Robert C. Daniels

Author / Adjunct History Professor


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

Jim and Harriet (Whiting) Laird  © Copyright 2006

Interview by Robert C. Daniels

Jim and Harriet (Whiting) Laird were interviewed at the Union-Congregational Church in Waupun on 16 March 2006 starting at 10:45 A.M.  Their interviews lasted 81.61 minutes.  At the time both Jim and Harriet were sixty-nine years old and were very articulate and eager to relate their stories.  It should be noted that Jim was the president of the Waupun Historical Society and had sat in on and assisted with several of the interviews, as well as greatly assisted the author in gathering interviewees and other Waupun historical information for these interviews.  Jim and Harriet sat next to each other on the couch, both well within the viewer of the camera.  As such, they were interviewed together.


Harriet, what is your full name?  (Harriet):  Harriet Louis.  My maiden name is Whiting.

And how do you spell that?  (Harriet):  W H I T I N G.

Okay, and your current name is Laird, L A I R D?  (Harriet):  Correct.

And Jim, what’s your full name?  (Jim):  James Charles Laird.  Most people know me as Jim.

Okay.  I know a lot of people born in the early twentieth century were not born in a hospital, but at home.  Where were you born?  (Harriet):  I was born at home.  And I have an older sister and two younger brothers who were also born at home.  My two youngest brothers were born in a hospital.

Okay.  And, um, where was that?  (Harriet):  It was on a farm about seven miles from Waupun on County Highway X.

(Jim):  I would like to mention, and she can expand on this, because one of the things that was fairly common in the era we are talking about is expanded families, and Harriet’s grandfather, that was a doctor, that lived in the house with them along with the mother, and so, so I would guess the grandfather probably helped with the delivery.

Wow, okay.  What day were you born (speaking to Harriet)?  Day and year, please.  (Harriet):  June 1st, 1937.

Who were your parents?  (Harriet):  Ralph Ethan Whiting, better known as Billy, and Janet Isabel Hyslop, H Y S L O P.

And you said you had brothers and sisters?  (Harriet):  Yes.  One older sister, four younger brothers.

Okay, and Jim, who were your parents?  (Jim):  My parents were Rush, R U S H, Ford Laird, and I often wondered if he was named after Henry (we laugh), and Joanna Loeffelholz…, ready?

Uh-huh.  (Jim):  L O E F F E L H O L Z.  Everyone called her Hanna, and she worked in a restaurant for years, and it was Hamburger Hanna (we laugh).

Okay, well, where were you born?  (Jim):  I was born in Dubuque, Iowa, off on the bluff in the family home.

Do you have brothers and sisters?  (Jim):  Yes, I had three sisters.  Ruth Laird Kenths, Marion Laird Stienbach, and Donna Laird Schmitt, and that’s S C H M I T T.  They spell their name with the two “T’s” on the other end.

And were they older or younger?  (Jim):  They’re all older.  I was the baby in the family.  My mother introduced me as the baby in the family until the day she died (we all laugh).

Harriet, where did you go to school?  (Jim says):  Wait, I’d like to back up just a little bit.  Again, talking about being born at home and that sort of thing, because times were different, both of my grandmothers lost their respective spouses when they were quite young, so they had to make a living and do things in order to get money in.  And both of them became midwives, and that was part of the way in which they made the money.  This is a little book my Grandmother Laird took, and she has one hundred and seventy-six names in there of people that she helped deliver.

(Jim Continues):  Now what I was going to ask Harriet to discuss a little bit—because it never dawned on me she might have done the delivery.  I don’t know whether they would…, normally when you have a midwife, call the doctor when the time got real close or whether they would go through and only call the doctor if there was difficulty.  But she actually delivered my three sisters, and worked on that delivery.  And that has to be something special to, you know, to help deliver members of your family.

 Okay.  Well, Harriet, where did you go to school?  (Harriet):  I attended a one room rural school about a mile from our house.  It was Waupun District Number Eleven Mapledale School.

Wow, okay.  Is it still there?  (Harriet):  Yes, it was converted into a house.  It was…, actually the building was over a hundred years old when I attended school there.  And all of my siblings went eight years to that same school, except my youngest brother who went, I think, a year and a half.  They were in process of consolidating the schools and…, so they moved and put first through third grade in one of the rural schools and fourth through sixth, you know, and so on.  And so he attended one of the other area schools for a year and a half.

Did you walk back and forth?  (Harriet):  Oh, yeah.

(Jim states):  A little sideline thing I’ve heard people describe.  Harriet’s father was on the school board.  Their school board meeting was getting together around the kitchen table and paying the bills, right? (he asks Harriet, who replies “Yeah”).  So it was really kinda interesting in that aspect.  And while you had electricity, I would guess you had outside plumbing? 

(Harriet states):  No, oh, at the school?  Yeah, at the school there was a little outhouse for the boys and one for the girls.

(Jim continues):  And the other thing about that era of schooling, Mrs. Vroman indicated—no, Velma, excuse me—Mrs. Velema indicated that the first year she taught she had eleven students in her one room.  Do you know (asking Harriet), do you remember how many…?

(Harriet answers):  There was one time when there was only five students.  There were other times when there were probably twenty-five, twenty-eight, and one teacher was responsible for all of it. 

(Harriet continues):  And we drew slips every week for responsibilities like sweeping out the toilets, pumping in and carrying in the water.  The first years we had a…, yeah, it was a coal burning stove, so someone had to carry in the coal, carry out the ashes.  And then later on we had an oil burner.

So you went there for eight years?  (Harriet):  Hmm hmmm (indicating yes).

Did you go to high school?  (Harriet):  Yes, in Waupun.

What high school was that?  (Harriet):  The building that’s….

The old junior high school?  (Harriet): Yeah, it’s presently standing empty.

(Jim states):  I call it the one on Fond du Lac Street, so that people that…, thirty years from now can kinda, oh, alright, because the names change so much it’s hard to keep track of which is which when.

And when did you graduate from high school?  (Harriet):  1955.

Did you attend college?  (Harriet):  I went to a three-year nurse’s training program in Saint Agnes in Fond du Lac.

So you’re a nurse?  (Harriet):  Yes.  I’m retired.

(Jim states):  That was a residential program in Fond du Lac, right? 

(Harriet answers):  Oh, yeah.

(Jim):  Run by the sisters.   I don’t know if you asked me my birthday, did you? (speaking to the author).  Three, one…, March 1st, 1937.  Three, one, 1937.  So I’m three months older than her.  And you’ll find out in just a minute that we also graduated from high school the same year also.  So we have that similarity.  We compete for which class reunion we should go to (we laugh).

