YEARS OF VALOR, YEARS OF HOPE:
TULARE COUNTY AND THE YEARS 1941-1946
TRANSCRIPTS OF TAPED INTERVIEWS

TABLE OF CONTENTS:

RICH-WIL

 

 

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Mary Richardson was Mary Jones, 18 and living in Porterville, Tulare County, when the war began in 1941. She was attending San Jose State College (now SJSU) with her sister. The threat and so much military on the roads helped them decide to come home that month. She married her husband, Barney, in 1943. He had been at USC and was drafted from there. Then they married and she joined him at the University of Arkansas where the army sent him to engineering school. After three months, they called him into the infantry and Mary came home. Her husband became a POW and her sister’s husband was in Italy. Mary worked at the Jones Hardware Store until her baby was born. She had a son in 1944. Her husband came home in 1945. After he was released from the army, they moved to Los Angeles until he retired. She was very comfortable during the war, living at home. Her dad owned the hardware store, cattle and some Arabian horses. She said that the people of Porterville gathered round families who needed them. She believes the impact of the war on American society meant people worked together and cared about each other. The hardware store could sell any goods that arrived there and one way they knew the war was over was when so many goods arrived at the store. Interviewer: Bob Smith.

Clarence J. Ritchie was a navy coxswain operator in the Pacific invasion of Okinawa. He enlisted at age 17 before he graduated from High School in 1944. He was one of the 3 sailors who ran the “P” boats that took the U.S. military to the beach at Okinawa, and he describes what happened there. He also talks about the rationing board here in Tulare County, and how farmers would get extra gas coupons. He said WWII made him wake up to the reality of life and appreciate things that he took for granted, i.e., showers – in the Navy he was limited to 1 gallon of water. He also felt it was right to take Japanese Americans out of the society and put them in camps, since there were hard nosed people in these towns who were threatening to kill them. It was impossible to tell who was bad and who supported the Japanese. He also draws a comparison between the military during WWII and the military in the Middle East now, in 2006. Interviewer: Catherine Doe.

Tom Rivers was born in 1926. His father managed one of the ranches in Tulare County. His older brother, Donald, was already part of the Army Calvary and was transferred to Santa Monica to be in charge of horses to be used by men who were on R&R from the Air Force. He said there were blackouts for two or three days after Pearl Harbor was bombed. Tom helped in the watch towers. He was 17 and tried to enlist, but he had a heart murmur so they rejected him. The army drafted him near the end of the war and he became a guard at the Division Headquarters near the front line of the war. Then he was sent to Czechoslovakia to root out Nazis. He was sent back to California to train to go to the invasion of Japan and was in Long Beach when the atomic bomb was used. He said cotton was used for uniforms and it became the biggest crops in this county during the war. He described the early history of the Visalia dump on the west side of the city. He said the war taught him to appreciate this country and also taught him that he needed more education. Before the war, he went to dances with his father at the Chicken Roost, Prince Stokes, Rocky Mountain Dance Hall, which was located near the end of the runway of the Visalia airport. Tulare County was affected by the war because many military people moved to California, and some of them moved to this County. Interviewer: Kris Gray.

John Roller was 14 and just starting high school when the war began. Both his parents worked. His father was a baker and his mother worked part time at a packing house in Exeter. His brother worked for the Fresno Bee in Visalia. John said his family was asked to help distribute newspapers that December day. He remembers that all of sudden the streetlights were dark and it was semi dark in town since there was only a little light from the store windows. He said, as a 14 year boy, he and his friends could hardly wait to fight the enemies of this country. He also said the high school had a vacant lot and they had developed a victory garden as a school project. He talked about daily life and how they managed to get food and goods and do without many things. He worked at the Sequoia Field getting the planes ready to fly in the mornings. He said that during the fruit season the Visalia Cannery was running at full capacity and had to enlist cadets from Sequoia Field to help them. German POW’s at Tagus Ranch in Tulare harvested the fruit. He enlisted in the Navy near the end of the war and was in the Pacific area near Japan when the war ended, waiting for U.S. planes that were ditched in the ocean. There were grid patterns for the ships in order to rescue survivors. He also saw some Kamikaze attacks. When he returned from the war, he started out at COS to take classes that he missed when he left high school. Then he left and went to work for Standard Oil. Interviewer: Marvin Demmers.

