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: Mildred Romanazzi


Date of Interview: 28 April 2004

Tape Number 106


Interviewer: Karen Feezell


Place of interview: Mrs. Romanazzi’s home

Places where Mrs. Romanazzi lived during 1941 to 1946:

First in Tarusa, then in the north part of Visalia, and at the end of the war, East Lynn, now part of East Visalia.

Subjects covered in the interview: School days, family life

KF: Karen Feezell interviewing Mildred Romanazzi on April 28, 2004, in her home in Visalia on the "Years of Valor, Years of Hope" project. Mrs. Romanazzi, would you tell us a little bit about how old you were and what you were doing at the time of Pearl Harbor.

MR: I was ten years old and I lived with my family in the Tarusa District, which is northeast of Visalia. And, naturally, it was a Sunday morning and we were listening to the radio as usual and before my folks took us into town to church. And it came over the news. And we were shocked, though my dad and our friend Ray Dilbeck always used to talk about how the government was sending all this scrap metal to Japan, and they kept saying, "We’re going to get it back, they’re going to send it back as bombs" or something.

And then finally it happened. And I remember that it wasn’t too long before the Dilbecks came out. They had heard it, too, and so they came out. We were going to go into town but they came out before we went into town because we were sitting listening to the radio. And it was my dad and mom, Bryan Lafayette Honley and Rondamay (Swetnam) Honley,and my brother, Wallace Dale Honley, was -- let me see, he would have been thirteen.  And my younger sister, Patricia Ann Honley, would have been five. And was, you know, a shock. And I was young enough that I didn’t really understand exactly what war meant, but I could tell by the way the adults reacted that it was something very serious. It was like a death in the family or something where you walk quietly because you know, a child doesn’t understand exactly what’s happening. But that’s what happened that day.

KF: Okay. How do you think the World War II years affected you and how did they -- how did you change?

MR: Well, I remember the first thing when we went to school the next day, I guess the County Schools Department had been contacting all the teachers about this and how to prepare the children for it. And they started this program, they told us "if you’re walking home" -- and we all walked home because we didn't have buses then. And some of us walked, you know, a mile and a half, two miles, something like that. They said, "if you see a pen, a fountain pen in the road, don’t pick it up, it could be a booby trap," and they tell us all these things, you know, got us all alarmed. And then we started having air raids drills. We’d get under our desks. And they installed blackout blinds -- I don't know why -- in the schoolrooms because we were never there at night. And they did that, though, the blackout shades and things.                  

And then later, not too long after the war started, things changed for us because my dad went to Oakland to work in the shipyards. And it was just mom and us kids. And we lived on a farm. We rented the house. But there was 80 acres all together and we had about two acres of it where we raised our own cow. We had a milk cow. And we had chickens and we had rabbits and things like this. And we had a hand pump on the back porch to pump all the water for all the animals, for ourselves, for bathing, for cooking, drinking, everything. We had to pump it. I always had a strong right arm. And so my dad was gone. It fell to us. And my mom had to go out and milked the cow in the morning and in the evening. And so we had a lot more work.

But dad didn’t stay in the shipyards too long. He worked up there a few months. But he said, "I don’t think --" He said, "There’s just too many people up there, I don’t think we’d want to raise the kids in the city like that." So, he came back home.  But he had saved enough money that we could buy a house in town. And so we moved -- well, it actually wasn’t in town. We were just outside the city limits on the north side of town. And it was on El Visa Street, which no longer exists. And we moved in. So that changed things for me because I’d been going to small, rural schools where there were three classes in one room. And I found I was ahead in reading, but I was behind in math. And it was completely different for me living in a town rather than out in the country.

And we started saving scrap metal. You opened all your tin cans. When you opened them for anything, you opened both ends after you dumped the stuff out. And you put the two lids inside the can and then smashed it flat. And you saved all your tin cans and any other scrap metal you found. We’d have scrap metal drives. You didn't sell it; you donated it for the war drive. And at school, we started buying savings stamps and when you got a book full of the stamps -- they were ten cents each -- when you got a book full, well, then you could cash them in for a bond. And every Thursday, I think, was stamp day. And

brought money that you earned or whatever, to buy stamps to help the war effort.

Let’s see, what else changed. Oh, another thing. I was, as I said, ten when the war started. And then we moved into town. And I was 14, I guess, when the war ended. And during those years I was able to get jobs working in the fields and things that I wouldn’t have been able to get before. They wouldn’t have hired me because I was too young. But I had a bicycle and I would ride around on weekends or in the summer and if I saw them picking tomatoes or whatever in the fields, I would go and ask for a job and I’d get a job. And I enjoyed earning money. And I think that changed things for me. I learned that I could actually earn money.

