California Council for the Humanities
California Stories Initiative
Years of Valor, Years of Hope
Tulare County and the Years 1941-1946
Tulare County Library
The Friends of the Tulare County Library
And the Tulare County Historical Society
Interviews in 2003-2004
Interviewee: Louis Jacques
Tape # 77
Interviewer: Marvin Demmers
Place: Tulare County, CA
Place of Interview: The home of Mr. Jacques in Visalia in Visalia, CA
PLACES WHERE INTERVIEWEE LIVED DURING 1941-1946
OUTSTANDING POINTS IN THE INTERVIEW:
Early life in Visalia as a high school freshman
Part of a large farming family
Involvement in Service as a USAAF tail gunner
MD: I am Marvin Demmers and I will be interviewing Mr. Louis Jacques in his home in Visalia, California as part of the Oral History Program entitled, "Years of Valor, Years of Hope, Tulare County and the Years 1941,1946.
Mr. Jacques, could you give us your full name and tell us where you were born?
LJ: My name is Louie C. Jacques. I was born on Shirk Road here in Visalia, California.
MD: Who were your parents and where were they from?
LJ: My parents were Alesandrina (Mello) Jacques and my dad was John C.
Jacques. They were in born in the Azore Islands off of
MD: They must have come through Ellis Island?
LJ: They came through Ellis Island and they came as a bunch of friends and they got to stay in Massachusetts. A lot of them did land there, but my dad and my mom chose to come to Tulare County because they had their relatives here already that were calling for them and they had a place to go work. My dad’s brother, Frank Jacques was here, and my mother’s sister, Mary Rose Mello (Santos), was here.
MD: Mr. Jacques, do you have any brothers and sisters? At this time, there have been several of them deceased already. There are only three of us living at this time. My oldest brother is Edward, he just turned 84 years old, and myself, I just turned 80. I have a younger brother, Tony who just turned 79 in March. So that’s all that’s left of our family. Of course, we’ve all got grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
MD: And when did you say your folks moved to Tulare County? Did they come directly from where they
LJ: They came right to Hanford, California. That’s where my dad started working on dairies; my mother and her sister were here and they worked. They helped with the washing and the cooking for these dairymen. As the years went by, my parents ended up getting married. They didn’t get married until they were about 20 years of age, in 1908. They worked about 7 years here to get their start, and that’s the way it went.
MD: Do you recall from Hanford, when they moved to Visalia.
LJ: I can say they were in Hanford from the time they arrived here until about 1915 when they moved to Visalia. They spent a few years here in Visalia at the Dinuba Highway and St. John’s River. They were renting a place there. My dad got a start there with his dairy. That’s where he got his first start. He didn’t purchase the place but that’s where he got his start. In 1921, they moved from the St. John’s River, which is off of Highway 43 and the Dinuba Highway. He moved here on Shirk Road in 1921. He purchased this ranch right here in 1921. That’s where I was born and my youngest brother was born. The other brothers, there are four brothers born at the St. John’s River place. They were John, Joe, Clarence and Edward. Four boys were born there and the rest of the family, my oldest brother, Manuel and my older sister, Celcina (Ornellas), and my second brother, Frank, they were born in Hanford. But there were four born at the St. John’s River and two born here, Louie (myself) and Tony. So that made nine. Two and three and the other six made nine.
MD: That’s a big family. Have you lived in Visalia yourself all these years or have you lived other places other than Tulare County?
LJ: I lived here until I went into the Air Force. In 1943, I joined the Air Force and I was living here up until then. I went into the Air Force and I was out of the Air Force in three years. When I got home I went to the College of the Sequoias and earned my High School diploma and in 1946-47, before I got married, I went to Cal Poly for a year or so. Then after that I decided to get married, my wife and I, Eva Lena (Stokes) is my wife. We married in 1947 and then we moved down south for about two years and then we moved back to Tulare County in 1954, and I never left no more. I’ve been here ever since then. Raised our family here and I worked here and I’m still here.
MD: You mentioned that your father worked in the dairy business. Was he self-employed or did he work for other people?