Well, Jim, where did you go to school?   (Jim):  Thirteen years in one building.  Cuba City, Wisconsin.  It was one of those things where you went to kindergarten and went across the hall for first grade and so forth.  And I tell people, interestingly enough, that the high school was upstairs, most of the high school classes were upstairs.  And I think I was probably in the fifth grade before…, I always thought it was called high school because it was up there (he laughs). 

(Jim continues):  But it was interesting to me to be in that one building.  Since then that building has been torn down and they split off into multi-buildings and things. 

(Jim):  But the other thing about it, again, difference in communities and the difference in the way things…, kindergarten, everybody in…, all the kids of a particular age group, like five, went together.  And then the Protestants stayed in that building and went to school, and the Catholics went to the Catholic grade school.  But when it came time for high school, the Catholics came back and we were together.  So we ended up being in kindergarten and freshmen together and on up.  And there were thirty-two in my class.  And I remember so vividly that [there were] very, very few electives.  You took the classes that they offered.  So all thirty-two of us would go to a classroom and have English, all thirty-two would get up and go down the hall and have history, and this type of thing.  So we really were together all the time, where normally in a larger school, like I would guess Harriet’s, you know, half of your class is off somewhere else, or three-fourths, depending upon the size of the school.

So you graduated in 1955 also?  (Jim):  Yes.

Where is Cuba City?  (Jim):  Cuba City is in the far southwestern part of the state.  If you go five miles south you cross into Illinois.  If you go about twelve miles west you’d be in the Mississippi River.  So it’s on what they call the driftless area.  And, you know, we’ll probably talk a little bit about farming, but that made the farming very, very different down there.  Since it was a driftless area it was very hilly.  And they didn’t have all of the rocks and things in the soil that you do around here.  When you drive around the country here there are so many, there was so many rock fences and things that was made from the rocks they took out.  That wasn’t that common in the southwest because the glacier wasn’t through to drop those.

Hmmm, okay.  That’s interesting.  Well, Harriet, what was it like for you growing up?  (Harriet):  Well, my dad was pretty strict.  He was really a bug about safety, and if he was doing anything that he felt might put his children in harm’s way he would say, “You go over there and you stay there.  And if you can’t do that you go in the house.”  Because he said if anything ever happened to any of us he would never forgive himself.

(Harriet continues):  We used to play in the barn, and I think everyone of us at one time or another fell through the feed holes from the upper level to the lower level, and, ah.  But we used to do things like get the cows.  My sister and I, being the oldest, got to help first.  But as the boys got older and could do more, then we were expected to do more stuff in the house.  But we fed the calves and my sister and I drove the horses during hay time.  My sister drove horses on the wagon loading the hay and then I drove the horses on the hay fork unloading the hay.  Then, later on, when my dad got a tractor, then the boys were big enough to help run the tractor.  So Jan and I…, I ran the tractor once or twice, but it was….

Was it a milk farm?  (Harriet):  Yeah, it was…, well, we had milk cows.  When I was really little we had chickens, we had pigs, we had milk cows, we had four horses.  Dad raised cash crops like peas and hemp during the war.  And, of course, a lot of the crops were to feed the cattle:  oats, hay, corn.

You mentioned getting a tractor.  Do you remember what timeframe you got the tractor?  (Harriet):  No, I don’t remember exactly.  But it was not a new tractor.  It was one of those big old ones with the steel wheels and you had to hand crank it to start it.  And, ah….

Was the war going on when you got the tractor or was it before then?  (Harriet):  No, the war was over.  We had horses.  In fact, dad had many chances to sell his horses, but he needed them for farm work.  But there were other people who maybe had a tractor but couldn’t get gas for it, couldn’t get tires for it, and so they wanted to buy the horses.  But dad had hand-raised all of his horses and…, well, he sometimes used all four of them.  He used four…, hitched two and two on the plow, he used three on the grain drill, four on the drag, you know.  He needed that much horsepower.

The plow, did he walk beside it or ride on it?  (Harriet):  No, it was called a Saukie plow, and sat on a seat and it turned two furrows at one time.  But that was with four horses.

(Jim states):  You know, that isn’t very wide, two furrows.  You think of all the trips it must have taken to cross the field.

(Jim continues):  The other thing about it, and I asked Harriet about it the other night, I think the hills in the Southwest might have made it more difficult to electrify.  But they (Harriet’s family) had electricity on their farm, and I know that people around here, some of them have addressed it, did not have electricity.  So apparently they must have been at a convenient spot to get it there.

Did you have telephone (addressing Harriet)?  (Harriet):  Yes.  One of the old box on the wall with the hand crank, and we had, ah….  Most of the time we had eight on the party-line.  There was one time when we had twelve or sixteen, which made it….  And, of course, every ring was coded, and so you were suppose to pick up when your ring came.  But lots of times if you were snoopy you picked up when other people’s ring came.  But ours was two long and two short. 

(Jim states):  For the purpose of the kids that might hear this at some point, there was a special term for it, they called it rubbering, go and pick it up and listen to what was being said on the line.

(Harriet):  But sometimes that was good, because if you heard a ring come and it sounded, you know, kinda jangled and like someone was really in a hurry, you knew there might be trouble.  And you could pick up and listen and find out that someone had a fire or someone needed help with something, and people would gather.

(Jim):  I want to ask Harriet to address a little thing about the milk, too, because milk was handled differently at that time.  You know, now they have big bulk tanks and they had pales, is that the right term (asking Harriet)?  Milk…? 

(Harriet):  Oh, the cans, you mean?

(Jim):  The milk cans.  And that’s what they would fill.  And you were telling me about the poor man that would come out. 

(Harriet):  Oh, yeah.  The milkman, when he would pick ‘em up.  You know, they’d stack those cans two high in that truck, and I don’t remember for sure how much those cans weighed when they were full.  But I think it was eighty pounds or so.  And those guys would use a knee and they would swing that can up to that second level.  Most of ‘em had back trouble (she laughs).

(Jim):  Everything was labor intensive, well, talk…, see, I was on the other end.   A block from where I lived was the creamery, so these cans would come in and—they had kind of a conveyer belt, you know, one of these round-wheel things—and they put the cans on and they’d go into the building.  They washed them there because the farmers, a lot of them didn’t have the facilities for doing the washing of the cans.

(Harriet):  Well, not only that, but if you left the milk residue in them and took ‘em back to the farm the next day they would have this sour scum on ‘em, so they had to be….  And the creameries usually had scalding hot water.

(Jim):  Then they came back out and then were put on the truck for the next morning.  But they…, I remember so vividly they also had quite a large tank, and they’d put the whey in the tank, which was kinda the leftover product from making the cheese.  And they’d take the whey out to the farm and use it for primarily the pigs.

(Harriet):  Primarily the pigs.  And you’d mix ground corn and oats and things with it, and it was called slop.  But some people fed it to calves.  And my dad even raised an orphaned colt on partly whey and partly skim milk.

