California Council for 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
Subjects covered in the interview: Life as a child during the war year, poverty, family life, games children played.
CD: We are interviewing Lucille Hartman and we’re doing "Years of Hope, Years of Valor: Tulare County and the Years 1941-1946." Lucille, could you state your name and spell it, please.
LH: My name is Lucille Fenley Hartman, Fenley being my maiden name. L-u-c-i-l-l-e, F-e-n-l-e-y, H-a-r-t-m-a-n.
CD: Okay. Lucille, let’s start with when your family settled in Plaza.
LH: We came from Arkansas about 1939. It was the time that the Second World War started in Europe. It started in the fall in Europe and that’s just about the time we ended up at the Plaza, which is the interchange at Visalia. There was a small house there and a large house. And there was also a large tree outside. I’m going to give you this little background because it will tell you kind of what we did just before the war started and how the kids would play and everything.
The reason I remember the big tree was my mother was trying to break me from breaking bird eggs. I would climb up in trees and break bird eggs. Well, I got up in this big tree and I got stuck. So my mother said, "Now, that’ll teach you not to break bird eggs." And she was right. I never broke bird eggs again.
And there was a big house there and nobody lived in this house at this time. And we climbed up in the attic and found really old dolls. Probably now if we could see them they’d be worth a lot because they were from the 1800s. But I remember they were just large old, probably the German-type dolls.
And also, I don’t know what kind of house we lived in, but it would have been some little rinky-dink house because we had just arrived here. It was the end of the Depression. When the Second World War started, it ended the Depression because then work started for people. But it would have been some small place, cause we’d just come from out from Arkansas looking for work. My parents, Chester Fenley and Magnolia Birmingham Fenley, had been out two or three times before for various things. But this time when they landed in Visalia around the fall of 1939, they ended up at the Plaza out there. And I remember there was a group of men working at this Plaza. And they had me sing "A Mother the Queen of my Heart," which is a Jimmy Rogers song. And the reason that it’s kind of significant is because what they gave me for singing was an old tire. Well, people nowadays or kids especially wouldn’t understand an old tire. But these old tires we got inside of and somebody’d push us and we’d roll or else we’d race with each other. Each had a tire and we’d push it with our hand and we’d race down the road and everything. So that made that significant there.
Probably the last thing I remember there or the most prominent was: there was always a lot of accidents along the interchange, you know, the Plaza. And one night some people came and got my mother to bring a lot of sheets. And of course the only reason my mother had sheets is that she would buy this old unbleached muslin and make her own. So she had sheets and other things. And she had to take them down to where this horrible accident was and I don’t remember, you know, what happened or how many died or whatever, but that was where they did have a lot of accidents.
CD: Wasn’t there a big dance hall at Plaza, some bar?
LH: You know, that was another thing for the times. There was a lot of dance halls around. I don’t remember the one out there. I’m sure Buddy (Ken Hartman,my husband) would remember the one out there. There was one over at Cutler Park called the Happy-go-Lucky. But that’s what people did in those days. One of the things people did, especially on Saturday night, was go out and drink a little bit and dance. It almost seems fun if we could do that again.
CD: Yeah. I don’t think there’s very many -- I don’t even think that there’s a dance hall. I wouldn’t even know where I would go.
LH: Oh, there was not just dance halls. Especially after the war -- or during the war you would hear people that would go to the bars. And I remember one around the country that they called the Bloody Bucket. They had different ones. And I think they’d just get in fights and cut each other up or whatever.
CDE: Oh, my gosh. So, then after the Plaza, where’d you guys move?
LH: We moved down on the corner of Chinowth and -- it was Mineral King Highway and it was directly north of Chinowth corner, somewhere in that area would have been a small little shack where we lived. And on the corner of Chinowth and Mineral King was a little school called the Highway School. Now they’ve had a lot of different things in that area. I would say probably now there’s a restaurant in there (Something Fresh on the southwest corner of Chinowth and Mineral King).But I think they still have that old school. They’ve just done a lot of remodeling to it. And the reason that I remember that area was because there was seven of us kids but there was only -- oh, I have to go back to the Plaza to tell this.
Because my sister, Lois Fenley (Long) (Corley), was born at the Plaza. And there was a doctor that came up from Visalia to deliver her. Most of my mother’s kids were born at home. I was the only one born in the hospital in Phoenix, Arizona. And the reason I was born in the hospital was because they were coming out from Arkansas to work in the labor camps and to come on to California. And so they just took me from the labor camp to be born in a hospital. And a couple of weeks later we came on to California.
But my sister -- my mother was having trouble having her and she was turned sideways or something. And it’s surprising that I can remember the name of the doctor that came out and delivered her. His name was Doctor Neil. And he told my mother not to have any more kids. And I remember that. Of course, you know what -- I was five years old. And then anyway, at the highway school, because we lived across Mineral King, there was -- my brother CJ (that is his formal name per LH) that was born in ’32 and my brother Alvie that was born in ’34, and I was born in ’35. Well, Alva (Norman Alva Fenley) wouldn’t go to school with CJ because he said he wanted to wait for Lucille before he could start to school. But the real reason that he didn’t want to cross that highway was because in those days there was a lot of -- they call them bindlestiffs -- I mean, it’s spelled bindlestiff, but we called them "bundlestiffs." And they carried these old -- maybe a stick with a piece of old cloth with their clothes tied up in it or whatever. You know, maybe a change of clothes or something. And they traveled around the country. And they’d come to your doors and they would ask for food and of course, if you had anything to give them, you gave them something to eat.
CD: Did you guys?
LH: Yeah. I remember one time when mama gave them something. Of course, that’s my only memory of -- I mean, I saw a lot of them but the only memory was the time I think she gave them some bread and butter. But people did give them, you know, food to eat because people -- they weren’t so scared of people then and they shared, you know. If somebody was hungry they knew what it was like to be poor because they had been through the Depression and hard times so they gave them food.
CD: So, that’s why CJ wouldn’t cross the highway?
LH: Alvie. Alvie wouldn’t cross because he was afraid of the "bundlestiffs." So CJ went on to the first grade by himself. And then Alvie and I ended up going - being in the same class together.
CD: That’s cute. So, what did you think of the school?
LH: You know, I can still kind of see it. Of course, there was nothing around there then. We’re talking about 65 years ago. So, there was nothing around there much then. But it was just a little school. Of course, I never really went to it.
CD: What did they have it out there for? Who went to that school if it was out in the middle of nowhere? What were the kids like?
LH: You know, I don’t know. But they would have had it out there because they had to have these little country schools because there was no buses. There was no way to get around so they had to have these little country schools. And they’ve still got a lot of them strewn around the country, you know, because kids have to go to school.
CD: Right. Come from all over. And where did you go after the Highway School?
LH: We moved to Mooney Grove Park, -- well, it was by Mooney Grove Park. And it was on Mooney Boulevard. And there’s a little school down at the west end of the park called Liberty. And we lived right across the street from Liberty directly east of the road -- it was just a little country road. And of course, Liberty School’s still there. And they still go to school there.