Ida Romanazzi’s parents were born in Italy and moved to Visalia before she was born. Ida Giotta was 20 and had just graduated from Visalia Junior College, now C.O.S., in June 1941. Hers was the first class to graduate from the location where C.O.S. is now. She was a typist in an office close to the Visalia Depot on Oak Street where all the soldiers arrived by train. She remembers seeing all the Japanese families boarding trains shortly after the war started. Her father had his farm north of Visalia, but they lived on South Bridge Street. Everybody went to the Sierra Ballroom on Saturday nights. The girls would meet soldiers there. She married Larry Romanazzi who had returned from the war with a medical discharge, in 1944. She believes the war introduced many people to California and this contributed to the increase in population in this State after the war. Also, women’s roles changed. Before the war, women were expected to find husbands and raise children. During the war, women took over many jobs including factory work and after the war, women continued to work in various jobs. She said she was not aware of any prejudices against Italians in this area. There were many young Italian kids from families that moved here from Putignano, Italy, which is now a sister city to Visalia. Interviewer: Colleen Paggi.

Mildred Romanazzi was Mildred Honley, 10 and living in the Turasa area of Tulare County when the war began. She said her father and his friend Ray Dilbeck kept talking about how the U.S. was sending scrap metal to Japan and that they would send it back to us in the form of bombs or some such thing! In school, blackout blinds were installed and the children started having air raid drills. Her dad went to work in the shipyards for a few months and earned enough to buy a home for his family on the north side of Visalia. She said the wages went up dramatically when the war started because of the shortages of workers. She said the Elk’s lodge on the SW corner of Locust and Main Street had USO dances upstairs. That building burned down. She believes Visalia was changed by all the people who came here, primarily to the two pilot training fields. The small town became more “cosmopolitan.” And people learned about many other places in this world due to the war. When the stores advertised sheets, nylons, etc., women would line up for a block outside M. Wards or Penney’s, hoping they could buy them. She said home economic classes in cooking were limited to making French toast because of the shortages in food. Before the war started there was a small zoo at Mooney’s Grove with monkeys, giraffes, a zebra and an ostrich, etc. There were free rowboats, and the park was clean and free. Roosevelt died when she was 13 and she wrote a poem that was read at a school assembly. That poem is in this interview. She talked about hair styles and how women washed their hair once a week and that is why they wore turbans sometimes; there were no hair dryers then. She described the celebration in downtown Visalia when the war ended and gives a detailed description of the downtown area and the activities there. Interviewer: Karen Feezel.

Gig Ruddell was 21 in 1941 and was a junior at the College of Idaho in Caldwell, near Boise, Idaho. He had an instructor’s rating in flying. He received many offers to instruct new pilots and ended up accepting a position at Sequoia Field in Tulare County. He met his wife, Betty, here and settled in Visalia when the war was over. He said he had to enlist and they put him in the 8th Army Reserve so he could continue to teach. He became a flight commander. In the interview, he describes the field and the program they had there. New soldiers, who wanted to be pilots and were accepted into the Army Air Corp training, flew for the first time at this field. He said some of the people with prominent jobs in Visalia helped out at Sequoia Field as dispatchers. They flew half days, so these residents would work half days at their job and half days at Sequoia Field. When the war ended, he went to work for the United Air Lines. When they wanted to transfer him to the Midwest, he resigned and bought a monument business here in Visalia where he worked until he retired. He said several other instructors that came from other states settled here also. His obituary is at the beginning of this interview. Interviewer: Judy Mayfield.

