Personal narrative of Pauline Marler
From: Pauline Marler (pm)
Medium: Audio tape
Date: April 25, 1999
Place: Home of Pauline Marler, 908 Fenton Road, Marion, Indiana 46952
Collected by: Chad Lau (cl)
00:00 cl: I am Chad Lau. This is the 25th of April 1999. This is being recorded at 908 Fenton Road, Marion, IN 46952. I am speaking with Mrs. Pauline Marler. Please state your name, Mrs. Pauline Marler.
pm: Pauline E. Marler
cl: Do I have your permission to interview you?
cl: Do I have your permission to submit this interview to Marion High School?
cl: Do I have your permission to submit this interview to the Marion Public Library?
- 1 Oral History of Pauline Marler
- 1.1 Schooling
- 1.2 Entertainment: Movies, Bicycling, and Matter Park
- 1.3 Marion Easter Pageant
- 1.4 Marion High School's Easter Parade
- 1.5 Church
- 1.6 Streetcars
- 1.7 Halloween Tricks
- 1.8 Racial Attitudes and 1930 Lynching
- 1.9 FDR's New Deal
- 1.10 World War II
- 1.10.1 Declaration of War
- 1.10.2 Rationing
- 1.10.3 Women's Contribution
- 1.10.4 Bond Drives
- 1.10.5 Troop Trains
- 1.10.6 Working at Anaconda
- 1.10.7 Emotional Impact of the War and the Atomic Bomb
- 1.10.8 Impact of War on the Medical Field
- 1.10.9 The G.I. Bill
- 1.10.10 Migrants and POWs at Snyder Ketchup Plant
- 1.10.11 First Use of Penicillin at Marion General Hospital
- 1.10.12 Transportation and the Black Market
- 1.10.13 Hobo Haven
- 1.10.14 Back to Normal with Thankful Hearts
Oral History of Pauline Marler
00:34 cl: First, please tell me about your parents.
pm: My mother and father were happily married for ten years, and then my father was killed in an auto accident. My mother never remarried and we lived on South Meridian Street and, at that time, the street wasn’t paved. And we had a big garden and a large apple orchard and all sorts of fruit trees and chickens we raised. And, of course, that enabled us to help through the Depression years of eating and so forth. And we did a lot of canning and that sort of thing.
pm: I went to a school for the elementary school at Emerson on South Washington Street, and now it is gone. I went to middle school, which is McCulloch Junior High School, which is still in operation. And then I went to Marion High School for my high school years, and that was on Nelson Street before they built the new high school. There were 333 in my graduating class in 1943. And, um, at that time, of course, war had been declared, and all of the fellows signed up to go to service, volunteered.
02:04 cl: Could you describe Marion High School and your experiences there when you were growing up?
pm: Yes, Marion High School was a great deal of pleasure and, uh, every class was much larger than any that I had attended before. And, um, Mr. Kendall was our principal at that time, and everybody called him Pop Kendall. They all liked him. He’d roam around the halls and speak to the children and, and, um, we had some wonderful teachers and we did a lot of activities, uh, in school but not anything like it is today. We had girl reserves, and there was a YWCA group for girls that we joined. And, um, they had gym; they played basketball, and in the school itself, they had the gym—it wasn’t very big.
But, um, kids never caused the problems that they seem to have today. There was no disciplinary problem as such; maybe a few would be late to school or they’d chew gum in class or talk and be sent to the dean’s office but, and in which case, you had to come in the next morning a half-hour early before class and study in front of the dean. But it was, I don’t know, everybody was very friendly and you didn’t see very many fights at all and nothing at all in the school itself—very different.
Of course there was music and, uh, instrumental teaching, and mainly the courses were, uh, if you planned to go to college and had the money to go to college, then you could take a college course. You didn’t have the extracurriculums to choose from; you didn’t have the choices of subjects to choose from. And if you didn’t, if your folks didn’t have the money to go, and that was more, uh, common than not because of just emerging from the Depression, and, uh, then you took the straight business course no matter how many years of, of, arithmetic you had before. But you learned typing and that sort of thing, and, uh, there was no business machines as such to learn. You just basically learned typing and secretarial skills like that, nothing like today. You have to realize we had the radio, we didn’t have television, and, uh, we uh, uh, we didn’t have the recreational facilities that they have today.
Entertainment: Movies, Bicycling, and Matter Park
pm: There were four movies in town, and, uh, that took up a good bit of time, on weekends, especially. And, um, the kids usually, when they were freshmen, er, juniors and seniors, then they tried to get a part time job to help out a little bit with their spending money because you didn’t get a lot of spending money from home. And, um, we worked sometimes on weekends, like Friday night and Saturdays, at a drug store or a soda fountain. There were several ice cream places in Marion, and that was a good place to work 'cause you got some ice cream.