(Jim):  And right being down from the creamery was interesting because Cuba City didn’t…, it had water, but they didn’t have sewerage.  There wasn’t any city sewerage.  And they’d rinse out the whey tank and things that would go on the ground and run down, so we constantly had this whey water running by our house.  And in the summer it stank and drew flies all over the place.  Different expectations and lifestyles.

Well, I know farmers, dairy farmers, they milked cows twice a day.  Did the milkman come twice a day or did he come just once?  (Harriet):  No, no.  And my father milked by hand until I was probably, oh, twelve or so.  And the milkman came once a day.  Usually late morning.  And, ah, so we had a big concrete water tank that the cattle drank out of and the cans of milk went in there.

To keep them cool.  Hmm hmmm (Harriet nods her head yes).

(Jim states):  There wasn’t any electric refrigeration, so.  And, of course, the water for that was windmill (pumped using windmill power) on most farms.  The ones that had electricity probably had a back-up.

(Jim continues):   I brought this because I tried to describe it to people, and they don’t have the slightest idea what I’m talking about (he shows a glass milk bottle).  When I was a child, and Harriet would be this too, the milk was pasteurized but it wasn’t homogenized, so the cream would separate out.  And the cream would separate and fill up the top.  And they had this special little spoon (he shows a spoon).  And if you wanted the cream the spoon went in and you could pour off the cream and keep it (he demonstrates with the spoon and bottle).  And that’s why it says up here, “It whips.”  So you could use the top part for whipped cream in your coffee and cereal and that sort of thing.  And I suppose in a sense the bottom was almost like a skim milk.

(Jim):  But again, extremely labor intensive because the bottles had to be washed and go back.  It wasn’t a matter of throwing them out.  And the same with the pop and things, all of those bottles you drank out of.  But you were responsible for keeping and taking them back so they could be washed and re-used. 

(Jim continues):  And they had what they called a cooperage, so you would have to pay extra for the usage of the bottles.  And as children living in town that was a way of making money.  We’d go out along the road and in the park and things and any of the bottles that we found we’d put in a bag or crate and take in and get the cooperage on it.  And I don’t know what, it might have been a penny a bottle or something.  But, ah…, inventive kids (he laughs).

Wow.  Well, Jim, what was it like for you growing up?  (Jim):  Well, I grew up in town.  I was a city boy.  And I tell people—it’s interesting—I remember the first time, one of the first times I visited the farm.  And I didn’t get a bit of sleep.  Those darn crickets and frogs kept me awake all night long.   So again, it’s kind of a matter of what you expect.

(Jim continues):  But we didn’t have central heat.  We had electricity, being in town, but we didn’t have inside plumbing.  We had to go to the backyard for the necessary things.  Or, if it were extremely cold in the winter, we might go in to the, you know, the commode under the bed or in a side room. 

(Jim):  But my job as a young child was heating.  And we had three soft-coal burners to heat the house, so I basically was responsible for bringing in the coal for those and then taking the ashes out after the fire sequence.  And, of course, every night the fires went out, so when you got up in the morning the house was always cold and the fires had to be relit.  Many is the time when I remember those stoves being red hot and the stovepipes being red.  I’m surprised we didn’t burn down the house.

(Jim continues):  But a little bit later on we got a hard coal burner.  And with a hard coal burner you put the coal in the top and it would stay lit all night.  And I thought I had died and gone to heaven.   But when I got up in the morning there would be residual heat in the house.

(Jim):  But, ah…, again, going to the one room school was kinda…, I mean, not a one room school, but all those years in one building was pretty interesting because you saw the high school kids right from the time you were in kindergarten.

Well, the outhouses, did they move them around from time to time?  (Jim):  Yes.  At least with us they did.  What basically happened was as you used them they started to accumulate in the bottom.  Of course, you had to put lye in them all the time to keep the smell down and….  And toilet paper, you know, that was a luxury that you didn’t have much of.  So it was the Sears and the Penney catalog and things that went out to use in place…. 

(Jim continues):  And, of course, many places they actually used corncobs.  They’d take the corncobs and soak them in water until they…, to soften them up.  And then they would go out in the outhouse, and that is what you’d use to clean up behind you afterward.  Nothing to wash your hands.

(Jim):  But when it filled up, you just…, you just dug a new hole and moved it over and put it over the new hole and then filled in the old hole.  The ones I most vividly remember at home; actually they dig the hole and they had four posts, one in each corner, and lined it with wood.  Not concrete or anything, it was actually wood, so.  (Turning to Harriet, Jim says) Now, yours…, you had indoor plumbing but you had an outside….

(Harriet):  Yeah, we had an outhouse.  And, ah, we never moved it because it wasn’t used…, when the men were working outside they would use it, but anyone who was in the house used the inside plumbing.   One summer we had the adventure of using the outhouse because my folks were replacing the flooring in the bathroom, and so they disconnected the toilet and the bathtub and they went in the yard and….

(Jim states):  I’m going to tell a story on my sister, and if she ever sees this she will probably (he makes a sound of joking disgust).  But come time at night, well, late afternoon, to wash the dishes, my sister Donna would always have to make an outhouse stop.  So she’d go out to the outhouse and sit there until the dishes were done and then come back (he laughs).  But again, the dishes had to be hand wash…, and the water heated with us.  We didn’t have a hot water heater so you had to plan the heating in advance.

(Jim continues):  I want to address a little bit along the same line talking about labor intensive.  Another one of my jobs as a child, ah, we had city water, but my mother always felt that it was too hard for washing clothes, so we had a cistern in the back yard.  And it was my job to pump the water out of the cistern, particularly when it came time—although I’m sure she did it most of the time—but it was my…, to get the water in for the laundry.  And we had a big double boiler that went on the stove, and you had to umpteen, umpteen pails to fill that double boiler, heat the water, and then take it out of the double boiler by pail fulls, put it in the washing machine, and add the soap.  And I can so vividly recall her taking my grandmother’s soap, the soap my grandmother had made, and shaving it so it could go into the washing machine and melt.  And then there were two rinse tubs.  And that water all had to be hauled in, and then when the laundry was done it all had to be hauled out.  And, again, we didn’t have city sewerage, so when we hauled it out we just dumped it in the street.

Well, what were you doing in the 1938, 1941 timeframe.  You were both kind of young then, just before the war.  Do you remember hearing about…, what you were doing when you first heard that Pearl Harbor was attacked?  (Jim):  See, we were only four.  I don’t remember Pearl Harbor.  But I do remember Roosevelt.  I remember walking down the street next to my mother—we were heading from downtown up to our house—and a woman came running out the house, “Roosevelt’s dead, Roosevelt’s dead.”  So that was a big memory in my life to recall that day and that event.  And I would guess that—I didn’t look it up—but I would guess he must have died in ‘45 because he died…, the war was pretty close to over and Truman finished it but I don’t know if he died in late ‘44 or….

