File:Calobrace.jpgPersonal narrative of Crystal Calobrace
From: Crystal Calobrace (cc)
Medium: Audio tape
Date: Monday, April 19, 1999
Place: Home of Crystal Calobrace, 1415 Sylvan Dr. Marion, Indiana 46953
Collected by: Monique Boivin (mb)
00:00 mb: (laughter)
cc: Surely enough, huh?
00:06 mb: I am Monique Boivin and this is 19/4/99. This is being recorded at 1415 Sylvan Drive and I'm speaking with Mrs. Crystal Calobrace. Uh, please state your name, Mrs. Calobrace.
cc: My name is Crystal Calobrace.
mb: And do I have permission to interview you?
cc: Yes you do.
mb: Do I have permission to submit this interview to Marion High School?
cc: Yes you do.
mb: Do I have permission to submit this interview to the Marion Public Library?
cc: Yes you do.
00:35 mb: OK. All right, first of all I just want to ask you a few questions about your family. Um, how many people are in your family?
cc: Uh, right now living in this household, one, but I do have three children.
mb: Oh, OK.
cc: They're all married and I've got 12 grandchildren and 17 great grandchildren.
00:53 mb: Wow. Um, so in the (laughter) 1940s, um, you said you had a brother and . . .
cc: I had a brother in the air force that was killed and I had a brother in the navy. And he came home. He is also deceased now. As my husband is also.
mb: OK, and how old were you in 1940, then?
cc: Uh, in 1940 I was 17 years old.
mb: Wow! (laughter)
mb: So were you graduated from high school yet?
cc: Yes I did.
mb: OK. All right, um. OK, I just wanted to ask you a few questions about high school.
cc: All right.
mb: Um, what kind of extra curricular activities that you did. Did y, did you have, did you have any sports or anything that you did after school?
cc: Uh not really sports. I wasn't athletic-minded but I did take, uh, courses in drama and I took
mb: Oh, wow!
cc: speech courses. And in my senior year I threw in a typing course which was extremely benefit for me.
mb: Mmm. How did that benefit you?
cc: Because when I did go to work I had to work in an office.
mb: Oh, Ok.
cc: And when I had typing, and that helped me a lot. And then I went back to business school.
mb: Oh, wow. Ok, um, so in classes what kind of course work did you do?
cc: I took, um, college preparatory classes.
mb: Oh, OK.
cc: And I took a couple years of Spanish. And all the extra and my senior year I only needed one credit.
mb: Oh, wow!
cc: So that's when I threw in all the other things that I liked to do. That was typing and, and speech and (inaudible).
02:15 mb: That’s neat. What kind of dress was . . .
cc: Oh, now I think you kids look crazy but you should have seen the way we looked. I always remember we wore high boots and they had turned down, uh, plaid tops on um. They were crazy. And then we wore these big, uh, grotesque sweaters all the time and, and ah, we didn't wear short short dresses. But, ah, I guess we looked normal to our time as you look normal to your time.
mb: What kind of colors were in?
cc: Oh, I always liked pastel colors, and I still do. And a few, purple and gold, naturally, since it was Marion High School.
mb: So you did go to Marion High School.
cc: Oh yes, I did. I went to the old Marion High School.
mb: (laughter) What was the high school like then? Has the building changed at all?
cc: Well, the building is now a senior home. (inaudible) It's an apartment place now but we had a lot of steps to go up all the time and I met my husband on the high school steps.
03:15 mb: Oh, tell me about that!
cc: Mm, hm. Well, I was a junior and he was a senior. And you know, a friend of ours introduced us and (inaudible). We started dating and that's the man I married.
mb: Wow, what were the things that you really liked about him?
cc: I didn't like him at all at first.
mb: Oh, really? (laughter)
cc: I thought he was egotistical but then I got to find out that he was a very kind and generous man and very, very good to me. And I loved him very, very much so.
mb: Mm. What were some examples of that?
cc: Oh, he was a man that always pulled out a chair for a lady. He always opened a door for a lady and just anything you could do that's what he would do. (inaudible)
03:59 mb: (laughter) Um, what were some of the entertainment spots (inaudible)?
cc: Well, we used to go to a place called, ah, Lugar Creek and swim. It was a swimming hole; that's what it was. And the girls would go and the boys would go and there was big bands there.
mb: Oh, wow.
cc: And we would go to Indianapolis to hear Tommy Dorsey and Kay Kaiser and Benny Goodman, all the old bands. So we really liked those good old bands and music and stuff like that. And then we had Paramount and an Indiana Theater. And the Indiana Theater used to have stage shows. And, a, we'd go to those, too, but we don't have anything like that now.
mb: Mm, what were the stage shows like? Like, what was a typical one?
cc: Um, most of the ones we'd go to would be music. We liked musicals. And whatever was on, that's what we went to and usually something every week. If I didn’t go with Joe, my husband, I went with my brother, Alan.
cc: We used to have Halloween parties that I don't think you kids have anymore. And it was really fun. We had so much fun during those days and, and our, our games. When we went to each other's homes our mothers and fathers were there. We never and there was none of these other parties that you hear about now. And your parents, if their parents weren't there, you didn't go. That was just the way it was then. And I don't think it'd hurt to have a little bit of that now.
mb: So did your parents ask every time?
cc: Oh yes. Yes and I did with my daughter and sons. If they was gonna go to a party I'd call and make sure their parents were gonna be present.
mb: You carried on that tradition.
cc: Mm hm. And my daughter followed right down the line. And you always had a rule that after 9:00 at night you could not talk on the telephone. And if anyone called at 9:15, you didn’t' talk.
cc: That was just the way it was. And you understood that and you respected that. And like my daughter, she had, especially our daughter more than our sons, her father was like, “She can’t do this,” and, “She can’t do that.” And she said, “I always respected that, Mom and Dad, because I knew you loved me. (inaudible) parents don’t care whether they know what they do they don’t (inaudible). And I think that’s an important lesson (inaudible).