And I know when the war had started; my dad had been working for practically nothing. The rent on our house was something like seven dollars a month. And things started -- I think it changed for everybody. Wages started going up because, of course, the manpower was down. More women started working. My mother worked in packinghouses and at the Visalia Cannery. And when I was 13, I lied about my age and went to work at the packinghouse. We’d work from seven in the morning to ten at night. You were supposed to be 16 to do that. But nobody questioned it because they needed workers.

KF: Did you go to school?

MR: Oh, yes. But that was in the summer that I worked. And so, you know, it changed things in that way. And I think more women did become more independent because many of the younger women, their husbands were gone. And so they would work. They had children, small children, many of them. But they got used to working and things.

And the economy in Visalia changed because of Sequoia Field. You had so many cadets in town on the weekends and things that entertainment picked up. Before the war they had had an outdoor skating rink down on East Main Street. It was just a platform, a raised platform. And it had a railing around it. And a wood floor and you’d get out there and skate. You paid so much to skate. Well, then they opened one down across from the Fox Theater. They had an indoor skating rink. That was the first indoor skating rink Visalia had. And it was always full of cadets on the weekends. And a lot of people went there. It was something new. And they would have USO dances upstairs; I guess it was the Elks Club where Brown ShoeFit Company is. Well, upstairs there, you know, that building burned and they rebuilt it and everything. But the Elks was upstairs there at that time on the corner of Locust and Main and they’d have USO dances up there.

Once when I was 14, I went with my older girlfriend. I’d stayed all night with her and she was 18, something like that. So I just went with them. I didn’t know how to dance but I enjoyed watching. And it changed the social life in Visalia. For the time, it became more cosmopolitan because you had all these people from other areas. And I babysat sometimes for some of the soldiers and their wives. And groups of them would go out to dinner and dancing and drinking and stuff. And to me that was, you know, quite worldly.

So, I think it changed Visalia at that time. I think everybody became more aware of their place in the world. You know, we weren’t just one little isolated community. Through the newsreels and all the things that were going, the news and stuff on the radio. You heard of many places that you’d never heard of before.

KF: And you folks listened to the radio?

MR: Oh, yes.

KF: All the time?

MR: The radio was the source of all your news, except for the newspaper. We always had the newspaper, too, and read. And my dad had only gone to the third grade. He was an orphan from the time he was eight. And my mother had only gone to the eighth grade. But both of them were very up to the minute on politics and everything.  They both read a lot. And they encouraged us to read. In fact, when they’d come into town when we lived in the country to go shopping, they would drop us at the library -- my older brother and I -- they’d take my little sister with them. And we would check out -- you could check out seven books apiece. So we would go through and pick to seven books that both of us would like. And then sit down and try to read another before the folks picked us up. We loved to read. We got that love of reading from our parents because they both like to read, too.

KF: Okay. You said that your father changed jobs. Was he able to get work back here and did it change --

MR: Yes, he went to work for -- he joined the Laborer’s Union. And went into construction. He was busy all the time. And through the years he worked on many different projects. I think he worked some out at Sequoia Field. They did work there. And later when they were building the Central Valley Project, he worked on that. Then on his last job he worked on Terminus Dam. And through the years he worked on construction throughout the county. And before that it had been difficult to get a job. I was born in Visalia. But when I was two years old the folks went back to Oklahoma. And my dad had a service station back there. And he was very successful with that. But when he came back out here, you couldn’t get a job of anything except field work. And he said sometimes they’d advertise for someone to work at a gas station, they’d ask for someone with a college education, it would say in the ad, and it was hard to get anything other than field work.

KF: And that was before the war?

MR: That was before the war. And then the war started, well, then wages picked up and still didn’t make a great deal, but you know, probably twelve hundred a year when the war first started. And then it went up and --

KF: Did you have difficulty in getting food or clothes or other goods?

MR: We didn't have much trouble with food, because as I said, we had a cow and chickens and things like that. So we churned our own butter. We had plenty of milk. In fact, we sold milk to neighbors, and butter, also. And even after we moved into town, we brought the cow because the folks rented a pasture that was at the section house for the railroad down on the corner of Douglas and Santa Fe. And they had two or three houses there where railroad workers lived. And there was seven acres around it. So my dad rented that as pasture and kept our cow there. And he’d go over every morning and night to milk the cow. And so we had milk.

