Margie Vice

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Personal narrative of Margie Vice
From: Margie Vice (mv)
Medium: Audio tape
Date: Tuesday, April 27, 1999
Place: Home of Margie Vice, 2805 Lincoln Blvd., Marion, Indiana 46953
Collected by: Chaunce Windle (cw)

00:00 cw: I am Chaunce Windle. This is April 27, 1999. This is being recorded at 2805 Lincoln Blvd. I am speaking with Mrs. Vice. Please state your name.

mv: Margie Vice

cw: Do I have permission to interview you?

mv: Yes.

cw: Do I have your permission to submit this interview to Marion High School?

mv: Yes.

cw: Do I have your permission to submit this interview to the Marion Public Library?

mv: Yes.

Oral HIstory of Margie Vice

Early Married Life

0:26.44 cw: Okay, I guess we can begin. Mrs. Vice, tell me a little bit about your family life during the 1940s and kind of day-to-day life as you were growing up.

mv: All right, um, . . . 1940 was the year of my high school graduation so, uh, . . . excuse me . . . in 1940 I was still living at home with my parents and, excuse me, um, I met my husband . . . actually I knew him when we were children. We went to 28th Street School, which is no longer there, up there on 28th Street. We both went there in elementary school and then when I moved back to Marion from Cleveland where my parents had . . . we’d lived for a while, um . . . he and I started going together and then I graduated in June of '40 and . . . I think . . . I think you’re going to have to shut it off. I think I have to get a drink of water.

cw: Okay, that’s fine.

Life on a Shoestring Budget

mv: When I graduated, I had a scholarship to IU University but, um, somebody talked me into not going to college and getting married instead so in October of that year we got married. And we had nothing; I mean literally nothing. We moved into a two-room apartment on Washington Street. We paid five dollars a week for it and, uh, it was upstairs where the Morris Furniture store (inaudible). And we lived up there. We had no car. We had no washer. We had to take our laundry to my mother’s and do it. And my husband worked at Farnsworth at that time. And we were very thrift[sic]and very frugal and, uh, unbelievable for people in this day and age to realize how, how little we had, how careful we had to be.

Birth of Children

Um,and then we moved around some. I was always trying to find a better place to live, a place I liked better. But and then in, um, October of '41 my first son was born. And he was born at home, which was very common in those days, although people were starting to go to the hospital more.

cw: Uh huh.

mv: But everybody you know had . . . all my friends had babies. Of course, I had to have a baby. And, but anyway, it was a lot of fun. Yeah, but we knew that war was imminent . . . or that draft was imminent for my husband so he was drafted then in, um, probably in about ‘43. I’m not real sure of the year. And, um, he was in two years which was a (inaudible). And, uh, near the end of his time he was captured and went to prison of war for a short time and came home on a prisoner of war ship. And, uh, after he came home (inaudible).

Um, he came home then and, uh, I, of course, had always wanted another child so we decided to have another, another one. And, uh, our younger son was born in 1946 and, uh, we had our little family and we lived in a very small house, um, and, um, little. We had a bedroom, little tiny kitchen, and a living room. And then we . . . his parents owned the house . . . and then they built on a big kitchen and a another big room for us.

Social Life

And, uh, this was before our son was born so our life revolved around our family, and we did everything with every family . . . our friends, with our friends and their children. And, excuse me, we lived almost across the street from the church that we attended so that was pretty much our social life. We went to church, and we, uh, socialized with the people in it.

There was a church campground out in front that we would all sit at, and we had cookouts at one another’s homes. We, uh, we didn’t go out and eat. We would have people in, you know, but we didn’t have money to go out and eat. Sometimes after church we would go out and have, uh, a hamburger and a milkshake. That was a big treat, a really big treat, and, uh, that was about the extent of our eating out.