LJ: He worked for other people until he got his own dairy here over by the St. John’s River. That’s when he got help from some of the relatives. There were about 20 head of cows, and some heifers and he started over there. Like I say, he got his start there and then he purchased this place here in 1921. My dad didn’t live to be an old man. My dad came here in 1921 and passed away in 1930. He was only 44 years of age when he died. He left my mother with eight boys and one girl.
MD: I bet that was a struggle. That would be a struggle in today’s economy.
LJ: My mother managed to keep the dairy until 1946 when I came from the service and they decided to go into farming. Crop farming, cotton and stuff like that, and that was it!
MD: Mr. Jacques, how old were you when World War II started?
LJ: World War II started, like Pearl Harbor, would you say?
MD: 1941, right.
LJ: I was in high school. I was in my freshman year in 1941. I was a little on the old side. We didn’t start school until I was seven back in those days. I was about 16 already believe it or not.
MD: What high school did you go to?
LJ: I went to Visalia High?
MD: How many high schools were in Visalia at that time?
LJ: Just Visalia High on Main Street, which is Redwood High School now.
MD: Well let’s talk about some of your remembrances and reactions to World War II. I preface some of these questions by the fact that out of great respect for your involvement in the war and sacrifice for our country, if any of these questions are such that you would not want to answer them or they might bring back memories that would not be something that you would want to deal with at this time, please let me know and we’ll move to a different question.
What do you remember most about the day
LJ: At that time, we never had anything like that happen. Naturally, we were kind of excited about it and worrying about what was going to be the next step. That’s when they starting the drafting and this and that and one thing or another. As the years went by, we just had to live with it. As time went on we saw -- there were restrictions when I was in high school on different things. Gasoline and rationing took place. Tires and all that sort of stuff. I didn’t have a car then so it didn’t bother me none. We took a bus to school. But on the ranch here, we had special provisions because being in a dairy we were allowed to get more gas and stuff like that. There was rationing going on, but we seemed to live with it. Of course, we had a lot of our stuff there. We had meat, no problem. We had all the meat we needed. My folks always had a cellar and they had about anything you wanted down there. From canned fruit up to . . . back in those days there was no refrigeration so they put everything in crocks. Like bacon, spareribs, pork chops, linguica and all that good kind of stuff. And that’s where we kept the stuff.
MD: Were the crocks made of clay?
LJ: Pottery crocks. Big old crocks. About 50 gallon pots. There are 25’s and 50’s and they were naturally loaded with grease to keep the ribs in, so every time you went down there to get something, you took a pan and a big scoop. My mother used to tell us what to get. We’d go fish around and climb up on the big table. Kind of a long table. Had five crocks on it and we’d just dig out what she wanted and bring it up to her, grease with it. It was like an ice cream, you know.
MD: As a young man, you mentioned that when the war started in 1941 you were a freshman in high school. So as a young man, how did you feel about our country going to war? Did you understand what we were going to war over?
LJ: Oh, yes. I was at the age where I thought that what we were doing just had to be the right thing to do. For what damage was done, we had to do something. I felt that we had to do something about it. That’s all there is to it. You can’t plan the future, but as things went on, things started taking place and they started drafting. One thing took place and later on I decided . . . either get drafted or join the service, so I joined. They took us on a tour out here at Lemoore Air Base, the Air Force did, and that’s what got me going to join the air force, so that’s what I did.
Shortly after that in 1942, in December, when I joined, and than I wasn’t to leave Visalia until January 6, 1943, and that’s where I started going into the service.
MD: Do you recall, again back on your school years, that your activities at home or at school were at all affected by our country being at war?
LJ: Well, you know, we did things at school there. I participated in sports and things like that. And I was in the band. It seems that in those two years there that I was involved at school, we seemed to go on to different places I never thought of being. I had never been in San Francisco in my life until I went to high school and our band got chosen to go to San Francisco on a competition. We won that year and we were really proud of the Visalia Union High School Band. We beat Tulare, we beat Porterville; we beat all the towns around here. Hanford, Dinuba, we even beat Fresno that time in San Francisco, so it was quite an ordeal. We went lots of different places. And sports were quite an involvement there. It seemed like it never slowed us down when it came to sports. You just kept on going like nothing happened.
