Ruth Carter Evans
Interview: Ruth Carter Evans (re)
Medium: Audio and Video tape
Date: Monday, April 13, 1998
Place: Home of Ruth Carter Evans, 4604 S. Landess, Marion, IN 46952
Collected by: Iris Bishop (ib)
ib: State your name and where we are.
re: My name is Ruth Virginia Carter Evans and we are at 4604 S. Landess St., my home (laughter).
ib: All right, state the date.
re: April the 13th 1998.
ib: Do I have permission to tape you with an audio tape?
re: Yes you do, but make it a good one.
ib: Do I also have permission to video tape you?
ib: All right, um, do I have permission to submit this information to the Marion Indiana Public Library.
re: If you find it interesting enough to do so.
ib: All right , first I would like to know a little about your family life before World War II, which would be the years before 1941.
re: Well, we were just married in 1939, so that ought to be 2 years, but in 1941 our first daughter was born. And in 1943 our second daughter was born.
ib: You were married in 1939?
re: (agrees) Yes, I was married on June the 3rd 1939.
ib: Would you tell me a little about your social life, which would be church activities or entertainment, anything you did like before the war.
re: Oh, wasn't too much, I attended the South Marion Friends church at 38th and Harmon St. Social life was just some few friends that would come every now and then. Maybe we would go to the movie every once in a while. It wasn't too much activity, cause things were rationed and you didn't.... uh... My husband worked night shift, so that wasn't much social life
ib: Where did he work at?
re: Rutenber Electric, out on E. Charles Street, north Marion in...
ib: Um, what was Rutenber Electric, what did they do?
re: Well, they manufactured electric ranges, some of the first ones that were made, he spray painted them white. That was his work
ib: And you said you went to movies every now and then, how much did that cost?
re: Well, I can't really tell you but, it wasn't too much because we didn't have much movie money
ib: All right you said something about rationing?
re: Well, during the war tires were rationed, um especially soap, laundry soap, and sugar and meat and gasoline and uh several other things you would like to have were. They weren't rationed but they was just scarce, you couldn't buy them. Clothing and nylon hose was completely off the market and uh, yarn goods for sewing
ib: OK, um, your main income was your husband who worked at Rutenber Electric right?
re: That's right.
ib: Did you work?
re: No, I was a domestic engineer (laughter).
ib: OK (laughter).
re: I worked, I washed diaper and I washed bottles (laughter).
ib: OK, um, did your family life change in any kind of way after the war broke out in 1941?
re: Not really my husband worked more, did more products after the war broke out. So he did quite a bit.
ib: Were there any like major changes in like in your social life church activities change or entertainment?
re: Not to be noticed; things were just pretty much the common, except that everyone was emotionally upset with the war because alot of our family members were involved.
ib: Did you have family members involve?
re: Well, my husband had 3 brothers and I had a half-brother and uh, and maybe some long distant relatives, but not close in the family.
ib: Was your income affected in anyway?
re: Well, his wasn't because Rutenber Electric wasn't a very high paying place anyhow, but it was. He did make more money during the war years then he had the two previous years and another thing he was exempted from the draft because he was doing war products and uh, after, well it was close to the end of the war, he finally had to go to a physical at Indianapolis, but he was rejected.
ib: Why did he have to go all the way to Indianapolis?
re: That's where they took them for examinations.
ib: They couldn't do it here in town?
re: Well, I suppose they could, but then they had their rule and regulations that everybody from their different counties went down there for physicals.
ib: Did you notice any kind of changes like in Marion like the local area?
re: There might have been more industries because of uh, more war productions and products being made. Alot of it was sacred too but, then it was probably more industry.
re: One thing, the doctors your medical practice; alot of the doctors were drafted so that made kind of a shortage of doctors and medical assistance in town.
ib: So, was it harder for like you to find like medical assistance like for you and your family?
re: Well, not for our family, but then we had an older doctor. But he was over worked because he had to help fill in for some of the doctors who were gone to war.
ib: Um, after the war, was, did you notice any changes, did your family life change in any kind of way, the years on that would be after 1945? re: Well, after 1945, I had a baby boy (laughter). More work at home, but uh, not really. People began to relax and readjust to peace time again. Wages and prices rose and eventually they leveled out.
re: I'm just speaking for our family. Other families might have soared on wages and things like that but, then we didn't.
ib: So, it wasn't very hard for you then, coping with the problems of the war?
re: Not really, except the rationing of things but, our family was small so we were able to get by.
ib: How many members were there in your family?
re: There would have been just four of us during the war.