LH: And right across the street there was a little old shack and this little old shack we lived in and that little shack was there until probably about five years ago. Every time I came to Tulare County I wanted to go by and see if it was still there. And I think they have some kind of a machine shop there now. But they used to store things in it. But they finally tore it down.
And we would go down to the park. And the park, they had rowboats and I think they had a buffalo in there. And they had a lot of, you know, peacocks and they had a lot of animals then. They kind of had them, you know, way off on the east end there. But they kind of roamed free in there. And of course, Mooney Grove Park was not what it is today. Because it was kind of fresh and new and clean. And I’m not sure that they had rowboats at that time. But they got rowboats later on. Out in the little lake there where the rowboats were, they had a stature of a boy and girl and we always heard the story that this boy and girl had drowned in the river and that’s why the statue was there. Or drowned in this little lake. But we had no idea if that’s true. That’s just something we heard.
And since I ran around with my brother Alvie a lot, we would walk down maybe a mile -- oh, it wasn’t a mile. It was like, maybe a fourth of a mile. It was right north of the exit to Mooney Grove Park. Now Mooney Grove Park had a statue there called "The End of the Trail." And it was the original statue. And later on the original went to the Cowboy Hall of Fame in Oklahoma. But anyway, across from there, there was a long road that went -- you go down a long road and there was some people named Swearingen that lived down there. And they invited us to a birthday party one time. And also alongside this road was a little store and my brother and I, -- mom and daddy‘d send us down to get a loaf of white bread.
And that spring we were going along
there and they’d put up a fence. Now inside this fence was a peach orchard. And
this peach orchard was owned by Tagus Ranch, which was a big conglomerate. In fact, you can still see remnants of Tagus
Ranch on Highway 99 and through the area. And there was about 7,000 acres and I
think they started out with like berries but they ended up with cotton and
fruit and different things. But they had brought these German prisoners of war
over. Now, the first German prisoners of war came -- what I heard was that
there was overcrowding in the prisons in
CD: That’s a cute memory. What can you remember of the party?
LH: The thing I remember about the party was that my mother made me a little dress. She had to do everything by hand ‘cause she didn’t have any sewing machine or anything. And she made me a little white -- it had a little white top. It was sleeveless. And then she had put a little gathered skirt on that was like a lavender color. But I remember sitting at these tables with all this fancy stuff on it. And you know, the ice cream and cake -- of course, we’d never had anything like this before. So, I just remember everything being really, really nice. Enough to, you know, keep me with memories. And of course, Dolores and Duane -- I don’t know if they were twins or not but they were in the same class we were in in school.
CD: Oh, and it was Dolores and Duane Swearingen?
LH: Uh-huh. And I think this was the place that we had our last outdoor toilet. The outdoor toilets were horrifying because you would go out and stand up on them because you were afraid to sit down because there were black widow spiders in there. And I think that was our last dealings with the outdoor toilet.
And also, we never really played with a lot of people around there. There was a couple of girls behind the little store. One of them was named Bertha. She had a sister. We’d go down and play with them. I remember they had a swing. One of the things I really remember was after school during cotton picking season I would walk down the road, oh, I’d say half a mile and I would pick cotton and put it in piles and my mother would come along and put it in her sack.
CD: You’d help the family. Would all the kids -- all your brothers and sisters go out and help?
LH: Uh-huh, everybody worked.
CD: Did they ever pull you out of school to work?
CD: So, you went to school and then you would work?
LH: We always went to school and worked.
CE: What year was that about when the German prisoners of war were tossing you the peaches over the fence?
LH: Let’s see. I’m thinking it was the spring of
1942, that’s what I’m thinking it was. Because I don’t know when -- I know the
German prisoners of war were over here in ’42 and maybe before, because, like I
said, they came down from
LH: I think there was at one time four hundred
fifty thousand in the
LH: Uh-huh. And people don’t know this because they were scattered all over the
CD: That’s a lot of people to feed.
CD: You know, during the war with all the rationing and everything.
LH: But they did a lot of work.
CD: Yes. So you remember them out in the fields working?
CD: Did you have anything else to say about Mooney’s Grove or Liberty School? Do you remember the school very much; do you remember your teacher?
LH: You know, I don’t remember who my teacher was. She didn’t make any type of impression on me. But I do remember that one time they had a PTA meeting and my mother bought two sacks of cookies. They were little pink and white marshmallows with the coconuts on it --
LH: Sprinkled on them. And I guess I remember that because I don’t remember my mother ever -- well, yeah, I guess maybe she did a few things in Ivanhoe, too. But anyway that was my first memory of her doing anything in the school.
CD: Did she actually go to the PTA meeting?
LH: She went but you know, she wasn’t involved. She just went.
CD: See what was going on. So after Liberty School, where did you guys move to?
LH: In 1939 they had built a school called East Union. And they built it for the kids in the Linnell Camp which is over by Farmersville now. The Linnell Camp is still there and what it is is a farm labor camp. And it was a farm labor camp then and it’s still a farm labor camp. But when I was there and it was a farm labor camp -- the houses were -- you couldn’t call them houses. There was a slab of cement and then there was just like -- I don’t know if it was anything like the armed service people used or not but it was just nothing but tin. Just tin-- tin -- metal --metal sheds is what they were. And they had windows that you could raise up, stick a stick under -- get some cool in there. And we had two. We had one for the cooking and we had one for the sleeping.
Editor: This was the Visalia Labor Camp in the 1930s at the time John Steinbeck and Eleanor Roosevelt visited it.
CD: Was it like a flap?
CD: Was it like a flap?
LH: Yes. Like a flap.
CD: You would raise up and put a stick in.
LH: Yeah, that’s what it was like.
CD: Gosh. So basically the barracks at the internment camps were better than these?
CD: Because you had experience with both.
CD: They were better quality than these tin sheds?
LH: Oh, yes.
CD: Did the tin sheds have electricity and running water in them?
LH: They had running water outside. Ever so many feet or yards or whatever outside, they had faucets that you could go out and get your water. But we must have had -- I don't remember the bathing or any kind of facilities there. But because this was a government camp, they did treat us pretty nice. And they would have us all come down and the social workers would come out and they’d give us shots and they would -- I’m not sure if it was the social workers that gave us the shots. But they taught us how to brush our teeth. And so they did treat us pretty nice.
And I think we got free food because I remember one day at school, at East Union School, that they wanted me to eat something. And I’m thinking -- I can still see it -- that it’s broccoli, it’s green and it’s broccoli and they told me that I couldn’t get up from the table until I ate it. So I was still sitting there about three or four because I couldn’t eat it. I didn't have any experience with it. I guess I didn’t know how to eat anything I didn’t have any experience with, so they let me go home.
CD: So, you’re thinking they fed you guys lunch?
LH: I’m thinking they fed us lunch. And at the school we had a principal named Jack Joseph. I remember that he scared me. He was a big man with bald head. And I remember being scared of him. I remember that they took our dads out to the field. Every morning they’d come and get them and take them out to the fields and so they could work. And they were just loaded, just packed this truck up; load it down with people to go to the fields. And there’s probably more than one truck ‘cause there's a lot of people that lived there. And loaded them up to go to work.
