Around 2005, I sat down with a small voice recorder and my parents to discuss their life. There wasn’t any specific order to our discussions. Thus, they wander all over the place – but provide a lot of insight into their lives. Below is a transcript of one of those interviews:
What are your favorite memories of your kids
D: Well, I remember collectively I remember how good a student they were. That was not a problem getting any one of the three of you to study and to perform well in school
M: I remember them playing out in the backyard in Dodge City with the neighborhood kids. I remember Dave burying his shoe in the sand when they were building the house next door.
D: Oh – I remember Dave hanging his glasses on the fence
D I remember you being sort of a judge or a referee with the neighborhood kids when playing especially when (what’s her name) (me – Shelly) – when all of you were playing together with Shelly – of course she was (me – down syndrome) retarded – she didn’t know what the rules were and how to play and I remember you sorting things out and keeping things calm and cool – nobody got hurt, nobody got in a fight.
D I remember Terry being a trainer for the basketball team and how important it was for him to do that job and how well he did it
D I also remember (him) going to the horse races and filming the horse races and how he thought at the time that was going to be his life work
D I remember him how proud he was when he bought his first car
M I remember Marcia getting her hood when she got her Masters librarian. And I remember I don’t know if it was your first date or what but you had a really pretty dress when we lived in Lincoln and you went out for a party (me – 9th grade formal – you bought me that dress in St. Louis when we went for your interview.)
M I don’t know if it would have to be a favorite memory but a very vivid memory was when Dave was in the hospital and they thought he had meningitis. He was strapped to the bed and they had IVs in him and he was literally strapped in bed and he was in isolation and we couldn’t go in and pick him up or anything. Just had to look thru the window at him (me – how old was he?) about 18 months – he had just gotten off the bottle and was dehydrated you both had had bad respiratory infections
D I remember picking him up out of the crib and trying to wake him up I remember picking him up out of the crib and holding him in my arms and he wouldn’t wake up he was just so lifeless and it scared me – aftermath of that while he was still in the hospital without a reason why he was there and I had to teach school and that was really tough.
Me – Did Dave go to an eye doctor in Emporia while we lived in Dodge City?
D – no
Me – Didn’t your bring him out here (Emporia) on the train?
M – I think so, I think so, he also went to an eye doctor in KU. I think so, I can’t remember the doctors name but
Me – where was his first eye surgery
M – In Dodge City
D – all his eye surgeries were done by the same doctor in Dodge City
M – I remember the doctor picking Dave up and carrying him to the operating room and carrying him back
Me How old was Dave when he had his first surgery
D – 4 years old
M – are you sure he wasn’t younger than that
D no he was 4
ME – Dave and I had our tonsils out at the same time
M – Yes you did and you were not sick following that
Me – Dave wasn’t sick following that – that’s not my memory
M – well you both were jumping up and down on the couch I’ll put it that way when you got home from getting them out. We had a hide-a-bed and we made it out for you. Instead of laying around like little sick kids you were jumping up and down on the couch
Me I remember them putting the cone on my head and I was scared and I remember supper – I don’t know if it was the same night or the next night and my throat hurt
M – it was probably the next night
M – I remember when you had the flu and I think you were probably 5 and you were in our bed and you had such a high fever that the doctor said to keep wiping you down with alcohol and I was in there wiping you down with alcohol
Me – Do you remember what must have been the summer from ‘hell’ when you had three kids with measles and chicken pox
M – well I remember it wasn’t too bad thanks to grandma and grandpa Crawford and uncle LR. Cause LR was I’ll never forget him sitting there oohing and aahing at the fireworks when you guys still had the chicken pox. Cause you couldn’t go outdoors. And you couldn’t go out and see the fireworks but we could see them from the picture window there in Dodge and he was sitting down there by that window and course Gene was gone he had gone away to school that summer
D – you remember that
Me – I don’t remember that
M – he had left a week early because you got the mumps and he had never had the mumps and how the boys escaped the mumps I’ll never know
Me – you kept me in isolation
M – ya but you know even so, they probably, they’re lucky, they got vaccine as soon as the mumps vaccine came out
M – I remember the neighborhood in Dodge city – it was a good neighborhood for kids
D – in respects to Dave and his eye surgery – I think he stayed overnight one night and we brought him home and we had the couch opened up as a bed and I laid him down on the bed and he got up on his hands and knees and looked at me and said ‘When do they do the next one?’