(Harriet states):  It was April.

Yeah, mid-‘45, something like that.  The first par….  (Harriet continues):  Yeah, it was April because my brother Walter said, “I can remember that.  It was my birthday.  And he died on my birthday and nobody paid any attention to me the rest of the day.  All the grownups were upset” (we all laugh).

(Jim):  Well, and I think, you know, she just said something that brought to mind, as children we are interested in us.  Somehow or another we don’t, you know…, much of life is how it affects on us.  So as the war went on—and we were only eight when it was over—what it meant to me is I didn’t get a flashlight, because I’d wanted a flashlight and I wanted it bad.  And every Christmas I begged for it.  But I never got one because the batteries were so hard to come by.  And I had a gun that was, you know, made like what they used in the military, but everything on it was wood.  There was no metal in it.  But interesting enough, I did have a metal troop moving truck, with the canvas that went up and over the top. 

(Jim):  But the whole aspect pretty much was how it was affecting me.  And the idea of death and the idea that there was something happening over there was very, very difficult to understand.  We went to the movies—and at that time the motion picture screen, as I remember, it might have been six feet square, it wasn’t very big, it wasn’t this Panasonic thing we have now—but, ah, everything was newsreels there.  You didn’t have TV to get the news; you could listen to the radio.  But again the newsreels were in black and white. 

(Jim continues):  And the war really didn’t hit home until one day I picked up—I think it was a Life magazine or a Saturday Evening Post—and there was a two page foldout of the war in the Pacific.  And the man—it was a drawing, it wasn’t even a photograph—and the man was running across and the blood was coming out of his eye and running down his arm and dripping on the ground.  Then I began getting an understanding, you know, what was going on over there. 

(Jim):  And also I remember people with the flags in the window, and little by little I began to understand those people had members of their family fighting.  And one of them—turned out to be a relative—had a gold star.  And when I got old enough it meant something I started to question.  And it turned out that she had three sons that went in the military and one of them was killed.  They got word that he’d died, the next morning the father got up, went downtown, and died of a heart attack.  So she lost both of them at that time.  And I now have copies of the newspapers announcing the body coming back. 

(Jim):  But you think how many people during that era lost their loved ones and they were buried abroad or they went down in ships or they went down in airplanes and were destroyed.  It had to be extremely difficult.

Do you remember anything from the timeframe (referring to Harriet)?  (Harriet):  We didn’t listen to the radio a lot.  My grandfather, who lived with us, listened to the radio a lot.  But I think they probably tried to keep us kids from worrying and so on.  But we used to hear the adults talking sometimes and we somehow picked up on some of the names like Adolf Hitler.  They said his name was really what? Schicklegroober or something like that.  And we thought that was hilarious.  And then, of course, we would hear about Tojo and Mussolini, and they were all such funny names, you know, but.

(Harriet continues):  We did…, at country school we were supposed to, you know, save things.  Toothpaste tubes you’d save and bring in for the scrap drive.  And when we were walking home from school we would pick the milkweed pods that grew along the side of the road.  And they would use those because they couldn’t get the kapok that they had filled the lifejackets with, and so they collected the milkweed fluff to put in the lifejackets.

(Jim):  We did the same thing.  We were asked to collect the milkweed pods.  And one of my most vivid memories was Christmas.  And I must have been in like the first grade or the second grade and the war was still going on.  And I would guess that they must have donated the tinsel from the Christmas tree to the war effort because one year we made tinsel for the tree.  And the teacher took cattails—and, you know, when they dry out you go on the top and all that fully stuff comes out—and that’s how she decorated the tree, she had all this cattail fur on it.  And that was kinda interesting.

(Jim continues):  But I remember somethings like when we got our chewing gum, the chewing gum would come in a wrapper, and we would separate the aluminum, the metal portion of the wrapper from the paper portion, and we’d save the metal portion.  And I got into the movie free—I thought it was the greatest thing in the world—got into a movie free because I took my wagon load of metal, scrap and things that had accumulated around the house over years upon years, and that went to the war effort.

(Jim):  You know, we live in an older house, and there were chandeliers in the house from when it was built.  And on the third floor the two chandeliers from there went to the war effort.  And along that line, you know, we live in the Ren’s house, and I had a man stop me downtown.  He said, “Jim, one of the most vivid memories of my childhood is going into your house for Cal Ren’s wake.”  Because he was…, there’s a bay window in the front and he was waked…, the casket was in there with a soldier on each end.  So these are ways that it affected us here.

(Jim):  And when I think back, I remember air-raids and how proud I was because mom said, you know, we have to turn off the lights.  So I said, “Oh, mom, mom, I have an idea.”  We had a big board with fuses on it and then one of these toggle switches that would break the circuit.  And I said, “I’ll just run over and pull that and all the lights will go out.”  And, of course, mom let me do that and I felt like such a big man.  But that was the way that we got our air-raids.

(Jim continues):  And when you think about it, the government must had done some of these things to make the people feel partially the danger and partially involved, because, you know, the reality is the chances of planes getting all the way over Wisconsin and bombing us was pretty far out.  Although, interestingly enough, do you know, what are there, only four people or three people that were killed by bombing on [the] continental United States?  And it was because of the Japanese paper balloons.  And I believe it was in, was Minnesota?

It was in Washington State.  (Jim):  Oh, Washington State?  Alright.

Or Oregon, or something like that.  (Jim):  So again, I think were they trying to make people feel afraid or involved?

(Harriet):  Well, my dad was an air-raid warden for our rural area.  And he would have to drive up and down the road—and he must have had to do it with the lights out in the car, we were not allowed to go with him—to make sure you couldn’t see lights from anybody’s windows.  And he also had to attend first aid classes.  And he said he always volunteered to be the patient because then he could lie on the floor and sleep (we laugh).

(Jim):  We talked a little bit about this, you know, it was probably because of age, but in terms of war and fear I felt more fear after the war in the beginning of the Cold War era in which the people of the country were taught, you know, we can have an atomic bomb explode over here anytime, and sites have been picked for potential sites.  And I’m sure they must have felt that up here, because I know of at least one house in town here and one house in Fox Lake that has a bomb shelter because of that movement of build a bomb shelter, protect your family.  And again, I can’t believe that they really thought they were going be practical and were.  I don’t know what the whole thinking was on that, but it must have been terrible growing up in large cities in the late ‘40’s and ‘50’s, because that’s when in those cases the children were taught to get under their desks in the event of bombings and that sort of thing.

Well, all the stuff that you guys collected, was that donations or did you get paid for it?  (Jim):  I wouldn’t have thought about getting paid.  It was…, well we got a movie (he laughs)…, it was what? our part? (speaking to Harriet).

(Harriet):  It almost seems to me that the rural schools would get baseballs for turning in the milkweed fluff, because we didn’t….

