Interview: Earl Gottschalk (eg)
Medium: Audio and Video tape
Date: Friday, April 3, 1998
Place: Home of Earl Gottschalk, 2606 Beech Lane, Marion, IN 46952
Collected by: Robert Lucas (rl)
rl: Alright Mr. Gottschalk. Will you please sign this consent form?
eg: What am I consenting to?
rl: Well, if you’ll read up here this gives, this says we have permission to do this interview. Sign right here, on that line. Okay, thank you. Will you please state your name, the date, and our present location?
eg: Earl B. Gottschalk, 4-3-98, location at 2606 Beech Lane, Marion, IN
rl: Okay, and do you give your consent to be videotaped for this interview?
rl: Do you consent that I could transfer this... transfer this interview onto an audio tape?
rl: Is it okay if I use this interview and if my teacher uses this interview in my US History class?
rl: And is it okay for this interview to be placed in the Marion Public Library?
rl: Thank you. Would you briefly describe your family life during the period 1940 to 1950?
eg: My family life from 1940 to 1950 is kind of variable in this respect, number one, I was single in 1940 through July of '43. I got married in July of ‘43 and was married from that point on. In 1946 we had our first child, a daughter, in September 12th of 1946, and in November, the 29th, of 1949, we had our son, and my life as far as family life is concerned is explained in those remarks, however my life changed considerably in the period of World War Two from 1942 to 1946.
rl: What were some of the um... could you describe what life was like before the war and then how the war... how you think the war affected your family life?
eg: First of all, in 1942, 1942 or '3, as I said a moment ago, I was single and I worked for Paranite Wire and Cable, which was a division of Essex Wire Corporation and I was in Jonesboro, Indiana as purchasing agent for the local corporation as well as several plants throughout the corporation. And from oh about 1941 on through to the actual happening of the United States participating in World War Two, we were preparing and getting set up for the war effort in many ways.
rl: And then when you did get married in 1943, and that changed... changed your life a lot, and how did you think that ... what kind of effect the war had on getting married? Did it make it more difficult?
eg: Not really. Of course we had stamps that we had to use for this and that. Both food and gas and cream and tires and so forth, and my wife was a Minneapolis girl and when I married her up in Minneapolis in July of 43. I moved her down shortly thereafter and it was a little of a problem for her to get used to Marion, Indiana.
rl: Definitely. And then when you went on to have your two children, how do you, how do you think... how do you think-
eg: Well, I’ve always said this from that period of time and I’ll say it as old as I am, that when the first child comes along, your life change is tremendous. And your actions and things that you do completely are changed, and with the second one came along 27 months later, of course just capped the size and change of the first go-round in September of '46.
rl: Uh, what special problems do you think you had, or any special elements of raising a family during this period as opposed to what people might... as opposed to what people might have today?
eg: well, that’s pretty hard to compare, that the situation that were, that were in... well how do I want to say it? The situation that we had to work with in 1943 with everything in short supply, and for example, it wasn’t true in our family, but I had a friend who had a daughter that was allergic to milk and they had to get bananas for her diet and that was a problem, very much a problem, during the war, and there were a lot of thing during the war that you had to be short of and that you had to watch your usage of, and it was a different life.
rl: Okay, you mentioned earlier the work experience you had during the war. Could you go into that a little bit more?
eg: Well as a purchasing agent, for all of the raw materials for our plant, they became short and tight the same as food and so forth, and uh we had some of them that were allocated. We had synthetic rubber that we used for rubber compounding for insulation on wire that had to be, it was allocated and you had to get your requirements in, and the government told you how many pounds you could have and um several other items were allocated at that period of time, that were hard to get
rl: So you mainly did the purchasing for this company, of raw materials?
rl: And what did this company um, what was the name of the company again?
eg; Paranite Wire and Cable.
rl: And what were some of the products?
eg: Products was all electrical conductors, and um the the... well I can say this, wiring houses, heater cords for irons, heater cords for toasters and that sort of thing in bulk was made for the people who made heaters, er, toasters and used the part and electricians (cough) excuse me, that wired the... remodeling old houses or were wiring new houses, though there weren’t many houses being built at that time.