M – That’s what I’m going to say after I get my cataract surgery done
Me – We’ll switch to the two of you – This is an easy one – Katie doesn’t know the story Where did you and grandma get married and something about a flood
D – We got married in First Christian Church in Emporia, Kansas June 9 1951, 1951 was the year of the great flood. But the great flood didn’t occur until after June. Minor floods occurred the end of May and all of June before the major one in July and if you get out a Kansas map we traveled from Dodge City to — o jeepers – should’ve got out a Kansas map myself – o just a minute – now I can’t even read it
Me ah Florence
D – We traveled from Dodge City on 50 to Florence and had to go North at Florence and then across Herington and then across and then clear across north of Emporia and then south into Emporia and my best man Curt Craig and he traveled for 3 hours in various distances to get to Emporia and my usher Clair Conard was in Lawrence and he had a hard time I don’t know how long it took him a while to get to Emporia. That flood also cost me several jobs that summer
Me – and there was a story about your dad on the night
M – no not that night necessarily – Emporia used to flood real regularly – in order to get film for the theater he would go down to Soden’s Grove and there was a boat there and they would row across the river to the other side of the highway to pick up the film and row back so they could show the movies. That was several times. That’s The only way we got out of town when we left on our honeymoon was to go South on 99 to go to Wichita
Me – Dave’s birth
D – Well that was sort of an exciting time. Your mother and I went to Dodge City for Christmas and things were supposed to be normal but on the 21st – the night of the 21s morning of the 22nd she began to bleed heavily. And so I went out and got the car started, got it warmed up. Grandma Crawford bundled Bert up and I carried her out to the car and she had called the doctor to meet us at the hospital. And so we drove to the hospital and the doctor was already there and they took her in and elevated her feet in a sense stood her on her head and things looked pretty good and then on the morning of the 23rd things didn’t go quite the way everyone wanted to and she gave birth to the boys. David Eugene lived Duane Gail could not combat the mucous on his lungs and he passed away on the 24th. Your mother was in the hospital when we buried Duane Gail and that was a tough time too.
M – I don’t remember much about it – truly don’t except I knew they rushed me to the hospital – beyond that I don’t know – I didn’t get to see Duane at all – and it was several days before I got to see Dave was in an incubator because they wouldn’t let me out of bed. I ‘m not sure how long I stayed in the hospital and Gene had to come back to work the first part of January and so I was still in the hospital and after I was released, you and I (Marcia) and I came home on the train and I don’t remember any problems with traveling with her on the train. She was you were about a little over 18 months
Me – Did you know you were carrying twins
M – No No had no idea
Me – Did you check with your doctor here about going to Emporia
M – Yes we had checked with the doctor here about going to Dodge City and he said that would be fine
Me – How did Dave get to Emporia
M – Grandma Crawford brought Dave to Emporia in the white basinet which is still around in the family someplace I think Yes she came down here with him and that was on Valentine’s day he got to come home
Me – we’ll switch a few years later – blizzard of 1957
D –well the blizzard of 1957 – it started to snow, it snowed and snowed and snowed. Course I was used to blizzards and we had stocked up food, dried milk, pancake mix – things like that in what we called our winter storage and across the street – (Sayres) Merle Sayre came over and advised me that we ought to take the kids and go down to my grandparents which was closer to the hospital by quite a ways. And as we were talking about it his mother-in-law tried to get in to see them and slid her car crosswise on one of two roads that could get us in and out to the main part of town. So I decided that was the best thing to do so I got dressed and went out and started putting chains on and while I was outside putting chains on a panel truck got crosswise of the other road that could get us to the hospital so Merle suggested that we see if my folks could come up and get us and so going across country was Merle Sayre and another neighbor whose name I forgot (Edmonston) and they were carrying – one was carrying Marcia and one was carrying Dave and I was carrying two suitcases and sorta trying to assist your mother in trying to get across to the street that was open. (Me – She was 8 months pregnant?) Yea she was 8 months pregnant. So we went down to stay at grandma and grandpa Crawfords and we forgot one thing that we thought we really needed and that was cigarettes and when we came home the food we left behind was gone. (M – We had told the neighbors to take whatever)The neighbors knew they could come and get anything they needed. The food was gone. The milk was gone to some very young babies and the cigarettes had gone to the adults. So, it was sorta a good Samaritan closet. When we came home we drove by drifts 4, 5, 8 foot tall. Our neighbors car, Biggerstaffs car to the South of us was parked on the street and the snow was packed up around it up to the level of the bottoms of the windows and we were actually walking on about 4 foot above ground as we came back home.
