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: Phyllis Nesbitt

Date: 3/30/04

Tape # 53

Interviewer: Diana Jules

Place: Tulare County, CA

Place of Interview: The home of Phyllis Nesbitt in Exeter, California

 

 

PLACES WHERE INTERVIEWEE LIVED DURING 1941-194

Visalia, California

Tulare, California

OUTSTANDING POINTS IN THE INTERVIEW:

Family history

Being a young married person during the war

People’s attitudes

Visalia


DJ: This is March 30, 2004 and I am interviewing Pat Nesbitt in Exeter, California. The project is "Years of Valor, Years of Hope: Tulare County, 1941-1946. We are doing this for the library. Pat, could you say your full name and your date of birth?

PN: My full name is Phyllis Jean Nesbitt, but I go by Pat because . . . that’s really a long story. When I was born, my father wanted me to be called Patricia Ann. My mother said no, and he said

"OK, she’ll be Pat." I’m Pat, but I’m also Phyllis, if that makes any sense. I was born January 26, 1925, Visalia, on Noble Street. It is no longer there. Well, it still is Noble Street but the place where it was is gone now. I’ve lived here all of my life. This has been my home except when, of course, my husband Floyd went into the service when the war started. He went in the service and I traveled around with him just as long as I could. But this has been home.

DJ: Could you tell me a little bit about your family history?

PN: Well, all of my family is from Germany and France . They migrated to Wisconsin; my grandparents, my mother’s parents were Furhman and my father’s parents were John J. Schueller and his wife, who came from Wisconsin with their children, John P, George E. and Andrew, and they settled here on S. Bridge Street in Visalia. That was probably in the late 1800’s, early 1900’s. They settled here in Visalia. They watched the town grow up too. They kind of grew up with the town. The Furhman’s settled near Ivanhoe. That’s about all. That’s my heritage. I’m a German and part French. What they call Heinz variety I guess. My maiden name was Phyllis Jean Schueller. That’s a good old German name.

DJ: That sure is. Let’s go back to the time when the war started. What were you doing?

PN: I was a junior in high school, Visalia Union High School. And my boyfriend, who is now my husband, was a senior. We were high school sweethearts. We went all through high school. I was at home with my mother at that time and from what I can remember, we had an old Philco radio, and we were sitting by the radio, and somebody called and said, "Did you hear, they have bombed Pearl Harbor!" That’s how we found out. We were in school and then right away my husband, we went to school in 1941 and when he was out in 1942, he joined the service.

DJ: Were you a senior?

PN: Yes.

DJ: Were you married yet?

PN: We got married after Floyd enlisted and went through his preliminaries. Then we were married and we went up to Vallejo and we were married up there and lived up there maybe six months before he had to go into the service.

DJ: What did your parents think about you marrying so young?

PN: My mother, Anna Caroline (Furhman)  and I lived alone because my father, Andrew Schueller, passed away. She wasn’t too happy with me. She said, "Well, just stop and think about this." I said, "Mom, it’s a war and we have been going together for all these years and we wanted to marry."  And I guess I might say we eloped. I was 17 when we were married. We have been married for 61 years. Maybe something was right, I don’t know.

DJ: I think so. Did your mom like him?

PN: After a while she did. You see, I was the baby of the family. I have three sisters, Ruth (Wright), Sylvia (Dunaway), and Frances. I was the baby of the family; I was with mother and that left her alone when I got married. But it all ended up that when he went overseas I came home and then I started working at the Security Bank in Visalia. And I worked there and life just went on, you know, and we did the regular things that happened during the war. We all suffered together. I noticed at the beginning it said how it affected people. I think it brought the people together. We were, at that time, there wasn’t the greed, the rush that there is now. Everybody was more of a small community and everybody was together. It brought more people together I think. It brought us closer because you had to work together and that helped us.