So you actually took it to the school then, the stuff you collected?  (Harriet):  You would bring the stuff in to the school and then somebody would collect it from there.

(Jim):  I think Harriet and I both shared this experienced too in school, even though I went to a fairly good sized building with all, you know, thirteen grades in it.  But, ah, a teacher—and that was pretty much it, you know, for the classroom—and I don’t remember how often it happened, but we had Radio of the Air.  And they had a radio in the classroom and they’d turn it on and a man would present lessons and classes to us.  And I remember that was our beginning music lessons were by Radio of the Air….

(Harriet interjects):  Professor Gordon!

(Jim):  Oh, I’m glad you remember his name because….  I have a couple of books at home left over from grade school that we had with the music and things.  “Turn to page fifteen and sing along.”  And, “Here we go.”  He’d talk about various things.  The Radio out of Madison, Public Radio out of Madison would actually help in the instruction within the classroom, which is kind of an interesting thing.

(Harriet):  We had Let’s Draw, Let’s Write, and they were different days of the week, and the teacher knew what time to turn on the radio and….  From first grade all the way through eighth grade would take part.

(Jim):  And I remember in school we had movies, but at first they were silent.  Then eventually they had a movie but the sound came on a record, so they had to start the record and the film somewhat simultaneously and try and hopefully keep them reasonably coordinated.  Now, they didn’t show much of people talking, it was usually the narration of the sequence.  But I thought that was kind of an interesting thing.  Oh, we thought we were in heaven.

(Jim continues):  And the other thing along that line is, I remember one of the things that we helped with was duplication of papers.  And they had a jelly like substance with a special pen.  And they’d take that special pen, almost a pencil, and they’d write on the paper, turn it upside down into this jelly, and the stuff that was on paper would go into the jelly.  Then you’d have to take one sheet at a time, put on the jelly and rub it.  And that’s how you duplicated paper and things for the class.  And again, just imagine how labor intensive those things were.

(Jim):  But the other aspect—and I don’t want to miss this—even though everything was labor intensive, everything was closer.  Because…, Harriet, do you want to make a couple of comments about farming and the fact that harvesting was done as a…, almost like a community?

(Harriet):  Yeah, there were some things that farmers did individually, the, you know, planting and that kinda of thing.  But for harvesting, adjoining farmers would get together.  Each one would bring a team of horses and a wagon.  For the grain, the farmer himself would have used his horses and his grain binder and cut the grain and then shocked it up, and then all the farmers would come.  And the thrashing machine was usually owned by a group of farmers together.  And they were powered by great big old tractors that were very powerful but extremely slow, so they weren’t used for harvesting crops, they were just used for power to drive the belt that drove the machine that….  And so then the…, each farmer would bring his horses and wagon and they’d go to the fields and pitch the bundles of grain onto the wagon, take them up to the threshing machine and pitch them off into the machine.  And then someone would have to man the shoot that the grain came out of, and they’d put it in bags and tie the bags up and then those would go into another wagon to be hauled to the grain bins.  And the straw would sometimes be blown into the upper level of the barn or sometimes blown into a big stack out in the farm yard.  And that was used to feed…, dry [to] cows and horses and so on in the winter and for the animals to sleep on.

(Jim):  To kind of elaborate a little bit on what one of the other woman said in her interview; the farmer’s wife where they were working was kind of expected to serve the basic part of the meal, the most important part.  And I believe it got kind of a competition among different…, you know, each one making sure that….  “My wife got to have a really good meal,” and things.  But that had to be really something.  And I don’t know.  I remember going out and helping on the farm, but not living there I don’t know things like if they took the meals to where they were actually doing the work or whether everyone took an hour off and went and ate at the house.  Do you remember that, Harriet?

 (Harriet):  Oh, they used to come into the house to eat.  But, usually, when it got to be about noon, as a man had his wagon empty he would tie his horses to the back of his wagon and give them a little grain and some water, and then he would come in the house and—usually they had a bucket outside where they could wash up—and they’d come in and sit down and eat.  And as he finished he would get up, go back out, and take his team back out to the field.  And so there was always guys coming and going. 

(Harriet continues):  Now, my mother usually didn’t have to do it all alone because, of course, part of the time not only my grandfather lived with us but my grandmother did.  And then one of my aunts, who was on a farm about two miles down the road, would come over and she would help.  But they would have all kinds of food besides the meat and the potatoes and vegetables:  pies, and cakes, and lots of cookies.  And the guys would usually get a lunch mid-morning about 10:00 (o’clock) or so of one of these big granite jars of coffee, and if it was really hot usually a big jar of lemonade.  As the guys came up they would get their lunch.  And then mid-afternoon they would get sandwiches and cookies and….

(Jim):  And again, there were no cake mixes, so if they had a cake, those cakes were made of scratch.  Bread and things were all made from scratch.  And I remember so vividly after the war when the first cake mixes came out you had to adjust them to elevation.   On the back…

(Harriet):  They still are.

(Jim):  …it would say, if your elevation was—oh, is that right? (talking to Harriet)—if your elevation was such and such.  And I’m not sure if it was indicative of made from scratch cakes and things, but my aunt was a wonderful, wonderful cook.  Whenever you went to her house, “Walk softly, walk softly.  If you go too hard on the floor my cake will fall,” [she would say].  And it happened (he laughs).  So again, all this labor.

(Jim continues):  But Harriet mentioned something a while ago too that is unknown to a whole mass of people, and that’s hemp.  I remember most vividly—and I must have been in the first or second grade and the war was still going on—a huge plant was built outside of Cuba City, and it was the hemp plant.  So they took we students out there to see what they were doing in the hemp factory.  And here was my grandmother working in that hemp plant.  And she would take the hemp, you know, long strands of it, and they had all the things sticking up like nails, and (he makes a “shwoof” sound) and pull it across, and pull it across (indicating with his hands) to break up the fibers of the hemp.  And right outside of Waupun here on (Highway) 49 is that huge plant that was hemp.  The farmers…, hemp is marijuana!  The farmers had to have a marijuana certificate…

(Harriet):   Yeah, they had to have a federal license.

(Jim continues):  …to grow the hemp for the hemp factory.  But again, that was because the supply of that was interrupted by the war.

(Harriet):  Yeah, otherwise they used Philippine Jute or something, thistle, I don’t know.  But anyway, they couldn’t get it during the war.  And that was a money crop.   You could clear a hundred dollars an acre with hemp, which was big money.  And not only that but there was something about the hemp that killed off the thistles.  And I don’t know whether if it was because the plants were tall that they shaded the thistles out and they died off or if there was actually some kind of a chemical in the plant itself.  But a farmer would grow hemp on a field and then the next year that’s where he’d plant his grain, and there would be very few thistles there.