MD: You had mentioned that you had enlisted in the service, and the Air Force. Was it the Army Air Corps?
LJ: It was Army Air Corps then.
MD: Army Air Corps.
MD: Where did you do your basic training?
LJ: First I went to Monterey, to the
presidio of Monterey to get
started. That’s where we had to get our
clothes and stuff. Shortly after that,
about 3 or 4 weeks, they sent us to Texas. Wichita
Falls, Texas. That’s where I took my basic training, and then
later on they started dividing the company into groups there in Texas. I told them I wanted to be in the Air Force
and anything I could do I wanted. They
decided to send me to OCS,Officer Candidate School, so I
went there but I washed out. I didn’t
make it to be a pilot. That’s what I
wanted to be. They said, "Well, you
couldn’t make it; you can’t handle that flying in the dark." I went through several tough things there, so
they said, "Since you still want to be a pilot, maybe you can’t be a pilot, but
how about being a gunner?" I said, "Anything
involving flight, I’ll take it." So they
sent me from there a week or two later to MacDill
Field, Florida. So that where I took my gunnery school. I went to the 50-caliber machine gun school
back there. I wasn’t very far along when
they decided they were short on gunners in Europe already, in
MD: Did you fly in B17s or did you fly B17s?
LJ: No, I was a tail gunner. I did ten missions with the 8th Air Force, and then they decided to move me again to the 9th Air Force with B26s. With the B26s I did 68 combat missions. They were supposed to, after 40 . . . . They said, "You did 10 with the RAF, you did 10 with the B17s, do another 25 missions and we’ll send you home and you can go home and sell war bonds." Well, that didn’t happen. Things got rough over there during various things that happened and things didn’t look too good to some so I stayed with the 9th Air Force until the war ended and then I came home.
MD: Now you had mentioned to me that you had been
involved in some way with the D-Day landings in
MD: Could you describe your feelings and remembrances about that day? I know that was a really significant day in the history of our country and World War II. What can you remember about that?
LJ: That was one of the biggest . . . we speak of secrecy in our country and all over, and as much as I’ve flown in World War II and right along there we’d go on missions sometimes twice a day, depending . . . . On D-Day, Dwight Eisenhower was in charge over there. I was at the base where Dwight Eisenhower had his headquarters. So you read the history of the war, SHAEF Headquarters (Supreme Headquarters, Allied Expeditionary Force) was where Dwight Eisenhower met with all the generals, George Patton, Bradley, the English captains and all their generals and Churchill, they all came to that base. I saw a good number of those people. I shook hands with George Patton, and a lot of them, Mr. Bradley, those top men. Anyway, it was so secret that they were putting stripes on the aircraft one day. They said, "We were going to paint these aircraft, we’re going to put these stripes on," and I said, "What for, we ran this long?" I said, "Is that a way to figure out where we would never get shot down or what?" They said, "No, we are just going to change the looks of them." Believe me; I didn’t know there was going to be a D-Day mission until the day we went into the briefing room. That’s how secret it was. We did make a couple of runs that day, D-Day, just breaking sunlight, just breaking day, and it’s got to be the most spectacular event ever performed. You could see a lot.
MD: I know that it was very secretive. Many of the soldiers that were involved in that didn’t know what was ahead of them.
Now this question might be a little difficult? Did you lose any close friends during your military service as a result of the war? And if you did, what affect did that have on how you felt about the war?
LJ: On our base, there was one time that we lost five aircraft on one mission. Some of those guys bailed out and some didn’t. Some didn’t make it. They just didn’t have a chance to get out otherwise they would have bailed out. They’d have probably ended up in enemy territory, which some did and became prisoners of war, but other than that you just had to go on, that’s all. It happened. Whether it was the Royal Air Force or the 8th Air Force, they all lost a few, there’s no doubt about it. But you just can’t quit. You get in so deep; you just have to get with it. And I was just young at the time. It just seemed like the more you went out there, the more you wanted to go. It was just exciting. Everyday you went on a mission you had things to do. If you weren’t loading your ammo box or getting ammo in it, you were doing something for excitement. It was a good feeling. We just had to write it off and wait for the day when it might end. Nobody had any idea when it was going to end.