CD: Tell me about the principal again. Didn’t you and your brother have a run-in with him?
LH: We had some kind of run-in with the principal, Mr. Joseph. And I don’t’ know what we were doing. We were down in a little gully or little riverbed there or something and he got on to us. This was something after school that we probably shouldn’t have been doing. And I know the boys were down there smoking because they started smoking before they were in the first grade. And they would, like, get this Bull Durham tobacco and they had the little papers and they’d put this tobacco in there and they’d roll them up and smoke these cigarettes. And he just kind of ran us off from where we were.
CD: And you scared?
LH: Yeah, we were scared.
CD: And your mom, what’d you say, she dipped?
LH: My mother dipped snuff. She dipped from the time she was three years old to the day she died. When she got about 78 the doctor says, "I’m not going to ask you not to dip snuff." He says, "You’ve done it all your life, far be it from me to take it away from you."
But another thing that happened to us in the camps were if we got anything like mumps, measles -- in those days scarlet fever was really prevalent, too. And anything like that, they would take you out of the house and they’d put you down in an area they called the quarantine area. And they put you down in this area. And then you had to stay there, your whole family, until you were well enough to go back. Well, my mother didn’t want us down there because a lot of people -- we never did have lice, but lot of people had lice. And always had something. And I don’t know how we kept from getting a lot more than we did. Maybe we just were adjusted to it, you know, from what we’d been through. And she would hide us in our little tin cabin, the bedroom part of it, and keep us in there sometimes for two weeks. Cause sometimes the measles or mumps didn’t get over for two weeks. And I don’t know how she kept us in there. I don’t know how she kept us quiet. But I know that we had to stay there. She insisted.
CD: And you remember that?
LH: I do. I remember having to stay in there because maybe another reason we stayed there and didn’t make such a fuss is because the thought of going to the quarantine of the isolation part of the camp is where the -- later on they put apartments in there. But at that time it was just cabins like we have but it was scary to us because, you know, of mama telling us about -- she tried to keep us clean and she didn’t want us to be around anything that was filthy or anything. And when she told about lice and stuff like that she would just say it just scared her to death. So I guess she scared us to death and we behaved ourselves. Yeah.
CD: With no running water in the house, how’d she do such a good job of keeping you guys clean?
LH: We must -- I don’t remember this, but we must have had -- there must -- there had to be like one big old community shower thing and bathroom.
CD: Oh, in Linnell Camp?
LH: Yeah, that’s the only thing I can think of. Because, like I said, I don’t remember that part of it. But there was no place to take baths unless it was down at the community center. I remember they had a big community center there where we went and they gave us little lectures on different things, like brushing our teeth and everything. So I’m almost sure that since they built East Union for the kids of the Linnell Camp, the migrant workers, that they had a bathroom area for us.
CD: You remember being in an indoor bathroom, though? It was the first time you had an indoor bathroom, flush toilet?
LH: There had to be. I know it was there but I don’t remember it.
CD: Right. What else did they use the community center for? Was it a tin shed like your house?
LH: No, I think it was kind of nice. Because the social workers came into it. I think they just tried to teach people how to have babies and take care of them and stay clean and --
CD: So, it was for the parents, too, would the parents go to these things?
KLH: Yeah. It was for everybody. And I almost think they probably had some movies there but I don’t remember them, you know. And maybe books for kids. I just don’t remember that part of it. But I remember that it was a pretty good place to live when you think about it. I mean, it was scary to think about going to isolation. But we had things okay.
CD: Right. And it was more regulated than living in a house on your own? There were rules to follow?
LH: I guess you would say it was like living in a commune because it was regulated. But people would get out of a night and sit and talk along the front of the cabins there. And there was always lots of people and lot of talking. You know, when people get together there’s always problems, too. For instance, my dad -- something happened when he went out to work. Now they had the WPA and in 1940 they tried to get my dad to work for the WPA because they found out he could read blueprints. This was when we lived out at the Plaza. They sent him to Fresno but he hitchhiked home and he wouldn’t go and do that kind of work. He just stayed in the fields.
Ed: WPA was the Work Progress Administration created in 1935 to operate public works projects for unemployed persons. In 1939 the name changed to Work Projects Administration. Later it was absorbed into the Federal Works Agency which was terminated in 1942.
But something happened. He never wanted anybody to tell him what to do or he never wanted to take charity or anything. So a lot of things came hard for him. But something happened on the truck one time or out at the job that he got kind of belligerent and I really think they probably kicked us out of that camp because about something he did that we didn’t follow orders. But I don’t remember what it was.
CD: So, what did the kids for fun after school? Did they go back to the camp or did they hang out at school?
LH: No. We all just hung around the camp. And this is one place that I don’t remember playing a lot because my mother kept us close, you know, because she was always afraid we were going to catch something. So she kept us close. But out in front of the cabins at night there was always a lot of people that gathered and talked and maybe we sat and listened. There was just always something going on. But I don’t remember what we played at that time. Of course I was really young at that time too. I guess I must have been in the second grade and seven. So, we kids probably just played Red Rover. And of course, there was nothing,radios were all we had then. And so kids just played outside.
CD: So you must have had electricity in the cabin?
LH: Some kind of electricity.
CD: Did you dad listen to the radio a lot?
LH: Yeah, he did.
CD: What did the adults do for fun?
LH: The adults -- I remember one night they had some kind of weenie roast to in the front there. But I don’t think -- I think the adults just worked hard. And got up early, went to work and went to bed early. And in the evening they sat and talked and --
CD: What about on the weekends?
LH: You know, I just don’t know. I think that people just worked and if they had any money they’d go to the dance halls around the area or they would drink. We never did anything like that. But I think that people -- I’m sure some of them must have gone to church, too. I don't know. We never went to church.
CD: Was there a church around there to go to?
LH: There might have been a church. Knowing the way the churches are, there probably was a church service down there in the community building but I don’t remember them ‘cause we didn’t go to church.
CD: Where was the closest store; how would your mom go shopping?
LH: The store was right across -- you go right out the gate on -- let’s see now, the East Union School was southwest of the camp across the street. And then on the northwest end if you cross the street there, there’s a little store. And that little store’s still there.
CD: Is it?
LH: At one time my husband’s cousin, Gene Fleeman, owned it. But it’s just been owned by lots of people over the years and it’s still there. It was there in 1940 and it’s still there.
CD: What’s it called, do you know?
LH: Don’t know, never paid any attention to it. But it was just a store because, you know, they didn’t have big stores like they have now so they had little stores spread throughout areas just like they had little schools spread out.
CD: Right. And would you say during this time you guys had enough to eat? What was the food situation like?