Me – We used to have super 8 movies of that – He’s not exaggerating the depth of the snow – the movies showed you how deep the snow was
M – Yea we walked over one drift coming home as high as a clothesline and then about what two weeks after that there was another blizzard that was forecast and I had had quite a bit of false labor and so the doctor put me in the hospital that time just in case Terry were to born but the blizzard didn’t materialize and Terry didn’t either. He was born right on the date when he was.
M – and we haven’t said anything about your birth it was kinda exciting too When Marcia was born we lived in Glasco Kansas we did not own a car. The hospital was in Concordia, no Beloit. The doctor said don’t worry about it, I’ll drive you. So when the time came, yea he came and picked us up and drove us. The problem was he had a brand new car and at that time you were supposed to break new cars in by driving them at varying speeds and not very fast. I thought we would never ever get to the hospital. But we got there in plenty of time and so your birth following that was really uneventful – the most uneventful of any of them I guess
D – One thing that she didn’t remember was that the night before the birth – Marcia was born at 7 am – the night before the birth we played bridge with a couple and we usually finished up around midnight and so and it was oh about a 3-4 block walk from our friend’s house to where we lived so as we started home I challenged your mother to a race and so we ran home and she did a pretty good job of running too.
Me – I didn’t realize you hadn’t had a car when you lived in Glasco until probably the last month but when you were telling me about that you also told me how you got to Dodge City or Emporia to see your parents from Glasco
D – first of all we didn’t have a car when we lived in Glasco. We didn’t own a car until we lived in Emporia for the first time. Getting — I don’t remember many times us that we went to Emporia or that we went to Dodge City
M – Yes – we I can’t remember I think it was probably with (you said it was with friends) drove with
Me – you rode with them part way …
M – yea they took us and there was a rest area on the high way coming down this side of Marion and daddy met us there and brought us on in to Emporia and they lived in what town close to Great Bend – D Ellinwood – and we would ride with them to Ellinwood and Gene’s folks would come there to pick us up.