First Car

We, uh, we didn’t have a whole lot. Well, we didn’t have a car for quite a while. Uh, the first car we had we couldn’t get tires and we couldn’t get gas and, uh, it was hard to even keep it running so then we always used to borrow my parents' car to go someplace,you know, if we went someplace else. But we finally, we finally did get a car and, uh, well, then like I said we didn’t travel much but, um, after we got the car, um, we got a bonus from the service and we, we, to a trip to California and, uh, I think that (inaudible) but that was a big treat a big trip.

Traveling: Cars, Trucks, and Trains

cw: It probably wasn’t very common for people to take a vacation.

mv: No, oh no. People didn’t go very far away. They went to Kentucky but not, uh, not, uh . . .

6:26.35 cw: Was that the first time you’d left the state?

mv: Well, I, we had both been out of the state when we were younger with our families because both of our families were travelers, too. But, and my dad, he drove a, uh, he delivered new trucks. And sometimes when he was, when he had to take a truck to someplace out of state, my mother would drive our car and we would all go in the car and then he’d come back with us instead of coming back on a bus or train.

And, um, and that’s another thing: we did use the train some. When my husband was in the service, um, he was stationed in Cleveland at the end of his time, and, um, you could get the train. You had to go to Muncie to get the train, but that’s the way that I went up there sometimes. And, uh, so he was up there a while in the recruiting office, and I’d go up on the train and stay with him. He lived in a private home. He rented a room in a home and, uh, I was able to stay there.

And then my brother was in the, he was in the (inaudible), and he was, he came home on a hospital ship. He was ill, and he was put in a hospital in Cleveland so I would go up and see my brother. And, and there was some, I don’t know, you know, we didn’t feel like we were deprived because nobody else had any more than we had.

cw: Yeah.

One Income Family But . . .

8:01.13 mv: So we felt it was all right, you know, but for the time my husband had a decent job. He, uh, he worked at Farnsworth for about ten years and then we went to Fort Wayne and then he went to RCA which is Thompson now. And, uh, so for, for many years he was the only support of our family.

cw: Uh huh.

Lawn Improvement

8:23.26 mv: But I was, I was, I was always wanting to do a lot of things. I was (inaudible).

cw: Uh huh.

mv: I was putting, I had dirt hauled in and then seeded our yard, and, uh, I was very energetic in those days.

cw: Uh huh.

Care of Seven Boys (Margie's Two Plus)

mv: And then my sister was working, and she had three little boys. I took care of them and a friend of mine had two little boys and I took care of them and my two so I had seven boys that I took care of. And they were all, um, pretty compatible. And, uh, they were quite a range of ages, but they always had someone to play with, you know. And, uh, I would cut their hair, all seven of them, get then out in the back on a stool and just cut them one, you know. I used clippers. They wore flat tops then which were a little difficult to do.

World War II

But, uh, oh, I had forgot when we were talking about the war, about the rationing.

cw: Yeah.

Money Allotment

9:26.57 mv: Uh, that was a difficult time because, uh, well, for one thing during the war my allotment of money was eighty dollars a month. I got sixty dollars for a wife and twenty for the first child, and, if I had another child, it would have been ten dollars.

cw: Uh huh.

mv: For a month.

cw: Uh huh.

mv: You can imagine raising a child on ten dollars a month.

cw: That would be difficult.

mv: It was difficult. It was very difficult. Um, I probably, I don’t know how I’d have managed if I hadn’t been close to my, close to my parents and Elton’s parents.

cw: Yh huh.

Support of Parents

mv: We all lived within a block from one another, and, uh, so you know we, we would go there. Well, when we were first married, we went to his parents every Sunday for chicken and - fried chicken and all that stuff. And so that kind of kept us going, but, uh, we didn’t, uh, we didn’t overeat.

cw: Uh huh.

mv: Nobody, nobody was very heavy in those days.

cw: What kinds of things were rationed?


mv: Well, uh, shoes were rationed. I guess I remember that because I’ve always had a big thing about shoes. I always loved shoes. Shoes, you got two pair a year of shoes. And, uh, then, uh, and one time my husband took one of his ration tickets and bought our son a little pair of cowboy boots. I had a fit because I, you know, I said, "No, they’re not good for his feet." They were flat, just pull-on shoes. I wanted him to wear regular shoes, but, um, he loved them, of course. And, um, well, I made him a cowboy outfit, too. I sewed a lot as well.

cw: Uh huh.