Of course, we went through rationing, you know we had stamps. Like when we would go to the schools, when my husband goes to school for the history classes for the war on Armistice Day, the girls interview the wives and they’ll ask us what we did during the war and they laugh when we said we painted our legs because we couldn’t get hose. There was no hose during that time. So what the girls would do to look chic, so we thought, either we had this regular makeup that we had for our legs and then you painted a black seam up the back of your leg and that’s the way we got away with looking, so we thought, really sharp. You couldn’t get stockings. You’d stand in line for hours for shoes.

We had rationing for shoes. You had to stand in line for shoes. If you knew . . . I was working at the bank at that time and us girls knew the guy that had Losey Shoe Store at that time and Harry would come in and say, "Hey, gals, there’s a shipment of shoes coming in, do you have any stamps?" We’d say, "No," and he say, "Well come in, maybe I’ll find one under that counter." That’s how we got our shoes. Maybe that’s a little of the black market but we always got our shoes because we worked at the bank and you wanted to look good. It was something at the time, at the beginning, it was kind of rough, but later on you just accepted it and you got along just like it was something happening everyday.

DJ: So how did you get a straight black line on the back of your leg?

PN: You had to do it very, very carefully. Sometimes it was kind of crooked, but everybody did it, everybody. We’d laugh and say we were busy getting ready for work or something. At that time, girls didn’t wear slacks. You had to dress up and we were always dressed up. You didn’t go to town without being dressed up. Not like this. You wouldn’t think of going to town in slacks. No, no. You always dressed to look nice in nice clothes.

DJ: So what about when you were doing housework.

PN: That was different. You were at home. You didn’t do anything then. You just wore your casual clothes and your other stuff. Women always dressed. It was always nice, always prim and proper.

DJ: Even during the war years?

PN: Oh yes, everybody was. You just did with what you had. You just made do. Funny how you can do so many things and make things work when you think you don’t have anything to do with. It was interesting, but it was a time that everybody was glad when it was over. You know, everybody felt it was better when it was over.

DJ: And you were a young married person during these years. He left?

PN: Yes, he went overseas. Every weekend that he was stationed at Reno, Nevada, I would get on the bus after work and go ride all night to go see him and came back Sunday night and back to work on Monday morning. I did that for weekends when he was at Reno.

DJ: Do you live at home with you mother?

PN: Yes, I did. We lived out on Garden Street. Then when he was stationed back, he was in B29’s and he was stationed back in Rapid City, South Dakota and we could be with them then at the base. And I went back there and the Security First National Bank gave me a letter of recommendation from Mr. Frank Barboni to the First National Bank of South Dakota. So I worked in that bank when we were in South Dakota. Then we were transferred to Nebraska and that’s where he left to go overseas. We were there about six months, and then I came home and they took me back at the Security Bank. So I worked at the Security Bank all while he was gone.

DJ: Do you remember what year that was?

PN: Let’s see, we were married in 1943 so I worked for the bank in ’44 and ’45. We were married January 25 1943, so many moons ago.

DJ: How did you feel about the war? Also, was there prejudice?

PN: At the time of the actual bombing, right away when everybody was hysterical, upset about what had happened to our boys over there, there was a lot of turmoil. There were Japanese families that had gone to school with us; they lived in Ivanhoe. Good farmers, good people, but the prejudice toward them at that time was really bad. I mean, the people, well, my father-in-law. Thomas M. Nesbitt, said because they had the Japanese flag hanging in their pharmacy down on Acequia Street, that if they didn’t get that down, he was going to go and shoot it down. It was things like that. People were just upset, riled up. But then what I think that saved them and for their own protection was when they went to the camps. I really think that helped them. There were a lot of people that we knew that were just as good as anybody. It was just like . . . if someone had put us in a concentration camp today, they’d be against us. I think it was for their own good.

DJ: Did they lose their properties?