mb: Is that something that was passed on to you from your parents?
cc: Absolutely, absolutely.
mb: So, like, those Halloween parties. Can you walk me through step by step?
cc: Oh, we'd have Halloween parties and this brother of mine that was in the Air Force, if he didn't have a date he'd take me to his friends' Halloween parties. And they didn't even know I was his sister. And a, well, you'd play games like a, what was that one where you'd a, I don't. Spin the bottle, naturally. All those kind a games and postman and, and a, you'd have pumkin pie and, and bob for apples. And then they'd tie and apple on a string down it and see if you could bite um at the same time. We had some good parties. (laughter) We had some really good Sunday school parties too. I remember one in particular that I've never forgotten, that everybody was told to bring an outfit of clothes in a sack. Everything they wear. And then when you got there they played music and you pass them around. Whatever sack you got, that's what you had to wear.
cc: We just had a ball with it. Those were fun things that I don't think kids do anymore. They think you’re old fogie, but I think it’s fun and I’d still want to do those things. But we had a lot of fun in our life. Took a lot of trips. Done a lot of things. We built this house.
cc: So we, well, we had it built and we helped em. But um, it's been a long and fruitful life. And while Joe was in the service uh, I stayed on the farm with my mother and father and I had two little boys.
mb: So that was in Marion here, then?
cc: Yes, mm hmm. I’ve never lived anywhere but Marion. It’s my home. My daughter lived in Tennessee and her families and she thought after her Daddy died that surely Mom would move to Tennessee. And I said no no no no no. Mother stays in Marion.
mb: Mm hmm.
cc: I’ve had a lot of pleasant times
07:54 mb: So when you lived on the farm what kinds of things did you do?
cc: we planted big enormous gardens because food was hard to get. And my sister and my mother and my sister-in-law and I (inaudible) And we, and then I remember planten, er, helpen my dad make hay and that's when you mound it back in the barn. And I was the biggest one of the bunch so I got up in the hay loft and had to push all that hay back. And never will forget my sister and, my sister and I were comin out of the barn and I saw mother lookin out the winda. And I said, "Hey girls, I'll faint for mother. Now watch this." And so I, and here come my mother runnen out with water and (inaudible) and oh, "You shou, shouldna been up there." And when she got up there I started laughen and she drowned all of us.
cc: You'd do, we'd do nasty things and just little things like that. And I remember one time worken out in the garden and it was all fenced in. And I started ta, and there was a big snake that run across the path. And I screamed and I shinnied down that and over a fence and in back I could. Here my mother came with a big shotgun and blew that
cc: snake into a thousand pieces. So . . .
mb: Oh my goodness!
cc: I've got a lot of good memories, you know, of things like that. And I remember one time my sister-in-law was working nights at u this Paranite Wire. It's Essex now, but we had an old car. It 'us a dumpy car. And uh, we got down to the railroad tracks next to the farm and the car starts smoken. And here we had these lunch buckets. We wudn't gonna lose our lunches, so we run back up to the farm and daddy said, "Oh, Lordy." Went down there and we'd drove with th emergency brake on. There was nothing wrong with the car. It was us.
mb: Oh, no!
cc: We've never gotten over that. My dad never forgot to mention how smart we was. But those are some of the things that went on during the war that. And if we'd see a line someplace the rations were so much we got in line. We didn't know what it was we'd a hav'n,
mb: Oh, my.
cc: but we'd get in line just in case it was something we wanted. Like, you'd get pineapple. Things like that people just take for granted now. And you'd had coupons, so much ration. And you got so much sugar, you got so much coffee, you got so much of all this stuff. So if there was a somebody got a supply and you could get in there and boy you went right down. But we've done all kind of things like that. Those are some of the things that you live with. Memories that are great, you know? There’s bad memories too. But there's great memories too.
10:13 mb: Mmm. So, while you were on the farm, then, you had two children with you.
cc: I had two little boys (inaudible) and my husband was overseas. And he had two purple hearts. He was wounded twice in the Battle of the Bulge And I would write all the time, every day, and he'd write back to me and he'd say, "I, I know you're writing to me, but I, I've not gotten any mail." And it was like seven months he hadn't had a letter. So I'd gone to the red cross and they said they couldn't do anything. So they told me to write to the (inaudible), general and I didn't know who that was, but that was Dwight Eisenhower. And I wrote a letter and told him that it was enough that a man was over there and had two children back here, didn't know whether we was dead or alive, but this was terrible. And my husband said they called him out and they says,"Who is your wife?" And he said, "Why?" And he said, "Well, she wrote to Eisenhower." And, and they brought his mail in bags. And he said and all the guys were around there said, "Hey, have your wife write to Ike about this or write to Ike about that", because I got through and he said, "Boy." He said, "Boy, I got all my mail, Chris." And I'd send packages with fruit cakes and stuff. Crumbs, but he said, "We'd eat it anyhow." But, ah, that was one of the things we went through over there. And while he was in the hospital in France, Joe's name was Samuel Joseph Calobrace and some guy came in and he said who is Samuel Joseph Calobrace. And Joe said that’s me. He said, “Well that’s my name too.” And it’s such an odd thing because all the Calobraces are related because they came from Sicily. And so to meet a guy from Pennsy, I think it’s Pennsylvania. That he had the very same name as my husband is just uncanny. So those are some of the things that happened to Joe over there, too.
mb: Wow. So, what kinds of things did he write about?
cc: Oh, about the kids and what was going on and what I was doing and what mother was doing and what we was canning or just anything. Thyet, it was hard to write every day about something. But I knew every day just a letter to say, "Hi, how are you? I'm fine. The kids are OK." That was enough for what he wanted. And he'd write to me and I've still got a lot of his letters.
mb: Hmm. What did he write about?