LH: We probably had enough of some things. But it wasn’t like other kids had and it must not have been enough because I just quit eating all together. And my mother couldn’t get me to eat. And one lady told her how. My mother said, "I don’t know what I’m going to do with Lucille, she won’t eat at all. She just quit eating." And she said, "Well, I’ll tell you how to get her to eat. You take a piece of bread and you put it in the skillet. You butter it and you put it in a skillet and let it start toasting and getting warm and then you sprinkle sugar over it and that sugar will melt and go into that butter and she will eat it." Well, I can remember eating that and it was good and I think that got me on a sugar high. We just never had much of anything to eat and maybe I just got tired or maybe it -- whatever I did have hurt my stomach or something because ever since I’ve been a kid I’ve always had stomach problems. You can count on one hand how many headaches I’ve had. But you can never count the problems I’ve had with my stomach.
CD: What kind of things would you eat that you think made you sick?
LH: Beans. I think they kept my stomach upset. And I really think that I was allergic to milk. I didn’t know until later on that I didn’t like milk. Now, when you don’t have much to eat and you don’t like milk, I mean milk was good. And you don't like it; I figured it must have hurt my stomach. Like the lactose intolerant still --.
CD: Was Linnell Camp laid out pretty much like it is now?
LH: Yeah, just like it is now.
CD: So they tore down those tin sheds at some point?
LH: I’m not sure when they tore them down. But it was a long time ago.
CD: Yeah, ‘cause now they’re wood. And then where did you guys go after Linnell Camp? You think that you pretty much got kicked out of Linnell Camp?
LH: I remember it was in the middle of my third year (1943) because I started in the middle of my third year in Ivanhoe. And I don’t remember the teacher in the third grade, but where we lived -- (telephone rang) -- where we moved into Ivanhoe was -- Clink citrus ran all the way down by the railroad tracks.
CD: Clink or cling?
Ed: Klink Citrus Association in Ivanhoe, Tulare County.
LH: I think it’s K-l-i-n-k. It ran all alongside the railroad there. And at the north end there’s a big field and that big field is still there. There’s no houses or anything on it. But at that time they had taken these cabins that were used by the Japanese in the internment camps. And these cabins were wood, just wood square buildings. And they had a couple of windows in the back and one in the front and they had a door. And I think they had a door that went into the side because between each cabin was like a long hallway. But there was no door at the end of it. It was just where you could walk out and talk to your neighbor, whatever. And there was about 22 of them. Oh, about maybe 24 because at the end by the road across from the packing plant there were 2 more. Of course they packed mostly oranges. Then that was the people that took care of the camp and bossed all of us around. But we did have our own place. We were really independent. But they still had to take care of things and make sure that everything ran well.
CD: And what was this place referred to?
LH: We called it the Jap Cabins. Or there’s another name we used for it and it was called the Tar Paper Shacks.
CD: Were they tarpaper shacks?
LH: Tar Paper Shacks is what we called them. And they were -- we called them the Jap Cabins because it was the ones that the Japanese were interned in, you know. Like in Manzanar and Tule Lake, they had internment camps. And they had internment camps all over for the Japanese. The Japanese were just kind of -- everybody was scared that they were involved with the Japanese across the sea. Sad thing about it was, Japanese were really industrious and had fields of crops and everything. And they would just take these Japanese and just what they could carry on their back and they lost everything they had to go to these internment camps. But I don’t know if these were extras or if they actually lived in them because this was ’43, so I’ve thought about that since and thought, well, were these just some they built that they had left over or what.
CD: It does seem to me --
LH: It sure fit right into, you know, us all living in them.
CD: And you know that they were for Japanese because you saw one at the Smithsonian?
LH: Yes. It’s just exactly like the one in the Smithsonian. You can walk in there and it’s just same size and everything. It was just it, you know. When I was back on the east coast we went in there and I walked in and showed my husband exactly where we had everything in our house because we had like four beds, I think, in this one little room. And you know, it’s not very big. And it had room -- and my mother would put up like a blanket or something to divide everything off. And then there was -- she used a little kerosene heater or kerosene stove that she cooked on. And that also warmed the house. Now, inside this room, there was no paint or anything. I mean, it was just wood. You know, bare wood.
And then she had a little -- like a little camp oven that she sat on top of the stove because she baked a little bit, sometimes made biscuits and pies and cakes and things. And then we had to keep -- my mother had to go to the store every day to get the food. And of course right around where we lived there was about three stores. You know, cause they’re just -- actually in Ivanhoe at that time we went to four different ones ‘cause it was so close and they did have stores that close at that time. But we needed to keep our milk from one day to the next. It would be gone the next day. But they would take in a little box and -- not as big as an orange crate, maybe half as big as an orange box and they would wrap it in burlap or we called them toe sacks. And then they would water it down and then we’d set it in a window and then we’d keep our cold food in there.
CD: That’s what you called a refrigerator?
LH: Yeah. They started getting refrigerators then. But of course we didn’t know anybody that had a refrigerator. Later on people that we knew had iceboxes and later on we had an icebox. But we weren’t privileged to any of that.
CD: What was the name of the exhibit at the Smithsonian when you saw the cabin, that cabin that you lived in?
LH: I don’t remember.
CD: But what was it, was it a display?
LH: Yeah, it was telling about the Japanese during the Second World War.
CD: So it had a cabin rebuilt right there?
LH: Yeah. In school -- we played -- this was right in the middle of the war, in ’43, because the war ended in 1945. But we played -- we had a lot of fun there. We played a lot of games -- Hide and Seek and Red Rover and anything you could name.
And then we’d listen to the radio. And we would come in -- we couldn’t wait to get in from school to hear Terry and the Pirates, you know, different -- Ma Perkins and things like that. We loved the radio. And then at night my dad always listened to the news.
But we were kind of -- even though we lived in Ivanhoe and we walked to school about -- I guess it was a good mile. I don’t know. We walked in rain and heat, whatever. But we always walked to school. In the fourth grade, they started bringing these teachers in -- these homemakers in because they couldn’t get teachers for the school so they’d bring the homemakers in to the school to be the teachers. And I had Mrs. Lally in the fourth grade and Mrs. Smith in the fifth grade. And her husband’s name was Joseph Smith and he was the principal. But he was the principal right after --
LH: Crookshanks was finishing up the third year. I think he was finishing up his last year at Ivanhoe School when I was in the third grade. And that would have been in 1943. And then of course he stayed here and went on to be the President of COS (College of the Sequoias) and I don’t know what else he did. And then in sixth grade I had Mr. Nickels and the seventh grade I had Mrs. Sterns and then I had Mrs. Hulse, ‘cause they had to split the classes up; they had so many. So they put me in an eighth grade/seventh grade class combined and I had Mrs. Hulse.
CD: Did you like the school?
LH: Oh, yeah, I liked Ivanhoe School.
CD: What’d you like about it?
LH: Well, it was a different world. Cause when we were at home, even though we played with the kids in the camp, it wasn’t like being at school and being around a lot of people and learning. You know learning was fun for us. And I don’t remember ever having any homework. Maybe I did. I remember when I first started -- (end of side one of tape).
But I really liked Ivanhoe school. And then the camp where we lived, tetherball had just come out. And of course, nobody could afford to buy a tetherball. So we had a big telephone post there. And we took all these rags and tied them together. And then we took pieces of cloth and wrapped them around the tied rags and that made the rope that hung on the telephone pole. Then we took a whole bunch of rags and made them into a big ball. And we just had more fun with the tetherball.