PN: A lot of them did. They lost their ranches out in Ivanhoe. A lot of them, they were just gobbled up. You know, people just took them and that was bad because they did lose all their things and everything that they had. They just packed them up and took them away. They were in all different camps. It was one of those things, but then when our boys started coming home we would the stars in the window. If you saw a telegram come up to your door, you’d just hold your breath. I think people were more upset about that when our boys started coming home, when we were losing boys. I think they didn’t accept that very well. It was hard, it really was hard. You’d go down the street and see a star in the window and you knew they had lost somebody and we lost a lot of our friends. We lost a lot of our good friends that we went to school with. A lot of them went to the European war and a lot of them went over to . . . my husband was out on the Tinnian. He flew B29s so he was a flight officer on B29s. When he came home, I was very elated. He was overseas for four years.

DJ: So how did you communicate,with telegraphs?

PN: No, all we had was mail. No we didn’t have telegraph or e-mail like they do now. I wrote him a letter every single night. And I’d mail it on my way to work in the morning. I rode a bicycle to work. No car. Everybody did the same thing. You were all in the same boat. If you were lucky to have a car and have gas stamps because gas was scarce. They were using it for the service, you know, for the men and you couldn’t get gas, so you either walked or your rode a bicycle. Well, I chose to ride a bicycle.

DJ: You said everyone pulled together. What were some of the things you saw the community do that really wasn’t happening before the war?

PN: They got together and worked towards helping the people that lost their loved ones. You know, they would all get together and work and be more loving. Everybody had compassion and they did a lot of war effort. We rolled bandages in our spare time. You rolled bandages for the boys, for the Red Cross, and if you could knit, you knit for the boys over in Europe. You knit them scarves if it was cold, or you knit them socks. You just did a lot of things like that. They had a lot of community efforts that you did. A lot of them got together and sold war bonds. They’d have big parties and sell war bonds. A lot of them worked in the USO. They had a canteen here in Visalia because we had an airfield out here, the Sequoia Field. They had a canteen and they’d go and give the boys . . . they’d have dances. The girls would line up and they’d pay so much to dance with a girl. So many rounds, you know. They served drinks for them and sort of made them happy, you know, just to do that.

DJ: So to keep their spirits up.

PN: To keep them happy. We had a lot of romances going on in Visalia from the airfield. A lot of the girls, my friends, met and married their husbands from Sequoia Field out there.

DJ: Do you think it was just like a wartime romance because . . .

PN: Yes, it was romantic. The fellows looked great in their uniforms and all young men, and they were very handsome. They’d have their bars, they were lieutenants, and it was romantic, but it was also sad. They came from back east and they didn’t have any family out here. It was, it was a sad but happy time. You worked together to make it happy because you didn’t want the boys knowing how you felt really. You kept up the war front.

DJ: That’s so interesting because I can’t even imagine the generation of today pulling together like that. I wish it would happen, if the opportunity needed to happen. It would be nice if everyone rose to the occasion.

PN: You know it’s sad before something like that has to happen before it brings everyone together. I can remember there wasn’t the greed in those days. It seemed everybody . . . well, we didn’t have that much. We didn’t have the things that everybody has today. When you got married you had jelly glasses. We didn’t have china, but we were just as happy. We were just as happy as a lark. We had hand-me-downs, but we were happy. We were so thankful to have it. It’s just a different world, a different time. I look back now, and I think I was really happy then. Material things didn’t mean that much. Now I think material things have taken over. It seems like you "have" to have this, you "have" to have that before you can be happy supposedly. But, it doesn’t work that way. I’ve been through it, so I know.

DJ: During those war years, what did you do for recreation or free time?