cc: Oh, he'd write about how lonely it was over there and how he wanted to get home. And he'd about the kids and, "I'll bet that Mike's big and I'll bet Nick's growen." And just things like, "And a, how's your work." And, and uh, that was, I think that was why we got a start, is cause he was gone, is cause I went to work and I saved every penny I could get. And when he got home we had enough money we could make a down payment on the house, buy an old car, and buy our furniture. And he said, "Chris, I don't think without that we'd a ever gotten a start." So that's a, that's part of our life, you know?
mb: Yeah. What did you have to do to save that money?
cc: I lived with my parents. I paid my mother so much a week for groceries. My sister-in-law and I done all the housework. Mother done the worshing. We done the ironings. We done the ironing. We helped with the canning and we just, just saved it, just saved money. We didn't spend any of it.
mb: Wow, what kinds of things did you have to forego?
cc: Oh, well, we never went out anywhere, that was for sure. So you didn't eat out. Didn't do any of those things. And you couldn't buy gas, cause gas was rationed too. So you just had so much. So we just didn't have anything to spend it on, really. And we didn't buy clothes so we just. We, we had set it in our hearts that that's what we was gonna do with it, set money so we'd have a start when we, he got out. And, and my sister all done the same thing.
mb: Hmm, Now you said Mr. Calobrace was in the Battle of the Bulge. Um, what all went on?
cc: (harsh laughter) The Battle of the Bulge he was an infantryman. That means he was a soldier, foot soldier. And he was trapped in there three days weren’t the enemies and, and they couldn't get out and was snowed in. And, and uh, they hadn't any food. And he said that a,
mb: Three days!
cc: salvation army dropped them peanut butter sandwiches and was never so happy to see a peanut butter sandwich in his life. But a, he froze his hands and feet in the Battle of the Bulge and then they had him in the hospital for I don't know how long, but they thought they's gonna amputate both his hands and feet. But that didn't happen. He did, but he always had trouble with them. (inaudible) But another time he was hit. Was a, a town he was going into. And then he got hit in the back of the leg. Ah, that was his purple hearts.
14:26 mb: Wow!
cc: He was one of the first ones to get out because he had two children. He had two purple hearts, all his battle stars, and they went by points. That's how you got out in the end. And he had more points than my brother or anybody else, so he was one of the first ones to get out. And he was so glad to get out. (inaudible) He was hopen none of our children would ever have to do that and they haven't so far but this thing over there develops and my grandson's now just the right age. So . . .
mb: You mean Kosovo.
cc: Mmmm hmm. (inaudible)
mb: Wow. So when he got home what was the first thing you guys did?
cc: Oh, kissed. Naturally!
cc: And a, we just a saved up our money for probably a month before we found a place to live. And my mother and father were just as happy to see him as I was, which was really nice. And the boys didn't know him.
mb: Mmm. How old were they when he got home.
cc: Over two years old. They were just babies. And they hadn't been around their father hardly at all, so they, he'd say something and they'd say, "You're not my boss; my mommy is," so we had to get everything straightened out for the kids. (inaudible)
mb: How did you go through that process then?
cc: It was very painful sometimes. But you'd just say, "No, Daddy is the boss, too. It's not just Mommy now. You've got a dad here." And I'd always let him make decisions (inaudible). I might say, "This is what I think," and he might say, "This is what I think," and then I'd say, "OK. Well, do it your away." An then if it was wrong I could gloat!
mb: Oh, dear! (laughter)
cc: (cough) But outside that had a good normal life. Worked every day. And, and he worked 42 years and, and so he worked and I worked for 32 years.
16:15 mb: Where did he work?
cc: Foster Forbes. And I worked in the office at Foster Forbes.
mb: Oh, neat. Did you see him much there?
cc: Mm hmm, every day. He'd always bring me coffee. They made coffee up where he'd work and he'd come back to the office and bring me coffee everyday. And that, oh yes, there wasn't a day that we didn't see each other. (inaudible) And enjoyed our home.
mb: So what was the first job that you held?
cc: The first? Oh my, when I was in school I had a lot of jobs cause I worked every summer. And the first place I ever worked with (inaudible) was called Gruno Radio. And that was Thompson's now. Consumer RCA. And that was years and years ago. And then a couple summers I worked at Brown and Trueblood Laundry laundering clothes, dry-cleaning a couple summers. I worked at Snyders Ketchup Factory is what it was called and I, I done in the frozen food section. I worked in Hills department store when it was downtown. I worked at a, Hook's Drug Store as a soda jerk when it was downtown.
mb: Tell me about that what was it like there.
cc: Oh, it was fun. It was fun it. Was on the corner of Third and Washington street. Some people (inaudible). And some might not but I was hired in there. And I worked in there one summer and loved it. It was fun.
17:35 mb: What was the interview like? Can you remember?
cc: They just hired you, they didn't.
mb: Oh, really?
cc: Oh, yeah. You didn't have to go through what you do now. Now I’m working now a, part time I worked at Elder Beerman’s here in town but I worked during Christmas cause that’s after I lost my husband. It’s just, I had to get out of the house. And ah so I went to work and I worked two shifts for the Christmas shopping and I though that was all I was gonna work. So they said, “can you just work one days a week for us.” I said, “Well, I’ll think about it.” And I called up and talked to my son and he says, “Mom it’d be good for you.” Good, well I said maybe I’d work two four-hour days but not one eight-hour. He said that’d be good so I told him and they accepted . So I work four hours maybe a week and sometimes eight hours a week and that’s all.
mb: So, so how has the work changed from when you first started out until now?
cc: Well, when I first started out in the Gruno Radio thing that was funny cause I went with a girlfriend that was trying to get a job. And then you just stood out in the office and they come out and say “You and you and you.” That's how they, and you went to work. That was all there was to it.
mb: They just pick you by what they saw?
cc: Yeah! And uh, I didn't want a job but I got it and she didn't.
mb: Oh, no! (laughter)
cc: So, a, that was the first job and the rest of um you just went out and told um you wanted to come to work and they'd say come to work.
cc: That's all there was to it.
mb: What was the pay like?
cc: Oh, I can't even remember now. I's sure not very much. I can't even remember, ah what the pay was when I first started at Foster Forbes. And as you can see, I worked there 32 years. And I've been retired almost 16, so see that's a long time. It was always adequate but, uh, I made a lot more there than I make at Elder Beerman, I can clue you on that.
cc: But ah, it's just another job.