rl: And so, a lot of the products that your company made went to the, were they used in the war effort?
eg: The used, the war effort products were field wire for an example. Field wire was the wire that they stretched all over the area where the battle was to be fought in communications, and we made millions and millions and millions of feet of field wire.
rl: So this was a very vital contribution to the war effort.
rl: Something that was very necessary.
eg: Right. An inspector for the signal corps lived in our plant when we were making the field wire to keep us on track of making good wire.
rl: Umm, You said, you told me that because you were working in this industry that you were given an exemption from the war, World War two. Could you describe this a little bit?
eg: Well the need of the products that we made in the war effort had to have people doing the jobs that were necessary to make these products, and I had been very necessary in getting the materials in the plant to make the products, therefore I was exempted.
rl: And you told me that there was another reason that you were given the exemption.
eg: Well the other reason, as far as health was concerned, physical shape, my left leg is smaller and shorter than my right due to an accident I had in 1929 in my senior year in high school, playing basketball. And I had a stiff ankle and a short leg.
rl: And so you weren’t...you weren't directly involved in the war. Did you have any relatives or friends that were?
eg: Oh, I had relatives and I had friends, sure.
rl: Um, what was it like-
eg: Well to give you an example of friends, I lived in an apartment house at 614 Branson Street in Marion, Indiana, and we had three other fellas in this apartment. And all three of the others went into the service, and I was there by myself.
rl: And were you able to keep any contact with any of these people?
eg: Oh, yes.
rl: How did you do that?
eg: Through letters.
rl: And they were get through regularly? Were there any family members?
eg: Well not close family members. My family was very small as far as members. I had first cousins and second cousins on both sides of the family, but to tell you exactly who now.... from World War Two, I just can’t remember. However, for your information, my grandfather, who was the father of my mother, who was the 10th child in a family of 11, their father was in the civil war. My grandfather.
rl: Umm. How did you feel about having this exemption. Did you expect to get the exemption?
eg: Well, I... I experienced I think it was either two or three times that the, the uh... the uh... person who was running the... Oh, what did they call it back then when then when they were enlisting and people were called up to serve for the service? I was called up for the in the... at the... the location where they physically checked you, and I was called up three times.
rl: So it wasn’t necessarily something that you were sure that you wouldn’t...
eg: Well I, yes I was pretty sure because of my situation. There were people in Marion who never knew what my problem was as far as being turned down for the draft, and they complained to the officer that the -- oh what did they call them back then... so just to satisfy the complaint they'd call me up.
rl: So did you experience any resentment from people who did go to the war?
rl: So everybody was pretty appreciative of-
rl: Um. Did you have any desire to go to the war?
eg: Well, I couldn't. With my physical condition I didn't have a desire to go to the war because I knew I couldn't, and I had a feeling of sympathy for those who had to go the the war. But I appreciated their going, because the job had to be done.
rl: What kind of attitude did you sense throughout the city of Marion to the war? Was it eagerly anticipated and did lot of people who did go to war want to go?
eg: I think that the attitude was 100 percent behind the war effort. When people got called up they were- well how can I?- an attitude of serving their country.
rl: And I would imagine during World War Two, with all of the friend and relatives you said were in the war, not all of them made it back. What kind of things did you do to cope with that, and the city in general?
eg: Well, that’s a hard question to answer in this respect. Fortunately I didn't have any close relatives who went to war and didn't come back. I had some close friends that went to the war and didn't come back. Sure, you miss them and sure you feel sorry for them and their relatives, but that’s a fact of life and you have to face it.
rl: You told me earlier that in 1941 you changed jobs, or at least transferred companies that you worked for. What...
eg: 1940. January 15th, 1940 I left left Anaconda Wire and Cable and went to work for Paranite Wire and Cable in Jonesboro.
rl: And were these two companies were similar?
eg: Oh yes.
rl: And the job that you did for them was...
eg: Same idea.
rl: What were the circumstances behind the-
eg: Change? To get more money.
rl: Okay. Um. What kind of activities did you pursue outside of work and in the community? As you told me before...
