California Council for the Humanities

California Stories Initiative

Years of Valor, Years of Hope

Tulare County and the Years 1941-1946

Tulare County Library

The Friends of the Tulare County Library

And the Tulare County Historical Society

Interviews in 2003-2004

Interviewee: Tenella Bostard

Date of Interview: 17 April 2004

Interviewer:  Carol Demmers

Place of interview: Mrs. Bostard’s home

Places where Mrs. Bostard lived during 1941 to 1946:

Subjects covered in the interview: Life in Tulare, family life, death in the family.


CD: Today is April 17, 2004. I am Carol Demmers and I will be interviewing Tenella Bostard in her home in Visalia, California, as part of the oral history program entitled "Years of Valor, Years of Hope, Tulare County and the years 1941-1946."

What is your full name and where were you born?

TB: My full name is Tenella Lovelady Bostard. I was born in Brawley, California. 1925, if you want to know.

CD: And what was -- your maiden name was Lovelady?

TB: Lovelady.

CD: And where did you grow up?

TB: When I was five going on six we moved to Riverside.

CD: How long did you live in Riverside?

TB: I went to the first and second grade at a country school 12 miles out of Riverside. My folks had a business across from March Field, which today is March Airbase. William Harrison Lovelady and May (Munn) Lovelady were my parents. Then we moved to Pasadena and I lived there. I started -- I went to half of the third grade in Pasadena and they put me up into the fourth because the little country school was way advanced compared to the city school.  And we were there until I was ten going on eleven. And we moved to Visalia on the ranch out here on Ben Maddox Way north of the river, St. John’s River. And there we stayed until 1938 and we moved to Tulare and my dad leased a motel and service station across from the fairgrounds next to Mary Jo’s Café on the old 99 Highway.

CD: So, did you have brother and sisters?

TB: I’m the baby of ten children, so I guess I did. The ten children are Oleana May, Belva (Myers), Lanham, Lawrence, May Pearl (Eaton/Kanawyer), Marlin, Virginia (Walker),Byron, Lois (Farley) and Tenella.  And my parents raised all of us to adulthood but one, Oleana Mae, the first child, who died at five months.  So, nine of us grew to adulthood.

CD: And you had mentioned your name is Tenella because you were the 10th child?

TB: Tenth child, right.

CD: Are your brothers and sisters still alive?

TB: Only one. I have a sister, Lois, just older than myself.

CD: The two youngest?

TB: Yes.

CD: And so it sounds like you moved around quite a bit. So your parents, did your dad do different kinds of work?

TB: Yes, he did. We had a business in Riverside. He worked in Brawley -- I’m not sure. I know he was an iceman for a while. And also I think at a cotton gin or something.

But then we moved to Pasadena from Riverside because my brother graduated from Riverside High School and he got a scholarship to Pasadena Junior College. Education was very important to my folks. So, we moved to Pasadena and my brother got a scholarship the first year and the second year to Pasadena Junior College. So, that’s where we stayed for a while because at Pasadena Junior College he also got a scholarship to USC in Los Angeles and he finished his college on scholarship.

He kind of was smart. He used to make his spending money -- because this was depression -- writing essays for the wealthy. Like the Firestone daughter and that sort of thing. And he charged ten dollars for an A and five dollars for a B. Well, my folks had the restaurant then in Pasadena on Colorado Street. Used to see the Rose Parade, came right by us. And we lived on Pasadena Avenue. So, you know.

And then when my brother finished college and the war was going to come out, my folks moved up to a ranch in Visalia on Ben Maddox and we stayed there while my brother, the youngest boy, and my sister older than I, and myself, went to school. My brother graduated high school and I graduated 8th Grade here in Visalia.

Then we moved to Tulare. And my folks got the service station and the motel. Then the war was coming. And my brother had to go in. So, my dad sold that. And we moved to South H Street And he got the grocery store on North E Street. And that’s where all of these food stamps stuff comes together.

CD: So, how old were you when the United Stated entered the war?

TB: Well, I was 16 when I graduated from high school in 1942. We started, what, in ’41? Yes, so I’d be 15 going on 16.

CD: And so at that time you were living in Tulare then?

TB: Oh, yeah.

CD: Do you remember where you were when you heard about the attack on Pearl Harbor?

TB: Well, it was Sunday morning, so I was home. And I had three brothers in the service.

