28:21 af: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
df: Well, nothing I can think of right at this moment.
af: Ok, thank you for letting me interview you.
28:33 df: Ok.