19:24 mb: Oh, I talked to a friend in Michigan and she told me about blackouts that would occur during World War II as a security check to make sure in case there were bombs. Were those some of your fears?
cc: I think most of those were on the coast lines, uh, but we had black windows in factories and stuff like that. But I was never actually, was ever in a blackout. I think they were on the coast lines where ships could come in and airplanes could come in. But not in an inner state like we was, like Indiana. But we were prepared. We knew what to do. We even had bomb shelters and anything like that.
mb: So what was the plan? What would you do in the case of a bomb?
cc: Well, just like you would with a tornado or anything like that. Find a place where you could be safe. But we, we're so lucky in the United States. We've never been the one to get bombed. That's what Joe said, "Then you come home. First you realize how lucky you are to be an American cause we've never been bombed." We've never had (inaudible) and he said, "When you're standing in line to get food and you see a little kid there begging for scraps." And for one little boy he said, "I guarantee you that child didn't go hungry tonight." He'd write me things like that and, er, things that he saw and, and people that he saw. One time he told me when he was wounded and one of his buddies (inaudible). They went into a cave and there was a bunch of, of citizens in there. And he said, uh, one girl was dressed in uniform. She was a soldier and she was gonna, he said, "I know she was gonna kill me. I know that she was gonna do it. So I just took the grenade out and showed it to her. ‘You come any closer we'll all die,’ and then she back off (inaudible)." He said that girl was gonna kill'm and he thought, "Boy, if I die, so does she."
mb: What country was she from?
mb: Do you know what country she was from?
cc: I don't even know what country this was in. He never talked much about it. Very, very little. Uh, uh. He never talked about any of it.
mb: Why was that?
cc: It was too terrible. He didn't want to remember.
mb: Wow. You said something about, uh, if he were ever asked to go back. What was that?
cc: He said that he'd let em put him in jail, anything they wanted, but he'd never go back to war.
cc: It was that bad. And I think when guys've seen stuff like that they don't talk much about it. He would talk to me probably more than anyone else but he, he told me one time in the (voice cracks) Battle of the Bulge they kept telling'm to advance and he got there and he was right in the enemy's front line. And, and the Germans run and they run. This one kid they hit him and he said he just ripped him clear open. And his insides fell on the ground. And he said, "Course you don't forget things like that." So war is hell. There's no doubt about it; war is hell.
cc: And I feel sorry for those people who right now, what they're going through right now. And the children, it's terrible. And I just thank God it’s not here.
cc: (inaudible) about war.
22:34 mb: You talked about your brother a little bit. Um, where was he in W.W.II?
cc: My brother, Alan, he was a, a flight instructor in the Air Force.
cc: And he was in Kelly Field and he, uh, had a boy who a failed his instrument flying and Alan was giving him one more chance to go up. Anyway, he froze at the controls and Alan couldn't get him loose. And he hit a clump of trees and it killed them both.
mb: Oh no.
cc: It was, it was terrible, you know. And my brother had a harrowing experience in the Navy.
cc: He got appendicitis when he was on the landing barge and during the storm the thing they put across to take him to a, a hospital ship. He had to go across that in a storm a, a like a lift, you know?
mb: Oh, wow!
cc: Taking him across there and he said that almost scared him to death but they got him across there and operated on him and he was all right (chuckle). So.
cc: He had some really, you know, things that's been. Joe and I went to see, a, Saving Private Bryan. I don't know whether or not maybe you've seen it or not. We did. And he said, "Chris, it was just exactly like that." You see there was no lying in that movie. So I saw part of the hell that he musta have gone through there.
23:53 mb: Good, what were some of those good times?
cc: Oh, we both liked to dance and we both liked to go out to dinner. Uh, we done a lot of that but, uh, not when our children were little cause we had children. We stayed home and took care of the kids, uh, and then I remember when, uh, Joe got cancer of the throat the first time. And, ah, they operated on him and, ah, then they had to go back and do it again because they couldn't get it all. And he couldn't talk, I mean, he was, had to take speech lessons, learn how to get air into him. He said, "I know how to talk. I don't know how to get it out."
cc: So we went to a restaurant over in Gas City. He'd only been operated on a couple weeks. And he wrote on his (inaudible), "Let's go out and eat." So I took him over because it was kind of dark and not too many people, you know. And I ordered for him. Well, it was only maybe two months later and he wanted to go out again. And I took him over there and then he could talk a little so the waitress come over and I said, “He'll order, not me.” And he looked at me and he ordered.
cc: And, and then that made him feel good, you know? Because I had still wanted him to be the man of the house, just because.
mb: What a victory!
cc: Mmm hm. Wonderful. And he had 25 years after that, so not many people have cancer and (inaudible). So I thought that was a bonus from God.
cc: We had those years. We had a good life. A good life.
25:08 mb: So you talked about dancing, um.
cc: Oh, we loved to dance.
mb: Tell me about that. Like, where would you go and . . .
cc: Well, we'd go and, anyplace where we heard a. Now before I was married there was about six of us. We girls that ran around together and we'd go to, ah, Hartford city and can't remember the name of that place. And we went to Alexandria up to two places where kids could dance. And there was a place called Cardinal Points down on Wabash Avenue. It's a home now, but we used to go there and dance. And girls would dance with girls and nobody thought anything about it cause that's just the way we done it. But, ah, and my husband did not dance. And his mother told him, because his father danced and he'd always dance with me.
cc: And his mother said, “You know dear, you’ve got to learn to dance. But you knew she'd like to dance.
cc: So he learned to dance and he loved it.
mb: How old were you at this time?
cc: Oh dear, I don't know. Probably 20, 21.
cc: Not much older'n that.
mb: So he learned to dance for you?
cc: Uh huh, and he was a good dancer.
mb: And he enjoyed it?
cc: Oh, he loved it.
cc: He loved it, yeah.
cc: But, ah, he loved everything in life (inaudible).
