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: Nettie Washington

 

Date: 12/19/03

 

Tape # 11

 

Interviewer: Judy Yoder

 

Place: Tulare County, CA

 

Place of Interview: City of Tulare, CA

 

 

PLACES WHERE INTERVIEWEE LIVED DURING 1941-1946

Tulare, CA

San Francisco, CA

OUTSTANDING POINTS IN THE INTERVIEW:

General Background

Personal Reactions to the War

Family Life

Community and National Life

(Nettie is a Black American)


JY: For the California Council of the Humanities, I am interviewing Nettie Washington in Tulare California at her residence at 1005 E. Sonora, Tulare on December 19, 2003. What is your name and date of birth?

NW: Nettie Washington and I was born August 23, 1917.

JY: Can you spell your name for the record.

NW: N-e-t-t-i-e. W-a-s-h-i-n-g-t-o-n.

JY: And what was your maiden name?

NW: Hailey.

JY: How do you spell that?

NW: H-a-i-l-e-y.

JY: And what were your parents’ names and where were they from?

NW: My mother, Della Thaxton Hailey was from Tennessee and my father, Tilton Hailey, was from Texas, and we were raised in Arizona.

JY: What city in Arizona?

NW: Yuma, Arizona, just across the border from California.

JY: Do you know what city your mother was from in Tennessee?

NW: Not offhand.

JY: Where did you grow up?

NW: Arizona.

JY: Yuma, Arizona?

NW: Yuma, Arizona and Summerton. Summerton was about seven or eight miles south of Yuma, right on the border of Old Mexico. When you leave you’re going toward Old Mexico.

JY: How long did you stay there?

NW: Well, my parents moved there when we were small. We went to school and got our education there. We moved to California in the 30’s.

JY: You mention education. How far did you go up in your education? Just to high school?

NW: Just to high school.

JY: OK. How old were you when World War II began?

NW: I don’t know.

JY: So, if you’re 1917 to 1941, let’s see here . . . to 1927 is 10, to 1937 is 20, so you were 24 years old, I think. Were you working or in school prior to the war?

NW: No, I was working.

JY: Who were you working for?

NW: Just doing general housework. Taking care of kids and cleaning houses.

JY: Do you remember what the wage was back then?

NW: Little or nothing.

JY: At the time of the war, were you in a relationship, married or single?

NW: I got married in 1939.

JY: When and where were you married?

NW: In Shafter, California. South from Bakersfield and Wasco, to Edgar Washington.

JY: OK. Did you have children at the time during the war?

NW: Yes, we had three. Two boys and a girl, Edgar Jr., Willie, and Beverly Ann (McCoy).

JY: These are questions I have to ask all interviewees. How do you think the World War II years in Tulare County affected you?

NW: We never had a whole lot, so it never took from us something that we had, so I can’t complain. We survived, and that’s about the best way I can explain it.

JY: How do you think the World War II years affected the way Tulare County is now?

NW: Well, it has grown a lot, so I can’t complain about that either. The people that came here came here from different places and settled down and it’s not a bad place to live.

JY: What event stands out in the years preceding the beginning of the war? Just before the war, what stands out most?

NW: Well, it was just working hard and very little income. Wages was very, very low. It was kind of hard for poor people. There weren’t many jobs.

JY: Right before the war you were experiencing a Depression, right? Where were you and what were you doing when Pearl Harbor was bombed?

NW: I was probably in Tulare.

JY: And how did you feel when the announcement of the war came?

NW: Oh, my husband’s going. I always had that feeling, but he didn’t.

JY: Oh, he didn’t go? Is there any reason he wasn’t drafted or didn’t go?

NW: No, I don’t know anything. They just didn’t and I’m thankful. But I have four sons and three of them, Edgar Jr., Willie, and Kenith served in the service. Two of them retired out of the service, my oldest boys. My husband worked in the shipyards.

JY: What one event of the war stands out in your memory?

NW: I remember being glad it was gone and over with. You were always rushing in a line to get what you were going to get and two thirds of the time they’d be out of it before you got to where it was at. So, that was part of life at that time.

JY: What was your opinion of the dropping of the atomic bomb?

NW: I thought it was a sad thing.

JY: Did you think that was necessary?

NW: I don’t think so. I have always felt like that. It don’t mean anything when they’re doing it.

JY: So what were your general feelings about the war?

NW: I always wanted to stay in America and I was hoping that nothing would come and take America . That’s the way I always felt about the war, that we would always be Americans.