PN: Well, it really wasn’t that much. We went to the movies. We had the movies, we had the Fox Theater in town. You could get in for 10 cents, 10-15 cents you could get into the movie. They always had the news, the World War Fox News; they had that on. It was a run on what was happening with the war and then we’d have a cartoon and then the main feature. That’s what it was. Or you got together, like I said, and you rolled bandages. You had parties like that where you rolled bandages for the Red Cross. You’d get together and knit or crochet, just whatever it was. A lot of the people, . . . of course, you see . . . at night we couldn’t have lights on, outside lights, here in the valley, you couldn’t have lights on and at night you had to pull your shades because they still thought we were going to be bombed from the coast. They thought we were going to be bombed. You always never left your porch light on. We had air raid wardens. They patrolled and watched.

DJ: Did that mean they watched for unidentified flying objects?

PN: Yes. They had big things built up in the sky, not a skyscraper, but a high building and they’d stand and watch and people would work certain hours and you could donate your time like that. I don’t know, it just seemed like everyone was involved in your own thing but still everyone was together.

DJ: Did your feelings about the war change over time?

PN: Well, when my husband was overseas, no it didn’t change. You still had a bad feeling. You’d hear of someone getting killed or a plane would go down and it was . . . I can’t explain it. It was just kind of a bad, upsetting time. But then when my husband came home and time began to ease off, you kind of realized you had to forgive some time. You really have to let go, but it was hard. It was very, very hard. You still had . . . my husband to this day still has bitter feelings.

DJ: I wondered if it was harder for the men.

PN: Yes. I was so thankful to have him home. You just forget everything. You are just so happy to have him home. But still there’s that, because it reflects on you, the things that he went through. It’s a reflection. But as time goes on we have forgotten. You have to forgive. You can’t hold that in or it makes you sick. You just have to. I felt sorry for the people that were in the camps. I really did, but it was for their own good, like I said. It was their protection.

DJ: So you think they definitely would have been attacked?

PN: I think so. I think a lot of people were very upset about it and I think they would have. There was a lot of animosity.

DJ: Were there camps in this area?

PN: No, not around here. I think there was one over in Salinas and most of them were out in the desert, over in Arizona and in the desert. There was one over in Salinas, but none around here at all.

DJ: When you heard about the dropping of the atomic bomb, what was your opinion of that?

PN: Well, then again, my husband was out on Tinian where the A Bomb was started from. He explained it after he came home to me that it saved so many boys. If we had to go in and invade Japan we would have lost so many more of our boys and it saved a lot of people. I know it was bad at the time, but it saved a lot people. I felt very bad, but then again I thought it saved a lot of their people too from being attacked, if we had to go in and attack them. It really was. I think it was a good thing. The only thing that I don’t like about it now is it has developed into something else that people are using. It’s a vicious thing. That’s the only problem.

DJ: So you saw the United States attacked back then and saw the United States attacked with the Twin Towers. Do you see any similarities?

PN: I think it’s a different era again. There is this hate for the United States . It’s a different time. I mean it’s a different era and it’s the terrorists I think are doing it because they are doing it all over. That brought back a lot of memories, to see that destruction and everything that was happening. Like my husband said, it just brought back memories to him when you see that. I think it’s a different era,the terrorists are bad, bad people.

DJ: Can you elaborate on the patriotism during the war years in Tulare County?

PN: Everyone was together. They were behind the men 100%. Our boys were A-1. Everybody felt like that. There wasn’t one person. You see the signs "V for Victory" all over. Everybody felt the same way. All the people I knew and worked for, everybody around in the town, they were all the same about everything. It was 100%.

DJ: During that time did you visit surrounding towns like Tulare? Did shopping ever take you there?

PN: No, my mother and I didn’t have a car, and my sister had gas rationing. You just didn’t go because you didn’t have gas stamps.

DJ: So, no Sunday drives to Three Rivers?

PN: No, you didn’t go on little escapades like that. If you did, the whole family would save up their gas stamps. If there was a birthday or something, the whole family would save their gas stamps and all get together and share and make it so that everyone could be together. But it was few and far between because you just didn’t have the facilities to do with, so you didn’t go. You just made your enjoyment at home. You did that. People did a lot more crafts. They did sewing and did things like that, things at home. You cooked and baked and you shared things like that with people.