(Jim):  And for the sake of the future people that listen to the tape, this was really the era in which the woman left the house and entered the work market.  You know, prior to this, not all, but a large, large bulk of the women were at home all the time.  Everything was so labor intensive she had to be.  And, ah, this was when the women’s liberation and those things really moved forward. 

(Jim continues):  And I know that you know that the soldiers and things that came back had greater expectations than they had in previous…. 

(Jim):  And you talk to the people that had been in the CCC and they talk about how thin they were and how more or less starved at home because of the Depression, and then they went to work at the CCC which was immediately before the war, and how much they gained.  And how happy they were and how proud to work and build things.  And if you go up to the park here, the Fond du Lac County Park, the band shell and the lining on the river were WPA projects that were done by those people who did this sort of thing.  So they were getting out and moving around, which is something that rarely happened prior to that. 

(Jim):  Both of my parents, in essence, lived their whole life within a twenty-five mile circle.  They were born there, they lived there, and they died there and were buried there.  And their kids; we didn’t really go that far either.  I’m only one hundred and fifty miles….  But when you talk to people today their kids are all over the country and all over the world.  So its separated, and I think a lot of the closeness within the family and within the community…. Because, you know, grandma lived here…, I remember we went to my grandmother’s house for Christmas every single year.  That was a super-duper tradition!

(Jim):  I want to mention strawberries because I told you I wanted to get this on tape because to me strawberries is indicative of that time as opposed to this time.  When I was a kid we had strawberries two weeks of the year, or maybe three weeks, when they were fresh from the garden.  And they were wonderful, they were anticipated; that was a big, big, big event.  The leftovers was made into jam, so we had strawberry jam around the time.  But that was pretty much it for the strawberries.  Same with tomatoes.  The tomatoes, you had ‘em when you got them out of the garden and they were excellent.  Well, now we have strawberries and we have tomatoes twelve months of the year in the grocery store.  They really aren’t very good.  Nothing compared to those short time.  So even though we have availability we have lost a quality in terms of that. 

(Jim continues):  Thanksgiving was the only time of the year that we had turkey, and we would start months before thinking in terms of Thanksgiving coming and we’re gonna have turkey.  Now, turkey all the time.  Another special event, special family occasion that has evaporated and gone.

Do you remember when the war…, when you heard the war was over?  (Harriet):  I…, I mean, I sort of have an impression in the back of my mind again of the adults talking.  And, of course, since it was over in two stages it was, um…, it was kind of different, too, because the war in Germany was done and then all the focus was on Japan.  And, of course, people did talk about how the troops were being moved, they weren’t gonna be coming home.  The guys that had been in Europe were…, many of them were going to be sent to Japan.  And then, of course, Roosevelt dying was a big event.  And a lot of people seemed to feel that without Roosevelt….

He’d been in office for like ever.  I mean, eight years, no, almost twelve years….  (Jim):  More than that.  Well, you know, it was because of Roosevelt they passed the two-term limit now.

(Harriet):  Yeah, well, two terms was traditional starting with George Washington.

(Jim):  Yeah, but because of the circumstances and things he stayed and stayed and stayed.  But then they passed the law after he passed away and things.  But, ah, yeah, he was in for a very long, long period of time.    

(Harriet):  He was starting on his fourth term.

Yeah, it was his fourth term, wasn’t it?  (Jim):  And if you look at the, ah, you know, if you look at the last pictures of him, the man was ill.  I, you know, ah…, they’ve made a big deal of his paralysis.  I don’t ever remember being aware of that until the ‘70’s that that was even happening.

The news people kept it out.  Today they would eat it right up.  (Harriet):  Yeah.

(Jim):  Let me tell you a little bit about the end of the war.  And again children—I mean, we were eight—and our discussion was, you know, “Did you feel the earth shake last night?  Did you feel the earth shake?  They blew up a big, big, big, big bomb, and the whole world shook.”  That was us, that was the way we envisioned it.  And then, of course, a few days later it was over.  And I remember going downtown and marching up and down the street, and I believe I had a flag—a flag, a little flag—and the bells ringing and that sort of thing.  You know, how exuberant and happy the people were.   And then the other thing that hit me so hard was going to the movies and the troopships.  It seemed like every movie I went to were pictures of troopships coming home with the men on them, and the men getting off.  And the hugging and the girls.  They were happy.  It was really a great time.

(Jim continues):  You know, talking about immediately after the war, I remember so vividly the relatives of mine that had been in the war coming home, and I…, they drank heavily.  They weren’t drunks, but the men got together…a lot, and sat and drank.  I don’t think they talked about the war, but there was that portion of it.  And I believe that they kind of had great expectations for the kids because I remember the adults talking about some of my uncles and how hard he was on his children wanting them to do things and be prepared.  And my one uncle had been in the Pacific, he had malaria over and over and over.  I had no way of knowing whether, you know, the nightmares were with it or not.  (Jim then turns to Harriet and says) I don’t know if you had any immediate relatives in the service.

(Harriet):  Well, my dad had two cousins who were in the service.  And one was stationed in the Aleutian Islands, I think, for the whole time he was in service.  And the other was taken prisoner in the Pacific and was on one of the prison ships that the Japanese were transporting for slave labor.  And it was not marked as a prison ship and it was bombed by the American forces.  And as the ship was sinking and the soldiers were scrambling to try and get off, the Japanese troops were along the side of the ship and clubbing them over the head or shooting them to make sure they wouldn’t survive.

(Jim):  And then, prosperity.  You know, it was the end of the Depression and, you know, we moved, we moved so forward.  The war was a terrible thing, but there was so many things that happened socially in terms of people’s rights and expectations and things that happened, and in terms of things that were available.  I remember the first TV set in town.  That was super-duper miraculous, but, you know, that wasn’t until the ‘50’s. 

(Jim continues):  And, ah…, well, let’s look at Waupun here.  Right across the street (from the church the interview was being conducted in) is the hospital.  That was a ‘50’s project.  And it was dedicated to the people that had fought in the wars.  Prior to that the only hospital facility was a converted house down across the street from what is now the museum.  So different level of expectation. 

(Jim):  I had a ruptured appendix not too far outside this era.  I would have died in a different era.  That was almost always fatal.  But penicillin, which was really worked on and things because of the war effort, was available.  I had so much penicillin pumped into me that I’m surprised I can even be in the same room with penicillin today.  But that war effort resulted in my survival.  And, of course, Harriet worked as a nurse and, you know, the changes, the medical changes that resulted of the war is just phenomenal.

(Harriet):   All the disposable equipment and so forth.

Do you guys remember anything about the rationing, the rationing cards?  (Harriet):  Yeah, yup.  The books and then the little coin things.  They weren’t made of metal, of course.  They were some sort of pressed fiber or something.  But rationing was not nearly the problem for us as it was for the people in town because we had our own meat and eggs and, of course….