05:20 cl: What sorts of things did you and your friends do for leisure and entertainment.
pm: Well, we rode our bicycles and, uh, rode to Gas City and Jonesboro, and those places seem far away. And it wasn’t traveled like it is now, mostly, uh, down by the River Road; they didn’t have the highway like it is today. And, um, we would go to the movies downtown. You had your choice. There was the Luna Lite; that was a nickel or a dime, I forget which. And the Lyric played reruns, and that was fifteen cents. The Paramount, which was on Washington Street, and, um, the Indiana Theater was on Adams Street. And, um, they were just, just heavenly movies, very big, and the balconies, and, uh, quite elaborate, uh, décor with box seats, you know, on the sides and so forth. And they had stage shows every Saturday night, uh, even when I was much younger before I got to high school. Every week, they’d bring, every week they’d bring in different, uh, groups to perform on stage. And you would sit there and you’d watch the Movie Tone News and, uh, then you’d watch the cartoons with Tom and Jerry or Mickey Mouse and Popeye and then, uh, you would see, every Saturday they would have a serial for kids and you’d see a preview of what was coming the next week like Flash Gordon or something like that or Dick Tracy. And, uh then you saw, uh, there was always two movies, double feature, and you could sit through both of them twice if you wanted to on one ticket, you know (laughing). And, they had popcorn, and a few concessions, but, uh, there wasn’t a lot of eating in the theater like there is today.
And also, one of the biggest things, they had ushers. In fact, my husband, when he was in high school, he was an usher in the theater; it was one of his jobs. And, um, he worked after school and on weekends. And, um, they would have their flashlight and they wore little uniforms and they would take you down to about where you wanted to go in the theater to sit and shine their flashlights so that you could see to get in in front of people. And if people were talking or putting their feet up on the seat, the usher came down and asked them to please stop; and if he had to come again, they were ejected from the theater. They just didn’t put up with things like that.
And, we would go out to Matter Park, and, um, we’d swim. They had this huge, big swimming pool out there at that time, and that was a favorite gathering place. And, um, to walk from my house in South Marion out there, it was over five miles one way, but it was always fun because the gang of us would walk together. And, uh, we’d usually stay all day out there, not just in the pool, but they had a wonderful playground area with all the latest rides on it, not mechanical, or that you had to pay for it, you had to work ‘em yourself. But it was a lot of fun.
Marion Easter Pageant
08:45 cl: I see. And today, the Easter Pageant is still around. Could you describe that a little bit?
pm: Yes, the Easter Pageant was established I believe in 1937, and, uh, it was much, much bigger than it is now. And the décor itself and the scenes were different then. They, to me, in my mind now, seeing both of them, I think they were much more authentic back then. They were, um, more elaborate, and, um, the noise, when Christ was in the garden praying and the thunder rolling, you know, and at the crucifixion and the light and everything, all of that was done by hand backstage. It wasn’t recorded. And the choir was much bigger, much, much bigger. Josephine Davis conducted the choir for years and years. She was a doctor’s wife. And, it was just a lot of fun, and the kids were just thrilled to death to participate in it. Oh, and also, speaking of the Easter Pageant, that’s performed in the Coliseum, just like it is today, and only during the war years was it discontinued.
Marion High School's Easter Parade
pm: But, um, we also, when we were in high school, they had what was called the Easter Parade. And, uh, the senior class nominated and elected the most popular girl in the class and it was a very formal affair and she was named the Easter Queen for that year. And they had this huge, huge performance then for when she was crowned and so forth and the runners up, you know, with their formals and presented with flowers and it was very elaborate and there was a big dance afterwards. So it was a lot of fun.
10:48 cl: That’s interesting. And then, about church, church’s status, could you tell me a little bit about church life?