We had rationing stamps for butter. There was no butter. We had what they call oleomargarine. It was white and came in a cube. It was a pound and we had an orange coloring in cellophane that when you put this in a bowl and you put the orange coloring in and you mixed it and that was your margarine. And you had to stand for that. You had to stand in line for meat, you had meat stamps. Milk, you had to stand in line for milk. Everything was rationed. And sugar, oh God, if you got sugar you were living high on the hog. And stamps, they gave us a book of stamps every month and you had to make those stamps go. When that was all, that was it. It was different, meat and everything. It was a whole different thing.

DJ: And so if someone were to be listening to this, a young child, and ask why was there rationing, how would you explain it.

PN: Everything went to the troops. All the gasoline went to the troops for the airplanes, for the tanks, everything. Everything went for the war effort. The meat,that went to the war effort, to the boys. They had to have food. Milk, everything went to the troops first. What was left was divided among the people.

DJ: And these were the troops that were stationed in the United States ?

PN: Yes, a lot of it. But a lot of it went overseas. They had a lot of camps all over with our boys. There were a lot of camps and they had to be fed three times a day. They had to have their meals. You start adding up all the boys that were away in the service, everybody that I knew that could go went. When they bombed, that was it. Right away they were standing in line to enlist, to get going. Of course they had the draft at that time and if you were in school they drew numbers and they gave you a number, the boys. When their number was called up you had to go regardless of where you were, unless you had a deferment of some kind. Like if you were a doctor, they would defer a doctor. Or if you were a veterinarian, they would defer a veterinarian. They were given a higher number and they could be called later on depending on how bad the war got.

DJ: But you husband enlisted as opposed to getting drafted.

PN: Yes, he did. He said he wanted to be in the Air Force, he didn’t want to be in the Army. He enlisted in the Air Force.

DJ: Were the numbers just for boys in school, or for older?

PN: From 18 on, they were drafted. They were given a draft number. And if you didn’t enlist they gave you a draft number. When your number was called, you had to go.

DJ: And how old was too old?

PN: Like in the 30’s, they didn’t take anybody. And if they had a family, like if they had one youngster, they were deferred so long. The more youngsters, you were deferred longer as you got older. But usually about age 35 they didn’t go, unless you enlisted. They could enlist at that age, but they didn’t draft them at that age. No, they had numbers.

DJ: You mentioned riding your bicycle to work. Did you ride your bicycle to grocery shop?

PN: All over. When you wanted to go any place, you rode your bicycle or you walked.

DJ: Where was the hub of Visalia?

PN: The hub was, . . . let’s see. From the Fox Theater down to about Bridge Street, that one area, that was all there was in Visalia. There wasn’t anything else.

DJ: Was the Fox Theater there?

PN: The Fox Theater was there, uh huh. And right across from the Fox Theater on that corner was a beautiful old-fashioned library and we had McDonald’s Restaurant right across the street. Only it was a place where young people would go and have their cokes and meet. And then there was Reed and Bell.

DJ: What was that?

PN: It was like a drive-in where kids could go, if they were lucky enough to have a car at that time. You would go a park and they would bring you a tray and put it on the car door, and you would eat in the car.  Before the war they would do that. We would go to the drive-ins. We could do a lot of things then. They would go there and it was very, very subdued. We had a Newberry’s, a Woolworth’s. We had the Model Department Store. We had one hardware store. And, we had a stationery store, Lewis Stationery Store. We were very, very small.

DJ: So what about the flooding?

PN: That was before the dam was in up at Three Rivers. We had two floods. I was working at the bank that one time and they had sand bags and I would ride my bicycle and I’d ride through water about like that (almost a foot high) through the streets. And the men from the bank would come over and carry me across the deal, across the street and sandbags. They’d have their waders on. Of course I was much lighter, but they would, and that’s how we got into work. It was exciting, it really was. Like I tell my kids this and they just say, "Oh." And then my grandkids say, "Oh Gram, I don’t know, Gram." I say "Yes son, it was just like that."