And then there was an elderly woman next door who wasn’t able to do any yard work or anything, so my dad took care of her yard. And she let us plant a garden in her back yard. So her whole back yard -- and she had a large lot -- was garden. So we raised all kinds of vegetables. And my mom would can them. And we had fruit trees in our yard. Or they’d go out and you could buy fruit very inexpensively. Go out to the farms and they’d sell it, you know. And so we canned a lot of things.

But when it came to other things, I remember sheets were in short supply. And when Montgomery Wards or J.C. Penney’s would advertise a sale on sheets or that they had gotten a stock of sheets in, we’d go downtown early, my mom and I, and the women would be lined up, you know, a block away waiting to get in the store to get sheets or towels or whatever. And I remember that my little brother, Edward Lee Honley, was born in 1943 and mom wanted some new sheets for her bed and some towels and everything. She always -- we were all born at home. And Doctor Morehouse was an old doctor here and he delivered about 3,500 babies in Visalia. And he would be the doctor to come. But she always wanted new sheets and things on her bed when she had the baby, when people came in to see the baby. So we went down when they were going to have a sale and I remember she said, "Now, you get in there if I can’t get up to the counter, you grab the sheets," cause she was pretty big then. And I had go in to try to find the sheets the right size. Of course, then you didn’t have queen and king; you just had the full or twin. And we’d go in and get things like that. There would be quite a line up there. Or nylons, if they had nylons and advertised them, everybody would be down there.

And my dad bought a new suit right after the war started. And it was a wool -- nice wool suit, a real fine wool. And I think it costs less than thirty dollars. And when they went to alter it, you know, they always had a lot of extra length on there. My dad was only five seven and a half. And so you donated -- they’d ask if you would donate the material they cut off. And it was patriotic not to have cuffs on your pants because you could donate a little more of that fabric for the -- I don’t know what they did with it. But then you’d donate that for the war effort. Who knows? I guess because they couldn’t -- maybe there was a shortage of wool and stuff so they would redo that. But he donated -- he said, "Well, I’d like to have cuffs on my pants, but there’s still quite a bit left and you can have that."

And then, let’s see, what else did we have -- oh, shoes. I wore a lot of canvas shoes ‘cause I was very hard on shoes. I walked everyplace I went. And we lived, as I said, outside the city limits on the north side. And down near Houston and -- well, it was what is North Garden now. It’s North of Houston and South of Sweet. It was one block then and it was called El Visa Street. And so I walked --when I started Junior High I had to walk to Sierra Vista. And that was quite a walk. And I walked through this neighborhood where I now live. And then the shoes made of canvas. You could hardly get leather shoes.  And if you did they were very expensive for that time.

And let’s see, what else did we have trouble -- well, my mom made most of my clothes or -- and then - oh, I know one thing that was -- would probably be interesting. In Junior High girls all had to take home economics. And one semester it was cooking and one semester was sewing. Well, the cooking semester, foodstuffs was rationed, it was hard to get shortening, flour, sugar, all of those things. And so for our whole semester all we did was learn to set tables, write down recipes, and watch. One time the teacher did a cooking demonstration and she showed us how to make French Toast. She had just enough stuff to make two slices of French Toast. And that was the extent of our cooking. In sewing though we were able -- you could buy material and patterns and we learned to sew. That was -- Home Ec. was kind of boring.

KF: Were any of your immediate family -- did they enlist in the service?

MR: No, my father was too old. Always just ahead of the draft, his age. And then with four dependents, four children, and my brother was too young. My brother, Wallace, graduated from high school in 1946, right after the war ended. And then I only had the one uncle, Lannus "Shorty" Honley. In 1940, he moved here with his wife, Alean Wallace Honley and four children, Flora Jeanne (White),Virginia Sue (Dixon), Bobby Joe, Sarah Jane (Jackson). Their youngest sister was born in 1944, Sharon (Linebarger).   I did have some other cousins. My Aunt, Effie (Tugwell) Cummings, was my mother’s half sister. Her husband was Elmer Cummings. The cousins were Thelma (Weaver), Elmo Cummings, Paul Dale Cummings, Edna Pearl (Carr), and Elmer Joe Cummings..  But they lived in Oklahoma at the time. And I really didn’t know exactly what happened with them. One of these cousins, Elmo Cummings, was in the Army and he was in the thick of it, I guess, in the South Pacific. But we didn’t really hear too much about that, because, you know, we were farther away from them.