pm: Well, at that time, I went to the First Baptist Church downtown; that’s closed now, you know; they built a new one across the street, but it was such a beautiful old building. And, uh, I remember, this goes back before I was in high school, or even before I was in middle school, what they called junior high school, but, my brother was baptized there at the Baptist church. And I had never seen a baptism performed before. And, um, I knew that he was going to be baptized and that didn’t bother us and my mother had talked to me about it because my father was dead and so it was just my mother. And, um, so we all talked about it, and I was very, very comfortable there. And, when I saw them pull the curtains for the baptismal area, and you couldn’t see the water, and when I saw them put him under the water, I was afraid they were going to drown him and he wouldn’t come up and I remember just sitting there practically terrified. (laughing). I didn’t know what was going to happen. But it was just fine. (laughing)
But, uh, church at that time, uh, was really terribly important to people. And, uh, there was very few that really questioned their faith. There was, of course, we had Baptists and Catholics and, um, the Presbyterians. And I used to walk down Branson Street, and St. Paul’s church was there at that time before they built this one out here. And, it was such a beautiful church on the inside, very elaborate, and the carvings and the candles and all. And, um, none of the churches locked their doors, ever. And we used to often go into the Catholic church as we walked to town - just, just sat there in awe, you know, because it was so different than our church. And it was just lovely. But, um, church meant a great deal, and it meant more and more especially when war was declared. The churches were filled, and people didn’t hesitate to go and pray for their loved ones and for the country. It was a very harrowing time, and that was what got accomplished.
13:32 cl: Could you describe the streetcars in Marion?
pm: Yes, uh, we had streetcars that went to every point of the city as far as the city limits and then they turned around and came back and they cost a nickel to ride. They had, um, you could stop at every corner, you know; I mean all you had to do was step off the curb, and they would stop for you and open the door. Every railroad crossing they came to, they stopped; the conductor got off, got out in front of the streetcar, and looked to see if the train was coming one way or the other. And then we proceeded on. And the streetcars, they had, it was hooked to the electrical current up on top of the car. And, um, when they wanted to turn around when they got to the end of that point, they would get out and get ahold of this big rope or chain, whatever it was, and turn that pulley around and hook it back on the wire up there so they could continue. They ran on tracks like railroad tracks, only they were embedded down in the street. They weren’t so high. And, um, Marion was just a criss-cross of trolley tracks, you know.
And, um, they had wooden benches on them, that you could, had handles on, and you could pull on the handle and reverse it when they turned around. Or if you wanted to sit facing your friends, you could reverse the seats, you know; the backs moved back and forth so that you could sit one way or the other. And, um, well, let’s see, they took you just about any place you wanted to go, and that’s what our transportation was - either that or our feet or our bicycle because we didn’t have a car. My mother didn’t have a car. And, um, I don’t think, did I say that my father was killed in an accident? Yes, so, we never had a car after that. And, um, if you wanted to transfer, like if you got on the streetcar at what was called then the Soldier’s Home, it’s now the Veteran’s Administration and it’s located in the same place, but if you got on the streetcar there, you could ride downtown. And, then, if you wanted to go to West Marion, you asked for a transfer, and you got on the West Marion streetcar. So you could transfer anyway you wanted to go.
This is not very nice to say, but we had a lot of fun doing it. There were several boys that lived in our neighborhood, too, that we all played and rode our bikes, fooled around, played ball and everything together. And on Halloween, you didn’t go trick-or-treating then; we didn’t know anything about the treats, but, uh, we did play tricks. (laughing) And the streetcars, they always had to stop at the railroad track, and, of course, we always, we’d go for the railroad track. And, it was about six blocks from our home, and we’d walk up through that area and wait behind bushes until a streetcar came along. And then the boys would get out and get ahold of the pulley and turn it around and pull it off, and sparks would just fly at the top. And the conductor would open the door again and get out and go back and hook it back up, and he’d get back on. And they’d do this at least twice. And then the conductor was really angry, and he’d say he was going to chase them. Well, of course, we ran off. Wasn’t very nice though, but we enjoyed it and had fun doing it.
And we would take wooden spools that your sewing thread came on, and, um, we would carve little niches out all the way around on both ends of that spool. And then, we’d go to the house and put it up against a window and pull on the thread, and it would just sound like “Boing boing boing boing boing!”
Let’s see, what else did we used to do? We didn’t, we were not destructive, we didn’t ever destroy things. And, oh, this is not nice, either, but the boys, I never did it, but none of our boys did either but, um, I did hear that in some areas of the town, especially out in West Marion, it was called the Bucktown area, and it was known as a kind of rough area because the Malleable was there in Bucktown and it employed a lot of blacks and a lot of people that came up from Kentucky and Tennessee and the mountain region and they settled in that area out there. And it was called Bucktown, why, I’ll never know. But anyway, there was no sewers out there. In fact, there were no sewers out to the house where we lived either, when we were young, and, uh, you had an outside toilet. And, um, the boys on Halloween in Bucktown, many times they’d go around and tip the toilet over (laughter).