DJ: Did your mom still live in Visalia at the time?

PN: Yes, she still lived out in the home place, on Garden Street.

DJ: What do you think she taught you during those years?

PN: You mean before the war?

DJ: Right before and during? By her attitude or the things she did.

PN: My mother was a German girl. She was so clean it made you ill. She was just so clean. My chores, she taught me how to clean house, taught me how to cook, taught me respect. She taught me responsibility. When you do something, make sure you follow through. She had an old saying which I told my boys many times: "Mit gegangen, mit geheugen." And that means, "You go out and do something and you are with somebody, you are just as guilty as they are." And you take the responsibility to uphold and do what you are told. That always stuck in my head and I always told my kids. And to this day they repeat "Mit gegangen, mit geheugen, Grandma," and I say, "Yes sir!" 

DJ: So it’s been handed down to your grandchildren, lLee David and Matt Nesbitt and Bill and Scott Hester.

PN: Yes it has.

DJ: That’s pretty neat. When did you have your children?

PN: Soon as my husband got home. We had three in three years.

David Andrew on October 25 1946, Mark Odale was born January 2 1947, and then Anne (Hester) on October 28, 1949. They were all born at the old Visalia Hospital on Mineral King and Locust. It was a single story old fashioned red brick building.

DJ: Was the war over?

PN: Yes, the war was over. He came home when the war was over. He got home Christmas Eve 1945.

DJ: What a wonderful Christmas present?

PN: Yes, it was wonderful. He got home and then finding a job was a problem too because it took a lot of these young boys who were going on to college . . . they didn’t have anything that they could work at. And some of them couldn’t afford to go back to college because they all had families.

DJ: So your husband was in that boat?

PN: Yes. We just kind of worked around it. He worked at a grocery store and we got by and just did things. And then he was lucky enough to get in with an electrical contractor, and he taught him working with electricity and he became a contractor, and so that’s how we got where we were. It was rough, it was really very, very rough. Of course at that time, this was after the war, and now this is many moons after the war. I always said that if I, working could get up to $100 a month I would be so happy. When I started working I was making $50 a month. That’s many moons ago.

DJ: Working at the bank?

PN: Working at the bank. Wages . . . a loaf of bread was 20 cents. A quart of milk was 18 cents. Gasoline was 25 cents a gallon. We didn’t . . . everything was in comparison. If you had a job, you were lucky. You really were. You were very fortunate.

DJ: And was it that way at the end of the war as well?

PN: Yeah, because the boys were coming home. That’s what made it hard, because they were all coming home at the same time. Most of them were and they needed jobs. They needed things. And a lot of them had children during the war, while they were at war. We didn’t have any, thank heavens. We had our after. We had two boys and a girl. Wonderful family.

DJ: So after the war, did it seem like more women stayed home? Or did it just explode?

PN: Exploded because . . . this is one of the things I think, after the war . . . during the war the women got to work and got out of the house in the war factories. Like Rosie the Riveter. You’ve heard of that. A lot of the girls because there wasn’t anything else to do, we all went to work. And when we kind of got that feeling, making money for yourself, you got a little bit independent and a lot of them chose to do that, to continue on working. A lot of us wanted to stay home. That’s all I wanted was to be a good mother and have my family. I was happy to be at home, but a lot of them, I think that has changed our living all over the course of the years because the women want things and it takes money to have all the things that we want. It’s grown. Like a mushroom it has just grown to where it is today. We lost that family nucleus like we used to have. Now our family, we always had our dinner together in the evening; we always had roundtable discussion; we always ate our meals together. We were a family. That family knit today is no longer because there are other things going on. It’s just different. That’s the way it was back there, back then.

DJ: I was thinking about the deficit and back then so much money was saved by everyone working together and doing things.