11:09.88 mv: Um, I was - sounds like bragging but - I was a pretty good seamstress. I made things like one year, one time I made, uh, I got gray wool, and I made a suit for myself. And it was a lined blazer with a skirt. And I made a pair of little trousers for our son and, uh, I just had the one boy, and a, and a little topcoat for him. And then I bought him one of those little - and they wore - it was gray, gray flannel, I bought him one of those little gray caps. I believe it was a cap.

cw: Uh huh.

mv: I mean we were pretty, pretty smartly decked out. Well, you know, you dressed up for church all the time. You wore hats, and you wore dresses. We never wore anything but dresses in those days. And, uh, so, but I did sew a lot and, uh, make clothes for the, my son and for myself.

Canning & Ironing with Friends

And, uh, I, I did a lot with my friends. Another thing, most of them didn’t work, and we would get together and, um, can together. We would sew together. We would iron together. You can imagine going and taking your ironing. Well, we ironed so much because my husband wore a white shirt every day to work. And, uh, in the summer I had trousers to iron, and the boys wore (inaudible). Everything was cotton, you know; we didn’t have nylon.

cw: Uh huh.

mv: Borlon, rayon, everything was cotton pretty much, and, uh, so we did a lot of ironing (break in tape). Oh, and I crocheted, and I knit and embroidery.

cw: Wow.

mv: And, uh, I did a lot of things like that. So I, I kept busy all the time until I, and, uh, in ’55, I went to college, and that changed my life a lot.

cw: Uh huh.

mv: And there wasn’t time to do all those things.

13:21.04 cw: Where was your husband stationed during the war?

Husband's War Experience

mv: He was in Germany. He landed in France, in (inaudible). He was in Germany when he was captured.

cw: uh huh.

The Telegram: Bad News

mv: And uh I got a telegram. They had told us that, if you got a telegram that was bad news, um, they wouldn’t leave you by yourself.

cw: Uh huh.

mv: So I was just getting ready to go out, and our, our son was someplace else. One of the grandmothers took him because one lived across the street and one lived the next street over. And I saw this woman get out of the car and come up to the door, and, um, you know it was always scary.

cw: Uh huh.

mv: And, uh, but anyway she, uh, came to the door, and I thought, well, she won’t . . . when she handed me the telegram. I thought it can’t be bad because she would not have left me but she ran to her car almost and, I mean, she was just, she never came in. She ran to the car and left and was turning around in the street and driving away and I thought, well, you know it can’t be bad -

cw: Yeah.

mv: - because she wouldn’t do that but it was. And it said he missing in action and, uh, then I went across the street to the minister’s house and, uh, and then my mother-in-law lived next door to the church and I, I went there and spoke to her.

The Telegram: Good News

And, uh, a week later I got a telegram that he was all right and I was over at my mother’s at the time and my son was there and my sister was there. And the lady who brought the telegram came in the house -

cw: Wow.

mv: - and stayed for a while. It made a, it wasn’t the same woman, but it made a big difference that she was bringing good news.

cw: Uh huh.

mv: So she stayed there and, uh, talked to us and visited and, but it was hard times.

Sister's Husband: Shot Down and Killed Overseas

My sister’s, well, like I said, my brother came on home on a hospital ship and, and then my sister’s husband was, uh, a flyer. He flew a B-17. And, uh, he was shot down and killed overseas. He was buried in Holland. I’m not sure exactly where he was shot down, but, uh, he was buried in Holland. His mother later had his body brought back, but he was also, besides being my sister’s fiance, he was my husband’s dear friend.

cw: Uh huh.

mv: That’s how my sister met him. So we had a, we had a lot of obstacles but, and I kept up a correspondence with a lot of our friends that were in the service.

cw: Uh huh.