(Jim interjects):  Chickens, probably.

(Harriet continues):  Yeah, well, we had a big garden.  Grandpa had the garden mostly.  And, ah, so I can remember the man at the grocery store calling up—because there were a number of us in the family and even little kids had rationing books—and so sometimes he would call up and he would say, “Well, now, I let some people take sugar even though they didn’t have stamps for it.  Do you have extra?”  And we always had  sugar stamps and, of course, meat stamps and things like that.  And we would used to give them to the guy in the grocery store so that….  Because I know that they would send inspectors around to check and see, “Now, you sold so many pounds of sugar.  Do you have the stamps to account for that?” and so on. 

(Jim):  And I remember the adults, you know, talking about cousin so and so in the city needs stamps.  Because, again, in a small town a lot of the things were available—we’d drive out in the country and get a chicken.  But people in the city really had to rely upon the rationing thing more, and they would send stamps off to their city relatives in order to help them through the hard times.  And I don’t know…, the government must have known.  And I guess that they just felt that there was X number of things out there and let ‘em do what they want with it.  Because the woman that read the back of the rationing thing and said, you know, “Don’t do this, don’t do that,” but people were doing it all over the place.

You mentioned the little coin things.  How were they used?  (Harriet):  They were change.  Yeah, you might need three stamps for sugar and…, or maybe it was like two and a half stamps for so much sugar.  Well, then you would get these things like change.  And they were different colors.  I know there were blue ones and red ones and I can’t remember if there were green ones and yellow ones.  I almost think there were, but I do remember red and blue.  And they were different values.

(Jim):  We have them at…, some of them at the museum.  And then also we have a little newspaper clipping that must have been out of Time or Life or something like that that explains the government starting these little coupon things.  So I think they were the fractions of stamps.

(Harriet):  And I know tires were extremely hard to get.  We had an old car, and it had very narrow and not real big diameter wheels.  And dad couldn’t get tires, so he went to the repair shop and they welded some lugs onto the rim that made them, made the wheel a bigger diameter that he could get tires for.  But, you know, you couldn’t get much gasoline so we didn’t go very far.  But there were times when he needed to get into town to get things and so on.  But, ah…, yeah, it was a funny looking car with those extra….

(Jim):  You know—and as a child in this era and the cars and things were different—this is the era that the windshield opened.  And I know that you (talking to Harriet) talked about the car dying and they had to hook the horse to the front and you could just put the reigns through….

(Harriet):  Yeah, open the windshield, put the reins through the open windshield and drive home (she laughs).

(Jim):  And the end of the cars…, you know, they didn’t have electric starters.  But I remember a few that still had to be cranked.  And many of them had cranks that came with them for starting even though they had electric starters, because they weren’t reliable.  And the windshield wipers were vacuum driven.  And you’d go down…, you’d be driving along and you’d want to accelerate, and it would take the vacuum and the windshield wipers would stop.  So about the time you were pulling out passing—all this water splashing up—the wipers weren’t working.  It was really kind of an exciting, frightening time to pass a car in a storm.  And I even remember that they were so unreliable that some of the cars actually had the wipers…, the axle part of it, went through (the windshield frame) and you could reach up and do it by hand to help along with it. 

(Jim continues):  And, ah…, different in life style?  Several of the people in my home town, when it got to be, started to get cold the car went into the garage up on blocks, the tires were taken off, the batteries was taken out and stored in the basement.  And that…, so the car wasn’t driven at all in the winter.

Did anything change—I know you guys were young—but when the military people came home?  I know you mentioned that some of your relatives became heavy drinkers or drank a lot.  Was there anything else that you noticed that really changed?  (Jim):  Well, over the years, you know, the drinking eventually wore off and stopped.  But, ah…, you know, the day of 9/11 there was a lot of pride and we’re going to do things together, and the country had a common goal.  And I think that was really pretty true after the war too, that the people really felt.  I know you ask about the veterans’ benefits and that sort of thing.  My uncles took advantage of the veterans’ benefits.  And Cuba City isn’t too far from Platteville.  And Platteville had a college.  And I remember going out there to the college.  Quonset hut after Quonset hut after Quonset hut that was put up immediately after the war for the veterans.  And the veterans would live in the Quonset huts with their wives and families while they went to school there.  So, again, it had to move the country forward.  My uncles became engineers, something that would very possibly would not have happened without the GI bill and all that big movement after the war.

I know you went to college also (speaking to Jim).  (Jim):  Yes.

And where did you go to college?  (Jim):  I went to Platteville.

Platteville.  And you became a teacher?  (Jim):  Yes.  I came to Waupun in 1961, taught for six years in the High School and then went out to Fox Lake or thirty.

To the Fox Lake Correctional Institution.  (Jim):  Yes.

What did you do…, did you teach there too?  Yes.  Mathematics. 

And when did you guys meet, and how did you meet?  (Jim):  Oh, that’s an interesting story.  (Looking at and addressing Harriet) You can…, go ahead (he laughs).

(Harriet):  Well, it was…, actually, we met through people here at church.  And they were getting a theater group going and Jim spent a lot of time with this one family who was organizing this theater group and so on.  And I’m not sure if it was just that family because I didn’t even really know them.  And…, but somehow they decided that Jim aught to be paired up with somebody, and I was one of the single gals, and so they….  He was involved with the theater group, so.  They told me that they needed somebody to prompt for the plays.  And I wasn’t too keen on doing it because I was just starting to play baseball with a team that the hospital had going.  But then I broke my finger and couldn’t play ball, so I figured I might as well get involved with the theater group.

(Jim states):  So we had the match makers  They decided that we should get married, so they introduced us and that’s how the whole thing started (he laughs).

When did you get married?  (Harriet):  ‘68.

(Jim):  Six, eight, sixty-eight, June 8th, 1968.

Do you have any children?  (Harriet):  Yup, we have a daughter, who is our birth daughter, and we have an adopted son.

Did any of them serve in the military?  No (they both say in unison).

And neither of you served in the military?  No (again, both say in unison).

 (Jim):  I should indicate that even that in a way is an interesting story because my dad wasn’t in the military either.  He was born in ‘03, so when World War I was going on he was young enough that he didn’t go.  And I was born in such a time that I didn’t go to World War II because I was too young.  Plus my dad had heart problems because he had pneumatic fever as a child.  So neither of us had that experience of it because of it.

(Harriet):  But I had a cousin who was in the Army Nurse Corps, but it was after the war, after the war.

(Jim):  Well, Jan went into the military.  So she has a sister that went Air Force, right?

(Harriet):  Yeah, my sister was in the Air Force.  And then the oldest of my four brothers had bronchiolar pneumonia several times so he couldn’t serve.  But my brother Bob was in the Air Force, my brother David was in the Marine Corps, and he was in Vietnam, and my brother Jim was career Air Force, he was a pilot.