Vayda Shepherd’s interview includes pictures of Vayda with two of her four brothers at the beginning of this interview. Her brother, John Northcutt, was interviewed also. She moved to California from Texas as a teenager in 1939. When the war broke out, she was 16 and living at Linnell Camp, a camp for migrant agriculture workers. Her two brothers were in the service. Her father worked in the fields and her mother worked in a packing house. She dedicated this interview to her parents. Felix Northcutt, her father, developed a vegetable garden behind his cottage in Linnell Camp, which helped with feeding his family. Some other people there did the same thing. She talks about hearing about her brother’s ship being sunk in April, 1945. When the war ended she was working in the office of Koller Plumbing Company on East Main Street and she said everybody went out to the street and celebrated with each other, very joyfully. Interviewer: Lois Owings.

Betty Simon’s family, the Stevenson’s, pioneered in Tulare County in 1852. Her father was a dairy farmer near Ivanhoe. He had eight children. She said they grew vegetables and fruits and cotton also. They would butcher pigs, chickens and cows and put them in cold storage at the old Ice House. It was unusual to have frozen meat at that time. They had no problem with food. Her mother worked in a cannery in Visalia, did the chores on the farm, and took Betty with her when she volunteered in a watchtower on the Dinuba Highway. Betty Stevenson graduated from Visalia High in 1946. She talks about communication with her brothers who were fighting in the war and about hearing about a brother who was killed during the war. There is a very good description of the stores on Main Street during the war years. She talks about roller skating, going to the movies in the one of the four movie theaters, working for Woolworth’s when she was in high school and going to Visalia Junior College with many veterans after the war was over. She was not allowed to “date” until she was 18, but spent time having fun with a large group of friends. She said Visalia still seems like a “small town” for her and other friends who were here in the 1940’s. She admits that she was so absorbed in her own teenage world that she did not notice any changes in this County due to WWII. Interviewer: Anne Marks.

Jack Simon’s parents both came here from Russia, his mother at age 3 and his father at age 19, and they both spoke German. His grandfather settled in Visalia in 1906. There were 11 children in Jack’s family. He was the sixth child. His father was a partner in the garbage business that had the contract for Visalia. When they lost the contract, his father went into trucking business. Jack was 19 when the war began. He lived with his parents on North Willis Street. Their biggest concern was food. Jack was inducted into the service when the war started, and found out he was 4F because he had a hernia. He said he was shy and went to parties with a group of peers. He met his wife at a skating rink right across from the Fox Theater on Main Street. He worked with his father. He said he never experienced any hostility toward his family during the war, because of their German background. He met and married his wife, Betty, in 1949. Jack believes the growth of Visalia was not caused by the influx of people to this area due to the world. In his opinion, the grown of Visalia came after 1980. Interviewer: Colleen Paggi.

Gerry Soultz was Gerry Eyer and lived in Tulare during the war. When the war began she was going to C.O.S. way out in the country west of Visalia. She applied for and got a job working for the Air Force as the secretary to Captain Kilgore at Rankin Field. She hated her job there and quickly took a job as the first girl teller for the Bank of America in Tulare when the opportunity came. But she had met Gene Smith, who worked part time as a purchasing agent for Rankin Field, and was the editor of the Tulare Times. They married in 1946. Near the beginning of the war, she experienced blackouts, picking grapes in the fields and watching for aircraft from the roof of Hotel Tulare. She said the “first line of defense” for the United States was the Rocky Mountains, so everyone here was very scared. Her husband interviewed German prisoners of war who were sent to Tagus Ranch to help with the crops. Gerry also provides a history of Tagus Ranch in this interview. Some time later her husband died and she met and married Bob Soultz. She said the center of entertainment for her family and friends was Mooney’s Grove. She believes the dedication to help out made her and other people responsible at a young age. And the end of this interview there are copies of three documents from Gene Smith, editor of the Tulare newspaper. 1. A letter from the Review Department of the War Department authorizing an article. 2. A letter from Camp Cooke, CA, 3. A copy of the original article about the German prisoner of war camp with the words edited out marked. Interviewer: Diana Jules.