26:16 mb: Can you tell me a little about graduating and what that was like?
cc: Graduating there wasn't the big thing it was now. And girls never wore black.
cc: You know, you never wore black to your prom. And now all the girls seem to wear black and all these colors. You wore pastels pinks or blues or whites or something like that and it was just a fun time, fun time. (cough) But, ah.
mb: How did you celebrate?
cc: Just eat dinner.
cc: And go to the prom and that was it. You didn't, and it was still then. Now I know these kids have all these parties now but we didn't have that. We went to the prom and after the prom we came home and our mother and father was waiting till we got home.
mb: Mm. (laughter)
cc: They didn't go to bed and let you come in. They was there.
cc: That, and that was always the way it was that's wh.
mb: What was the prom like? You'd go in and what happened next?
cc: Oh, uh, you always had snack food and all this junk and everybody went around to everybody and, “How're you lookin,” and, “Oh you look beautiful.”
cc: And all this stuff and, and you dance and you had your little groups like they do today I s'pose the same thing, I don't know. Ah, Joe and I enjoyed always going to the senior prom that the seniors had for seniors too. We always went to that out at the Holiday Inn (inaudible) and, ah, it was fun, only I went to play bingo and he didn't. Joe, he didn't do any of that stuff, so he'd stand and watch me play some bingo or something and I'd always tell him I's gamblen.
cc: You know, the little gifts they'd give away and stuff. But ah, mostly we just done things like that and Joe and I when we went , we went with each other. We didn't go with other people. I mean he danced with me. I dance with him.
cc: An that's the way it was, but ah, it was good. It was good.
28:01 mb: Through high school you said there was, what? Six of you that hung out together?
cc: Mm hmm. And there's only I think two of those girls still living besides me (inaudible) and we went places. And there's a boy (inaudible) I think eventually he was a policeman. We never dated Ned or anything, but Ned would take us girls anywhere we wanted to go. He would wait on us and he'd bring us home. He was just like a big brother to every one of us.
mb: And why did he do that?
cc: I think just because he wanted to. I don't know. He didn't, I don't think he ever dated very much. He wasn't exactly the handsomest guy in town.
cc: And I think he just didn't have dates and he enjoyed being with us. We never danced with him or anything. We danced with each other.
cc: But we never, we never had any problems like that. I remember how we learned to dance.
mb: (laughter) Tell me about.
cc: None of us knew how to dance and a bunch of kids in my neighborhood and we sent and got Arthur Murray dance lessons. It's a big thing you spread out on the floor and it tells you where you put your feet.
cc: And we learned to dance like that by movin your feet around on that big sheet on the floor.
mb: Oh wow!
cc: And we, we just had a ball with that. We went to each other’s homes and done that.
cc: But I can always remember that, dancing with Arthur Murray.
29:11 cc: So there's a lot of things, lots of things, and in high school I played bass fiddle.
cc: I started out playen the piano and I didn't like that and then my mother insisted we take music and so then I took the violin (inaudible) than anything.
cc: And then I got thinkin and I knew I had to take something. So I took the bass fiddle because I didn't have to take it home and practice.
cc: So I played the bass fiddle my a, junior and senior year in high school.
mb: Did you enjoy it.
cc: Hmm, hmm. I had a ball with it.
cc: I don't remember any of it now.
cc: All these years I’ve forgotten it because I graduated in 1942. No, I graduated in 41. I graduated in 41. I have to stop and think. No, I graduated in 42, 42.
cc: 42. See my memory's even gettin bad (laughter).
mb: What kinds of things did you do with the orchestra? Did they go on special trips?
cc: Oh they went. Once a year we went to Indianapolis (ianudible) and that introduced me to good music. (inaudible) A, ah, once a year we'd go down there. It was really a treat to do that and I grew to really like that kind of music. And fortunately, so did Joe.
cc: And I, he never was exposed to it at all but ah, I liked it. And I always enjoyed it and I like operettas. I don't like opera but I like operettas. And he did too, so we enjoyed the same things, same things, same music, same places, and everything. It was good, but (inaudible).
30:49 mb: Now you talked about your two sons, raising them on the farm with your parents and everything. What were some of the struggles? What were some of the struggles and some of the neat things about living with your parents at the farm?
cc: Well, thes, the thing that was bad about it was that my children, because I was going to work.
(flip tape over)
cc: (inaudible) And my oldest son had a (inaudible) infection behind the ear and oh, everything, doctors, everything. And finally one doctor said we're gonna take his tonsils out. We don't know. He was only three years old and that was unusual at that age to take a child's tonsils out. Usually six at least. And so, ah, Joe wasn't here. He was overseas so I had to do that. But they told me that his tonsils kept decaying in his eardrum he would have been dead (inaudible) and so just thank God that we went ahead and done it. Ahh, the boys both had chicken pox out there and when they got um all the kids got um. My mother is a saint (laughter) and my sister, she was younger and she was there with me too. But they, they played in corn fields and my dad made im up a, a little thing they could ride on that went oh maybe five miles an hour maybe at the most and they'd putter all over the farm and
cc: he had a place back there in the summer. He'd take the truck back with the kids and let em swim. And in the winter time he'd go back and take hot chocolate and they'd ice skate.
cc: And he'd never let them go back there unless he was there.
mb: Hm, why is that?
cc: He was afraid something would happen to em. He was afraid maybe ice or maybe one of um'd get a cramp and he just would not let the children go back there unless he was right there to watch um. He'd stay in the truck and keep the motor running if it'us cold so they could get warm and, and he loved the kids. He just loved the children. So, ah, oh, it was good times and some unhappy times. Um ah, my father never believed in a woman working. He was against that and ah, when Joe was gone and he I told him I said, “Dad I have to go to work.” I said, “We don't get enough money to support me and the children. And I said I've got to get some money saved up. So I, an that's all right and then when I come home after going to the bank and he'd say, “How much you got in there now, how much you got?”