Battling Loneliness

mv: Uh, I wrote to lots of them. And, uh, (break in tape). Yeah, yeah, it was, it was very lonely.

cw: Uh huh.

mv: I mean, just the two of us and, uh, I, I remember the first Christmas was so bad. Uh, this lady that’s out there, her family lived next door to us down on 29th where we lived, and, uh, I mean, her husband’s family. Her husband lived around there, too. And I, I remember I’m going in one day and seeing them all trooping in together, you know, the family with the father and the mother and the kids, and it was, it was very difficult. Even though I had my family here close, it just wasn’t the same, you know.

cw: Right.

mv: And I used to sit up. And I’ve always been a night owl but, uh, at that time, you know, being there by myself, I never wanted to go to bed. I would sit up and crochet or read until all hours of the night, in the morning. But, uh, I just, uh, it was a very emotional time, you know (inaudible).


18:28.54 cw: Um, do you remember any instances of segregation during the '40s?

mv: Um, it was a very, very prominent thing, I remember, but, uh, it was very different than now. There weren’t as many blacks in Marion as there are now. Um, a very small percentage. In my high school class of 235, I don’t imagine there were more that ten or twelve blacks out of that number so you know it wasn’t -

cw: Wow.

mv: - wasn’t a high percentage of blacks in Marion. And that was, that was typical for the whole city.

Memories of the Lynching

But, um, of course, I lived here - I was real young, eight, maybe eight, eight or so - when they had the lynching here in Marion.

cw: Uh huh.

mv: So that was very prominent in my mind. That was a very scary time. Uh, we lived clear out south, but the news came out of what was going on -

cw: Uh huh.

mv: - and everybody was, was afraid, you know; it was just a very difficult time.

Locker Rooms

But, um, then when I was I high school - um, I’m not sure why, whether they were told or whether they chose, I would guess they probably were told - but the, in the gym we, the white girls, all dressed in the girls' locker room, and the black girls all dressed and showered in the boys' locker room.

cw: Uh huh.

mv: We never, we never were together except - well, when we were out on the floor, we played basketball and things like that together, but we didn’t use the same locker rooms.

cw: Uh huh.

mv: And, um, we didn’t, well, I didn’t know (inaudible). My parents had always been, um, I feel like pretty liberal - or not liberal but pretty unbiased in a sense, in one way. Um, I can remember that, that, that, that, you know, that you were no better than anybody else.

cw: Uh huh.

Common Terminology

mv: They were as good as we are. But when we lived in Cleveland, all foreigners were Pollocks -

cw: Uh huh.

mv: - and they referred to black people as niggers.

cw: Uh huh.

mv: You know, it was just common terminology. People, I don’t, well, I don’t know if they meant it in a, a derogatory way because it’s just the way it, they said it, you know. And, uh, so that was, that was very commonplace. But there were no blacks in this neighborhood. Um, well, I think there was one black family that lived down the street, uh, Morrells. That was kind of the edge of the neighborhood.

cw: Uh huh.

mv: But in the neighborhood there were no blacks (inaudible). And, uh, these people around here and my husband’s family were all from Kentucky so they were, uh, I’d say kind of prejudiced.

cw: Uh huh.

mv: You know, not unkind, but they just felt there was a difference, quite a difference there. And, but now, of course, there’s a lot higher percentage in Marion so that makes a big difference.

