Robert C. Daniels

Author / Adjunct History Professor


Interview conducted as part of research for the writing of World War II in Mid-America

Doris (Bohnert) Daniels  © Copyright 2005

Interview by Robert C. Daniels

Doris (Bohnert) Daniels was interviewed in the living room of her daughter and son-in-law’s home in Waupun, where Doris also lived at the time of the interview, at 6:00 P.M. on 30 November 2005.  The interview lasted 14.57 minutes.  At the time Doris was eighty-two years old, alert, relatively articulate, and proved to be very willing to talk as well as an excellent source of information.  It should be noted that Doris is also the authors’ (interviewer’s) mother.  As her son, the author, without attempting to contradict her, assisted her memory at times.  The house that she now lives in was originally built by her maternal grandfather and is the house that she and her sister were born in.  One of her brothers, Albert Bohnert, and her sister, Lois Schleicher, were also interviewed and appear in separate chapters in this treatise.  Doris has since, on 13 August 2009, passed away.


What is your full name?  Doris Nina Daniels.

What is your maiden name?  Doris Nina Bohnert.

Were you born in a hospital or born in a house?  I was born in the house that I am living in.  This house. 

When were you born?  1923, July the 22nd.

Who were your parents?  Joe Bohnert and Linda (Paskey).

Do you have any brothers or sisters?  Yeah, I had two brothers and one sister.

Where did you go to school?  In Waupun.  The Lincoln School.

Did you graduate from high school?  Yeah.

When did you graduate?  Oh, I don’t know (she laughs), when did I graduate?  1941.  (In actuality, Doris did not graduate from high school, only finishing the eleventh grade.)

What was it like for you growing up?  It was okay.

What did you do?  What did we do?  Well, we didn’t have a lot of money to do stuff with.  There were four of us.  We played games with the neighbor kids and did things like that.  Played baseball.

In the 1939, 1941 timeframe, basically just before the war, what were you doing?  I was working in a factory making…, what were they making?  I had to pick over…, oh, what were they called?  They used them for bullets.

For Shaler’s National Rivet Company?  Yeah.  (The National Rivet and Manufacturing Company.)

What did you do there?  Pick over rivets.  We had to pick out all the ones that were bent, you know, weren’t any good from the better ones.

That was while you were in high school or after high school?  After high school.

Do you remember what you were doing when you heard that Pearl Harbor was attacked?  Yeah.  What was I doing?  We were at work.  I was at work.  I worked at Shaler’s.  We were at work when they came in and told us that.

What were your thoughts when you heard that?  We thought it was terrible.  We were sort of scared, you know.

What did you do during the war?  I worked at Shaler’s.

Did you move to Sparta (Wisconsin)?  Then I move to Sparta, yeah. 

When was that, was that during the war?  Yeah.  My eyes were getting bad and the doctor said I couldn’t work in the rivets anymore; then I would go blind.  So then I quit.  And Audrey Lammers was my friend, and she worked in Sparta at the children’s home.  And they needed help, so she wrote me and told me I should come, that I’d have a job.  So that’s where I went, and I worked in the children’s home during the war.  (The children’s home was the Wisconsin Child Center, a state run orphanage, located in Sparta, Wisconsin.  It has been closed for many years now.)

What did you do there?  Well, we got the kids up at 6:30 in the morning and got ‘em dressed and got ‘em their breakfast.  Then we had to take care of them all day long.  I had eight kids under my…, that I took care of all day long.

How old were they?  Oh, they were…, I had the small ones.  Nobody wanted the small ones because they had to change diapers.  And I didn’t care, I liked the small ones.  So I had the smaller ones.  A year to two years old were the ones that I took care of.

Where did you live when you were there?  Where did I live?  At the home where the children were.

In a dormitory type of thing?  Well, it was more like a house, you know.

And how long did you work there?  Until I got married.

When was that?  When did I get married?  In ‘47.

Do you remember the rationing cards?  Yeah.