And we had some neighbors who went in. At the Tarusa District, Leo Addington was one of our neighbors, and he went in right out of high school, right after the war started. He had just graduated that year, I guess. And then he went in the Navy. And he was killed. And then when we moved into town on El Visa Street, Leroy Newberry’s mother lived across the street from us and he had gone in right after the war started. And he was killed in the Navy, also. His sister was Laura Lee Hamer. I don’t know if you would have known her or anything. She was in the WAVES. She was Navy, same as her brother.

KF: Do you remember anything about people’s feelings about the war or about the President?

MR: Well, President Roosevelt died April 12, 1945, four days before my 14th birthday. And I remember, that was such a shock to us because at that age he was the only President we’d ever known, you know. People my age. And it was like a death in the family. And I had stayed after school that day to work on our school newspaper. And when I came out, I met Richard Gillespie, he was delivering papers. The Times Delta had put out a special edition. And he said -- he was a year ahead of me. He was a freshman in high school at that time. But I had known him from the year before. And he said, "Did you hear the news?" I said, "What?" And he said, "President Roosevelt died." And, you know, there was a joke then, they’d say, oh, somebody died, and they’d say, oh, yeah he dyed his socks. I said, "What’d he do, dye his socks?" He said, "No, really." And he opened up the paper and showed me. And you know, I was really shocked. And I was walking by myself, I walked home. And I was thinking about that all the way home. And when I got home, I wrote a poem about it. And the next day I gave it to my English teacher, Mrs. Clark. And I thought she might want to put it in the school paper or something. But she went to get the principal, Mr. Ince, she took it down to show him, and they were going to have -- they came back together. And Mr. Ince said, "We’re going to have a memorial service for President Roosevelt this morning. And we’d like permission to read your poem, have your poem read." So, they asked Morris Dingler to read my poem. And we had a school assembly and everybody was crying, boys and girls alike. It was so sad. They had a podium draped in black. And they had a minister or two there. And they were talking about President Roosevelt and everything. It was really sad. And Mr. Ince told me that after a President dies, they compile a book of everything that is written about him. And he was sending my poem in to that -- to be published in that book. I don’t know if it ever got there. He said it was in the Library of Congress or something. So I don’t know if it ever made it. Would you like to hear the poem?

KF: Sure.

MR: "I didn’t believe it when I heard it, that terrible, terrible news.

 I laughed when it was told to me; I mistook it for a ruse.

 But now the sun is setting on this fateful, fateful day

 and I no longer want to run nor do I feel fit to play.

 I feel like something is missing and no longer want to sing.

 Our President’s death will sink into America ’s heart like a knife’s deadly sting.

 Everyone will miss him and rue this unhappy day.

 For his blessings fell upon us like a sunbeam gone astray.

 But we’re looking forward to tomorrow with the hope that God must fulfill.

We hope and pray our next President will seek the Great Master’s will."

KF: Okay. And you were about 13 when you wrote that?

MR: Yeah. I was just -- four days before my 14th birthday.

KF: That’s good.

MR: And as I said, everybody my age was really upset about it and everything. And they were weeping in the auditorium that day.

KF: Did everyone equate Roosevelt with sort of the leader as far as the war was concerned?

MR: Yes. I think everybody did. Well, it wasn’t like it is now. Now, they’re investigating our leaders all the time and every bit of dirt they can find, they bring out. But then the press protected the Presidents, I guess, from what I’ve heard later, you know, in later years. And they didn’t have smear campaigns or anything. And you looked up to them as leaders. You didn’t hear about their clay feet or anything. That wasn’t brought out. And so people really looked up to them as leaders. And I know that everyone was worried what’s going to happen and everything. That’s why he had gotten a fourth term. He had just been elected to a fourth term before his death. And that’s why, because people, you know, were afraid to change leaders in the middle of the war and everything.

KF: Is there anything special that happened in your family that was a family routine or something to get away from all the war and all the pressures of the war?

MR: Well, we children went to a lot of movies. But that wasn’t getting away from the war all the time. There were a lot that were escapist-type things. Just musicals, stories and things like that. But there were a lot of war movies, too. And for entertainment we went to Mooney’s Grove with friends, families, other families. And Mooney’s Grove was a great place then. It was a nice clean park. You had the rowboats and things, which were free, and no paddleboats. But the rowboats were free and you could go out and we’d go out in those.

And a lot of people don’t realize at that time just before the start of the war and during the early war years, there was a zoo of sorts there. There were monkeys and giraffes and I think there was a zebra, and an ostrich. You know, just odds and ends of animals there. Just a few. But there were animals there that you could see. And that was always fun. We always had a lot of fun there.