MD: You had a job to do and you did your job.
LJ: We had a job to do and we did it.
MD: Now you just mentioned a moment ago that you knew many of the World War II generals. Which of the generals most impressed you and which one did you like the most?
LJ: Eisenhower . . . I was kind of attached to
Eisenhower because when he first arrived in England, which I first heard the
name Eisenhower we were on the base there and our captain said we had to pick
out a weapons carrier and a jeep and we had a mission to perform. "You guys won’t be going out today because
we’re only going to send out so many sorties and that’s it." He sent a captain and a driver and myself and
a jeep driver and we went down to Liverpool to
fetch this general who was arriving in Liverpool,
MD: Excellent. We’ll move forward in some years
now. Do you remember the day the Atomic
Bomb was dropped on
LJ: Yeah, we were just about . . . let’s see, I can’t remember what that date was. The war was over in Europe I believe. Yes, the war was over for us and it took almost five months to get me home after the war ended. It ended in April I think, but I didn’t get home until . . . I was supposed to get home by Christmas, but I sailed on Christmas Day coming home.
MD: So you were home at the time the bomb was dropped.
LJ: I was over there when the war ended in
MD: After you had gotten out of the service and came home, what did you do after you got home? What kind of work?
LJ: When I first came home, I came back here to the ranch where I was born and I just got with it and worked here and there and mostly did some farm work. There was no work at the time. I worked at the dairies at the time relieving different people that wanted to go on vacation over on the coast. Relatives of mine, and then I ended up working over at the cannery, at the olive company, doing different jobs. It beat doing farm work, because farm work wasn’t paying but 50 cents an hour, or 40. It wasn’t very much. I just eventually decided, "Well, I’ll just try to go to school," so I went under the GI Bill. Veterans were allowed to get education and I went to Cal Poly and decided I wanted to be a dairy inspector. But when I was over there and doing real well, getting good grades, come to find out the VA ran out of money. They had to send us home and they would call us when they got the money.
By the time they sent me home my brother was operating a store out here in Goshen. In 1947 I decided to get married and my mother set me and my brothers up in business over here in Goshen, at the Plaza Airport, right by 99 Highway. Had a little store out there. A little family grocery. A Ma and Pa store, not like they are today. There were no supermarkets when I came out of the service, just stores. Groceries, gas, had a shop there, had a bar and so forth and that was about it. I worked there and as time went on, I went from job to job and then I ended up working for Real Fresh and spent almost 30 years down there. That’s where I retired from. Real Fresh, Inc. for Bob Graves.
MD: That’s on the corner of what I believe is Noble and Santa Fe.
LJ: Yes. The Graves Family owned that and they did a good job as far as running a business. I went to work there as a part timer and I spent almost 28 years there. I raised my family through the years, bought my first home on Laurel Lane in 1950 and then in 1966 we had this place built here on Roeben Street. My mother gave me an acre to build this house and here I am and I just turned 80 years old.
MD: What one event of World War II stands out most in your memory and why was that one event important to you?