Louisiana: Shoe Stores, Drinking Fountains, and Work

cw: Uh huh. Do you remember any certain places being segregated?

mv: I remember when, when my husband was in the service and my mother-in-law, father-in-law, and I were young and our son, who was still little - he was two years old, went to Louisiana to visit him on the train. And when we were down there, uh, we went, we went to a shoe store, and I think I sat down in the wrong area.

cw: Really?

mv: Yeah, and, of course, we had different drinking fountains, too, down there.

cw: Uh huh.

mv: But, um, you know, I, I wanted to stay down there with him and I said something to these people - we were staying in a private home - and I said, well, maybe I could stay and, uh, work as a maid and they said, oh no, they had blacks for that.

cw: Oh.

mv: They didn’t, they didn’t see that as something they would hire me for.

cw: Uh huh.

mv: And, uh, so, you know, it was very segregated.

cw: Uh huh.


mv: Um, I’m sure that, well, and, of course, um, there were no blacks in my husband’s, um, division.

cw: Uh huh.

mv: If, there were hundreds of men but no blacks. Um, they would put them in different . . . and I’ve got pictures of that (inaudible).

cw: Uh huh.


Reunions, Hiking, Birthdays

mv: And we’d go to these reunions every year (inaudible while showing pictures).

24:05.10 cw: So besides church activities, what other kinds of things did you do for entertainment?

mv: Well, as I said, we did, uh, we did things with our friends, and we’d go, like we’d go places like Turkey Run and hike.

cw: Uh huh.

mv: And, uh, we did a lot of outdoor activities, um, and we did a lot with, with relatives, too. I mean my family would, uh, we’d have, uh, I think about once a month, we’d have a, a big dinner and for everybody’s birthdays. And, uh, we got with my husband’s parents a lot. We had Christmas get-togethers and things like that.

cw: Uh huh.

mv: Um, but we didn’t, um, we didn’t go to the show. But, and, um, we didn’t go out and eat. And we didn’t, like I said, we didn’t travel a whole lot.

cw: Uh huh.

mv: Um, but we did, we were, we did a lot of things together. I can’t ever remember, I can’t remember us going out just the two of us or going out with another couple.

cw: Uh huh.

First Night Out Alone

mv: We didn’t do that. We went out with our, with our kids. Our kids were always involved. We were always with our family. And, um, well, one time we did go out. Uh, we lived about four, four or five blocks from our parents at the time, and, uh, our son was just a baby, real little, and we decided to go to a show. And so we left him at his mother’s house, and we were going to leave him there all night. And, uh, we had put him in a baby carriage.

cw: Uh huh.

mv: (inaudible) And so we came home from the show, and we got off the streetcar on our street right there. And we got off the streetcar, and I said, uh, "I can’t do this. I can’t leave him. I can’t leave him down there."

cw: Uh huh.

mv: And so we could have ridden the streetcar down to their house, but I hadn’t made up my mind so we couldn’t do it until I got off the streetcar. So I said, "I can’t, I can’t leave him. I’ve got to go get him." So we walked then all the way down and got him and brought him back to our place.

cw: Uh huh.

mv: Of course, by the time we had the second one, I was glad to leave them.

Transportation: Streetcars and Bicycles and Feet

cw: Yeah. Did most people ride the streetcars to get to and from places?

mv: Yeah, oh, a lot, yeah. When we were dating, we rode our bicycles a lot, too.

cw; Uh huh.

mv: And even, well, I always rode my bike a lot. I even rode it after my kids were little.

cw: Uh huh.

mv: I mean, I would take my kids to the grocery store in the basket on the bike, one of them, you know.

cw: Uh huh.

mv: And, uh, so we, and we walked quite a bit. We walked a lot more places than we do now. So we didn’t have schoolbuses, and we, we rode the streetcar to school. It was too far to walk. I remember walking home once. That was a long while from the high school.

cw: Uh huh.

mv: And I did it to save some money because I think, um, the streetcar was a nickel, and my parents had given me a quarter a day so that left me fifteen cents for lunch -

cw: Uh huh.

mv: - and nothing for a, nothing for recreation. Yeah, I had two jobs, but, uh, jobs were hard to come by and, uh, paid, uh, almost nothing, you know, very little money. We still didn’t have much to do anything. I mean, I guess some people did. My parents, I think they could have afforded to give us more when we were in high school, but they didn’t so we didn’t have much.