Elizabeth Sullivan was Elizabeth Lotito, 19 and attending C.O.S. when the war began. In 1942 she transferred to Fresno State and got her degree there. She was on a tractor with her boyfriend, Joe Sullivan, who was stationed at Hammer Field in Fresno when the war began. He was called back from leave at 5:30 that evening. Everyone was in shock. She came back to Visalia for weekends and went to USO dances upstairs at the Elk’s club building on Main Street. She sold bonds in Fresno. She said the boys would buy corsages of bond stamps to give to the girls. Her mother volunteered to help in the distribution of rationing stamps. Recipes were being changed constantly to allow for the shortage of butter and sugar. She remembers the percussions in Visalia when they were testing the Atomic Bomb in Nevada and seeing debris from the bomb floating down in this city. Elizabeth believes one of the biggest effects of the war was the increased liberalism for women after the war. She related a story told to her by her father, who went to work for the F.B.I. just before the war began. He said they did find military garb hidden in cellars of Japanese families and believed they were preparing to attack us. Interviewer: Stan Wilkendorf.

Roy Sumida was born in Visalia in 1923, so he was 18 when his family was transported to a relocation/concentration camp in Poston, AZ. Roy’s father had established the H Sumida store, a general merchandise store, in China town, at the corner of Center and Bridge Street. In 1942 they sold this business to a “liquidator” from Los Angeles. Other property that they owned was managed by the Bank of America. Roy told us that soldiers guarded them on the trains with guns wrapped up in blankets. He said there were machine gun nests with guns pointing into the camps. Roy was in the third of three sections for eight months. He said the government set up a clearinghouse that would find jobs or schools further east for people who did not want to stay in these internment camps. Most of the young people who took advantage of this moved east and never returned to California. Roy wrote that he’d like to go to a pharmacy school. In 1943 he went to Idaho State University in Pocatello, Idaho, graduating in 1945. He went to Los Angeles and took his state board test. Roy tells a fascinating story about how he obtained his first position as a pharmacist there. After 10 years, Roy returned to Visalia and opened his own store, Roy’s Drug Store, at 310 E. Center Avenue. In this interview Roy talks about Yamasaki, the architect who designed the Twin Towers in New York City. Roy said his parents became citizens of this country in 1955 when the Exclusion Act of 1926 was repealed by Congress. Roy said the Federal Government apologized in 1988 and gave each internment person $20,000. Catherine Doe, Transcriber.

Carl Switzer was 11 when the war started and lived in Visalia. His grandparents came to Tulare County in 1877 and 1864 and established a ranch near Cutler Park. His parents moved into Visalia and built a home on Myrtle Street during the ‘20s, on the south edge of town. His father ended up owning an oil distribution plant at Giddings and Goshen Avenue. He tells some cute anecdotes about life as a child in Visalia during the ‘30s, going away to college, and life as a soldier in the Korean War. He started doing radio announcing then and continued in this field when the war was over. He talks about how he met and married his wife, Louise. He talks about rationing and scarcities, about the watch towers and the rumors about the Japanese in this County. He describes being aware of the building of huge semi-circled earthen buildings at the Visalia airport to hide night bombers. As an 11 year old boy, he was involved with metal drives and victory gardens. He relates how he learned about the end of the war: “all the noise, everywhere.” He also said there were a lot of mosquitoes in Visalia. They used smudge pots to keep them away. The smoke would choke you when you were trying to enjoy an evening outside, before the age of air conditioning. He relates about the jobs he had while in school and the activities for young people during those years. He believes the Mexican farm workers, often illegal, started during the war due to the lack of other farm workers. They are still coming and settled here and this is one of the biggest effects on Tulare County due to the World War II years. Interviewer: Marvin Demmers.