JY: Oh yeah. Did your feelings change over time?

NW: No.

JY: Did your feelings differ from those of your contemporaries, your friends, neighbors?

NW: Not too much, because we weren’t big socialized persons. We came up in a large family and when you come up in a large family, of course you always entertain one another, so there’s not a problem with going out being entertained. After we got married, my husband worked on the railroad and then we moved to San Francisco and he worked in the shipyards.

JY: Very wonderful. Do you consider World War II a just war?

NW: I’m afraid I don’t know; we’ll never know what the cause of it was.

JY: Where were you when you heard the war had ended?

NW: I really think I was in Tulare.

JY: Now we’re going to go to the home front and talk a little bit about family life. Were there changes in your family’s housing situation during the war?

NW: Not really. My parents owned their own home before the war, so when it started, they were home, but then I got married just before the war and then my husband moved to San Francisco because he worked in the shipyards.

JY: Did the people outside the immediate family live with you?

NW: No, we just moved the family.

JY: How did the war affect your family’s economic circumstances?

NW: Well it was so hard that you were glad that it was over. I had four brothers, Ezell, George, Paul and Andrew Jackson (AJ) Hailey and two of them, Ezell and Paul, served in the service.

JY: Do you know what branch they served in?

NW: Army.

JY: Do you remember difficulties in getting food, clothing or other consumer goods during the war?

NW: Oh, yes. Stand in line and they would run out before you got to the head of the line. Then you go back and the next day they would say you’ve got so-and-so and you’d get in another line somewhere. So it wasn’t easy. Life was really hard at the time.

JY: Do you remember what kind of food that they would run out of?

NW: Mostly just poor food that you could use, like flour and shortening and canned foods. Because so many people bought canned foods because you could storage it and a lot of times you would go after something and you never get it, because somebody’s already had it and got some more before it ran out.

JY: What were some of the effects of rationing? What was that like?

NW: Oh, it was miserable.

JY: What did rationing entail?

NW: Rationing was a thing, that you had to have a, you know, something so you could get it, and two thirds of the time you get in line, that’s what you have to do all the time, before you got to where it was at, it was either out or there was no more left.

JY: Did you have to have a rationing book to get things? What did that look like?

NW: Little coupon books like.

JY: Were there any black market activities going on?

NW: Well, I’m sure it was but, you know, poor people could not get involved in so many things, because the upper people could get away with it, but you were too poor to get it and hold it and get rid of it, because you needed the money. So it wasn’t easy. We survived.

JY: Did your family participate in the war bond campaigns or any other saving programs?

NW: Right now I can’t say. Which one of the wars are we talking about?

JY: World War II. What I’m gathering from the question is that they must have supported World War II by selling war bonds in order to get the money and get the money or cash flow going in order to create the ships or airplanes, tanks. What were other family efforts to support the war? Home crafts, gardens, volunteering activities. How did the family participate in supporting the war?

NW: Mostly it was just working and trying to support it. We were busy working on the ranch and that’s about the only way we had any support to give them in the fields. My husband was a rancher and we went to San Francisco during the wartime and he worked in the shipyards. And when we came back here, he worked on a ranch and he worked a while at the Tulare Oil Mill, with Eddie Haskiell for years, using cotton seeds to make oil. And from that he went on to the police department and he retired from the Sheriff’s Department.

JY: Wow.

NW: So he worked until retirement with the Sheriff’s Department.

JY: Was anyone in the immediate family separated because of military service or war work? Describe their experiences.

NW: Well, I’m sure they had problems, because during the war, the first war, we wasn’t separated from one another. My husband worked in the shipyards and of course when you had little kids, you couldn’t find a place to stay. We lived here and he went to San Francisco and we finally got placed where we could rent a house and then we lived in San Francisco.

JY: How did you try to keep in touch with those who went off to war?

NW: It wasn’t easy. I had two brothers who went off to the service and it wasn’t easy, but by being a large family there was always something going on. It wasn’t just sitting with you hands under your chin, wondering. You always had something you had to do and then you had to make a living. So it wasn’t easy and we done without a lot of things we’d have loved to have.

JY: When your brothers were away at war did their separation have a significant effect on the family? Was there a change in roles or creating distance or more appreciation for what they were doing?

NW: I don’t think it was a whole lot of difference because we were poor people. Surviving was our main thing and so when they went in the service, we still had to survive, so we didn’t have a whole lot of time to grieve about what we could do and what we couldn’t do about it. We did what we could to survive.