27:57.35 cw: Uh, you talked earlier in the pre-interview about being able to, uh, buy things from the grocery store on credit and borrowing from them.

mv: Yeah.

cw: Can you tell me a little bit more about that?

Buying on Credit

mv: Okay. We, everybody ran a bill. Um, I mean that was common. I suppose everybody did. All of us did. I ran a bill by the week when I was growing up, and there was a big grocery store down on 38th Street, Bob’s Pharmacy Store. And, uh, he just died this last week and then his son was here and his two daughters and we would talk a lot about those days back then. But we would, uh, we’d get our groceries.

And when I was young, I can remember my parents paying the bill, and then, uh, they’d give them a little sack of candy for a treat, for Saturday, for paying the bill. And that was a big, that was a big treat to get that little sack of candy.

Borrowing to Make Ends Meet

And, um, then when, when my husband was in the service, of course, I, I always had a bill at the store, but I ran it by the month -

cw: Uh huh.

mv: - because I got a monthly check. And, um, so when it got near the end of the month and money got tight, I would, my friend and I, - uh, her husband was in the service, too, and she had a little boy - and we would go into the grocery and say, uh, "We’d like to have five dollars." And we’d, they’d give us a five dollar bill and put it on our bill. So and then when we got our check, we’d pay the bill.

cw: Uh huh.

Receiving Help from the Grocer

mv: And then we’d be low on money again, I guess. But, um, we were talking about that, and the one daughter, his one daughter says she remembers, uh, how he used to, uh, I guess give the people at church, uh, a sack of candy, of candy at Christmas.

cw: Oh, yeah.

29:43.35 mv: And she said she could remember filling those little brown sacks with candy, and that proves, you know, 'cause his kids all had to work in the store. And he was also very good when on rationing day, uh, if he had something, uh, got something in, he would tell me, you know, "I’ve got this or that, and I’ll let you have it."

cw: Uh huh.

mv: So meat was rationed, uh, and uh, of course, gasoline and tires.

cw: Uh huh.

mv: Those were the things I remember. There were a lot of other things. I think sugar was rationed also.

cw: Uh huh.

mv: And, uh, 'cause I remember one time I went in and he said he had some Karo syrup had come in and, uh, I could get that. But, um, and I think I told you about getting together and going to Canada.

cw: Oh, yes.

mv: During the rationing

cw: Yes.

Saga of Canadian Shopping Trip

Buying Shoes

mv: I went, went to Canada one time, and I was with three women. There were three women and three men of us, and one was a minister and his wife. Anyway we, we women wanted to go over to Canada. We were in, uh, Detroit, I guess. We took a cab and went over there, and, uh, I think that maybe we were in, uh, Ontario. And, uh, I bought a pair of shoes for myself and a pair for my son and, uh, we shopped around a little bit and spent some time over there and then we started back. Well, we were going to walk back across the bridge.

cw: Uh huh.

Delayed at the Border

mv: An u by that time of the day everybody had come over there to buy meat. They were lined up, and it took us hours, literally hours to get back.

cw: Uh huh.

Waiting for Their Return

mv: And in the meantime the, the, the minister and the other two men that were with us had to check out of the hotel, you know. We had to get out by a certain time.

cw: Uh huh.

mv: So they had to, they went in our room (this girl and I were together). They went in our room and threw all our stuff in our suitcases including the towels which we didn’t intend to steal.

cw: Yeah.

mv: I don’t know why they grabbed up the towels, I mean, because they didn’t either. But, um, they threw all that, just literally threw it in the suitcases.

And when we got back, they were walking up and down in front of the hotel just frantic because they said they just, they, after they thought about it, they thought that the taxi driver looked very suspicious. They figured we’d been kidnapped. So it was, uh, I never enjoyed those shoes either after. I never liked them very well. I can remember exactly what they looked like. And I, I don’t know whether it was because I suffered so to get them home or not.

cw: Uh huh.

mv: But anyway I, I thought I had to go (break in tape).