Mada Talbot’s interview starts with a picture of Mildred Switzer in front of a board with names of all the Tulare County citizens who went overseas during the war. Mada’s father, Homer Faucett, a sign painter, maintained this board just east of the Acequia Post Office. Mada Faucett moved to Visalia in 1940 with her family. Her aunt had married a resident of Visalia. A. I. Watts was a barber at a store called Chicks. She worked as an usher at the Fox Theater. She was a freshman in high school when Pearl Harbor was bombed. She talks about communication with the sailors and how much that had changed by the time her son was in Vietnam. She remembers when her brother came home in 1944 when his ship arrived at San Francisco for repairs. He had lost all his “social graces” and had a hard time adjusting to civilian life. Now her boyfriend, Bob Talbot, had gone into the Merchant Marine when he was 15 and missed two years of high school. He became a professional baseball player. She talked about shortages of nylons, butter, and rolled cigarettes. She used to roll her father’s cigarettes. She remembers going to the Depot to say goodbye to the Japanese families. Mada talks about what young people did in Visalia during the war. Near the end of the interview, she talks about earning a little bit of money working in the fields, picking fruit. Interviewer: Catherine Doe.

Phyllis Turner grew up as Phyllis Dawson in “Cannery Town,” a section of Exeter made up of homemade shacks. She was 17 when Pearl Harbor was attacked. Her father was the foreman for one of the ranches and her mother worked in a laundry business during the day and in packinghouses at night. Phyllis graduated from Exeter High School in 1941. She describes the school and mentions that the teachers were “maiden ladies”, never married. She started working in the laundry business. She met her husband, David, when he flirted with her on a Visalia street. He was on leave from Sequoia Field. She talks about losing one of her closest friends, who was a Japanese-American and just “disappeared.” Phyllis didn’t know what happened to her until after the war was over. When David graduated from Sequoia Field, he was assigned to Merced Air Field. Phyllis joined him and they were married there. She traveled with him to Texas, Kansas, and Alabama. Bob Hope traveled several times in the B-17 captained by her husband. When he was sent overseas she returned to Exeter. She learned that her husband’s plane was shot down over France. She describes a negative experience when she asked for help from the Red Cross. She said the war caused a boom in the economy. All of a sudden there were lots of jobs and money was available. She provides details of her first job in the laundry. She provides a wonderful description of life in Exeter and Tulare County during the war years. Phyllis thinks the war years made Tulare County nationally known because of all the produce they produced. She remembers finding a box of produce that came from Exeter in another part of this country. And the boom in the economy did not stop when the war was over. With the pent up demand for goods, businesses in Tulare County grew so that soon, everything you needed was available here. Interviewer: Marvin Demmers.

Margaret Van Deventer was Mary Henry and away in San Rafael, California at college when Pearl Harbor was bombed. Her father owned Visalia Hardware on Main Street. She remembers dating military boys who sometimes were called back to their base in the middle of a date. She felt very vulnerable to Japanese attacks, with rumors about enemy planes and submarines near California’s coast. She transferred to a private secretarial school in Beverly Hills. She found a job with a literary agency on Sunset Blvd. She remembered how hard it was to find cigarettes and there was very little gas and clothing. And it was so hard to find a rental apartment or home. She spent her summers in Visalia and finally decided to come home. She married Max Van Deventer, one of the boys she met in High School, in 1948. She said housing was difficult here also. She was back in Beverly Hills to visit friends when the war ended. She described the celebration in that city. She talked about knowing the daughter, Lorraine, of the couple who founded Sequoia Field. Her descriptions of the activities she had with “Lolly” at Lloyd and Gladys McDonnel’s home in Long Beach and here at Sequoia Field are wonderful. When asked how her life changed because of the war, she said it caused her to be anti-war; we should not send young men to be killed in a war in a country that did not attack us. She said many of the boys who trained here came back to California after the war. She remembers how the quality of shoes and clothing during the war years was much worse than the quality before or after the war. Interviewer: Carol Demmers.