LJ: Well, I’ll tell you this. The most spectacular event, maybe because of
the guy that I knew was so close to me, but Dwight D. Eisenhower, see when
D-Day took place, it didn’t take but 11 months to end that war. Started in June and in April it was all over,
but during the Battle of the
Bulge, that was when we about lost it. It was serious. People haven’t
got the slightest idea because they weren’t there and the people that reported
on it didn’t know how to report on it because it was a terrible thing. And the day that Dwight Eisenhower . . . we
couldn’t get off the ground. We couldn’t
get off the ground in
Boy, I’ll tell you what, that man wasn’t lying when he said that and that was scary. It just about scared you half to death to think, my God, what are we going to do? Leave everything behind and walk away from this? Something’s got to happen. They were told that if things don’t break out, like for instance this was Saturday, or Sunday, he said this on a Saturday, but on Monday . . . we were about 80 miles from the where the Battle of the Bulge took place, or maybe 90, pretty far. He said, "If things don’t break loose here and the sky don’t clear up so we can get these planes off the ground, so help me, everything’s got to be detonated. I mean blow up everything we got, aircraft and the whole shot. Just head for the beaches, there will be ships waiting for you there." We had quite a long way to go. I don’t know, maybe the good Lord must have thinking, because on Monday morning early, or early that night we went to the briefing room and they said, This is it, we’re leaving," and by George, it was going to be one of the prettiest days, just like waking up to our prettiest mornings here. Things were beginning to look good, and sure enough, they revved up those planes and we went for it. We headed for Bastogne and that’s where all hell broke loose. That’s all I can say. It’s not in the history books, because I wrote an article about this not too long ago to the University of Louisiana and something we could say about Dwight Eisenhower and I said the same thing I’m telling you. This was what Dwight Eisenhower said and that’s a fact.
MD: Well, I’m sure being the General he was, I know he was more concerned with his men that he was.
LJ: He sure as heck was.
MD: And that’s the sign of a good military leader, I think. Well, we’re going to switch gears here just a little bit. We’re going to talk about how the war years affected your family here. Some of these questions you have already provided answers to, so we’ll probably go through these probably fairly quickly.
Do you recall how World War II affected your family’s economic circumstances, if it did? Was it hard to get clothing, food, other goods that your family needed?
LJ: Well, to be honest about it, there wasn’t much difference, because ever since the hard times, during the Depression, my mother always had plenty. We had anywhere from chickens, pigs, cows, you name it. We had plenty to eat. The only thing that we sort of didn’t like too much, we couldn’t help it, it was the gas rationing. That was kind of rough deal, but we lived with it. We didn’t go many places those days anyway. And as far as affecting the family, like I said there were only three of us that went into the service. One went into the tank corps, one to the Navy, and I went to the Air Force. They sort of lived with it and when they came out they went on with life like nothing ever happened. That’s all I can say.
MD: Your family that remained here, that did not enter the service, the military service, do you recall, did they remain in the Visalia-Tulare County area, or did they move on?
LJ: No, they stayed here. As long as that dairy was here and even after they went out of the dairy business into farming, and like I said, there was four of us brothers Joe, myself, Edward and Clarence worked down at that store, that I talked about where I worked too. And we had that store in the family from 1935 to 1952, so after the dairy went out I had two brothers, Edward and Clarence that lived on the home place with my mother. My mother still lived there and they farmed cotton and they rented other property and made a little money off the cotton and they went on from there. They were pretty much farmers. From there they went on to construction. They helped build Lemoore Air Base, three of my brothers. Those were Edward and Clarence and Joe. I had another brother that worked on the Friant Canal. That was Joe. They worked construction. They kept pretty busy.
MD: They stayed in the area.
LJ: Yes, they stayed here.
MD: When you were in the service, how often did you get news from home? Did you folks write to you?
LJ: Yes, my sister wrote me and my mother. My brothers helped her write, get letters to me. I was getting mail. I kept in pretty good contact while I was over there. I was in the service exactly three years to the day. I went in on January 6, 1943, and I got out on January 6, 1946. Three years and three days, something like that.
MD: Were the letters you received from home censored?
LJ: No, I don’t think they were. If they read them, there was nothing ever cut out. Back in those days we had those little V-Mail letters you used to send home. I never used to overdo it on that either. They did tell us we had certain regulations to go by. They said, "If you want to give them something to read, you better not say anything to get cut out." So I never said anything out of line or tell where we were at or give our locations. That was about it.
MD: Did your family buy war bonds, or participate in other programs? You had mentioned that you had participated in recycling programs. How about war bonds?
LJ: My mother bought a few war bonds. What she could afford. She bought a few. That’s all I can say. She helped out a little bit, what she could. Other than that . . . I think my sister was into war bonds. That’s what I was supposed to have done when I got home, but everything was over when I got back. That’s OK, it all worked out. I got back safe and that’s all that matters.
MD: Absolutely, and I’m glad that you did. This is kind of a different question, because you had mentioned several times that your family was in farming, did your family grow Victory Gardens or have a Victory Garden?