And also another thing that we did that was really interesting; we stood out and the troop trains would come by on the tracks there. And we always had to go out and wave at the troop trains. Well, my mother -- I didn't remember this until my sister,Lois, reminded me of it the other day. She said that mom one day had to come out and get me off the troop train because I had crawled up on that troop train. ‘Cause they stopped for some reason. And so she came and got me off the troop train.
And also out in the fields there we would -- it’s just like it is today. I mean, you can go by there and its just -- this is 2004, and that field is just like it was then minus the old tar paper shacks or the Jap Cabins, whichever one you want to call them.
But they had cesspools in there. And they were, oh, concrete cesspools. And they finally tore all those out because the bums along the tracks would come and sleep in those. But us kids would go out there and we’d make fires. And I guess we never set anything on fire. But we’d put these potatoes in there
CD: And cook them?
LH: And we had so much fun playing all these games. Most of all of our games -- we also have played with the trapdoor spiders. And I can’t imagine me ever playing with trapdoor spiders. But then there were just oodles of them. And they were fun to play with. And another thing, down to the north end of the cabins if you go maybe a eighth of a mile or something was a big pond and we played with frogs and toads and you’d be surprised what fun you can have out of things. We had stilts.
CD: You made stilts?
LH: Oh, yeah, we made stilts. We had rubber guns. We had bean flips.
CD: What are bean flips?
LH: You know, they’re shaped like a "Y" and they have the rubber where you pull back and shoot.
CD: Like a slingshot?
LH: Slingshot. But we called them bean flips. And one of our main things to do was to -- in the grass out at the end of the cabins, the north end of the cabins, was -- we’d make houses out there in the grass and different rooms and we were pretending that our husbands were over -- and of course the boys played, too. But that the boys were overseas and we couldn’t wait for them to get home and we were getting all prepared for them.
And then if anybody died or, you know, they would put -- like a big black ribbon or something on the door if they’d lost a serviceman. And also they always put these cards in the windows about having a serviceman in the war. And well, everything we did, if we think about it now, everything we did and all of our thoughts was -- it was all connected with the war because everybody was just scared. You know, they were scared. They were scared of the Japanese. And I know that what we did at the time might seem wrong now but it seemed right then because everybody was so scared that they were involved, they were sending messages over to their homeland and that they were going to come over here and bomb us.
And I remember when Pearl Harbor was bombed in ’41. They started having these blackouts. And the sirens would go off and you’d have to turn off the lights. And I can remember when I lived over at Liberty that I used to crawl under the bed ‘cause it would scare me. But I don’t remember the blackouts so much in ’43. I remember them, you know, right after Pearl Harbor. But in ’43 I didn’t remember the blackouts so much. But I know that everything that was done around there had to do -- everything was connected with the war. Like you couldn’t have sugar or tires or gas or anything like that unless you had the stamps. You know, you had to have stamps for everything. And also, they sold stamps at the school for the war bonds. And they had a lot of war bond drives.
And I had a brother, Cecil, that was -- that started out with
Patton’s 3rd Army in North Africa. And he fought all the
way through Sicily. And in
CD: Did you guys have something in your windows saying you had someone overseas?
LH: We didn’t. I mean, I know other people did, but I don't remember us having anything. But I remember during this time that I sold some of those items. You know, you used to could order them and sell them. So then I sold some around but I don’t remember us having -- and maybe we did. I sold blue glittery signs with bible verses and pictures on them.
And then when my brother Cecil came home from the war in ’45, he took us to the show. Took me one time. He took my brothers several times. But my brothers used to hitchhike to Visalia every Saturday during these years. And they would hitchhike and take their little shoeshine kit and they would shine shoes and then they’d go to the movie every Saturday. And there was, you know, four different theaters at the time in Visalia. But girls didn’t do things boys did. Our parents wouldn’t let us do the same things boys did like the boys -- there was one bicycle that they shared and girls didn’t ride bicycles. Girls didn’t learn to skate, do things like boys did. And of course, like I said, people went to the dances and the bars. This was the time I started going to church ‘cause I didn’t’ have anything else to do that was more interesting.
CD: So, girls couldn’t skate?
LH: Well, in our family they couldn’t. In some families they could. But our family thought that it was a man’s world. And whatever man said went and girls didn’t have much say and they were just there and they could go out and work like the guys, the kids, but they couldn’t do a lot of the things. They didn’t get a lot of things the kids (boys) did.
CD: What church did you go to?
LH: I started going to Assembly of God in Ivanhoe. And then a tent church came there and it was called -- we just called it Harry Timberlake’s Church. It’s still there today. But it’s out on the Ivanhoe highway there and they called it the Highway Tabernacle for a long time. And I think they have another name now. But it’s still there. I mean, you know, they remodeled it and everything. But it’s still the old church. And I didn’t go by myself. There was a group of us, you know, that went. My brothers never went, mostly just girls. And we just went to have something to do.
And another thing they did then was Toby -- Toby somebody used to come by and bring his tent -- we called it Toby’s Tent Theater because he’d bring his tent theater. And they put it right behind the Ivanhoe Post Office. The Post Office still sits where it did in the forties. And they would put it out there. And then before the shows they would have talent shows.
CD: Oh, how fun.
LH: And one time one gal from our Jap Cabins, she won, she sang
"I’m Looking over a Four-Leaf Clover." And I don’t know what she won. Maybe she won a free ticket to the show. I don’t know.
CD: Was that a big thing, that someone from the Jap Cabins won the talent show?
LH: Yeah, it was a big thing. And it was a big thing, exciting just to have the talent show.
CD: I bet. What was the attitude at school about the kids that lived in the Jap Cabins?
LH: You know, it was just like we were in a different world. And just down by the Klink, they had some apartments down there by the Klink -- the citrus packing sheds there. And some of those people in there that lived in those apartments there -- those apartments are all gone now. But I think they moved them in because some of the people were like a lieutenant or something in the Army or something. And their families lived in there. They wouldn’t have had anything to do with us. And then at school they didn’t treat us -- it’s kind of like nowadays how people treat people. And I guess they didn't think we were worth much because we lived in those cabins. And a lot of the people at the school was from the farming family.
CD: Oh, the owners?
CD: And the people who ran the camp lived right there on the camp? Why don’t you tell me about their family and their home?
LH: They had a -- even though it was the cabins, they had a nice place. And the girl named Shirley Cook, she had things that none of the rest of us had. Like she had dolls, Shirley Temple dolls, and little table and chairs. And the family just had a lot nicer things than any of the rest of us ‘cause we didn’t really have anything. And I don’t think she was allowed to play with anybody but me and I don’t know why that was. There was other people that was her age. But seemed like I’m the only one she was allowed to play with. And she always played Shirley Temple and I was always Veronica Lake. And we just -- it was just good memories.
CD: Yeah, nice family. So how would you sum up Ivanhoe now versus Ivanhoe then?