(Jim):  The last several years of Jim’s life he worked at the Pentagon.

You might know this.  Back in 1954, there was some type of epidemic going around and some young babies died.  Do you know, remember anything?  That would probably be kind of early too for you wouldn’t it?  (Harriet):  Well, I would have been a junior in high school.

It was 1954.  (Harriet):  No.  Polio was the thing that….

Yeah, polio was in the ‘30’s, I think.  (Harriet):  Well, polio was in the early ‘50’s, the early ‘50’s, yeah.  In fact one of the gals that I worked with at the hospital up here was married to a man who was in Hawaii in the military and contracted polio.  He was in an iron lung and fully handicapped.

(Jim):  You know, disease and things were happening at the same time that the country was fighting wars.  But I remember polio, it would get to be a warm time of the year, “You can’t go to the movie.”  And schools would close or start late, and churches would cancel because they didn’t want people to get together.  And we children, of course, didn’t understand it.  We children were told, you know, “You can’t play with them.  You gotta stay by yourself.  You can’t go and risk polio by going with them.”  And the thought of it ever being able—well, it’s the same thing as the penicillin—the thought of the things that it can….  As a Waupun historical item, when this hospital was built, the base…, one, two rooms in the basement were big tanks because people were still getting polio, and these tanks were for the, the….

(Harriet interjects):  Hydrotherapy that they used to rehabilitate the muscles and so on.  The first year that I was in nurse’s training—which was…, well, it was the fall of ‘55—one of our first tasks was to go into the polio wards and feed these people who were in the iron lungs, because the only thing sticking out was their head.  And then on the children’s wards, many of the children were post polio patients.  And you’d have to put hot packs on their limbs.  And a lot of the kids had to sleep with their feet in shoes at night.  The shoes were screwed to a footboard.  The last thing at night you put their feet in their shoes, and they’d lay there like that, and that would help keep their legs from contracting because otherwise those muscles would pull up like this (she demonstrates her legs pulling up into nearly the fetal position), and the legs would be contracted or their feet would drop.  And, of course, many of those kids were able to walk with braces.  But it was, it was tough.

(Harriet continues):  We had a neighbor down the road who also had six kids.  And they were kind of, age-wise, stair-stepped with us—the two oldest boys were older.  But one of the boys got polio, and he had been a year ahead of my sister in school, but he missed a whole year of school with polio.  And when he went back to school then he was in high school with my sister.  And one of his arms was only about this big around (indicates about three inches in diameter).  He was a big fella, but that arm just kind of flopped and swung at his side.  And he had an old Model-T that he drove, and he’d bring his knees up and hold the steering wheel, and then use his good arm—and I think actually it was his left arm, his good one—and he reached across and shifted, and then drive.

(Jim):  Of course, automobiles, automatic transmissions were late ‘50’s early ‘60’s. 

(Jim continues):  But, you know, along with the war, I remember by cousin.  I idolized him.  You know, I was only a little shafer and he wasn’t a big shafer when he died.  He was maybe, only maybe in fifth or sixth grade, but he was diabetic.  And to test for diabetes they’d use the urine, so you didn’t have the instantaneous blood tests that we have today and that sort of thing.  Insulin, they had insulin but the regulation of it just wasn’t as good, and, you know, he lost his life because of the diabetes.  And today it’s a fairly common problem we are staying on top of. 

(Jim continues):  Another fascinating thing about medicine and things, you know, just the shots.  Hypodermics…, the….

(Harriet interjects):  The syringes were reusable.

(Jim):  They were glass.

(Harriet interjects):  And you sharpened the needles.

(Jim):  And the thing that was so fascinating was….

They had to sharpen the needles?  (Jim and Harriet in unison):  Yeah, oh, yeah.

(Jim):  Get this, the syringes were glass and the barrel had a number on it, and the

syringe had a number…

(Harriet):  The plunger.

(Jim continues):  …the plunger.  So they came apart.  And they had to be sterilized, and you had to get the right one with the right one and put ‘em back together, otherwise they wouldn’t work very well.  And the needles were reused over and over and over.   And I remember they had used to have a little wire to stick down in ‘em to make sure the whole was clear.  And they’d use the emory block type thing—not emory block, but a sanding block—to sharpen them.  And if they weren’t careful they’d develop a little hook on the end.  And you’d jabbed them in it would hurt, but when you pulled it out it would hook the skin and aaaaahhhh!  So shots were painful (he laughs).

            Well, is there anything else that you can think of that you want to say?  (Harriet):  I had a cousin who was much older than I was, and he went to medical school.  But he was in the Navy first.  And I think being in the Navy enabled him to go to medical school.  And he was home on leave from the Navy—I think this was after the war was over, or it might have been right at the time the war ended—but he was home on leave, and he got the mumps.  And he was in bed at home and his mother was looking after him.  And the Navy sent a couple of guys with a car, and they picked him up and took him back to the base because they thought he might be faking (she laughs).  And if he was gonna be sick he was gonna be sick at the base, he wasn’t gonna be sick at home.

(Jim):  Several of the doctors that eventually ended up in town here, if you look at their family histories, were military doctors.

(Harriet):  Well, Dr.  Hull and Dr. Reslot were both in the Army.

Dr. Schrank, the two Dr. Schranks.  (Harriet):  Yeah.  Ah, in fact the only doctor that was active in the area, he was actually a German, and he lived in Brandon.   You knew his wife (addressing Jim), Lottenbauch?

(Jim):  Oh, sure.

(Harriet):  He had been in the U.S. for a long time.  I think he probably came shortly after the First World War.  And he must have had tuberculosis of the spine or something because he wore a brace.  But he had the very erect military posture, and he walked very stiffly, and he was very, you know, very precise and very…(she laughs).  But….

(Jim):  Let me tell you another little story because, you know, it impact….  I told you about growing up in the atomic bomb era and things, but.  The war was over and Dr. Terry in town had a kind of a farm type thing out in the country.  And a family came and went to the farm.  And the town gossiped, you know, it’s a small town, twelve hundred people.  And the family was Jewish.  And, of course, it didn’t mean much to me.  I didn’t have a concept of being Jewish and the things that would go with it.  But I was at the hospital of the little town of Hazel Green (Wisconsin) not too far from where I lived.  And the mother was there along with the daughter who was my age, maybe ten or so, and I asked her if she would like to go uptown and have a sunday with me, or a soda.  So she went up to the restaurant and sat down, and we ordered the sodas and we shared it, and she looked at me and said, “This is the first one I’ve ever had.”  And thinking back, I can’t help but wonder if she had been at Buchenwald or something.  So, you know, it even impacted that aspect of it here.

Okay.  Well, is there anything else you’d like to say?  (Jim):  Let’s go to lunch (we all laugh—and went together to Helen’s Kitchen to lunch).


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