Racial Attitudes and 1930 Lynching
18:44 cl: Could you describe the segregation that was present in Marion at the time?
pm: Yes, Marion was definitely very segregated. And, I think part of that, this is my personal opinion, I think part of that is because of the lynching in Marion in 1930. And, um, that was most unfortunate. But, um, Marion has always remained segregated since that time. They [blacks] were not allowed to eat in our restaurants, stay in our hotel, they could not buy dresses off of the rack in stores, and it must have been extremely hard for them. And, you never saw black people, as we call them now, then, we called them colored people. And, um, we always referred to them if we respected them as Mr. So-and-So which showed a great deal of respect and admiration for what they had achieved or whatever.
One thing that happened during the war years that I remember distinctly, I was working at the Anaconda Wire and Cable Company at that time, and it, they were doing war production of wire. And, um, there had never been a black man employed in an office in Marion. And at that time, um, this, young black man, he was an IU graduate in business, very intelligent, very pleasant, nice looking, well-groomed, he and his wife were both college graduates from IU. And, the double, the NAACP got him a job in the office at the Anaconda and he worked in the payroll office where I did and that was the first time and it was on a trial basis. But it worked out very well. He became a superintendent down there. And he’s retired now, of course. But, um, that was interesting to me that they had to have an organization like the NAACP to get someone in like that.
But you never thought about, uh, now we did have a black doctor, Dr. Joseph Casey. Maybe that isn’t his first name, but there was a Dr. Joseph Casey, and he was a podiatrist and very, very well respected. And white people went to him and didn’t think anything about it.
But mainly it remained segregated. You couldn’t, uh, really say that they were welcomed in places. But they more or less lived to themselves, too. There was, uh, uh, communities that, uh, was called Weaver out around Western Avenue at that time, and, uh, we had several families that lived within our neighborhood school area because they went, too. We had three families that went to uh Emerson School, the grade school, and there were a few more that went to McCulloch and the high school. But they more or less stayed together themselves.
22:18 cl: Could you talk about the lynchings that you witnessed?
pm: Well, I was five years old at that time and, of course, I didn’t really know very much about what was going on but that night my father, uh, took my mother and I to town because everybody went to town. You know, that’s where all the big stores were and everything and so we drove to town and there was such a crowd of people forming and we got on Third Street right in front of the courthouse and the cars and the people - it was a mob, with a mob reaction. I remember it was, oh, it was so loud. And the street and the sidewalks and the doorways and the windows up above those stores were filled with people looking out and just crushed together. It was truly a mob. It was very scary. We couldn’t get out of the car. And, uh, that’s where those black men were hung on the trees directly across the street from us.
23:30 cl: The crowds showed a lot of signs of racial prejudice at the time of the lynchings?
pm: Well, I think there was an incident that happened out along, I believe it’s called Stone Road now. It’s along the river and supposedly they, uh, raped a white girl and beat up her boyfriend. They were on a date. And I don’t remember the whole particulars but that’s basically what was and, if a black man touched a white woman then, they you (inaudible) to town, you know.
And after that I do remember even when I went to school and I remember my, uh, brother who was older than I and my dad, uh, talked to me about that, if they were walking down the sidewalk and met a black man or a black person, they stepped off into the street. They didn’t pass you on the sidewalk. So it was, there was a lot of hatred at that time, I mean true hatred. And it’s a scary thing. It really is.
But we had a mailman that delivered mail to me for nineteen years from the time I was born until I got married and that, well, was twenty-one so I lived there at that one address all that time. And, um, he was just a very, very well respected and he never caused anybody any trouble and his two children were in class with me in school and very lovely people. And the last day of school, he had a swimming pool in his backyard that the colored people used. And the last day of school they always invited the class that the children were in to come and swim in the afternoon free. And most of them did, you know. But other than that it was basically for the blacks to go. I don’t believe they could go to Matter Park for too much swimming in the big pool. I’m not sure. I don’t remember very much about that.
FDR's New Deal
25:50 cl: Do you remember anything about Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal programs?
pm: One of the most important, I think, for young men was, uh, the establishment of the three C Camps that was a conservation camp that young men could sign up for and they lived in, uh, dormitory type things and they were responsible for rebuilding our state parks and establishing trails and stairways and that sort of thing. And, uh, we have excellent examples of that in our state parks here today. They were paid a small amount of money, but all of their room and board was free, of course. They worked hard, but there were very glad to get it because it gave them things to do that were constructive. And, uh, then that more or less ended when the war came when we were bombed at Pearl Harbor.