cc: He was just so thrilled that we was doing that and my sister-in-law was doing the very same thing. We was one great big family. My kids, I've got pictures of um when they were little out there and their birthday parties. And, and my mother would make um little peek a bow, a peek a boo. She'd put a little hats and coats she'd make um out of um and they'd just look so cute like little sumpin or other and big boots. And they was farmers, boy, that they'd tell everybody, “I a farmer, I is.” But a, my mother and father thought so much of all the kids. This I don't remember my nephew he was ornery. And a mother's chickens kept dying and she couldn't figure out what's wrong with those chickens and she hu cowboy is what they'd call um. And she'd hear him out there sayin, “Heeere chickychickychicky, heeere chickychickychicky,” and she looked and he 'us coaxen those chickens over there. And when they got there he'd hit um in the head with a club. She (laughing) found out he was killing her chickens, so, but they was all.
mb: The nephew was?!
cc: All kind of things went on. So we really had some times.
mb: What would he do with the chickens?
cc: Well, eh, he just wanted to git. He was having fun, I guess.
mb: How old was he?
cc: Well, lets see, he's older. He must've been five.
mb: Oh dear!
cc: He was probably about five but oh, he was a character. He was really a character. And he and my oldest son were just bosom friends. And they still are. They're still good friends. But Mike lives in Syracuse and Tommy lives here so they're, they're apart but they still see each other and enjoy each other's company. But it's good. All my kids are real good (inaudible).
mb: So whe, were you very close to your sister then, since you stayed with her?
cc: I wasn't at first because I'm almost nine years older than my sister.
mb: Oh, wow!
cc: And it was a large span in there. But after she got married and had children we became close friends and now I don't know what I'd do without her. We were just that close. But when, you can imagine me at 18 and her ten years old, you know. Forget it! But um, since then we have grown to be very close sisters because now my brothers and sisters are all dead except her. My mother and father's gone. My husband's gone and my kids live away so I have my sister and that's just about it.
35:18 mb: Who did you confide in those years when your husband was gone?
cc: Not really anyone. I'm more or less a private person.
cc: And I didn't, uh no, very seldom. Wrote letters back and forth to each other. I knew what was going on and what our feelings were and mostly it’s that we missed each other so much.
cc: (inaudible) But I didn't try to burden him with any the problems we was haven cause he had enough over there. (inaudible) But I think that's where I learned to be independent because now if I didn't do that I'd be in a terrible mess.
mb: So that helped prepare your for this.
cc: It prepared me for that. Mmm hmm.
36:01 mb: So when he decided to join the infantry . . .
cc: He didn't join, he was drafted.
mb: Oh, he was drafted.
cc: Yes. (laughter)
mb: What were some of the feelings that . . .
cc: Oh, he didn't, he didn't want to go. We had two kids and we were struggling to make ends meet. And but he had no choice. He had to go. It was. I, I did go down to Florida. My mother kept my boys (inaudible) basic training and stayed two weeks but (inaudible) that's about the time I said, “Joe, I enjoy being with you, but I need to be with my children. I need to be working. I need to be doing something for our future.”
cc: Is and then, right after that he was shipped overseas, so I'm glad I spent those two weeks with him.
mb: What were those two weeks like?
cc: Oh, usp like vacation!
cc: You know, and I lived. And my sister-in-law is, is Joe's sister and, and I went together and she got married. That's why I went down with her. For she's getting married down there and, uh, we lived in a lady's home. We had rooms there. Was a very nice lady.
mb: Did you know her before you came?
cc: No, uh uh. Because you just couldn't find a place to live. And I remember we went down on a school bus.
cc: Because we couldn't get any transportation. And you talk about a horrible trip
mb: Oh dear.
cc: But ah, and then we, when we left we got a better bus going home but we left just before a hurricane down there so ah. And Joe never liked Florida after that.
cc: That was the end of Florida for him. He didn't want anymore of it cause he saw the bad parts cause he was in hurricane when he was in bivouac, bac, bivouac is what they call it. Out in the (inaudible) and it was a hurricane so he, he just had some bad times.
mb: What happened in the hurricane. Where was he?
cc: Umm, he was in a trench uh, with water and rain and, and wind and everything else. He, hes, he said it was terrible. But I don't think we can know what that was because we wasn't there. And he was, he was the one that never told too much about that. But from then on I lif, my brother lived in, in Fort Meyers for several years and I'd wanten to go see him. Joe would relent and go down maybe for a week and then we'd come back cause he didn't (inaudible). We never even thought about moving South after we retired. Never. But ah. Marion's been good to us. We both graduated from Marion High School and I went to business college. Joe didn't. He went to work but, uh.
38:30 mb: What was business college like?
cc: I enjoyed it. I took rapid calculations cause I liked numbers and typing and (inaudible). I wasn't there any time at all that I was offered a job and I didn't take that one. But, ah.
mb: Why not?
cc: Because that wasn't where I wanted to work. It just wasn't what I wanted and I knew that I'd get what I wanted (inaudible).