JY: Did the war affect your dating, courting or romantic relationship? Of course you’re married (laughter).

NW: No, it didn’t.

JY: I’m thinking it might have improved. Prior to the war you have the Depression and you’re struggling to make ends meet and after you get married, your husband gets a job in the shipyard and this is war time and you’re in San Francisco. I’m thinking you did better economically?

NW: We did.

JY: And maybe that was better for the romantic side of the relationship.

NW: Well, it helped a lot. Because there were so many things you had to stand in line and half the time before you got up there it was all gone, but there was always something moving . . .Hey (Interruption ,Mr. Washington entered room).

JY: Do you think unrealistic wartime romances took place? Do you think people were more serious about their relationships during war time?

NW: You know, I think some of them were and some of them weren’t. I think some of them were just nervous, because they don’t know what’s going to be tomorrow and so let’s do it today. I think a lot went that way.

JY: Did you happen to notice if there were any changes in the dating patterns?

NW: Like what?

JY: Good question. I have to think about this now? Maybe before the war in order to date, the boy would come over and you would sit on the front porch or the front steps. During the war, with the car being introduced, did you go for long drives? Or did you continue sitting on the porch and on the stoop?

NW: That’s a pretty good question, because I had to work and it wasn’t a whole lot of going and going. They came to see us and then they would leave. There wasn’t a whole lot of going like kids do now, every time you turn around they are getting in the car and leaving. We didn’t get a chance to deal with that.

JY: Do you see a significant difference in dating patterns as opposed to 1941 and the current day which is 2003?

NW: Oh yes.

JY: Children today have a lot more permission.

NW: Oh, yes and they have telephones and whatnot. We didn’t have anything like that.

JY: Let’s go there then. Let’s talk about this. You had no telephone, so there is no way to call your brothers to stay in touch. So in other words, you had to write letters. Did you ever send care packages?

NW: We sent care packages. They got them but sometime I think when they got their share, they didn’t enjoy it, because there was too many of them and wasn’t enough that was sent.

JY: Did you have electricity?

NW: During World War II? Yes, we had electricity.

JY: I imagine San Francisco did, but when you came back to Tulare County, did you have electricity here?

NW: Yes.

JY: OK. I had to clarify that. I know certain areas of Tulare County did not have electricity.

NW: No, they didn’t, but we had electricity. When we first came back, we had to burn oil lamps. They had burned oil lamps in the stores. It’s been such a long time and we’ve moved on up. It’s kind of hard to remember what year.

JY: OK, we’ve talked about telephones. And we’ve talked about oil lamps and wood stoves. How did you find out about the war? Was it through radio, television or word of mouth or the newspaper?

NW: We didn’t . . . you know how the newspaper went. Everybody didn’t get the newspaper because we didn’t have time to read it anyway. We were working in the fields. When we came in from the fields, we got something to eat and went to bed, because you have to go back tomorrow. So it was kind of like word of mouth, passed on from one another and we found out there was a war going on. We had radio . . . you know how that goes, but we didn’t get everything on the radio like you get now.

JY: A valuable piece of information. That was really good detail, by the way. In an unstable time, what gave stability to your family?

NW: We were a large family and we had to help one another constantly and I think that my mother and father were both together and they kept us pretty well in hand.

JY: Now when you say a large family, how many people is that?

NW: Well, in my family there were 11 of us children. Seven girls and four boys and it wasn’t easy, because you got mine and somebody took something that you were going to put on and we had a problem, but we made it.

JY: So what became of particular importance to you during that time?

NW: Well, it was wanting to hurry and get old enough to do what I wanted to do. At that time, parents weren’t like parents are now. Kids just walk out the door and you don’t worry about them until they come back. The parents wanted to know where you were at and how long you were going to be gone. And I always wanted to hurry up and get grown.

JY: What activities did you enjoy as a way of getting away from the war?

NW: I don’t think it was a whole lot.

JY: Did you have any memorable vacations or travel?

NW: No, vacations was very poor. We were poor people, so there wasn’t any vacations. We worked and before I got married my father and we lived in Arizona and we picked cotton in Arizona. Early in August we’d be picking cotton and then we’d come up here until the fog came in and then we would go back, because he was always afraid of the fog. So we did that for a number of years and then we finally just moved here.

JY: How did women’s roles and responsibilities change during the war?

NW: It changed quite a bit, because the women worked like the men did and it wasn’t just like you did the housework and that’s it. You had to go out and help too, because the costs were so expensive. It made a difference.