Do you remember using those?  Yeah.

What do you remember about those?  Well, you could only have so much, especially sugar.  We had to ration sugar a lot.

Were their Victory Gardens, did you have a Victory Garden?  Yeah. 

You had one?  Yeah.

Where at?  Here in Waupun or in Sparta?  In Sparta.

At the Child Center?  Yeah.  Us girls that worked there went together and had the garden there.  There was plenty of room, so we had a Victory Garden there.

Did they feed you or did you have to get your own food when you were working there?  We ate there.  We ate our big meal there at noon.  Supper, we ate by ourselves.

Do you remember when you heard the war was over?  Yeah.

What was that like?  Oh, everybody threw stuff up in the air (she laughs).  We were happy.

Were your brothers in the war?  Yeah.

What did they do?  Well, Ralph was in Germany.

He was in the Army or the Air Force?  He was in the Army.  And Al was in the Marines.  He was in Bougainville.

They came home, didn’t they?  Yeah.

They didn’t get hurt?  Alfred got shot in the seat with a bunch of shrapnel jumping in his foxhole (she laughs).

What was it like when the military guys came home?  Well, there was a lot of celebrating.

Were they different when they came home when the war was over?  Oh, I think so.

In what way?  Well, they were…, what can I say?  They were more serious about things.

Did Waupun, did that change?  Or even Sparta, did that change during the war?  How do you mean?

Did the people change?  Was it the same as before the war?  Were people more serious, or…?  Yeah, I think they were.  They were more serious.

Did it change back again when the service members came home or did it stay the same as during the war?  Oh, I think people were more serious.

After the war?  Yeah.  About things, they took things more serious.

What did you do after the war?  What did I do after the war?  I still worked in Sparta in the children’s home.

Did you worked there until 1947?  Yeah.

Until you got married.  Who did you get married to?  Bob Daniels.  (Robert Arthur Daniels.)

When did you marry him?  In ‘47 (9 March 1947).

Did you have any children?  Yeah, I had four, two boys and two girls.  (She was somewhat confused here; she had three sons and one daughter.)

Did any of them go into the military?  Did you, Bobby?  (She laughs.)

Yeah (I laugh also).  You had three boys and one girl.  Yeah.

Which ones went in the military?  All of them, all the boys were in; Richard, Bobby, and David.

Is there anything else you would like to tell us about during the war, your experiences during the war or after or before?  We worked at the USO (United Service Organization), and we baked cookies for the boys when they were home.

Where was that at?  In Sparta.  At the city hall.  They appreciated it.

What did you do for entertainment?  What did we do for entertainment?  We baked stuff for the boys when they came to the USO and entertained them.  Every once in a while we went to a movie.  That was about it.

How many ladies worked at the Child Center with you?  Oh, let’s see.  There was four in Cottage M and there was two at the boys’ cottage, Cottage L.  And there was four at Cottage C, and two at Cottage L with the big kids.  And four at Cottage D.  I guess that was it.

The men that were there, were they older?  Some of them were.  John Polly worked there, and he took care of the milk and stuff.

Did a lot of young guys go off the war?  Were there some of them that could have gone to the war, but didn’t go?  Were there any unfit or too old, too young for war?  Yeah.

How about after the war?  Did some of the younger ones come back?  Yeah.  They kept their jobs for ‘em, you know.  They said when they came back their job would be there for them.

And it was?  Yeah, which was nice.

Your husband to be, did he work there before the war?  Yeah.

So he had a job waiting for him when he came back?  Yeah.  He was the truck driver, and he had to take stuff down to the other institutions and delivered the food and stuff.  That’s what he did.

And you met him after the war?  No, I met him when he worked there and I worked there, during the war.

He worked there during the war?  Partly, yeah.

Anything else you can think of?  I don’t think so.

Okay, thank you.


This is considered © Copyright (2005) material.  Only minor quotes, giving proper reference, is acceptable.

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