CD: Already.

TB: Yeah. Already in the service before that.

CD: Did you have the radio on that morning?

TB: Probably. That’s all you had. There wasn’t any television. If you didn’t have the radio on, somebody hollered and told you.

CD: Yeah. I imagine the family was quite concerned.

TB: It was bad.

CD: Did you know where Pearl Harbor was at that time?

TB: Well, hardly. You know, we didn’t travel around. You’re in a big family, you don’t have money to go and they didn’t have airplanes going like now.

CD: Because you had brothers in the service, you probably knew quite a bit about World War II already, what was happening in the world and with the war before Pearl Harbor; is that right? Do you remember talking about --

TB: Oh, no. Pearl Harbor started it all.

CD: You didn’t hear much about what was going on in Europe before that?

TB: Well, I had a brother (Byron) in the Navy in Europe. And this youngest son was in the Air Force and he was stationed in North Africa and he bombed over Italy and Sicily. And he got shot -- I mean the plane did and he got flak in his leg and a hole in the cockpit. So he had to fly above the fighting in an unpressurized plane because they had air. So when he got back to North Africa and landed, they had to give him morphine to get him off the plane. He somehow or other -- it causes immediate -- not immediate, but arthritic condition. So, that was the end of his service.

From there they brought him to New York to the hospital there and then on to Texas. He spent two and a half years in the Veteran’s Hospital in Texas convalescing. But he always had an emotional problem with it. And not because of the fear but because he had a guilt of bombing the Italians and Sicilians. And there’s something that civilians don’t understand, you know.

CD: So, was he able to have somewhat of a normal life after he --

TB: Oh, yeah. He married a nurse (Ammie Jo) that was in the service. She was a patient at the hospital. She got arthritis, also. And they met at the hospital and fell in love and they married. And they had three children (Dianne, Linda and Lester). They lived in Tulare. And after he got out, he went into the grocery business with my mother and father.

CD: And how about your other brothers? Did they come home safely?

TB: My oldest brother, Lanham, was killed on the U.S.S. St. Lo in a fire during the invasion of Leyte. And he had a six months old baby (Lanham Ray). He got a special leave to come home and be there when the baby was born (of Bessie (Cravy) Lovelady).  And I took him to the train that night. And he went to San Diego and shipped out. The baby was born the 31st of March and he was killed in October. So, you know, that’s pretty rough for my parents who had four boys, you know, in the service. The one brother (Marlin) that was the scholar, he was an officer in the Navy and he was in the Mediterranean on a ship and then they brought him back for some R&R and then he shipped out to the Pacific, to the Philippines. But he came through fine and became a CPA.

CD: How did that experience change how you or affect how you feel now about war?

TB: It’s the worst thing on earth. It truly is. I know according to the Good Book there’ll be wars and more wars until the end of time. And most of it is due to religion, which is a shame. It’s supposed to bring people together, but it doesn’t.

And I guess the worst thing in my memory is the fact that when my sister-in-law got the telegram about my brother, she called the store and I had taken my dad home. He rested and worked in his garden and then I’d go get him to help with the afternoon break, late afternoon rush, and be there to close up with us. And mother stayed at the store. Well, I got back from taking Pop home and my mother said, "Oh, Bessie wants you to call her. I don’t know what she had to tell you that she couldn’t tell me." Well, I called her. And I remember what she told me. And I said, "You’ve got to be kidding." You know, I was a kid. Well, she broke down and I said, "Okay." She said, "You have to tell the folks, I can’t."

So, I told mother. I had never seen my mother go to pieces. She did. She threw her arms back and it was really touchy. So, I finally got her calmed down. And I told her that she just could not act like that. My brother would not like it. She pulled herself together and she said, "You’re right." And she got up and started working around in the store and I said, "Mother, let’s close the place up, put a sign on the door and go home cause we have to tell Pop." She said, "No, I’ve got to stay busy. But you go home and tell him."

Well, mother was five foot two. She was heavy-set but she was only five two. My daddy was six feet one. And not skinny. And I remember I got out of the car and he was working in his garden and he looked at me and he said, "Sugar, what’s wrong?" I looked at the size of him and I knew I couldn’t pick him up. I said, "Let’s go in the house. I have to tell you something." So we did and I sat him down.  Well, men are different, you know. He just sat there. And I said, "Pop, you want to turn the water off and go back to the store with me?" And he said, "No, you go be with your mother." He dealt with it alone. So, that’s what I did. What, at 18, 19, years old, you know. But we were brought up to do what we had to do and we did.