LJ: My mother always raised a garden there at the house and stuff like that. She was always into that. She always wanted to plant something good back in those days. She was home lady, that’s all I can say. She had those old island ways. That’s how she was. She was a homebody. She raised all those kids. She actually raised 13 children total. Four died and nine lived and that’s the way Mom was. She did go places once in a while. And after my Dad passed away she was pretty much alone. She was only 43 years old when my dad died. Or 42. So she had some tough sledding. She lived to be 91 years old.
MD: Did your family listen to the radio in the evening for news of the war or for entertainment?
LJ: Oh, yeah. There was lots going on back in those days. There was nothing but radio, that’s all there was, but we used to listen to all kinds of good stuff, blues and country music. Back in those days, my wife’s uncle used to play music out here at the airport. There was a base out there at one time. A B26 base, but right there south of the base was a ranch called the Lazy "A" Ranch and Prince Stokes and the Rocky Mountain Cowboys had a big dance hall. He could put in 400 to 500 couples on a Saturday night and they’d start playing music . . . . You could hear it clear across the field about three miles away and every Saturday night you could hear that country western music as clear as if you had the radio on.
MD: Now was that close to the current Tagus Ranch and that vicinity?
LJ: Tagus Ranch is further south. This was straight where I’m sitting right across the field going toward the 99 Highway, there’s a big, kind of a, they called it the Lazy "A" Ranch. (West across his property on Roeben Road toward Highway 99.) It was kind of a cowboy ranch and you had cowboys working there and everything. And my wife’s uncle, Prentice (Prince) Stokes played western music and you’d hear it every Saturday when he was on the air, without turning the radio on, you could hear it across the field.
MD: I’ll be darned.
LJ: Back in those days, that was something.
MD: I’ve got a few more questions here in regard to the community and some of the things that went on here in the Visalia area and Tulare County in general, and then some concluding questions.
To your knowledge was Visalia affected by any industry conversions or war plants shut down, things of that nature, or rationing shortages? The City of Visalia itself, the residents of the area, were they affected by such things?
LJ: I don’t think they hurt too bad. Sure everybody had to sacrifice a little bit and there was rationing on everything. They took it like it was something you had to do and that’s all there was to it. People back in those days didn’t go a lot of places. I know when I was going to grammar school about the only time we went to town was about once a month with my dad, when he was living. Maybe on the 15th, that’s when he got his paycheck. First or 15th, but once a month. That’s when everybody used to go to town and get a load of groceries and come home and you wouldn’t see them again for another month. That’s the way it was. I don’t think people circulated that much to know too much about what was going on. Especially people who lived on a ranch. I don’t know about people who lived in town.
MD: Basically, life went on as usual, with the exception that there was a large war going on?
LJ: Life went on. That’s about all I can say. Yes, the war went on. People were probably looking forward to it ending some day.
MD: Were there blackouts or air raid drills?
LJ: I don’t remember. We had drills in school is all I remember. Of course, that was before the war, but when the thing was going on, like I said, I was gone for three years of it. My family didn’t complain too much about what took place, you know. My mother knew she had three in the service and hoped they’d all get back some day and that’s about it, which we did.
MD: Were people in the community, to your knowledge, basically sympathetic to the plight of Japanese Americans in regard to their relocation camps, some would call them concentration camps. I know many of the Japanese Americans at that time were in the farming industry. What are your thoughts on that? How did people react?
LJ: At the time when they did that, it was shocking because it all happened so fast. We didn’t know what the heck was going on, but when I was going to high school we had kids that were born here, the Japanese boys lived in Yettem and Dinuba and around this town here and Tulare. Heck, they were just my age, playing sports. They were good kids and when that happened it was kind of a shocker. There were guys there that I didn’t see anymore after that happened. It’s like they took them away and that was the end of it. I never did see any of those guys again after that happened. After the war was over, God knows where they went. Maybe they went to San Francisco, but as far as them returning to these areas, I don’t think they did. I think they went elsewhere,Frisco or Los Angeles. There was one guy I was in touch with at one of my high school reunions 10 years ago and he settled in Los Angeles and did real good. I asked him one time about where some of the guys went that I played track and football and sports and had them in music. He said after it was over they went elsewhere and went to school, more schooling and got themselves good jobs and ended up in the big towns.