World War II
Declaration of War
pm: And on that Sunday, December the 7th, 1941, I remember so distinctly, we were getting ready to go to church,and, uh, they interrupted the broadcast for the announcement that World War II was declared. And it was utterly shocking. We knew that the Japanese had been invasion, invading China because I remember even at that time my dad talking about it before he was killed. He discussed the world affairs, of course, at dinnertime mainly. And, uh, he was very disturbed about the power the Japanese were building up, and he wasn’t really, uh, knowledgeable about everything that was going on because with just radio news and the newspapers that was it. But, anyway, when war was declared, then we were getting ready to go to church. I mean there was a lot of prayer and asking for guidance and, uh, uh, immediately we didn’t know what was going to happen to us, you know, and how we were going to cope because we were just getting out of the Depression, just getting to the point where you could see ahead a little bit.
28:18 cl: Did you buy and stock up on supplies as soon as you heard the war was declared?
pm: You couldn’t stock up on very much because everything was immediately rationed. And, uh, almost immediately you got coupons so that you could buy a certain amount of meat a month and sugar a month and flour and coffee. Coffee was, uh, mixed with chicory so that it uh had, uh, further use you know. But, uh, and if you used all your coupons, you were out. You just didn’t get any more until the next month. And, uh, clothes was rationed. Shoes were rationed. They just quit making shoes like we knew them to be and the shoes they did make for women especially and men, too, I’m sure. I remember for women, you always wanted to, you know, kind of dress up on Sundays and go to church or go to the movies with a date, and the shoes would only last three months. They had some kind of a composition sole that wore right through. But, uh, it was a hard time.
And everybody was encouraged to plant vegetable gardens. We had always had a very, very large garden including potatoes, corn, everything that you could possibly want. But by that time, even by the end of the that summer since it was December when war was declared, everybody was planning how they were going to build a garden, you know, and, uh, what they could do.
pm: Of course, the men left. They had volunteered and, if they passed the physical, then there were immediately taken into service. And, uh, uh, the ones who didn’t volunteer, if they were within the age group and I’m not sure what that age group was, I think it was, I’m not really sure, I don’t remember, but they were drafted so there was so few men left and women had to do all the things that men had done. Women had never worked in factories and things like that before. They were office workers, or they worked as nurses. And, of course, the doctors were gone, and the nurses were leaving too because, uh, the WAVES were established. And, uh, that was the U. S. Navy branch for women. And the WACS, the U. S. Army. The WACS were established for the Army for women and, uh, they served as secretaries, uh, to generals; they drove cars; they drove ambulances on the battlefields. Uh, our former Governor’s wife ferried, uh, bombers from, uh, the United States to England, and, uh, they did all sorts of things that no one ever thought that women could do.
But they also held home, held the homefront, which I mean they worked in the gardens and did everything working in offices, tooking, taking the jobs in factories. And, uh, I worked at the Anaconda, down on Eighth and McClure Street, and that was a large cable company making the cables for the government. Every plant in Marion converted to government products so that they could, uh, help the war effort. And if they couldn’t convert, they mainly went out of business because that’s where the contracts were all going was to, uh, the factories that converted for government.
pm: One thing, too, we had bond drives. And the bond drives were quite important because, uh, people bought U. S. government bonds to finance the war and then, as they matured, then you got back a little more than you had paid into them so that was very important, too, for everybody.
pm: And, uh, while I was working at the Anaconda, there was, uh, three or four railroads that went directly by the Anaconda, and, of course, we used them to loading our freight. But they were also served for troop trains and the troop trains would come through maybe sometimes filled with sailors, or sailors and soldiers and marines, or just soldiers. You never knew but every morning between 8 and 9 am, these troop trains would go through and, of course, everybody in our office would - we had the windows open because there was no air conditioning; it was hot; even in cold weather, we opened the windows - and everybody hung out the windows and waved to the soldiers and so forth. And the Red Cross or Salvation Army would serve coffee and doughnuts to the soldiers when the train stopped if they had to stop and change tracks or something. So it was, uh, a very united time. And I think that was really one of the main things that won with the war was how united the people were and willing to do everything and sacrifice everything to gain that victory.
Working at Anaconda
33:53 cl: Could you describe a few more working conditions at the Anaconda? Like the hours you had to work.
pm: I went to work at 7 am and, uh, we had a half an hour for lunch from 12:00 to 12:30 and, uh, then we worked until 5 o’clock. And, uh, this was, uh, at least five days a week, and on Saturdays we got off a little bit early. And we did get off, uh, on Christmas. But thanksgiving we worked, and we got an hour off for dinner. And, uh, there was a lunchroom that was right there on the property of the Anaconda. And I have to tell you it was all fenced in because, uh, they were very strict making sure that, uh, nothing was sabotaged.
And, uh, it was very hot simply because, uh, there was no air conditioning. We had a fan, small fans, and, uh, but everybody always dressed up. You wore hose; you were very, very well groomed when you went to work. You did not wear shorts, that’s for sure. Uh, the women that worked in the factory wore slacks, but you didn’t wear slacks to work in an office. You were well groomed, and you were taught that in high school, also.