LH: Oh, Ivanhoe today. Maybe it wasn’t much in the ‘40s, but it was clean and you know, it was poor then and everything, but there was some activity on Main Street. They had -- well, if you start down at the south end, they had on the right hand side; they had some kind of a bar. They had a nice little store down there. And on the left hand side they had a drugstore. They had a church, a Nazarene Church, run by a pastor, a man named Shoemacher. And I think it was up above the drugstore. And at the intersection there on the right hand side there was a large hardware store. And I guess that hardware store -- the building’s still standing. You can still tell it was a hardware store. But I don’t know how many years that was in operation. I mean, everybody -- of course they didn’t have any places to go like Wal Mart and everything now. So everybody that wanted anything would come there. But then across the street they put in a barbershop and another big variety store. So it looked like a little town. And you go over to Ivanhoe now and I’m not sure how they survive over there. I mean, I know they must go to town to do all their shopping. One time they had that big grocery store down there but they’ve closed it up. There’s just nothing but -- Ivanhoe just looks like real poverty.
CD: It does. So, you would say then it was a real little town; it was a regular little town?
LH: Yeah. You know, I thought we were poor. But we never took welfare. But now that I look back, they look poorer now than we did for some reason.
CD: Why do you think that is? I mean, how do they look poorer?
LH: Well, because of the way they live. You know, at least we always tried to keep things neat and clean. And it just looks trashy over there.
CD: Oh I know what you mean. You mentioned that your stories compared to the other people’s stories of that panel, that you would have much different stories than them. Why don't you explain that a little bit?
LH: You mean because of the way we were raised?
LH: The panel that -- I know they’ve interviewed -- you’re talking about the interviews you did with the 100 people?
CD: No. And then when you went to the library. Remember you went to the library and the panel got up and they were telling their stories.
LH: Oh, yeah.
CD: And you said your stories, you had those, but then some that were a lot different.
LH: Well, we had all different memories of the Second World War because the people that got up there and talked seemed like they were more affluent than we were. And there was one lady that was a schoolteacher. And her stories were just all different than ours because my husband and I had been around the German prisoners of war and then I’d lived in the Jap Cabins and I’d lived with the people that had been in the Depression.
I know our play, the way we played and the way we lived was completely different than a lot of people that told their stories there because our memories are all different because we didn’t have the things to do with like those people did. In fact, I don’t remember ever having Christmas. We never had Christmas trees, never knew what anything like that was. And one time when my brother came home from the Second World War, my mother had him go into town and buy me a bear and my sister something and my brothers jackknives. Well, we never had had anything for Christmas before.
CD: So that was like the first Christmas?
CD: What year was that?
LH: ’45. And I was ten years old.
CD: So the rationing wouldn’t have affected a poorer family as much. Do you remember the rationing really affecting your family?
LH: Well, it would have affected us a lot because -- well, we had to get to work. We had to drive to work. So we had to have gas. The tires, we had to have tires. I think the main thing I remembered was the sugar. Because my mother -- we didn’t have a lot to eat and we worked out in the field and we cut oranges. Well, my mother, on the day she didn’t work -- and we worked on weekends except when it was raining or something. She would take oranges and make orange pies. And when we’d tray raisins, she would take these raisins and make raisin cream pies. And so whatever we worked in the field my mother would cook. So sugar was important to us.
CD: What about shoes?
LH: Shoes. We rarely had any shoes. But my dad would take -- we had to have some kind of shoes. But whatever we had when they got holes in them, my dad bought this little last from Sears and Roebuck and he would resole our shoes.
CD: A last?
LH: I think they call it a last. You know, it’s a metal stand that stands up about this tall and it’s got this metal thing shaped like a shoe. And you put your shoe on top of it and you use your hammer and put the sole on.
CD: And what would the sole be made of? Rubber or where would he find the stuff for the sole?
LH: You know, I don’t know. Maybe he took pieces of inner tubes. You know, we played with old tires and inner tubes and things and maybe he took -- I think you could buy pieces of leather and cut out something to fit to it at that time.
CD: Tell me about when they would let you know that there was gum at the store?
LH: We had to run -- I guess it’s probably only half a mile. Seemed like a long way. But somehow someone would -- the word would go through the camp that there was bubble gum at the store, Flees Double Bubble was our favorite. But it was hard to get during the war. But when we got it we could only buy one piece ‘cause that’s all they’d let us have.
CD: Oh, they’d just let you buy one --
LH: And it cost a penny and they’d let us have one. Well, we’d run as hard as we could to get that. Well, we took that piece of gum, we chewed it, we put it on the bedpost overnight and we chewed it again. We shared it with anybody that wanted to chew this gum. And all our friends and everybody, you know, that didn’t get any got to share our gum. And man, could we blow big bubbles. And I guess we would have done anything just to make life enjoyable.
CD: How long would one piece last you?
LH: Well, I tell you, if they didn’t get any -- I don’t know. You know, it went all over the place. And I don’t know how long it would last.
CD: More than a couple of days?
LH: Oh, yeah. I think it probably lasted a week, but I’m not sure. Depending on who had it when they gave it back to us (chuckle).
CD: Just to get back to Ivanhoe for a little bit. Would it get rowdy sometimes? Sometimes Farmersville would get rowdy, your husband said. Would Ivanhoe get rowdy? Did it have a lot of bar life, nightlife?
LH: It did have the bar and it had the bar on Main Street then. At least one bar.
CD: And what was that called?
LH: I don’t know. But at the north end of the camp maybe about ’47 -- no, I don’t mean ’47. Yeah, it might have been ’46, ‘47, after the war. People started moving in some tents in there. And I remember the man drank a lot and he would always go into the bar. But we never were -- I know the people drank and they went to the dance halls, but we never did do anything like that. I mean, my folks just worked. You know, they just got up and went to work and worked out in the fields and come home. And my mother’d go to the store; she’d walk down there. I don’t know why my dad didn’t take her. But she always walked to the store with her -- she wrote, you know, down on a little piece of paper what she needed to buy and it always come to -- I can still see it -- dollar seventy-eight or two something ‘cause she didn’t spend very much on anything because mostly we had bologna sandwiches. We had beans and fried potatoes. Never had a salad in my life until I got older that I ever remember. Don’t remember having anything green. The only thing I think saved us from scurvy or rickets when we were little is that we could have all the oranges we wanted. And we could have all the grapes when we'd tray raisins and all the fruits and stuff.
CD: So, that must have been a lifesaver?
LH: I think it was. I think that’s what kept us healthy when we were younger.
CD: But other men weren’t -- you don’t remember much activity about other families?
LH: Well, I remember certain things about other families. They were all just poor, hard-working people. But I remember neighbors -- young girls going in to help a lady that was having a miscarriage and I remember things, how the families kind of stuck together and played together. And actually we were just -- it was kind of like a commune, too, except we were more independent than we were than in the Linnell Camp. Everybody just had a good time because we were all the same sort. You know, in fact I hope to go this next week to see a gal named Earamae Tidwell. She lived down the street from me.
CD: In the camp?
LH: Yeah. And Frankie Epperson‘s still alive. I may go visit her. And Earamae’s mother, Odie. And, yeah, I remember lots of things. And half of the camp burned down.