Me – Where was Dave baptized
D – Dave was baptized at the First Methodist Church in Dodge City
Me – Where was I baptized
M – First Methodist Church in Dodge City so was Terry
D – All three of your kids were baptized at the First Methodist Church in Dodge City. Was Terry baptized in the new church – (M – NO) in the old church
M – The new one wasn’t built until a few months (years) before we moved
Me – when you lived in Glasco you had a dog right talk about the dog
D – Snuffy, Snuffy was our dog. Snuff was a good dog. Snuffy would, we had to go down to the post office to get mail, there wasn’t any delivery and so we would go down to the post office he would follow me, he would heal and follow me all the way and when we got to the post office, I would tell him to sit and he would sit down beside the door. And I would go into the post office and get the mail and start home sometimes when I started home I’d stop off at the drug store which was sorta where everybody hung out and I would tell him to sit and he would sit just outside the door never moved until we started home and he’d heal and we would come home he was a well mannered dog and oh a lot of fun
M – there was one time he wasn’t so good. We had gone to church and were asked out and we stopped by the house and Gene left his top coat laying on the couch and we got home and Snuffy had gotten bored and he had chewed all of the buttons off of that topcoat which happened to be the only topcoat he had so he wasn’t a very good dog that time
Me –We’re going to back up a little bit — I think it was while you were in college (junior college) and your picture ended up in Life magazine and you were part of a group and you said you worked for them, it was a temperance movement in Kansas can you talk about that
D – I would like to remember the name of the fella He was a big rancher down at Elkhart and he wanted to effectively block – well to get people to vote against liquor by the drink and so I got hired to drive a truck that had a big sign on it. So My job was to pull into town, mount the sign vertically on the truck bed and drive it thru the town in a parade and then when we got ready to leave for the next town well I’d have to untie all the guy ropes and lower the sign and lay it flat on the truck bed and tie it down there so it couldn’t come off and take off for the next town with the rest of the entourage. It was quite an experience.
Me – I’m not sure of the timing on this and I could be totally wrong, but I think you went to Washington State with Curtis Craig one summer to work – am I right?
D – You’re right
Me – tell us about that
D – Well Curtis and I found a ad or something in publication that talked about college kids working in canneries so we wrote off a couple of letters and both of us got jobs to work in these canneries and our job was to take lugs – boxes of unshelled peas – and to dump them into a sifter that sifted out leaves and everything but the peas and that was we did that 12 hours a day 7 days a week for about 4 weeks – well as long as the season lasted and then we moved up into Washington that actually on the border Athena Oregon and Walla Walla Washington was where the plant was located right in between the two towns so we went up into Washington and got jobs on farms. And I worked for a first generation German, really a nice old fella that wanted the things done his way which was the right way but he allowed for a mistake now and then if I missed a swath of grain, I drove a caterpillar tractor and pulled a combine, if I missed a swath of grain, it cost me a beer. We would be up before sunrise and have breakfast and be out in the field by sunup cutting wheat which in western Kansas you don’t start cutting wheat until 8 or 9 o’clock because of dew but it was so dry there in Washington that you could cut actually all night too so after our jobs ran out at the farm, we just made a vacation out of it and traveled sight seeing coming home
M – tell them about the previous summer – trip with Curt and Max
D – previous summer, Curt, Max Gott and I wanted to take a vacation. So we loaded up 3 sleeping bags, a ground cloth a one burner stove a coca cola ice box in the car and took out we cooked our own meals and traveled quite a distance we went South thru New Mexico across Arizona into California, stayed at Aunt Alma’s for a couple of days and that was sorta unusual because it was quite different from the way we had been traveling we went on up the coast to San Francisco. We tried to get the cops to let us stay in – spend the night in jail and they wouldn’t let us so we drove out to where we thought we were way out in the country found a little road off that Td off the high way we were on drove in there and it was a big wide it was dark by the way all we could see was a wide spanse of nothing So we got out our sleeping bags and ground cloth and went to sleep the next morning the farmer was standing over us telling us to get the heck out of his field so we apologized and packed up and left drove to Sacramento spent some time there drove to Salt Lake visited Salt Lake and then drove towards Denver we got to the summit of a — pass and nobody wanted to drive we were all sleepy in fact we hadn’t slept since Sacrmento and so we I pulled I was driving but nobody wanted to take over so I pulled over to the side of the highway as far as I could get and I got out the ground cloth and a sleeping bag and told the fellas if they wanted sleep now is the time and so eventually they joined me but I don’t remember because I went to sleep so fast and the next morning I woke up and I had about 2” of snow over the top of my sleeping bag and all of the ground around me was covered with snow but we were refreshed we went on into Denver and explored Denver and drove on home 4400 miles 12 days and $60 apiece
M – Do you remember when Aunt Alma moved from California to Sedona
D – I don’t remember but I know she did
M – Older boys were pretty well grown when they lived in Sedona
Me – What was your first job
D – my first job was driving a delivery truck for the grocery store at the age of 14
Me was that grocery store Dillon’s
D – No it was Noll’s grocery N-O-L-L ‘s /
Me – explain the relationship
D – there was no relationship
Me – Aunt Esther’s
D – that was long after the store ceased to exist. Long after I worked there, my Aunt Esther married Carl Noll and became a worker in the store but it was several years and could be as many as 8 or 10
Me – Where was this store
D – The store was a half block from our house at 512 Ave G
Me – When you taught at Dodge City – you had different summer jobs was one of them for a dairy?