Nettie Washington was Nettie Hailey, 24 and living in Tulare when the war began. She was working, doing housework and furnishing child care. She was married in 1939 to Edgar Washington. These two black Americans had three children during the war. She said the war years did not affect her at all because they had close to nothing before the war, so they did not miss anything when rationing started. She said wages were very low and it was hard to get a job. But she said she remembers “always rushing in a line to get what you were going to get and two thirds of the time they‘d be out of it before you got to where it was at. So that was part of life at that time.” She speaks about the difficulty getting food they needed, because it was provided to other people before it ran out. Rationing was awful for this poor black family. Nettie’s husband worked in the shipyards. Finally he found a place for them and she took her family to San Francisco. Then they came back and worked on a ranch here. They had no phone, no radio and did not subscribe to a newspaper. They learned about news from word of mouth. This interview includes a great description of what it was like to pick cotton by hand. She agreed that one way the war changed life was the acceptance of people of different colors. Before the war, you stayed with your own ethnic group. After the war, people from another ethnic group would visit, and you could visit other parts of Tulare that were off-limits earlier. Attitudes about different races of people started changing right after the war was over. Interviewer: Judy Yoder.

O.K. Webb turned 22 the day after Pearl Harbor, Dec. 8, 1941. In 1935 he moved to Tulare with his father. O.K. attended Tulare High School and married Frances Wilson in 1939. They had traveled to Merced to be with her aunt who was extremely ill and was not expected to live. That was where they heard about Pearl Harbor. At that time, O.K. was working for Standard Stations. They serviced convoys of military trucks, etc. One year later he was drafted. He managed to join the Navy as a Petty Officer, Pharmacist Mate 3rd Class. He was assigned to Treasure Island Naval Hospital in San Francisco. In December 1943 he shipped out to Pearl Harbor. He describes how he was assigned to a new hospital in Hawaii instead of going into the South Seas. In both cases, the captains of these hospitals did their best to keep him on their staff. He describes some incidents that happened to him in those hospitals. He also describes an explosion in Hawaii involving amphibious boats with tanks, ammunition and Marines on them. Five boats attached with one other boat blew up. One boat was able to detach and get out of there. O.K. talked to the crew of that boat. When the war ended, he came home. They were able to get a veteran housing unit in Tulare. He said the floor was not steady! They were not built very well. He believes WWII affected the population of California. After the war, many ex-military people brought their family to California, even here in the valley. And the war helped the country get out of the Great Depression because when the war started, jobs were plentiful. Interviewer: Bob Smith.

Connie Whitfield was Connie Gallagher when she lived in a four-room cabin in Tipton. In December 7, 1941 the family was listened to the news on the radio. Her family was very sure that the valley would be bombed very soon. They had no outside light and blacked all their windows. After dark, no one was allowed to use Hwy 99; the school bus would zigzag back and forth in the country and it took a lot longer time to get home! Connie describes rationing: no tires and gas, shoes, sugar and meat were hard to find. She said it happened almost immediately. She said her family wore “hurachis,” shoes from Mexico except for her father who needed strong work shoes. They would go to the Rocky Mountain Barn Dance in Visalia. She also remembers going to USO dances in Tulare. They had to drive no faster than 35 miles per hour. She describes picking cotton one or two days each week. And they saved every can they opened. She worked at the County Hospital in Tulare. She provides great descriptions of her work as a supply girl in surgery. She wrote letters to the servicemen and the most replies came from Al Whitfield, who had graduated from COS in 1942. He spent 10 months in North Africa, then 5 months in Port Hueneme. Connie graduated from high school in June 1944 and they married the next month. That fall Al shipped out to the Philippines and Connie was three months pregnant with their first child. She said the war affected the farmers most. They had more gas and were not hurt with meat rationing. And there was a huge demand for the food produced all during the war years. Interviewer: Kris Gray.