Emotional Impact of the War and the Atomic Bomb
35:23 cl: How did you feel just knowing that the entire world was at war?
pm: Scared, really. And you didn’t, I guess you didn’t, have a great deal of, uh, anticipation about what was going to happen after the war. You were so concerned with the total effort of just learning your loved ones were all right or your friends were okay and supporting in that respect that, uh, it was such a time of uncertainty. It was almost as if you better live today; you may be gone tomorrow. And that was the case and, uh, some people, I mean, they didn’t make it. And some of my friends didn’t make it, and that’s always very, very crushing. And when that happens, everybody is concerned with you, you know, and offers support in that respect.
36:27 cl: After the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, did you begin to fear a possible nuclear war?
pm: No, I don’t think anything. I don’t think our generation, I’m speaking now of my age group and the twenties, in their twenties, teens and twenties, I don’t think they thought about a nuclear holocaust. And, uh, I don’t think we knew enough about the atom bomb to even know the capabilities of it. We knew they dropped it. But you can’t really comprehend what happened to Japan when they dropped that bomb. All we were concerned about was stopping the war and getting our people home. That’s what we wanted. We were tired.
37:17 cl: So what was the first reaction that went through your mind and others when the bomb was dropped?
pm: We weren’t told that the bomb was dropped. I don’t remember that we were told exactly that the bomb was dropped, what it was, the destruction that was caused. What I remember, is that the news flash came on the war ended and that everybody was so elated. And, uh, everyone ran downtown and or got downtown some way or just filled the streets pounding pans, shooting off shot guns or hunting guns or BB guns even - anything to make a noise because they were so grateful. And the churches were filled with people thanking God that the war was finally over. It’s, it’s hard to describe, you know. You experience so many emotions, and they all seem to just flood right up to the surface. Even now.
38:22 cl: And did you have any relatives in the war?
pm: Uh, I had cousins in the war. But, uh, they were in, one of them was injured, but they were all right. They did come home, but, uh, I lost several close friends in the war. And, uh, several boys that I had dated in high school that we were friends, we weren’t serious but we were good friends, they were injured, and that’s always very devastating. And one of them lost a foot which was very bad. But, uh, my husband was in the Navy and, uh, of course, I was extremely concerned about him. And, uh, he was a submariner in the Pacific, and he was in the Sea of Japan when, uh, the war ended.
And, uh, he never talked very much about the war. But I know that there was a sailor on the USS Tilefish, that was his ship. He was a radioman and, uh, the sailor had been on the Arizona when it was bombed and he had such a horrible hatred against the Japanese so they transferred him to the submarine while they were in Hilo, Hawaii, and, uh, he’d only been with them a few months and one of the jobs of the submariners was, if they sunk a ship, they were supposed to surface and pick up survivors. And this one time when that happened, uh, they surfaced and there were a few survivors but before they could get them, this fellow, they all had 45’s strapped on them, every one of them the submariners, and he took his 45 and killed all of them before they could be rescued. He just shot them. Well, he was transferred off again immediately. I mean he just, he couldn’t handle it, you know. So horrible things happened.
40:32 cl: I’m sure it was really tough to see your loved ones and close friends going off to war.
pm: It was awful. It really was. And when they came home, I remember the first time that Bob came home for leave. He sent me a telegram saying that he was would be in Chicago and he’d catch the train that came from Chicago on the Pennsylvania line, uh, to Marion and it arrived at 2 o’clock in the morning. There was two trains a day that came and went. And, uh, I remember I went to my neighbors earlier (inaudible. She had a telephone. And, uh, I called a cab and asked him to be at my house at 1 o’clock so I could go down because Bob wanted me to meet him at the station. And, uh, it was so jammed with people, with people you know there to meet soldiers that came in or sailors. And I couldn’t get the taxi driver, could not get across the tracks to let me off where I was supposed to be. So he drove around the block and took me on the back side, and I had to get out there and then walk across the railroad tracks a half a block away and then walk down to the station so I’d be there on time. But that was fine. Didn’t matter.
41:55 cl: I’m sure you and your friends wrote letters every day.
pm: Every day, every night. It was nothing for me to write twelve or fourteen letters a night. There wasn’t anything else to do. I mean, you’re too tired to go out. There’s no one to date. All of your, you can’t imagine walk down the street, you’d see women going, girls and women, I mean we went to the movies together. We did everything together. If we went some place to dance, we danced together because there might only maybe be two men, and they were qualified as 4 F’s, not passing their physical, so there was very few men. I bet I could count on one hand the men that worked in, uh, the payroll office at the Anaconda.