PN: It was. People were just different. The war changed it. The war definitely changed everything. When people came back, they had a different attitude. A lot of boys, because they had been in fighting, they had a different attitude. It changed a lot of the boys. Well, when they went away . . . it changed my husband too. We had an adjustment when he came home because he was still a young man when he came home, but when you go over and see the suffering and what you have to go through and what you do, it left a dent on them. They had mental problems because they saw so many awful things. Their buddies dying and I think it changed everything because then the boys had an attitude. They didn’t want to have to go through that again and this was the war to end all wars. Supposedly. That’s what they said World War II was, the war to end all wars. We always said our boys would not have to go to war. But our boys did have to go to war. They were in the Vietnam War. Both of our boys were. So I guess it is always going to be that way. To me it’s getting worse. It’s getting worse now. We’re being able to do things so much faster and things are happening too fast. The planes now can hit us if they really want to. Look at what happened at 9/11, you know. So it can happen. That’s the scary part. I really feel for the young people growing up today. I think they are living on the edge, because you really can’t plan. I mean, that’s the way I feel, because I feel a lot of them don’t know what’s going to happen in the future. The way the world is and what’s happening.

DJ: How did you react when you heard about the holocaust?

PN: Well, I felt really bad. I couldn’t believe anybody could treat anyone like that.

DJ: Did it kind of work up to that? Had you heard little things?

PN: Before the war? Yeah. My family was from Germany and heard about the things that were happening over there, but nobody listened. Nobody would believe it. You’d hear little things but you’d think nobody could be that mean. There’s no person on earth that could go and kill all the Jews to get rid of them. It was terrible. I thought it was horrible.

DJ: So did anyone think about intervention beforehand?

PN: Not to my knowledge. Not in my area, where I would have anything do know about it. No. But you’d hear over the news, but the news wasn’t like it is today either. Today we can watch a war being fought. Over there I wouldn’t know what was happening. Maybe it would be six weeks before I would get to know what was happening with my husband over there. The mail didn’t come,see, the mail would have to be put on a ship and sometimes your ship would get sunk and your mail had to come just like old Pony Express. It had to come that way. It didn’t happen that way. We had to write letters and depend on the mail to get them.

And then a lot of the letters we would get would be censored. They’d be cut out. There would be things he said, that, because they censored all the mail. I got a lot of letters. I got a letter one time that was just like looking through cheesecloth where he talked too much and they just cut it all out. They censored all the mail and it was a long time hearing from him. When you get a letter, you might get a stack of letters like that. You might get some.

DJ: Do you think that the war changed how Tulare County is now?

PN: Well, yes it has, but it’s the way we are living now. At that time, yes, it changed. When the boys came home we all got together and everybody kind of went their own ways. You went back to the normal living of the way things were. It gradually became like it was before. I can’t see where it did too much to Tulare County. I can’t see where it affected us. Maybe in other states, but I don’t know, I can’t see where it affected us at all.

DJ: I wonder, because Tulare County is such a rural area and there was so much farming around this area, I wonder if people were affected less in regards to food because they raised their own.

PN: That was true too, because everybody had gardens. Everybody had Victory Gardens. Everybody called it Victory Gardens. Everybody had a garden in their back yard. If you could raise a tomato plant, you had a tomato plant. If you could raise squash, you had a squash. You put it in a barrel you had. But the farming, a lot of the farm boys were exempt too. Like if they were living with their parents and there was just one son to carry on, a lot of times he was exempt. He was a necessity to grow the crops for the people and the cotton to make the uniforms for the boys. Everything just kind of went together like dominos. You had to have everything to make everything go.

DJ: Because patriotism was so strong, I wonder if some of those boys who stayed home on the farm felt bad.

PN: They did. A lot of the people got very upset. A lot of parents because my son was gone, my son had to go, why didn’t your son have to go. You know, there was a lot of that for the ones who could stay home.