ib: Four of you?
re: (agrees) Two, course the girls were babies and didn't, they didn't require a lot of food and things like that. But I still needed the laundry soap. Which sometimes I just washed with toilet soap; I had to wash on the board by hand.
ib: Um, so, tell me about like your average income like during like a week?
re: What year?
ib: Well, I say, before the war 1941, before 1941.
re: All right for 1941, my husband made $1,722.52 at the Rutenber Electric, in 1942 he made less, $1,524.52, 1943 he made $2,303.94, 1944 he made $2,378.31 that takes those years. It gradually went up just a little bit.
ib: So, he didn't make very much money?
re: No he didn't (laughter). Well, other factories really didn't make too much money until war production; then their wages went up.
ib: Yeah, so his income increased as the years went on though, correct?
re: Well, from 1941 to 1944 it increased about $6,000, no, yeah, no it only increased about $600.
ib: $600, um. So, tell me a little about your family and if there were any struggles that you guys had to put up with besides the problem of war and laundry soap and other things as you have mentioned. Was there any other problems that you guys had, like maybe clothes or sometimes having to go without things?
re: Well, I tell you with gods help we managed, might have been times we'd like to have other things, but we were never hungry. We always had a roof over our head. We, times we might have had debts, but then they were paid in time. So, we did pretty good.
ib: When, you say debts, like what kind of debts?
re: Well, people sometimes buy things they don't have the money to pay for. So, they have to pay for them (laughter). But, our house was, it wasn't, it was small but it was adequate at the time for the size of the family. And we weren't burdened with rent because we owned our house. We've never had a brand new car. So, there wasn't car payments, there was car payments for used cars sometimes. There weren't car payments to bog us down you might say, where we couldn't' t make them entirely.
re: Another thing, there wasn't a such thing as hospitalization insurance, but then what medical bills we had we managed to pay them off in payments. So, we got ahead of that.
ib: Um, were you involved in like, were you like involved with your church like were there activities that you went out to helped them do?
re: Well, not so much so, I was pretty busy at home (laughter). I couldn't work outside very much but, uh, really I think involvement in your church would just been in your local where people helped each other and what work we did outside the church was done with those that were footloose and fancy free and could go. I couldn't.
ib: Because you had children right?
re: Uh huh.
ib: Um, so for you, what was a typical day like? re: With three children you ask me a question like that (laughter)! Well, you got up the morning and started your usually chores of breakfast and cleaning and caring for children and meal planning. And sometimes you had to go to the grocery store and it wasn't anything very exciting but, then it was necessary.
ib: You said earlier that your husband worked evenings, now was that hard for you?
re: Not really (laughter). It was quiet and peaceful (laughter). I could put the children to bed and maybe do sewing or reading or something like that.
ib: Um, okay we can take a brief pause now. All right, um could you tell me a little more about Marion, like describe what it was like, like cars, maybe some businesses or...?
re: Well, the downtown Marion was alive. There was all kinds of retail stores around the square. Because in the late 30's I worked in JJ Newberry's it was a 5-10 and dollar store on the west side of the square. I made a whole nine dollars a week for fifty hours, but every Saturday night the stores were open till nine and all the towns people and the country farmers would come in. And it was just a shopping and social time. And uh, very few super markets in town, most were your little corner grocery stores. And then street cars ran down Washington St. and some other streets in town. And you could go from 43rd and Washington, south of the Marion college to the Matter Park for a whole nickel. And then it wen to the VA hospital, and east and west, you could ride all over town because you could get a transfer between different lines for 5 cents. And uh, of course during the war gasoline was rationed and rubber tires and traffic might have been a little lighter because people were encouraged to share your ride. And there was home deliveries on dairy products, and the milk man would go by and the bread man about every day if you chose to patronize them. And uh, we had mail delivery uh, it was a time the mail delivered twice a day but then it changed to once a day which was adequate. And Marion has increased in size, oh I won't say exactly, cause I don't know what the population is now but probably 10,000 more then it was then anyhow. And schools have been rebuilt and redistricted and of course Marion college was here then, but it was a very small place compared with todays. And the policeman, I can remember they walked their beats. They didn't have squad cars. But uh , it was a nice quiet town as far as I know cause I was here in this one spot. I didn't venture very far away.
ib: Well, could you tell me a little more about your family? Not so much just like your husband and your children, maybe a little more.