38:53 mb: What were those goals that you wanted to achieve?
cc: Well, I wanted to work at Foster Forbes. I wanted in the office and I wanted accounting or something like that. And um, so what I done was go to work at in the factory. And uh, then I had a job offer when I was there and I went in and told the personnel man that I could work (inaudible) cause I was going to work in an office. And so I no more’n got to work and here come the plant manager over and he said what’s this I hear you’re gonna leave. I said, “Yes, I don’t want factory work anymore. I want office work. I don’t want this.” He said, “Well, you’re not going to work there. You’re gonna work in our office.
cc: So I got my job just like that and I stayed here for 32 years and enjoyed it.
mb: So what was it about factory work that . . .
cc: Factory work was too hard and I, and it was I hadn’t been well. I had some surgeries.
cc: And a, it was just too hard for me to lift cause, well, you had to pack bottles in boxes and you had to lift um.
cc: And put um on skids and stuff. It was too much. I needed (inaudible). So I got me more education and went to work again. But when you want something you have to work for it. You have to know what you want and what your goals are and you go for it. That’s just the way I feel about life.
cc: Know what you want.
mb: And you’ve certainly done that. (laughter)
cc: I’ve sure tried. I sure tried and I still do. This was like me going to work now at my age (inaudible) but I needed to do that and there’s not many people hiring over 75 years old, I guarantee ya. But I (inaudible) had to learn calculator or er not calculators, Lord, I’ve known those for years.
cc: Computers, yeah. Plus all their registers and stuff are computers whether you like it or not. I had to laugh, tell you how dumb I was. You had to take three days training on the computer and I told um I said, “I’ve never worked computers.” I’ve had terminals but all I had to do was and bring up inventories and stuff and I said, “I don’t know anything about computers.” So they sent me over there. And the mouse, I found out what it’s called. And we had these things that you had to point the arrow to where the answer was and I had that thing up there. I said, tell that girl, I said, “How do you get that thing to where you,” and she said, “Well, first of all, you don’t take that off of the pad. You leave the mouse on the pad and you move it on the pad.” And I said, “Ohh Lordy.” She said, “You really don’t know anything about computers.” I said, “No, I really don’t. From then on they just talked me all the way through it, so I’m doing pretty good with it now. So see you’re not too old to learn.
cc: Never too old to learn.
mb: (laughter) That’s good. You’re very adventuresome.
cc: Mmm hmm! I’ve got the, the, the power to go with things, you know? I don’t stop, I just.
41:41 mb: Mm. Where did you learn that power to go from?
cc: My father. My father was that kind of a man. He uh, he was one of the greatest men I ever knew, my father was. And he had goals and he set goals up for the kids. And now we got one grandson that, that’s a plastic surgeon. My father would have been so proud of him because he always wanted to be a doctor but he had quit school in fourth grade. He’d to help raise his family.
mb: Oh, wow!
cc: So he was the oldest.
mb: Tell me about that, what was it like?
cc: Well, he was the oldest of four boys and three girls and his father would take off. And that’s when women didn’t divorce men.
cc: They lived with their husband and, uh, the family was destitute. In that time and day there was no welfare, none of this gimme stuff. And so he had to quit school and go to work. I don’t know whether . . .
mb: In the fourth grade! How old was he?
cc: Oh, I don’t know, six, seven , ten or eleven years old. I don’t know what he done then. Now my father ended up as he was a mechanic, an automobile builder. But I don’t know what he done then. I have no idea what he done. He never did say, but ah, but ah, he was a wise man (inaudible).
cc: But ah, he died very suddenly of a heart attack. He was never sick a day in his life.
cc: And that was a shock, but ah, (inaudible) if I’d go out there and they feel troubled about something and he’d look at me say, “Hey, come over here.” And he had blocks of wood and he’d pull up the (inaudible) and he’d say, “sit down there.” And he’d get out his knife (inaudible) a whetstone, sharpen it. He’d say, ah, “What’s your problem? You got something wrong. What’s your problem?” And you’d sit there and you’d (inaudible) you’s fine.
cc: You could just work out all your problems with him. He was a miracle.
mb: Can you give me an example of one of the things you . . . (laughter)
cc: Well, if I’d go out there and I said, “Oh, daddy I’ve, I’ve just got some problems. I, I need five dollars. That’s what I really need to help me get through this.” And he’d get in his b and he’d say, “Now are you sure five’s enough? Why don’t you take ten?”
cc: And that’s the kind and, and I say, “I’ll pay you back.” “Don’t worry about that. Don’t worry about that. If you get it you, pay it back, if you don’t, don’t worry about it.” I mean he was that kind of a person. I remember one thing that I done one year. I always sent my parents flowers for my birthday. Always sent them flowers.
43:59 mb: You sent them flowers on your birthday!
cc: I sure did. Well, sure. If it hadn’t been for them I’d never had a birthday.
cc: So I’d always sent em flowers. And one year I, you’d never, you’d never get around to telling your parents how much you appreciate what they’ve done for you and you know the sacrifices they’ve made. And so I, I just, it was hard for me to tell them that so I wrote them a letter. And I told everything that I knew that they’d done, how they’d sacrificed to give me life, and, and the things, times I knew that they’d got for me when they didn’t have for theirself, and, and all these things, and how much I really loved em. And I sent im with the flowers. And Mother said Daddy got that and they read it and said he’d cry and then she’d cry. And he said, “You know, Mother, we’ve had six kids and that’s the only one that’s ever thanked us for how much they appreciated us.” And she said, “We kept that letter all the time.” So that’s just something and this year for the first time my daughter sent me flowers on her birthday.
cc: She says, “Mom, I know you’re having a hard time and Dad would be doing this, so I’m gonna do it for dad. Here’s my flowers. So, so some of that see rubbed off on my children. They picked up some of those things. But that’s one of the things I’ve always done with my parents. I went out there all the time. Every day I’d go out an a . . .
mb: Out to the farm, huh?
cc: Out to the farm. I’d go out to see my mom and dad. If I’d take Joe to work, ‘bout seven o’clock in the morning, I didn’t have to go to work till nine. I’d just take the time to go right on out to the farm and see Mom and Dad. And one time it was snowen and I never will forget I slid off in the ditch and, and.
mb: Oh no!
cc: I walked up the farm. It wasn’t too far and got Ford tractor. Dad got it out and he pulled my car out of the ditch. And the guy at the factory drawed a picture of a car with a four track on front and said, “This is the kind of car Chris has to have now (inaudible). Oh, I just got ribben over that, but, but those are some of the things.
mb: (laughter) Oh dear.
cc: Some of the things. Anything else you want to know?
mb: Well, this looks good.
cc: We got all of our questions done?
mb: Yes, this is wonderful.
cc: Well, good.