MD: Do you recall to what extent the local media, newspapers, magazines and whatnot, covered the war? Were you aware of any attempts by the local media to censor the news of the war?
LJ: Not really. Like I said, I missed out on some of that. They used to send me sometimes a paper, a newspaper from here. Every now and again I’d get a newspaper. Sometimes I would send them the Stars and Stripes that we’d get once a month. There would be a lot of good stuff in there about what took place in some areas after it was done. I’m sure that the Times Delta got some of that because I got a paper later on, a month later, and some of that write-up that I’d sent was in the Times Delta. That was okay, it was news. They had a right to know what was going on too. Some things they couldn’t say, but a lot of things they did say. It worked out all right.
MD: How do you recall the movies portrayed World War II? I know many times movies of that day were preceded by a clip of the war. Do you recall or did your family ever discuss how the war was portrayed?
LJ: Yes. On what they showed here as far as the war was concerned? They never did go into it too much. That’s one thing my family, when I came out of the service they didn’t ask me very much about the war thing. My mother figured as long as I was home that was all that counted. She never went into it too much. I probably told other people and friends more than I told my own family. They just never did ask me and I didn’t tell them. They knew what I was doing and that was about it. That’s how we went.
MD: Well, Mr. Jacques, I have two other questions that I would like to ask. These questions are rather important in regard to the interview tonight, so take your time in answering them, but the first question is: How do you think the World War II years in Tulare County affected you personally?
LJ: Well, as far as the war, like I said, I could have figured out a way to pick my branch of the service and of course I chose to go into the Air Force. As far as affecting it, I had never left home in my life and leaving home . . . I hadn’t been anywhere really. At first, it was kind of rough. When you take a farm boy, you don’t spend any time away from home. You were there until you needed to be there, as long as you lived. I chose to take that route. My mother wasn’t too happy about it, but like I told her, if I don’t join what I want to join, I’m going to get drafted and put into the Army and that I didn’t want. I knew what friends of mine were into and what they were doing. I chose that route and that was it. So that’s all I can say.
MD: Then the last question would be: How do you think the World War II years affected the way Tulare County is now?
LJ: I can’t say for sure what it did. I know that during the war here, from what I heard, there was no work here, I know that. All the work was down south. There were certain people here, like guys when I went into the service, guys that I graduated with, when they left here, they went down south to work, to Burbank, Los Angeles and Maywood. They went to work for Douglas, Northrup and all those guys and they just wanted to get a job and do better to help the defense. A lot of my friends, that’s where they went, If they didn’t go into the service they went down there because there was nothing around here except farm work. There were no plants around here. The milk plant, Knudsen’s Creamery, they had the olive company here and that’s about it in this town. Dairyman’s in Tulare. There was very little going on around here. A lot of those boys, if they didn’t join the service they probably went down south or wherever they could get a job. There sure wasn’t work around here at 40 cents an hour. That’s not too swift, you know. Farm labor.
MD: Many of the young men that didn’t join the service went to work outside the area.
LJ: They went to the big towns where they could work on the aircraft. I guess they also had a lot of work in Fresno. That’s all I can say. They did the right thing if they went to work in a plant building aircraft, tanks, whatever.
MD: Well, Mr. Jacques, that concludes the interview for this evening and I wanted to thank you for your time. I have appreciated the opportunity to come and meet you and talk with you, and on behalf of the citizens of Visalia, Tulare County and the Historical Society for Tulare County, I would like to thank you for taking your time to recall some of your war experiences and the way the war affected life in Tulare County. Thank you very much. Have a good evening.
LJ: And I thank you too.
Marvin Demmers/ Transcriber: Jan Chubbuck, 5/2/04/ Editor J Wood 1/20/05
Editor’s note: Names and comments in italics were added during the editing or during a phone interview with Mr. Jacques on January 21, 2005.