JY: What about wages and conditions of work? What were they like?

NW: Work was good. Of course, you didn’t make a lot. And transportation was not like it is now.

JY: So how did you get to work?

NW: We had cars.

JY: What about the conditions of the work, because you said you worked out in the field. What were conditions like?

NW: Terrible. Now you don’t know anything about people pulling cotton sacks down in the middle of rows in the mud and rain. They have machines picking cotton. But at that time, we had to get out in those fields in the rain, get the heck out of it until it stopped raining and then when the cotton got up a little bit you got back out there. And it wasn’t easy.

JY: You’re picking by your hands, right?

NW: Yeah, your hands and this part of your fingers is all scarred up because those cotton bolls when they get through would break your skin.

JY: Yes, because I understand there is a hard shell, but there are thorns or something on there.

NW: Yes. They’re bolls, and these out here are sticky and you have to dig in there to get the cotton out. And half of the time when you are digging in there, your hand is going down hitting the thorn that the cotton boll is opening up at. You break your skin all up.

JY: Nettie just gave me an example of folding her hand up like a cup and each finger representing a thorn and you have to take your hand into the cup to pull the cotton. And as you are doing so it is these little thorns that prick your hand and it roughs up your hands and makes your hands pretty scarred up. So I’m looking at Nettie’s hands and my gosh, you have delicate hands too, very petite. Yes, quite a bit of difference between then and today. And then if it rained, because I know rain and cotton is not good together.

NW: No. We couldn’t pick cotton when it was raining, you see. You had to wait. If it was too wet you couldn’t go out there because the leaves on the stalks were so wet so you had to try to wait.

JY: So if it’s raining, you don’t get paid.

NW: You can’t pick cotton when it’s raining.

JY: And you don’t get paid.

NW: No, you don’t have any income.

JY: Interesting.

NW: There was no income when it was raining.

JY: I hadn’t stopped to give that any thought, so, in other words, you really need the weather to be on your side to make money to support your family.

NW: At that time, the family wasn’t like it is now, where if you have a family you can go and get aid. There was not a whole lot of places. Sometime a church would give you a little bit of a donation, but it wasn’t like welfare that you could go and get aid.

JY: I’m glad you opened that up. That’s going to send me on another tangent. Roosevelt hadn’t introduced a New Deal yet to protect families. I think that’s where our welfare comes in at. And we are talking before that came in. So you were very dependent on your local churches?

NW: Not really. You had to depend on yourself mostly because the churches were poor too. They were just as poor, because if you didn’t put anything in the church there wasn’t anything there. So you had to work and put a little bit in the church and you had to work to make your living. It wasn’t like you had an income. You had to work to get it. And at times, there wasn’t a whole lot of work like there are different jobs now. There was very few jobs.

JY: So what is your attitude toward the wages back then? You think they were fair?

NW: During that time I feel like they just couldn’t do any better. They had no more. Some of the farmers didn’t have a whole lot either. And if they hired you, they couldn’t afford to give you any more because they didn’t have it. So it was just a bunch of poor people.

JY: Helping each other out.

NW: And due to the war that helped break it down some, because so many people didn’t go back to the farms and ranches like they were. They stayed in the cities and worked in the cities. Before the war so many people were out in the country on ranches and living in shacks and tents and whatever they could do. With the war they went to the city because they needed them in shipyards and places and once they got there they didn’t come back. They had an income and were living better.

JY: What childcare arrangements were made? What was childcare like then? You are out in the field working . . .

NW: If you didn’t have any older children or a mother, mother-in-law to take care of your children . . . they didn’t have nurseries. You could find somebody to come and sit with your babies, some older person or something like that, some relative. But it was very poor.

JY: So what happened to the women’s roles after the war ended?

NW: So many of them did housework, so many of them went to school. It wasn’t easy. They still had to work in the fields. You had to make a living.

JY: How did you feel about these changes?

NW: If it changes and you go along with it, it doesn’t work overnight. But if you go along with it and look back in the path, some of it needs to be now, because we have so many people who are doing nothing for themselves and you either, but using the tax. And at that time, if you didn’t work, you didn’t get. That’s part of the change that I think has gone a little too far out.

JY: Do you think that Roosevelt’s new deal was needed in World War II, but do you think it’s outlasted its time?

NW: I think it’s gone a little too far. So many younger people depend upon not what they can do, but what you can do for them. And they haven’t earned it.