DJ: So the young boys, 18-19 that stayed home, did they kind of hang their heads low?

PN: Well, no, because a lot of the people, if you realize, they were doing their duty to stay home and raise the crops. They had it almost as bad because they couldn’t go and do anything either. They were just as programmed as we were. They couldn’t do a lot of the things like a normal teenager does to go out and do things. Well, they had their choice of girls, that’s for sure. There were a lot of gals around.

DJ: Did you have a curfew at night?

PN: Yes, everybody had to be in by 10:00 p.m. Everything was pretty well closed up by then. Downtown wasn’t, but the stores would be closed at 6:00 o’clock, 9:00 o’clock on Saturday nights. And everything closed, and the stores were usually closed on Sunday. There wasn’t anything open. And the drug store was a drug store. That’s all you could get was drugs. You didn’t have everything else. And the grocery store was a grocery store. That’s how every little business made its way because when you sold drugs, that was drugs. Not like it is today.

DJ: Not like Costco.

PN: Oh my. If we had Costco we’d have thought we were in hog heaven.

DJ: Do you have anything else to add?

PN: No, I can’t think of a thing. I’m just so thankful that it’s all over. I mean, I feel like I said I was sorry for the young people, like you, growing up. Of course all of us old timers, you’ll probably tell that to your kids, what you’re doing now. But it seems like our life was so serene. When we were raising our families. We didn’t have the worry of kidnappings, killings, rapings. There was none of that. It was a beautiful life. My kids grew up to really . . . the worst thing that ever happened was beer. That was the worst thing my kids ever got into was beer. Because there wasn’t anything else for them to get into. They’d have a beer party and sometimes their dad was very strict. He always told them, he said, "If you get in jail, you’re staying, I’m not going to get you out. You’ll stay there a couple of days and you’ll realize why you’re there." And they knew that he meant it and they minded him. The best compliment that our oldest son, David, gave us, gave his dad,he came home on leave. He was down in Fort Pope, Louisiana and had pretty stiff training down there because he was getting ready to go to Ethiopia . He was in the spy ring, I don’t remember what they called it, but he was working on one of the satellites over there. And he said, "Dad, I want to tell you something." He said , "You know, I’m so glad you were like you were raising us kids because," he said, . . . (Tape ends)

DJ: You were talking about training.

PN: Yes, he was in training and he said a lot of them couldn’t handle the discipline. The drill sergeants are very tough on them. They make men out of you. I mean, you know, you don’t go in there a candy you-know-what, you have to be really tough, and our David could handle it. He could handle the stress and the hollering and all that went on. He said, "Dad, I want to give you a compliment. My drill sergeant was a candy ass compared to you." But he said, "That was what got me through my training." And he got an extra leave, an extra furlough, before he went overseas. He said that was pretty good.

DJ: I wonder if your husband’s strengths came from living through the war.

PN: Yes, I think so. It’s given him patience which he has a lot of. You’re out there and you’re waiting. You never know when you’re going to be bombed. You never know when anything is going to happen. You never know when they’re going to call you to go on a flight and he would fly 14 hours over to Japan and back and dropping a load and being shot at while you’re over there. Never knowing whether you’re going to get back. He was shot down once. Landed in the ocean. Thank heavens I didn’t know anything about that, but that’s where he landed. He was picked up by a sub. That teaches you patience because you have to have patience or you go crazy. He has the patience, I don’t, but he has taught me a lot of patience too. He’s taught me how to be good and how to have patience.

DJ: I want to thank you very much for taking the time to share your stories.

PN: OK. I hope it helped some. At least a little bit.

DJ: Oh, they’re wonderful. You do have an exciting life.

PN: It has been exciting.

DJ: Thank you so much.

PN: You’re welcome.

DianeJules/Transcriber:JanChubbuck 4/18/04/Editor J Wood 02/02/05.

Editor’s note: The italicized words were added during a phone interview with Pat Nesbitt on February 2, 2005.