LH: I’m not sure what year it burned down. It must have been -- was after the war sometime. And then there was just half of it left. And finally in 1948 they moved us. They told us all we had to leave because the camp was no more because half of it burned down. But the half that burned down --in the first house a boy saved - - his mom and dad, I don’t where they were. They were probably out dancing or drinking. And he saved seven brothers and sisters. So, yeah, I remember a lot of things about the people in the camp.
CD: So, the parents were gone and the brother got all the siblings out of the house before the cabin burned down?
LH: He did. My dad and mom never did anything like that because my family was -- my mother was outgoing and visited with people. But my dad was completely socially isolated. He would come in from work and he would go to bed.
CD: Or listen to the radio?
LH: And listen to the radio. And he was -- I think of him as being -- now when I think about it, I think my dad was schizophrenic. But he never wanted to have anything to do with anybody. He was fine when he went out to the field and he worked with all of us and everything. And he had a very violent nature. But never went anyplace.
And also in Ivanhoe I discovered the library. And I don’t know why I never got to go to it before but I got to get some books from that and I used to read "Snip, Snap and Snur" and different books like that. But I loved the library and the books.
CD: Was the library there when you were going to school?
LH: It was. But it was always in a house. And just like Farmersville, it was always across from the old Snowden School and it was in a house.
CD: And you would go to the library during junior high and read the books?
LH: We would go and check out books out of somebody’s home and we could keep them the way they do now, just so long.
CD: What would people do if they needed to see a doctor? If somebody was having a baby or needed a tooth pulled?
LH: Well, I’ve often wondered about that. And I’ve often thought that the reason we didn’t get any broken arms or legs when we were kids was because our family probably couldn’t have afforded to take us any place. And I don’t know if we would have just had to -- if it’d had to grown back or whatever. But then again, my dad -- people told us that frogs caused warts. And I had maybe 50 some odd warts on my hands. And my dad took me down -- there was a doctor down there in Ivanhoe, too, on that Main Street. Cause my dad took me down there and had those warts burned off. Now, that’s surprising that my dad did that, too.
LH: Because he wouldn’t have ever taken us to a doctor or anything. And I don’t remember any of us ever going to a doctor. I remember my poor mother she had gingivitis or pyorrhea in her mouth and she lost all of her teeth about then. But these big old like blisters or something came all over her arms. So she just got poison throughout her body. And she had a rough time. I can remember when she would get vaginal itch. And she would use vinegar. And she had a douche bag and she used vinegar. And I can remember that she used to tell me how it was really just killing her. But she never went to a doctor.
CD: So she never went to the doctor?
LH: She never went to the doctor with her teeth or anything because nobody ever went to a doctor. And you could. You could go to the Tulare County Hospital because later on there was a lot of people that had tuberculosis that went, you know, went up to the Sanitarium in Springville. And you could go to the doctor. But my dad -- and I’m sure a lot of those people did do a lot of this stuff. It’s just that I was in such a -- you know, a repressed family that we just didn’t do any -- we just kind of played in our own doorway. And we didn’t do anything.
And if we did venture out a little bit, something’d happen. One time they had a little carnival down at the school. And it was nighttime. And oh, what a treat to go down there to that carnival. Well, my mother heard on the radio that somebody’s kid had got snatched in L.A. or someplace. And daddy came down and got all of us kids and took us home because of something like that. Yeah. It was, it was really frustrating.
But, you know, with bad, there always comes good. My grandmother always sent me clothes that belonged to a couple cousins. And also there was a gal named Alice Doty that gave Mrs. Hulse, my 7th grade teacher, a whole bunch of beautiful clothes. And she gave them to me. She always treated me pretty special. Maybe because we were poor and everything. But I don’t know. Maybe she felt bad because when I was in Mrs. Stern’s class and I had to go into Mrs. Hulse’s class, I didn’t want to go into Mrs. Hulse’s class because Alvie, my brother, stayed in Mrs. Stern’s class.
CD: You wanted to stay together?
LH: Yes, so they put me in with CJ, the other brother, and I never was close to him. And it was the double class. But, oh, what a teacher that Mrs. Hulse was. I wish she was alive today that I could --I have a story on the computer about her. She would take us out and walk us around and show us all the leaves and name all the different trees and the plants and the leaves. She got me to run for class treasurer. I can’t believe that I had the nerve to do it and I ran and made my posters and I didn’t win. But I gave that old person that did win a run for their money. One of those snobs. And also she got me a job in the cafeteria. So I got to eat in the cafeteria for the first time. And, oh, man, I can remember some of those meals to this day.
CD: The cafeteria food was good?
LH: Oh, my Lord, it was wonderful. Mrs. Michaels and Mrs. Winters were the cooks. And I tell you, they’d make these big old pans of macaroni and cheese just bubbling brown taking them out of the oven. They don’t do anything like that in school any more. And we’d have mashed potatoes and hamburger gravy.
CD: But the kids had to pay for it?
LH: Yeah, they had to pay. It wasn’t very much and I didn’t have to pay ‘cause I worked there. And I sold milk, too. I guess I must have been pretty good in arithmetic for them to let me sell milk.
CD: That teacher must have seen something in you?
CD: ‘Cause there were other kids from the camp that she could have favored.
LH: Yeah. But, no, she favored me. And I think she just felt sad because I went in her class and I didn’t want to go in her class. Sometime you thought she was real strict and stern but she was just a fantastic teacher. While we were reading on the 7th grade side, 8th grade sat over here, we sat over here and read "The Courtship of Miles Standish." And on this side the 8th side was reading "Evangeline." So, things weren’t all bad. There was a lot of good.
CD: When did you guys play at Cutler Park? You said you had memories of Cutler Park.
LH: Oh, Cutler Park wasn’t very far from Ivanhoe. I guess -- it was down close to the Elbow School. And, oh, I don’t know, several miles down the road. But anyway, daddy took us down there sometimes. And maybe we got rides with people with the church or what because, you know, on Sundays, they’d take us there and we’d have dinners. You know, like after church and they’d always have fried chicken, stuff like that. Well, we never fixed anything. That’s one reason we went to church, they had good food and a lot of fun. But out there on the St. John’s River they had these great big grape vines. And you could get on there and you could swing all the way across that river. Now, I don’t know if you can still do that or not.
CD: I think they could try.
LH: I don’t even know -- and of course, you know, we went swimming in the creeks and the rivers. That’s another thing. Kids went all over the place. They went to -- of course, we didn’t go to Rocky Ford and Little Rocky Ford and Terminus and all that stuff til we got older. But when we were kids, during the war years, we went in the creeks. We went in Elbow, down there, the creek by Elbow School. We went into the St. John’s River. But the only thing bad that happened at that time during the war years was that polio became prevalent. And then they wanted everybody to stop going into the little creeks cause they thought that’s what caused polio. I don’t know if it was or not but that’s what they said and they wanted people to quit doing it. Always -- when you get something good, it messes up.
CD: Doesn’t it?
CD: Some rule comes down. But could you guys keep swimming in St. John’s?