And when we had enough gas we would go up to the mountains, up to Sequoia Park. In fact, as I said, the Dilbecks were our close friends, and they had four children, and there were four of us. And we would go up to Sequoia early in the morning, get up about four-thirty. Go up there and cook breakfast over an open fire. And spend the day. And mom would fry chicken the night before and everything and make up potato salad and all this stuff. And we’d go up there and have a picnic. Spend the whole day up in -- sometime we’d just go to Isham’s, sometimes we’d go up in the park. But it would depend on how much gas -- well, we didn’t waste gas much. My dad just used the car to go to work. We walked. My mother and I would walk downtown to shop. And even after my little brother was born, we’d push him in a buggy. And we’d come back home after shopping; we’d have packages tucked around him in the buggy. It was a big buggy. And so we would have gas for trips like that up to the mountains. We all enjoyed that.

And let me see, there was something else I thought of that should be interesting. I can’t think of it right now.

KF: Do you remember the movies, what the movies were like?

MR: Yeah.

KF: Clothing or --

MR: Well, women wore hats. We did. In Visalia, too, women wore hats to church, Sunday. Lot of times women would wear hats downtown. And actually, skirts were quite short. That may sound funny, but they were just to your knee, just barely below your knee. And we wore peasant skirts and blouses a lot because those were easy to make. And as I said, you know, most people made a lot of their clothing.

And the girls usually wore long hair. They would wear what you call, I guess, pompadours, where they’d roll their hair back. Some of them put rats around -- they called them rats. And they were forms that you put around your head and you’d tuck your hair over that because a lot of people didn’t get permanents and you didn’t have rollers and all that. You’d set your hair with bobby pins, do pin curls. And if you had long hair, you couldn’t -- you washed your hair once a week and set it. And that had to last the whole week. If you had long hair -- without hair dryers it took -- my hair was long and thick and bright red and it would take a good 12 to 14 hours for my hair to dry completely. I’d wash it Saturday morning and it would be dry just in time to take it down and brush it out for church on Sunday morning. So Saturday you saw all these women running around with turbans on their heads.

The movies were -- I remember when Carol Landis was killed. She was entertaining troops. And I remember that was a big thing because we saw her movies quite often. And lot of the male stars had gone to war; Clark Gable, and Gig Young. I can’t remember who all. But a lot of them were in the service during the Second World War. And as I said, a lot of war movies and stories about international intrigue, Ingrid Bergman and Charles Boyer, and people like that. And then a lot of Ginger Rogers/Fred Astaire movies, which were kind of an escapist thing. They weren’t usually war movies. But they showed a lot of the movies that were made before the war.

We had four theaters in Visalia then. The Fox Theater, the Hyde Theater, which was about where Links is. And on the other side of Main Street, on the north side, was the Bijou Theater. And that was, let me see, that would have been probably where the Bank of America is. Now, the Bank of America is on the site where the Hotel Johnson was. But just to the east of the Hotel Johnson was the Bijou Theater. And then where the Visalia Theater, now the Enchanted Playhouse on Main and Garden, is was the Roxy Theater. Now, it was interesting, the Fox was the elite theater. That was the nice theater. And then next was probably the Hyde. And then the Bijou. As you went farther east it got worse. And then the Roxy was a real dump. But we would go there sometimes because -- and there was so much coke and gum and stuff on the floor you stuck to the floor. It was really a raunchy theater. But they finally tore it down and built the Visalia Theater in -- I think it was in ’49.

KF: Okay. What do you remember about the end of the war?

MR: The end of the war? Well, we had bought a house and two acres out on Mineral King. The freeway took it. I don’t know if you know where Ivan’s Body Shop was. Now, it’s another place. Somebody else bought it out. But that was the back end of our two acre ranch. The freeway went through the front part of it. But we had sold the little house we had on El Visa and moved out there.

Well, we had VE day first. And then in the fall right after -- I think it was right after school started -- seems like school had just started that fall, we had VJ day. And we made banners and put on the side of the car. And we went downtown and everybody was cruising up and down Main Street honking their horns and had signs and things and yelling "The war is over, the war is over." You know, families just going up and down. And it was very exciting. And that was -- let’s see, that would have been in the fall, ’45, because my brother was a senior that year. And he graduated in June of ’46. It was an exciting time. I remember everybody and the air raid sirens. We had air raid sirens here. Those were going. And the fire whistle at the fire station. The only fire station was downtown at that time, there in the area where the Convention Center is now. And so a lot of noise. Everybody all excited and everything. 