eg: As I told you at the outset. I was elected to the Young Republican chairmanship in 1938 and I was still a Young Republican during the early part of the war. Then I got the Young Republican Chairman and then I got promoted to the district Young Republican Chairman 5th district. And I was also active in the Chamber of Commerce as I told you, very active in that, and um for the rest of the ten years, I was elected to the city council in 1948 and I became very busy on city activities.
rl: Could you describe some of your responsibilities when you were with the city council and tell me what years?
eg: Well, let me say this as I’ve said in our previous comment before this tape was being made: I got so upset in attendance of their meetings as a member of the political committee of the Chamber of Commerce, on how the meetings were handled, the things that they were trying to do and not being able to get done. Their accomplishments were pretty nil and void, and the reason we got organized in 1948- we had a democrat mayor to work with, and he was one of the nicest gentlemen you ever want to work with, he was as interested as I was and the rest of the council members to make progress in the city. And I want to say this, that in those four years more things happened for the good of Marion in the way of new things doing, being done, than had ever been done in any four year period prior.
rl: Now that Democratic mayor you were talking about. What was his name?
eg: I knew you were going to ask that question. Well I’ll tell you, we’ll bypass that question for the moment and before we leave here I may have it in my mind, and you can write it down.
rl: Okay, If you think of it, just say something. (unintelligible) To jump back a little bit to an earlier part of the decade, what were the years you were involved with the Young Republicans?
eg: Young Republicans I started in 1938, and I think I started in 1936 with the Junior Chamber of Commerce, and I... whether you realized it or not, I was one of the six people on a committee that went to people in the city that we though might be interested in promoting the Marion Easter Pageant. The first performance was I think in the Easter time of 1937, and I was given the job as Matthew, the disciple Matthew, because I was young man, and I was Matthew for 50 years. When I was still a young man.
rl: And in what year did your involvement with the Young Republicans and the Junior Chamber of Commerce end?
eg: When I became 35 years of age.
rl: And what year was that?
eg: 35 and 40.... ‘47.
rl: 1947? So as you were still involved with those organizations during the war, what kind of war related things did these groups do?
eg: Repeat that question. Will you please?
rl: During... during the time that you were involved with the Young Republicans and the Junior Chamber of Commerce -- Is that what you called it? -- um, I, I would imagine that you were involved in some of the political issues, and I would guess that they had to do with the war. What-
eg: The Young Republicans were the organization below the adult Republican organization, and two things that we were interested in, basically, were getting young people interested in the Republican politics. Number two, electing Republicans at any election. Um, the Junior Chamber of Commerce is really designed, at that time Marion, Indiana’s Junior Chamber of Commerce was the first Junior Chamber of Commerce organization in the state of Indiana, and I don’t know whether it’s even active today, but it was for all those years I was in it and many years later, the oldest organization in Indiana because it was the first, and they are a training organization -- in those days at least. I can’t answer for their operation today -- but they were a training organization for young people between the ages of 21 and 35 to be good citizens, to be interested in local government, and to be working on committees to do things that needed to get done.
rl: So what were some of those things? Some of the activities that the Junior Chamber participated in?
eg: Well, one of the activities as I told you at the outset, was a committee in politics, that I attended the city council meetings for about five years. And the object was to learn about city government, and in doing so I found out that the councils that I had the opportunities to watch during all those years weren’t accomplishing what I thought they oughta accomplish.
rl: What were some the um, well, the things you thought they ought to accomplish, or the measures that weren’t getting passed?
eg: Well, for an example, um, all of the things that we, when we became council, and originally had six Republicans and one Democrat on the council. And the things that we passed when ... we passed building codes, for example, and we’d have building inspectors to enforce those codes. We had a restaurant code, and the health department enforced the health codes for restaurants, cleanliness and so forth. And um, there was any number of things that we got passed in those four years that moved the city of Marion a long ways.
rl: But before that, when you were an observer, you didn’t feel that the Chamber, er that the City Council was doing all they could?
eg: That’s right.
rl: So, could you tell me a little me bit about how you and the others decided to run for council, and a little bit about the election?