Janet Williams was 14 when the war began. She was Janet Cruzen. In 1933 her father was transferred here by Western Auto in Visalia at Bridge and Main. She remembers hearing a newsboy yelling that Pearl Harbor was bombed, but it didn’t mean anything to her. She had no idea where Pearl Harbor was. She remembers many of the seniors in high school left and joined the military. Her father was an air warden. She remembers saving fat and taking it to the meat market. She said there was a swimming pool here, and they also would have get-togethers playing board games and going to the movies. Dorothy and Walter Switzer (a partner in the Switzer-Jordan Studebaker Agency here) would open their home to the boys at the two airfields and she often went there to pay badminton, dance, play cards and board games. She said Jean, their daughter, still corresponds with some of those fellows. That was known as “Switzerland.” She sold stamp books, and when it was full it could be exchanged for a $25 war bond. There were 10, 25, 50 and $1 stamps. She remembers that school buses would take anyone who wanted to go to the annual football games in Tulare. She also went to the USO in Tulare. After graduating, Janet went to Visalia Junior College (COS) and worked part time in the business office of the Orange Belt Stages (bus line), which was in the garage of the owner’s home. Interviewer: Kris Gray.

Bernice Wilson was Bernice Cederlind when she moved to Tulare in 1934. She was 20 when the war began. In 1941 she found a job with Captain Charles Daly, commander of Rankin Academy. They started out in offices of a hangar on Highway 99. Tex Rankin, a former Hollywood stunt flyer, provided flying lessons to the cadets. The cadets had to be college graduates and single. She met and married one of the cadets, Scotty Wilson. When he went on to Arizona, she quit her job and followed him. When he was sent to North Africa in 1943, they had a baby girl. In 1945 she came home when she was expecting their second child. Two years later he went back into the Air Force as career officer. She said the war brought thousands of people into Tulare County for training or for one reason or another. Bernice includes stories about Rankin Academy’s staff, including Tex Rankin and one incident where she later met one man in Germany who had “washed out” at Rankin Academy and was a three star general from the Pentagon. Interviewer: Judy Mayfield.

Maurice Wilson was 17 years old and was working in an orchard in Ivanhoe when he learned Pearl Harbor was bombed by the Japanese. He graduated in 1942 and his family moved to Los Angeles. He found a job in an oil refinery. He was told that he could not enlist because he was working for an essential industry. He quit and moved back to Ivanhoe to work on a farm. And then he found out that he was exempted. So he quit that job and he volunteered into the Navy in February 1944. He was sent to Idaho. Then he went to Norman, Oklahoma to an aviation mechanic school. And he was also training to be an air crewman. Then he was sent to Florida and he met his wife there on a blind date. He was assigned to B24’s and was sent to the Azores Islands. He said it was like having a vacation! When he came home after the war was over, he ended up working as a mechanic for International Harvest. He said one of the biggest affects of the war in Ivanhoe was that most of the guys who had left for the war did not want to work on a farm any longer. They left or got other jobs. And gradually, as the older generation died, the Mexicans who were coming in to work on farms bought their homes and now Ivanhoe probably is about 80% of the town is Hispanic. There are some anecdotes about people in Ivanhoe helping their Japanese neighbors. Maurice helped form an American Legion post in Ivanhoe. He has been very involved with veterans, and helped start the Avenue of Flags in the Visalia cemetery. Maurice was asked about the story in 1941 about Japanese farmers in Ivanhoe putting arrows in t heir fields pointing to the Army Air Corp training fields. He believes this was definitely a false rumor. He also said that one of the best affects for Tulare County was the GI Bill. People could get loans to buy homes and farms and go to school and get professional degrees and then they came back here. This really helped the County to grow. Interviewer: Arvilla Boswell.