JY: Yes, I’ve run across that myself. Sorry, I do understand what you are saying. Now we’re going to go into the home front. It’s called community and national home. Were there any neighborhood organizations to watch for blackouts or to take special collection drives?

NW: No, I can’t remember any.

JY: Do you remember any special events related to the war efforts?

NW: No.

JY: Was your community affected by industry conversions? Let’s say maybe you weren’t producing war products at the time but maybe, some . . . I don’t know . . . Westinghouse light bulbs because war plants? Or special employment conditions?

NW: Due to farming, we were raised on a ranch. My parents were farmers when we were born and raised, so we were raised in the country. We kind of depended upon that. The City, we didn’t know anything about the city. We went on the weekend and bought groceries and came back and you didn’t go. So we didn’t know anything about cities.

JY: How were businesses affected by rationing and shortages?

NW: I think so many of the people got it that knew one another than the people that needed it. I think it hurt a lot of people, but it hurt some, I’m sure.

JY: Do you think some businesses actually lost out and shut down because of the shortages?

NW: I’m sure they did, because they couldn’t get it. If they couldn’t get it, they couldn’t stay open because they didn’t have anything to sell.

JY: Did different ethnic groups exist or appear in your community? What were race relations like in your community? Were there any changes during the war?

NW: Not a whole lot because mostly, you know, the Blacks stayed in their community, the Spanish stayed in their community, the Whites stayed in their community. It wasn’t like you mixed your neighbors with the white family, or the Spanish family. It was more likely to be another black family.

JY: You had your own little neighborhood.

NW: Uh huh. Like now you see a church on this corner where you may see blacks and that’s a black church and all the rest of them Spanish and everything else. At that time, the church was built in the neighborhood of the blacks or whatever race you were and that was it. But now it’s different.

JY: What were your own attitudes at the time to the different ethnic groups that existed in your community?

NW: Growing up, you were so busy. So many of the things you let loose and let go. It kind of bothered, but we were strong enough. We had some good friends and some good neighbors and good people to live around.

JY: How did your family react to the news about the holocaust?

NW: Now which war was that?

JY: World War II

NW: I think I had two brothers go into the service at that time.

JY: And how did you feel about the relocation of the Japanese Americans?

NW: When they put them in the concentration camps? I never could understand it enough because we were kind of kept apart anyway. We never knew why but you do know there were problems. They were taken from us when they shouldn’t have. That’s why they had them like that.

JY: Do you remember how movies reflected the war and how they portrayed home life during the war?

NW: No, we didn’t get to go to the movies because it was a big family for us and we didn’t get to the movies like kids do now. And TV wasn’t the thing, we had a radio and that was about it.

JY: What were your impressions of military and political leadership during the war? Could you give me an example of war leadership or military leadership?

NW: Well, it’s kind of like - families. You know, you used to have to survive the best way you could. When that man went into the service, you were trying to survive the best way you could. But later on, it got to the place where he was in the service and I think it made a big difference. When the men went in the service, they had no choice, and the family didn’t have any income anymore than what he would give them. No place to stay or anything.

JY: Were you aware of attempts at censorship? Or cases of news distortion during the war? Censorship is where the government, you political leaders, will come in and tell you what you can or cannot say on the news?

NW: Not too much. Some of us had radios and some of us didn’t. There wasn’t TV. Radios was the thing that poor people didn’t have, so we never knew what was really going on, just hearsay.

JY: Do you recall your attitudes or those of your friends toward Germans?

NW: Well, we were kind of raised in a race where you didn’t go over and mess with those people. You didn’t bother them and they didn’t bother you was the attitude we had, because we had never come in contact with them, unless you worked for some of them or something. Other than that, we had no contact. At that time, schools used to be black schools with black teachers and there wasn’t a mix like there is now.

JY: Correct. Do you recall your attitudes or those of your friends towards the Japanese?

NW: No. We had no race problems; we never had any race problems, my friends or my family.

JY: How did your community react to the end of the war? Was there any celebrations or special events?

NW: We never attended any of them. I’m sure they had them, but we didn’t go.

JY: Can you explain why you didn’t attend?

NW: It was kind of like; if you’re not a problem, don’t go out there. We were a kind of close family. Church and home, but not to clubs and things like that. We didn’t go to those places. We never came in contact with them.

JY: In your opinion, what was the overall impact of the war on American society?

NW: It helped a lot, but it hurt a whole lot.

JY: How did it hurt American society?

NW: I think it made so much difference in what you got and what you ain’t got. I think that had a lot to do with it. Because you respected the people that have something, but now people getting some of the things didn’t earn them and you can’t respect them because they’re not doing the right thing with it.