eg: Well, we ran... we ran on the basis that we thought we could accomplish some of these things that we (unintelligible) and um, needed in this community very much, and that was the objective of our running.
rl: And you said that you ran with other people. Who were the other people, or just how many?
eg: There were seven Republicans and seven Democrats on the ticket. Six Republicans got elected and one Democrat. That was for four years.
rl: And were all these um, were the Republicans mainly people who had... Were they mainly incumbents or were they...
eg: No, not a one of them. Every one of them was new to the business and all six of them were either in business for themselves or worked for businesspeople.
rl: And was the Democrat an incumbent?
eg: No, he was a new man and he won by two votes, and the Republican candidate who was defeated by two votes didn’t ask for a recount.
rl: So you think that the city of Marion was also as disappointed with the way the city was working as you were?
eg: They must have been, because they changed completely.
rl: Okay, and other than the political scene and you work and your family, what kind of leisure activities did you pursue in the decade?
eg: I started playing golf in '38. That’s about all the time I had. Uh, as far as recreation other than being active in the Easter Pageant all those years and being active in the Junior Chamber, then I became active in the Senior Chamber after that. Oh yes, in '40... '40... 1940 I became a member of the Fort Wayne Rubber and Plastics Group. That was the technical group, and our meetings were held in Fort Wayne. We had four meetings during the course of the year, and one golf outing. When I (unintelligible) back in' 42 or '43, I became a member of the Fort Wayne Purchasing Agents’ Association too.
rl: Okay, um... it says on this information sheet you gave me that one of your interests is church activities. During this decade were you involved in the church, and if so, what church?
eg: I was attending First Christian Church at 8th and Boots, in there at that time.
rl: And what kind of activities did the church...
eg: We had a young people’s group that I was president of. Oh, I think we had a membership of 40 people. 40 young people and an average attendance of about 35.
rl: And did the church structure a lot of activities during the time?
eg: Well, first Christian Church had the first Boy Scout troop in 19 something or other, and we... the scouting organization came along with the Cub Scout program in 1936, and they chose me as their Cubmaster. Had the first Cub Pack and I was the Cubmaster, and from that point on I was very active in and always have been active in scouting. I’m still active today in raising money for 'em.
rl: And you remained the Cubmaster?
eg: I remained the Cubmaster for quite a while, and then I was head of the Cub Pack, and then I was on the local committee, and I was president of that committee of the scouting organization in Grant County.
rl: Okay. What kind of involvement do you think the church had with the war? Did it... were they very separate, or was the church very involved?� eg: Well the church, as I recall right off hand, they made an effort to contact members of the church who were in the service, and members and ... and Christmas time and at holidays they sent them presents and cards and so forth, and I think that people... I think that there was a list of servicemen that they wrote to. Communicated.
rl: With all of the men that were in the war, what kind of hardships did that bring to the community?
eg: Well the labor market in this community was very tight and that’s when the women started working in Marion’s plants.
rl: Was your wife involved in any...
eg: No. When we got married in 1943, she worked for the Marion Community Schools... worked for the principal of Marion High School.
rl: What kind of responsibilities did she have, or...
eg: She was secretary to the principal of Marion High School for about three, four years, and in 19... 1952 we started building this house... 1951 we started building this house and we moved in in march of 1952, and in 1954 I believe it was, she went to work for Tulox Plastic. She wasn’t working after the children were born. From 1943 on, she didn’t work, and then she went to work in 1954, When they went to Mount Olive School out by the Mount Olive Church.
rl: Now you mentioned the high school. I realize you weren’t in school at this time, but what kind of activities do you know of that were going on at the high school, or any involvement you had with the school?
eg: Well, I didn’t have any involvement with the school personally. She was principal’s secretary and we attended a lot of the high school programs and so forth because of her involvement with the high school.
rl: Okay, I think I’ve covered the topics that I would like to talk about. Is there anything you’d like to add?
eg: No, other than to say that its been interesting working with you these last 30 minutes and I’ve enjoyed it immensely. It’s put a burden on my thinking a bit, trying to get things put together.
rl: I’ve enjoyed it very much too. Thank you.
eg: And I wish you all the luck in the world in your future activities and education. Keep up the good work.