LH: We weren’t supposed to. That’s why I don’t know if you can still do it or if they put a stop to it then. But we could always -- even when the river was dry, we could always swing across on those grape vines.
CD: And what would you guys wear swimming?
LH: Well, we didn’t have bathing suits. So, I guess we must have just went in in our little skimpy dresses or whatever.
CD: And then just drip-dry?
LH: Yeah. Now my brothers, you know, they never had shorts to wear like other people did. And my mother would make me little -- she made my panties.
CD: She made your underwear?
LH: Uh-huh. And she made me little slips and just little flower sack cotton unbleached muslin type things. So I just figured that we just went in in what we had on. Cause I remember doing all that but I don’t remember what we wore.
CD: And what was Cutler Park like? What did it have in it?
LH: I really liked Cutler Park because it was big and it wasn’t crowded. And they used to have a type of swing -- I don’t know if I can explain them now. But they were like on a wood platform. And there was a swing on a side and a swing on this side. And you could stand up in them and you could go backwards and forwards and you could swing. You could go -- those benches just go across there. Well, it got to where people was getting hurt in them. So they had to take them out, all over the park they took them out. And they were fun.
CD: So they had that play equipment. Did they have any boats?
LH: No. Cutler Park was just picnicking. And another thing we did on Sundays during the war years was churches always had baptisms. Well, now churches have baptisms but they’re inside churches. Well, no, they would load us up and we’d go up to Terminus or you know, some of those dams or someplace and people would get baptized and then they’d have like all-day dinners, you know, and baptisms.
CD: So you went to Terminus Beach during the war a couple times?
LH: I don’t know if it was Terminus or not. It was up toward Three Rivers so it could have been Terminus or whatever little rivers are up there that’s big enough for people to have the baptisms in. And of course, they could have them in St. John’s at the time, too, but I think we always went up toward Three Rivers because I think the water was a little deeper. At least it had to be at least waist deep for us to -- and someone asked me if I’d ever been baptized the other day. I said, I can’t tell you how many times I was baptized just because it was fun.
CD: And then they would have the big dinner afterwards?
CD: That’s funny.
LH: And then the church -- you couldn’t go up on the platform unless you had a white uniform. And the minute the pastor -- I don’t know why I went to that church cause Harry Timberlake never cared for me. And he bought Earamae Tidwell, the one I’m hoping to see in a couple of weeks, I was talking to her the other day. She didn’t remember this. And I said remember when he bought you a white uniform. But he didn’t buy any of the rest of us one.
CD: Just her?
LH: But my teacher, Sunday School teacher, Mrs. Compton, she would take some of us girls home on -- or even boys cause it was a Sunday School class -- home on Sunday and she would fix us a chicken dinner. And then she worked out in the fields with us, too. She worked in the oranges. But boy, on Sunday she went to church and fixed that chicken dinner afterwards. And she made me a white uniform. But I never did go up on the platform but I wore it.
CD: Oh, you wore it anyway?
LH: Yeah, but I never did go up on the platform.
CD: Because he didn’t pick you?
LH: I never did want to go up there because he didn’t really want me up there. And you know how some people you just don’t click with and they just don’t care for you for some reason and one reason he didn’t care for me ‘cause I was spunky. I’ll call it spunky for a lack of a better word because whenever there was a fight to be had or some kid to be protected, wasn’t my brothers protecting them, I even protected my brothers. I don’t know how I did it. But I fought with anybody that wanted to fight when I lived in that camp; especially people that wanted to mistreat us.
CD: And would your parents support that?
LH: No. My mother said I was the meanest kid she ever had and I turned out to be her best one. But no, they didn’t want me to fight. But how can you stop me. That’s just the way I was. If I thought if somebody was being run over, I’d protect them.
CD: If Mrs. Compton was out in the fields working, how did she afford all this chicken to feed all these kids?
LH: She probably raised the chickens. See, we could have probably. Nobody had anything like it in the camp, but I imagine she raised chickens. See, we never did anything like it or raised anything. So, we never had anything like that. But she had a place that supported that, like a garden and chickens and stuff. People then and maybe even some places nowadays might still do things like that. But then you just -- there was no T.V. or anything and you just always wanted to do -- have a good time and do a lot of cooking and fix meals for people and eat together at the church and -- oh, I know that’s why we went. It was good food.
CD: When you were out in the fields, what was the ethnic makeup of the field workers then?
LH: I think we were all white.
CD: Picking cotton and the oranges?
LH: I don’t ever remember any Mexicans or the Blacks or anything. I know that when we moved over to Farmersville, even though it was after the war years, that when we lived in that little division there that it was all in our deed that we couldn’t -- nothing could ever be sold to Orientals or Mexicans or anything.
CD: That was in your deed?
CD: That’s interesting.
LH: It was written in our deed that the land could never be sold to -- but that’s just the way things were then. And it was a shame but mostly they were down on the Orientals because of the war. So that, you know, followed the war years.
CD: What exact area of Farmersville was that?
LH: Where we lived was East Farmersville. See, my husband’s dad owned all of East Farmersville before he sold it off. And the man that bought it, Brundage, when he subdivided it he had it made up like that.
CD: In the deeds?
LH: In the deeds that you couldn’t sell to Orientals or Blacks or Mexicans. Mostly I remember it was Orientals. And in the schools -- I remember one time my dad defending a black man from some white guy and I don’t know what happened. And I don’t know why he defended him. But I don’t remember seeing Black kids and Mexican kids and Oriental kids. But surely there must have been some there. I don’t even have any of my school pictures anymore because my mother kept them in a trailer over in Farmersville and ants got in there. And I don’t know of what was on those pictures or what. But they destroyed a lot of her pictures. So, I don’t have any of those pictures to look and see. Because I didn’t ever play with anybody other than people that was in our camps and stuff.
CD: Right. And they were white?
CD: Okay. I want to talk a little bit more about the war. Do you remember when we dropped the A-bomb?
LH: That’s an interesting deal. I don't remember it being dropped. I just remember a lot of commotion and I remember my brother coming home from the Second World War and how exciting that was. But I do not remember. And I should remember because my dad listened to the radio all the time. And he got up in the middle of the night all the time -- and I do the same thing now -- and listen to the news to see if anything changed in the last 30 minutes. And I just remember that the boys started coming home and how exciting it was. And how everybody kind of breathed a sigh of relief and how, you know, how exciting it was. And my brother brought all these cans of Spam home. God, I love Spam. I love Spam to this day. Lot of people can’t stand it and I love to fry Spam and eat it with Mayonnaise and white soft bread and lettuce. And also, he brought, oh, oodles of bars of Hershey Bars. Oh, for us to get a candy bar was a treat. I don’t remember ever having a candy bar.
CD: Had you had a candy bar before?
LH: I must have had something, maybe a piece of penny candy. But I don’t remember ever having a candy bar.
(The tape stopped at this point.)
Catherine Doe/C Paggi Transcriber/JWood Editor 8/25/05
Ed: Words in italics are clarification and corrections during a phone interview with Lucille Hartman on August 25, 2005, and again during an interview in the library, clarifying sections of this transcript on September 7, 2005.