CD: I would imagine. Let’s go to something a little more pleasant.

TB: All right.

CD: Although it was hard times any way you look at it was hard times, but I would imagine that those actual war years had a big impact on your family’s business.

TB: The what?

CD: Those years during the war had a big impact, the rationing and all of that?

TB: Oh, yeah.

CD: Was it hard economically to get by?

TB: Actually, you know, it might have helped economically because people basically are selfish. And if you have a book with stamps that says you can get this or get that, you’re going to get it whether you really need it that day or not. Because it’s rationed.

CD: You’d be worried you couldn’t get it later.

TB: So, economically, it probably helped. And another thing helped their little business, gasoline was rationed and people didn’t have the gas or the money you know to go from store to store. So the neighborhood traded at the neighborhood. And that helped a whole bunch financially with my folks.

CD: You know, now-a-days if people were to go to the store and they had no sugar to be purchased they would be pretty angry about that. Did that happen, where you as a business couldn’t get certain items and were people upset by that?

TB: Oh, bacon was hard to come by. And I don’t remember why, but bologna seemed to be plentiful, the big old things of bologna. And we didn&'t have a slicing machine. But I got to where I could slice a pound of bologna right on. If you practice something long enough, you get to be pretty good at it. And they were nice slices, not thick, that sort of thing. So, I don’t know if it was rationed or if it was popular because it was cheap and nobody had much money.

CD: Do you remember, were there lines of people sometimes waiting to get into the store? Or was it something that you’d just come in to purchase something?

TB: Oh, no. We were a neighborhood. And besides, my folks looked after their regular customers first. 

CD: What about produce, did you sell a lot of produce?

TB: We didn’t have produce. My dad had his vegetable and fruit garden at home. That’s when they had the victory gardens.

CD: So, most people grew their own produce?

TB: Yes. Maybe bananas if they had them, which I don’t remember them having that.  But I know we had a couple that lived across the street for a while and she was from the South and my daddy raised okra in his garden, and, oh, she hadn’t had okra. So we brought her some. Well, southerners, my folks were from Texas, so they understood about okra.

CD: And I heard a couple of stories; I know the stamps, the food stamps, and gas stamps, weren’t supposed to be transferred around; you were supposed to just use your own, but I get the feeling that didn’t always happen. Were you aware of that?

TB: Yeah, but I couldn’t say anything. Because -- well, like these books you see here. There’s some left over. Well, you have a family of four, five, six people or more; you got a lot of books and a lot of stamps. And the couple across the street, one or two; or maybe a single person, one. They couldn’t get enough. So when they had them, you know, plentiful, they’d leave a book with my mother and dad at the store and she would kind of help other folks out. Well, why not.

CD: It should be that way. Did anyone else in the family, besides your brothers in the service, leave to go to work in the shipyards or anything like that?

TB: No. I had one other brother, Lawrence, and he was a printer.  But he had caught his arm in the printing press before the war. So he was 4F, I guess you’d call it, because of his crippled arm. He couldn’t pass the physical. So, he worked at the time at the Brawley newspaper as a printer.

CD: The name of your parents’ grocery store was Lovelady’s? What was the name of the supermarket or the store?

TB: There was no supermarket. It was Lovelady’s Grocery.

CD: Lovelady’s Grocery.

TB: You go look at the calendar and you’ll get it down, 1945 calendar.

CD: So, did you write a lot of letters to your brothers that were in the service?

TB: No. Mother did that and my sister-in-law. I wrote to boyfriends, you know, those were important.

CD: So, how was courting and romance and dating in those days?

TB: Well --

CD: Difficult. I know at home there weren’t a lot of young men left.