Impact of War on the Medical Field
42:44 cl: Did a lot of women join the military?
pm: Oh, yes, yes. Uh, for nursing and also, uh, administrative work and, uh, they didn’t go to battle as such. But they worked for uh officers, you know, communications and that sort of thing. But there was a lot of them. In fact, Margaret Tuttle, she was, uh, two years older than I, but, uh, she was a nurse and she enlisted immediately and was gone. And, uh, her husband, Ralph Tuttle, was a school teacher here in Marion High School. (Inaudible).
43:25 cl: And, um, in the Marion General Hospital, you said that there weren’t very many doctors because they all went to war. What was it like in Marion General Hospital during the war?
pm: We had maybe one, at night, that’s when I volunteered my time. And I worked from six o’clock until eleven, and then I worked on Sunday afternoons. And sometimes if I had time, if I got away from the factory early enough, then I worked on Saturday afternoons at the hospital. But other than that, it was just three nights a week that I worked. And, uh, we did everything that nurses do except give medicine. And there were no shots to be given because we didn’t know what injections were as such that we know now. Everything was in pill form or liquid, and it was pretty vile tasting. But we’d bathe patients and went around with the doctors on their rounds because there wasn’t enough nurses to do all these things. But, um, it was very interesting work and it was very rewarding simply because they needed us and that’s what it was for, to respond to a need.
The G.I. Bill
44:42 cl: And after the war had ended, when everyone was extremely happy, then did a lot of these things change? Did the doctors come back?
pm: Immediately. And whoever was in service, when they came back, if they’d had a job when they left to go to service, when they came home, they got the same job back. And the person that had been filling that job was usually let go because there wasn’t enough jobs for them. And, of course, women got married right and left, you know, to servicemen, and, uh, the men could go to college on what was called the G.I. Bill. And the government paid I think their tuition for them. And, uh, so the colleges, which had been nearly empty of male people and women, too, because women were doing other things, they did not have the enrollment they do normally, but, um, by then, the colleges were filled with married men or women. Usually the wives got a job and the men went to school, and they lived on campus or in an apartment or some small place and made do with furniture or whatever. And since food was still not very prevalent and, um, you were poor, so we, uh, often entertained each other at our homes to play cards or Monopoly or something like that and we’d have bean and cornbread night and maybe just season it with a hambone. You didn’t have a lot of meat to go with it. And you made some kind of very simple dessert, but everybody loved it. It didn’t matter. We were together again.
Migrants and POWs at Snyder Ketchup Plant
46:33 cl: And, the rationing. What was that during and after the war?
pm: Well, during the war, it was pretty hard, because you could only get, uh, so many coupons for the basics of meat and sugar, flour, and coffee. And tires and gasoline were also rationed. So, um, it was kind of hard, because if you used too many coupons at once, you didn’t have anything for the rest of the month. So, you scratched it out, and you ate an awful lot of vegetables and that sort of thing. And, of course, we raised those, and we canned them. There was no freezing of vegetables then.
I must tell you, though, um, at the Snyder Ketchup Plant here in Marion over on Home Avenue and 22nd Street, it was a big processing plant for tomatoes. And we had a lot of tomato farmers in Sweetser and Swayzee and through that area, and, uh, they raised all these tomatoes. They had to be hand picked, usually by Mexican migrant workers that would come and pick them, and they would follow the seasons, you know. And then these were trucked into the Snyder Packing company.
And they started making frozen peas. And uh they had an assembly line set up that the packages came by, and, the, the big funnel filled it with ten ounces of peas or eight ounces of frozen peas, and then the workers sat there and folded the waxed paper over and passed the box on down. But that was the first company that ever started making the frozen foods, and that was the only thing that I know that they froze, was peas.
But the tomatoes, we had a lot of German prisoners that were sent over around the Sweetser-Swayzee area that lived in a, an internment camp over there, and they wore the big P.O.W. on their back for Prisoner of War, and, um, they worked in the farm, on the farm, and in the gardens and in the fields and picking and that sort of thing. And an awful lot of them didn’t want to go home because they found it was pretty nice over here. They had a lot to eat, as far as the vegetables and things, you know. And living on a farm, they had milk, so they were happy.
49:14 cl: Did the people of Marion and surrounding areas give the P.O.W.s a hard time because they were German?
pm: We never saw them because they were never allowed out of camp. And, um . . .(inaudible). The farms that they worked, they were taken to the farms that they worked by guards, and then they were returned back to that area where they were kept in the camp. We never saw. We did have a lot of, uh, English, uh, sailors, uh, in downtown Marion and a few English, uh, soldiers that were, uh, here during the war periodically, you know, but that they came in over at, uh, Bunker Hill Airbase - probably for R and R or something like that.