Oh, another thing I didn’t tell you for entertainment what we used to do during the war years. You’d go downtown and park. All the parking on Main Street was diagonal parking so you were facing the sidewalk. And we’d walk -- you’d go downtown and park and watch people walk by. And the favorite place to park and watch what was happening was in front of the Wonder Bar and the Stag Bar. There were two separate bars. One was the Wonder and one was the Stag. But they were right next door to each other. And you’d sit there and watch and the drunks would come out and the stupid things they’d do, you know, some of these really inebriated people. We’d sit and watch that and we used to say, "Oh, they wander in the Wonder and stagger out the Stag." And we weren’t the only ones. People did that. They parked up and down Main Street and just watched the people go by.

KF: Were a lot of those guys from the cadet --

MR: No. They were local boozers. No, the cadets usually went to the things that were more like nightclubs or the dance halls. They had -- out at the Plaza, they had, I think it was the Lazy A Dance Hall. And then there was another dance hall someplace out there. And at the end of Main Street at Ben Maddox, where that -- is that a Carl’s Junior now? On the corner. Well, there used to be -- we called it sin city. But that was a dance hall and they served drinks and everything. And -- but I think the cadets usually went to the USO or out to the Plaza to the dances there. And then there were some bars in town that had small dance floors. They’d usually go places like that. Or they’d go to the movies or to the skating rink. And then the Sierra Ballroom was where all the high school kids went.

If you aren’t from this area, you may not remember, but there on Bridge Street where the Convention Center is now was Hyde Park. There was a park. And the men used to go there and play checkers and cards and things, sit out there in the little park. And on the other side of Bridge Street there was the Sierra Plunge, which was a privately owned swimming pool. And it was the only swimming pool, public swimming pool in town at the time. They didn’t have one in Recreation Park. And then on the corner just south of it was the Sierra Ballroom. And they had dances there every Saturday night. And all the kids that liked to dance would go there. And cadets would go there, too. And it was just sort of an entertainment complex there with the swimming pool. In fact, if you took swimming in high school, the bus would take you down to the Sierra Plunge and you had to pay so much for your swimming lessons.

Some changes that occurred in Visalia particularly after the war or because of the war. When the fellows started coming back from the service, we didn’t have enough housing and that’s when Visalia started growing some. They built houses on South Court,south of Tulare Avenue. Before that Tulare Avenue was the city limits. And they started building houses, those little houses on Howard and Iris and down there; the little older houses were built right after the war. And then out by COS, at that time COS was in the country, and after the war they started building the houses there on Tulare Avenue right by Mooney Boulevard.

 Now, when I was in Junior High at Sierra Vista across Mineral King, most of it there by the school was just open land. There weren’t any houses. But they started filling in there and building those houses after the war because the soldiers were coming back, getting married and they needed houses. And cadets that had gone to -- been stationed at Sequoia Field married local girls, a lot of them did. So they came back here. So Visalia started growing some. It still wasn’t very big. Before the war, I would say we probably had about 7000, 7500 people here. And then after the war it probably went up, just in the next few years went up to probably 9000. And then kept going after that.

So I think it changed Tulare County, other towns, too, but Visalia was the one that seemed to grow the most. And even many of the houses on the north side didn’t have inside plumbing or anything. And so that started changing. They started putting in sewers and stuff and upgrading things.

I think, too, that because of the war we became aware that anybody could go to college that wanted to, you know. And at first, though, it was funny, the school district didn’t really encourage people in my age group. Unless your parents had gone to college, they figured you weren’t going to college. When I was a senior I wanted to take English, a fourth year of English. And the counselor said, "That’s for people who are going to college. You aren’t going to college, are you?" I said, "Well, I don’t know. I might." And that’s when I learned that they had a track system and just certain kids were expected to go to college. Nobody else was. And they didn’t encourage you to. I had to go get the teacher’s permission to take the fourth year of English. I loved English and I got an A in it. But I had to get his permission before I could get into fourth year English because that was for college-bound students. But I did go to college and got my degree.

KF: Okay. I think this is going to be where we stop, operator, because we’re just about out of tape.

MR: That’s fine.

KF: Thank you very much.

MR: You’re welcome.

Karen Feezel/Transcriber: C Paggi/Editor: J Wood 10/29/04

Editor’s note: Words in italics are from a phone interview with Mildren Romanazzi on November 3, 2004.