re: Well, not too much more because what family I did had lived out of town, my two sisters and one brother. I had one brother that lived here in town and uh, during the war though he did work in Shanuckfield, IL. I can't tell you what he did but he worked there because they needed production workers for war products and I think he worked there during the duration, I'm not positive. He and his wife both. But uh, where we live here we've been here 58 years, I could, there were hardly any houses around and now we are surrounded by houses. Our streets were just dirt paths and now they are black topped. And uh, we have city utilities this way which we didn't have then because we had our own water system. And uh, there's been a big improvement. We went from outside the corporation to in the corporation although there's not been too many improvement in the way of streets, that is, not been all widened sidewalks and curbs and things like that. But its been a big improvement.
ib: Um so it there anything else you would like to tell me about your family, like maybe your parents?
re: Well, not much about my parents cause, my mother died in 1922 and my dad died in 1934. So that's been along time ago. And I was the youngest of the family. I really don't know too much about them. Now my in-laws lived here. They lived, my mother-in-law was 95 and my father-in-law was 83 when they died. They had lived in Marion for years and years and my husband was born in Marion, down in east Marion. And he had one sister and three brothers. His grandparents lived down on east 2nd St.. for all their lives. They both died, oh, they were in their 80's. One thing, where we live now we used to flood when we had spring rains. Now we're on dry ground, kind of soppy sometimes (laughter), but then we don't wade water out. My family has grown. Today we had, I think, our 13 or 14 great-grandchild. And I think we, 12 grandchildren, I think. I really haven't taken inventory lately so, I don't know if I'm right or wrong (laughter). So, Marion is a pretty good place.
ib: Did you receive the paper? Can you remember any kind of headlines or anything that it said like, during the war?
re: Oh, our paper was delivered by a paperboy. It used to be 15 cents a week and a quarter a week and it gradually went up. And it is 12.60 a month now. And the paperboy would collect at the end of the week and now we mail our paper money in. But, uh all, it was always daily news in the paper about the happenings in the war. And it was December the 7th when Pearl Harbor. It was on Sunday and I remember on Sunday evening about 6 o'clock we were having a bit to eat. It was like a silent hush came over you and you didn't have any words to say. But after Pearl Harbor, why the war action...
ib: Which newspaper was it that you receive?
re: Well the Marion Leader Tribune was the morning paper and then it was the Marion Chronicle was the evening paper. And I don't know what year it was they were combined and now its the Chronicle Tribune. They were all printed down at the Tribune Office on Adams St.
ib: So, you received both of them?
re: No, usually one a day was all you would subscribe to. And on Saturdays there wasn't any paper. But you got a Sunday paper.
ib: When you said you were eating dinner when you heard about Pearl Harbor, how, were you listening to the radio? Can you remember any reports?
re: It was all on radio then because that was before the days of, might not have been before the days of television, but before it was available to households. So, you listened to your radio for the news. During the war we weren't permitted to have outside lights because of air attacks. Christmas time, where, usually were outside Christmas lights why, they were all darkened. I do remember one night though, I was laying in here across the bed waiting for my husband to come home. And it was mysterious to me, kind of frightened me, there was a plane that came down and just swooped way down. And I didn't know, it might have been a war plane or what. I found out later that one of the neighbors had a son that was in the air force, and whenever he was in town he would swoop down to say hello mom and dad.
ib: Ok, we will take a pause. We see that you have some papers and stuff from back in the years of the 40's through the 50's, if you could just explain what they are.
re: Well, this is, you had to register for the draft. And he registered on the first day of July 1941. And he had different classifications: 1A, 2B, and because of the war work he was doing or the war production he was exempt. But finally he had to go to Indianapolis, it was April the 18th, 1944, for a physical and he was rejected. So he wasn't in the service. And these are some mileage ration identification for gasoline. Gasoline was rationed in the war. I kind of forget, but you were given tickets and depended on the mileage you had to drive for your employment as to how much gasoline you got. And uh, tires were rationed, I don't remember whether they were rationed or if they were just scarce that you just couldn't buy tires for your car. So he had ten coupons and he was identified as a B7. Right now I can't tell you how many coupons or gallons that would have been.
ib: What are the other ones sitting on your legs? What are those?
re: This is just when he was exempt in the draft. And they gave him 1A, which meant you were physically fit. And then 2B, 1...2...3...2B, where he was deferred because of his employment. And this last one here is where he was rejected. Some of them where rejected because of family; he had two children at the time. But his was rejected because he wasn't up physically. He had been spray painting with lacquer paint and that bothered his health. So, he didn't qualify for the draft. My half-brother went down to Indianapolis the same day and he was excepted. He made service a career. And he was in the army for about 25 years and then he retired from it. Where do I go from here?