50:05 cl: And did you have to substitute a lot during this rationing period?
pm: Oh, yes. (laughter) You couldn’t get butter and, uh, you bought margarine and at that time it seems to me that the margarine was white and they included a packet of yellow dye with it. And when you got it home, then you mixed that yellow dye all through this bowl of white margarine so it looked like butter.
First Use of Penicillin at Marion General Hospital
50:39 cl: And I understand there wasn’t much medicine to go around?
pm: That’s right. And you didn’t have any antibiotics, of course. Penicillin was first used at the hospital in, uh, 1943 or '44. Eh, one woman had double pneumonia and she was isolated in a room at the hospital and, uh, all of her, uh, fluid intake and output had to be measured. She was really close to death. She has been awfully sick. And, uh, we were taking her temperature and blood pressure every hour because she was so critical. And, of course, they had sulfa drugs, but sulfa was all going to the military in some form. And, um, this wasn’t doing the job and you couldn’t get a lot of it but that was the only thing they had other than fixed salve and something like that and herbal things that the doctors made up in their offices. And, um, it was, it was just different. Now this is my version. I mean I’m not a professional medical person, but, uh, I do know that that was the first time that they used penicillin in the hospital was for this woman.
Transportation and the Black Market
52:01 cl: And how was the transportation during this time?
pm: Very poor. (laughter). You, um, if you had a car, you had to save your gas stamps if you wanted to go someplace because you needed those gas stamps to buy gas and, uh, tires the same way. You always carried a repair kit for your tires because usually you had to change them. I mean they’d be bald. Now you could get retreads if they were just, absolutely you couldn’t use them anymore. But retreads weren’t very good then either. And they’d, we’d see them pop off of a wheel when they were going down the road (laughter). So people, they walked or rode bicycles or rode the streetcar or trains or buses, whatever. They didn’t really use their cars too much. There was black market, of course. And that meant that everything was twice as high if you were dealing with black market and because they had coupons. I don’t, I don’t know how all that worked, but some people did get some coupons through the black market in gasoline were able to get gas then.
53:11 cl: And did you ever worry about not being able to find your next meal?
pm: No. No. We’d been through worse times than that. This was pretty good times compared to what it was during the depression. The only thing you had during the depression was what you could raise.
53:32 cl: And after the war, did you live on to worrying about war or just being happy and just living for the present?
pm: Exactly. We were happy the war was over, and we lived for the present and started thinking about what our future was going to be like the next month or the next year, not ten years down the road. Not what was going to happen politically, that’s for sure.
53:53 cl: And after the war and everything was over, didn’t things start to settle down? Was there less resentment between races?
pm: Um, you know I find that difficult to answer because I really don’t know. I don’t think I ever had any animosity towards them. My mother always taught you do not behave that way. Um, going back a little bit to the earlier years when I lived at home before I was married, um, we used to have what was called, uh, a hobo haven on the opposite side of the tracks, probably three blocks from our house. And, uh, they would come up to our house and offer to do, this was white and black, but they traveled the country on rails. They, you know, and, uh, they would come up to our house and knock on the back door and want to know if we needed any wood chopped or if we needed something done and that manner of work and in exchange for a meal. But sometimes mother would have some little thing that she had have done, nothing, you know, very time consuming or anything. But, um, she always feed them a, a full meal. If it was just scrambled eggs and, um, cornbread or biscuits and, um, applesauce or something like that, she always fed them until they were full, very adequate service because she felt that was her Christian duty. And we never turned anybody away that needed anything. And we had an awful lot. They started marking our back lot then so that others would know that you could get a meal there, and that’s what they did. I mean that’s the way they lived, you know, basically.
Back to Normal with Thankful Hearts
55:58 cl: So then after everything was over then life got back to normal again?
pm: Yes. Normal in the respect that it was for teenagers when the war happened, was declared, and through that terrible time it was, um, we don’t know whether it was normal or not. Uh, there was a lot more prosperity and, uh, we were able to buy a second hand car and, um, we were just, I guess, we were living for ourselves and our immediate loved ones and, uh, being very thankful for it and enjoying it. We been without for so long. When you think about, war was declared in '41, and my husband didn’t get home until May of '46 except for two leaves. And then we got married. He came home in May, and we got married in August. (laughter). So.
57:03 cl: Well, sounds great and thank you.
pm: You are most welcome. I enjoyed doing it with you.