46:09 mb: Are there any more special things you wanted to share?
cc: Aw, I don’t know. Can’t think of too much. Joe’s last days were something.
cc: Quite a shock to find out he had cancer again. (lowers voice; inaudible) but I stayed with him all the time (inaudible). And he didn’t have to take any pain medicine, so that’s only to the glory of God (inaudible).
mb: What helped you get through this?
cc: Uh, I go to a grievances counsel and it’s been almost seven months. But I did go to a doctor also because I knew I was in deep depression, you know (inaudible). I start thanking God and I know He knew better than I did. And my church family has been great and ah, my neighbors (inaudible) three of um went together put a motion light on my garage.
cc: And a, the guy next door mowed my grass every week that Joe was in the hospital so I’ve been mowing his grass. He’s on vacation. Ah, my neighbors, my church family, and my children. My older son (inaudible) and he put me on his payrole and send me a check every week of the world. He says, “Mom, I know you. And this is blow money. I want you to just do something with this. Don’t bank it. Don’t spend it on the kids. Just get something for yourself with it.”
cc: This is my of helping (inaudible) so.
mb: How special.
cc: Isn’t that neat? My daughter is Nancy Meyers (inaudible) every time she gets three days off she goes home and she calls me oh, all, every week of the world, sometimes twice a week (inaudible) and my grandson that’s a doctor lives in Louisville. And he says, “Grandma, I’m looking at a house and the one I’m lookin at has four bedrooms. Now one of those bedrooms is for you (inaudible). So I’m lucky (inaudible) so. It’s, it’s a good life. (inaudible) “Oh Mom, what would we have ever done if it’d been you instead of Dad? What would we have done, cause it’s.” She used to tell me, “Mom, get a suit and a shirt and tie and socks and everything in the box and put them under your bed.” I said, “What for?” She said, “Well, if you ever die, Dad couldn’t hardly get dressed. So get a set of clothes out, will you?” Because I laid his clothes out. I’ve done all those things but he, he would do things for me. Uh, I done things like that but e, e, uh, if I’d get sick he would, “What can I do? What can I, can I?” And I just wanted to be left alone!
49:56 cc: But ah, he always wanted (inaudible). The 40s were good years. They were fun years even though I was married young and had children young. But still I enjoyed my life. I had a good life.
mb: What year were you married in?
cc: 1944. I was married before I was out of high school but then you couldn’t go to school and be married. No way. And if you was pregnant, there was no way you could go to school. So we didn’t let anyone know we was married for over a year.
mb: Oh, what was that like?
cc: Well, wasn’t a, not very good. I mean, to be married and have to sneak around to be with your husband. And, and you always had to be home by ten o’clock, you know. And but that’s the way I wanted it because I wanted to finish my school.
mb: Mm hm.
cc: So I did.
mb: So how did you get to spend time with him?
cc: Not very much.
mb: Mm, where would you guys meet?
cc: Oh, he’d pick me up for a date. We dated.
cc: And we’d been daten for over a year so that wasn’t unusual. And that’s what we did. Just dated (inaudible).
cc: Then why did you decide to get married.
mb: Because we just loved each other and we wanted to be with each other. And I had a lot of things in my mind which you don’t do and you do do. That was just it. To have any intimacy at all I had to be married (inaudible).
cc: So that’s just exactly the way it was and he understood that I wanted it that way because I wanted to graduate from high school. And I did. And I graduated as Crystal Johnson, too, because that was the name I wanted on my diploma. So it’s been an interesting (inaudible).
mb: What were the feelings as you, as you graduated and you realized you didn’t have to be, kinda be in the dark any more about it?
cc: Oh, it was a relief, I mean, a relief for both of us. So it was great.
mb: Where did you go from there? Did you move right in with your parents, er ?
cc: Moved in with his parents.
cc: And then after that we lived with my parents a while and then we got our first (inaudible). And after that we was on our own but we had saved money, you know, we was, we was ready to, to start our ah. And it wasn’t very long for e we had one child and 13 months later we had another child.
cc: And so ah, Nancy, she’s five years (inaudible).
mb: Were your friends, did your friends know at all about your marriage?
cc: Mmm mmm. Nobody knew it.
mb: How did they find out?
cc: We told them after graduation. We told them and showed them the marriage license. So, (laughter) and we went to Anderson to get married. We didn’ t get married in Grant County (inaudible) out of town. And you could do it then but you can’t, see there was no blood test, any of that stuff back then.
mb: Were you scared (inaudible)?
cc: No! Not at all.
cc: Yeah, it was a secret, you know. It was.
cc: A well-kept secret, too. But we enjoyed it. We were all right.
mb: How did your parents feel about that?
cc: They couldn’t believe it. They just couldn’t believe that we had done that.
mb: So they didn’t know about that?
cc: Oh no no no no no. Nobody. If somebody found it out it was gonna get back to school so we just absolutely could tell no one. We didn’t have anyone stand up with us that we knew. Nothing.
cc: But we got married by Justice of the Peace and then with our 50th anniversary we got married again.
mb: Oh, neat.
cc: By the preach, our minister. Had a beautiful 40th anniversary party. We had a beautiful 50th anniversary party our kids gave us. And our 60th we was planning (inaudible) but I’m gonna take it by myself now.
cc: This fall.
mb: So are you glad that you guys got married?
cc: Oh, yes. Oh yes, oh yes. I’ve never regretted being married.
cc: Never. The only thing that really bothered me was here I was still you, with children and my friends were still dancing and partying and, and I wasn’t doing those things. I ‘us changing diapers and raising babies. And for a while I think that bothered me but then after a while that didn’t bother me at all.
cc: But I had two beautiful babies.
54:13 cc: That’s just part of it. Anything else you need to know? I think we got it. Did you get enough for your.
mb: Thank you so much.
54:26 cc: You’re welcome. There’s no problem at all.