TB: I had one in Italy . He won the Croix de Guerre twice. He was in the Tank Corp, was injured and they had him -- they didn’t have a hospital base,- - they had him convalesced in a home and his letters were what they call V-mail. A photograph -- I used to have one here. They photographed them so they were small, the part, you know, they sent. In his handwriting but they cut down, I guess, on postage or whatever. And another one was in the Coast Guard and he was on the East Coast. Terrible thing. Going up in the icy country and one of the fellows fell overboard and they didn’t even go back because he was dead, frozen, you know. And another one and this is the sad thing, for a little town like Tulare, on one Thursday the Arends family got a telegram; their second son had been killed. The first one was killed in England . He was with the Royal Air Force or something. And he had been shot down and killed over there. And then their second son was killed. That telegram came on a Thursday. The next Thursday, the Arends family got a -- no, that was the Coles. The Cole family, Ralph Cole, that I went with, he was in the Navy, Navy Air Force, I guess, and his plane went off the end of the ship and down.  Anyway, Ralph’s folks got a telegram. And the third Thursday my sister-in-law, Bessie, got hers. Three weeks in a row.

CD: You began to dread Thursdays?

TB: Yes. Three families in Tulare, was little, a little town. I don’t know the population at the time. That was a lot for a little area.

CD: Despite the men being gone, you still managed to have some boyfriends?

TB: Well, you have to, that was life.

CD: So, what do you remember about the fairgrounds. You lived right there for a while. Do you remember when it was turned into an internment camp?

TB: Well, yeah, my folks moved to the service station/motel in 1938. I think so. And we got a free pass from Mary Jo because Alfred Elliott was the congressman and he ran the fair. And he’d give Mary Jo a free pass every year. So she’d loan it to my sister and me.  And we could go visit the fair free. And you know, that was something we’d never done with all the produce and then of course there was the rides and food -- hot dogs and ice cream and stuff like that. So we go to, really quite a bit that first year.

CD: How many years there was no fair there?

TB: I don’t’ know. They took the Japanese in 1942 and interned them. That year I graduated high school. And I had three Japanese students in my class. I knew them all. And I didn’t realize they weren’t there for graduation. But they took them in April and we graduated right after the first of June. So of course they didn’t go to the fairgrounds in Tulare. I don’t know where they went.

CD: Did you ever see them again?

TB: Not for 50 years. Dorothy Ichinaga came to our 50th class reunion and one of my classmates obtained her diploma. And we sent it to her 50 years later. It was sad, you know, we didn’t have any difficult feelings towards our classmates. They were one of us. But that’s war.

CD: Do you remember hearing a lot of racial anger towards the Japanese at all?

TB: Oh, yeah. In stories, you know, what one didn’t sneak up another one did. But we didn’t -- in our family we didn’t talk about that ‘cause we had brothers in the service.

CD: Did you know anything about -- were you aware of the Holocaust at all?

TB: No. That was in Europe. That was Hitler. You know, we didn’t know about that here on the West Coast as kids. Now, my dad might have read something in the paper. But we didn’t talk about that.

CD: So, did the city change much after the war? Do you remember either Visalia or Tulare many things really changing or did life just kind of go on?

TB: You know, I don’t know. I guess we just kind of went on.

CD: You don’t really remember any big changes?

TB: No. My husband’s father and mother bought the Blue Moon Swimming Pool and Skating Rink. That’s where we went for entertainment. Or the Tulare Theater. That’s all we had. Tenella’s husband was Wilbur Earl Bostard, Jr. His parents were Wilbur Earl Bostard and Pauline (Kendall) Bostard. Wilbur Bostard Jr. was friends with Tex Rankin and never got over his death. Tex and some friends overloaded their plane; filled it with fuel on a flight taking off at high altitude so the plane crashed. Wilbur said pilots just start thinking they can make it instead of putting in a little fuel and refueling at a landing strip at a lower altitude (this is per Wilbur’s son, Will).

CD: Where was the Blue Moon at?

TB: On South Sacramento, I think. It was where Apple Annie Restaurant is now, near Highway 99 and Prosperity in Tulare.

CD: So, it was a pool and a skating -- roller skating?

TB: Yeah, rink. It was an Olympic-sized pool. My husband’s father was a champion high diver. He earned an Olympic gold medal for high diving. He swam with Johnny Weissmuller back east. And he was also hired as a lifeguard for the Jewish Club. Of course, they called them Jew clubs then. But the Jewish people in New York were not allowed into the country club. So, they developed one of their own. And because he was a lifeguard and high diver, they hired him. And times were hard. The work was good for him. So, he worked at that.  And then eventually he and my husband’s mother, because she was a swimmer, they were with an aquatic team and they came west, Canada and so forth. And that’s how they got to California. Now, the rest of it is their history.