JY: Do you think the reason why you didn’t interact so much with people outside your community is based on your color?

NW: I don’t think so. It makes a difference on where you were raised and where you come up at. We were raised where there was mixed group constantly coming out and I don’t think it made a big difference with me.

JY: Let me take you back to Yuma, Arizona and going to school there? Do you go to a school that was all black students?

NW: Yes.

JY: With a black teacher?

NW: Yes.

JY: It’s not my era.

NW: You can’t figure that one out?

JY: No. I don’t understand it.

NW: Well, they had black teachers and black students. Black school buses and once in a while we would have a little white boy who would come along with somebody and he would go to school and he was just like the rest of us. But as far as the community being together, no. You stayed over here and they stayed over there.

JY: And so that shines some light on for me as the reason why when I asked you the question about what your community did special after the war. Now I understand why you are not aware of whether there were any special events or stuff going on. You stayed in your community.

NW: You went to the grocery store and bought your groceries and you went home. You went shopping downtown and you went home. But you did go up,you didn’t have any clubs or places to go,no one socialized. It was your race that had it. You didn’t go if the white race had something. You didn’t go. Now the school kids go to everything. Well, at that time, when we came home, there were no mixed schools. You went to black schools and had black teachers. And it makes a big difference.

JY: I have another question to ask you. Between the years of 1941 and 1946, although your husband wasn’t drafted and you have two brothers who went into the military, did your brothers serve in an all black Army or did they serve with a mixture?

NW: A mixture.

JY: Did they go overseas to fight on the front lines?

NW: Yes. My brothers went overseas and they brought white boys home to eat and spend the night with us and go back together. At that time the race had broken down. It used to be, you know, you don’t go down to that end of the street, you don’t belong there; you ain’t as old as me, 83. And if you went shopping, when you got through shopping you went home. Now you can walk all over town and walk through the park and sit out in the park. At that time you didn’t. You’d go to church and it’s a mixed church. At that time, we had black churches only and black schools only and black teachers. It made a big difference.

JY: You just gave me a really good example of the differences before the war of the separate communities, and I think World War II, if I heard you right, broke down a lot of those race relations and more different communities are mingling, because as your brothers came home from the war, they brought their white friends with them and they can socialize and spend the night. And that was something you mentioned that would not have happened prior to the war.

NW: That’s right, it didn’t happen.

JY: This is a time I remember in my history that I think is in the south along the east coast. I don’t know if it’s prevalent in the west or not, where there are still places where if you are black you are not allowed to go into restaurants.

NW: That right. You couldn’t.

JY: You could?

NW: You could not.

JY: So even on the West Coast you could not go into a restaurant?

NW: On the West Coast, you can only as they say go in your neighborhood on this part of town. They have pool halls and cafes where you stay down there. Up there you don’t go out to eat. If you do, you have to eat in the kitchen. If you went there and somebody said we can feed you in the kitchen, but you couldn’t sit out there with the rest . . .

JY: This is between 1941 and 1946 we’re talking about, right? What year was it when that started to change?

NW: When you don’t go out much after you get married, you don’t go out much, it changes automatically. When you go out and say you’re going over to the fairgrounds, everybody over there is all tangled and mingling and you don’t know one from the other. You don’t pay any attention to it. The time when we came along you did. Because you would take time to go someplace and know you couldn’t go in there and you’d pass on by. And it made a difference.

JY: Well, yeah.

NW: It made a difference. And they had black schools.

JY: Was it like some time in the 1950’s when things changed? Or was it the 1960’s.

NW: It changed in the ’40’s.

JY: It actually started changing in the 40’s. OK. So attitudes are changing in the 40’s.

NW: In the 30’s it was gradually, but we had so many southern, because most of the blacks in California come from the south. And they came here with the training from what they were taught back there and it took a while to adjust here. When you come here or you are born here, you don’t know anything about it. But I do. I was born in Oklahoma and raised in Arizona. We came to California in 1939, 1935 first. Then we would come and go, come and go, because my father was afraid of the fog. My mother said if other people can stay, we can stay, so that’s how we came to be in California.

JY: I think that concludes our interview. Is there anything you would like to add that I might have forgotten to ask?

NW: Well, I don’t think so. Anything you want to ask, feel free. I have no problem.

JY/PD Transcriber/JWood Editor

Words in italics were added during a phone interview with Nettie Washington on May 31, 2006.