CD: For entertainment people went to the skating rink and swimming in the summer and to the movie. Did you go to the movies quite a bit?

TB: Well, they used to change twice a week. So if you could afford, you went. Cost a quarter. Ten cents for a kid and a quarter if you were older. And quarters were not --

CD: so you didn&'t get to go a whole lot.

TB: No. Well, not till I went with boyfriends, then I got to go. But mother didn’t allow us girls to go out at night without a boy friend. Well, we had to be taken care of.

CD: When did you meet your husband?

TB: When?

CD: Was it during this time?

TB: Well, he graduated Tulare 1940 and I graduated ’42, Tulare High. So actually we were in high school at the same time. I knew him and he might have known who I was, but we were not, you know --

CD: Friendly. Hadn’t really talked to him?

TB: No. So then in ’52 I moved to Sacramento and he was living up there and he had come down on vacation to Tulare. And he called me and mother gave him my address in Sacramento. So when he got back he came to see me and next thing we knew, we got married. And it lasted for 50 years.

CD: That’s a great story. Well, that’s about the end of my questions. Do you remember the end of the war when they announced it was over, do you remember that day at all?

TB: Let’s see.

CD: Probably when they said that Japan had surrendered.

TB: I don’t remember any big to-do in Tulare. A neighbor I used to have said in New York they hit the streets, you know. But I don’t remember --

CD: Small town is probably different --

TB: Yeah, we didn’t put on a lot of show.

CD: I have two final questions. Before I ask you those, is there anything else you’d like to say that you remember or that you would like people to know about this time period?

TB: I didn’t know I was even going to tell them this much. When your memory is still with you and it starts from the mouth, it just doesn’t know when to stop.

CD: These two last questions are questions that we have asked everyone that we have interviewed. They’re kind of a little difficult. First, how do you feel the World War II years affected you personally? How did it change you?

TB: I guess it made me realize the hurt that a parent can have through the death of my brother and the worry about the other two that were in the service. But I had a roof over my head, I had clothes on my back and I had plenty to eat, so it didn’t -- except for my boyfriends being gone, it really didn’t affect me too much, I don’t think. Well, it does, you know, in its way. But it’s something that you just live through.

CD: You’re not aware of it at the time. Do you think the fact that women went to work more during that time changed what you did in your life?

TB: Do I think what?

CD: Because a lot of women went to work then that wouldn’t have worked otherwise and they became part of the work force more, did that change what happened in your life? Do you think you would have done something different?

TB: I don’t know. I really don’t know. See, a lot of war brides came out of the war. And they had the baby and others went to San Francisco, the Bay Area, and worked in the shipyards. I was just home. So, I don’t know.

CD: And you and your mother both worked in the store?

TB: Well, I would have done that anyway. You know. I didn’t change my life.

CD: The other question is how do you think the World War II years affected Tulare County as a whole?

TB: I don’t know. I didn’t pay attention to it at the time.

CD: You were going day by day.

TB: Yes. We just lived our life. Now, after my brother Lanham was killed, his two boys, William and Donald Lovelady, over at San Luis Obispo, they were teenagers, and they were by his first marriage to Mildred, and they came over and stayed with my folks every summer like they had done with him. And so I kind of grew up with them. They were like younger brothers. And still today we’re very close because of that. William, Tenella’s son with Wilbur Bostard Jr., said his father had two sons from his previous marriage to Goldie Eileen (Vandergrift) Bostard, named William Craig Bostard and Richard Dean Bostard, who would visit during the summer sometimes.

CD: So, perhaps those particular hard times keep people together, closer together.

TB: Oh, had to.

CD: Made you depend on each either more.

TB: More aware of each other, yeah. It --whom did you have, you know, if you didn’t have each other? Through the good and the bad you shared the heartache and the sorrow and the joy.

CD: Thank you, Mrs. Bostard, for sharing your time.

Carol Demmers 04/17/04/ Transcribed by Colleen Paggi/Edited by J Wood 02/01/05.

Editor’s note: Words in italics are the result of J. Wood’s interview with Tenella which ended abruptly as Tenella was ill. Then she could not be reached. After that, Catherine Doe, another oral historian, interviewed Tenella’s son, William, and Dian Bostard, who helped take care of Tenella before she died, helped research through asking questions from family members, William Bostard, Dian Bostard and Ray Lanham.