D – Ya I worked for Fairmonts for a short period of time until they found out I wasn’t buying their milk, When they found out I wasn’t buying their milk they fired me
Me – was one of them construction
D – Ya – I forget the name of the construction firm
M – No you didn’t construct, The only construction job I remember was the summer before we were out there before you started teaching and you worked for the highway firm
D – No I worked for a construction firm – built construction forms, built concrete walls poured concrete floors but I can’t remember the name of the firm, I can show you houses I helped build
M – worked for city engineer one summer
D – ya I worked for the city engineer one summer and I worked for the Kansas grain inspection one summer. In those days when you were a school teacher you looked for summer jobs wherever you could find it
M – but you went to school on fellowships too
D – that was the latter part
Me – How did you end up teaching here at Emporia in the early 50’s the year Dave was born, 52-53, how did you end up here?
D – Dr. Cram who was the head of the physics department came to visit me and he offered me a job. It was a one year job because I was going to replace someone who was finishing up a PhD. Dr. Burger was the person. And so, that’s the essence of it. He offered me a job, I took it. It lasted just one year. Then I went to took a job at Kansas City.
Me – but before you took a job at Kansas City didn’t you apply for a job at Michigan
D – no
Me – when did you apply for a job in Michigan
D – I don’t remember applying for a job in Michigan
D – what are you saying
M – Went to Michigan for summer
Me – did Dr. Cram – letter of application that you wrote to Michigan / in those papers you gave me
Me – why did you move to Dodge city in 1957
D – because I had a job
Me – doing what
D – I had a job teaching school
Me what 55
D – ya 55
Me – teaching where
D – In Dodge City
M – junior college
D – junior college
Me – and who was one of your students
D – my brother
Me – was that unusual – did that seem weird to be teaching your brother?
D – no it didn’t seem weird, I don’t know that it was unusual
Me – tell us about your brother
D – my brother, first of all he was a genius, he was very very smart but not but yet common you couldn’t help but like him, it’s difficult to talk about him
Me – did you have some things that you always did together growing up
D – no that’s one of the sad things, with 11 years of difference between us we were in sorta different worlds so probably the closest probably the only time you might consider we were in the same world was when he was a student and I was a teacher and he was a joy to have in class
M – he was an all around good guy and a wonderful uncle. He was young enough I guess that he enjoyed playing with the kids and just took really good care of them and he liked to kid around a little bit I guess – like I remember the time he worked at Dillon’s store in Dodge City – south Dillons – no it was North Dillons – Dave had fallen off of the porch and skinned his face up really good and proper Of course LR couldn’t check us out at the grocery line because we were family we were in there and he saw Dave and said ‘what happened to him’ and Gene said ‘I popped him one’ and course LR knew better but I one of the cashiers really I think she was ready to call and turn in Gene for abuse
Me –Well, I remember Thanksgiving dinners Christmas dinners. They were always at grandma’s house. (M – yep) Grandma sat at the head of the table and I sat next to grandma. My memory says LR was at the foot of the table and. Grandad was basically across from me. Mary Hoffman always joined us. If some of the kids that rented from grandma were there, they joined us. It wasn’t just family, but all of us were around the table. Thanksgiving and Christmas always included oysters –(M – scalloped oysters) scalloped oysters. For most meals we told we had to take some of everything, we had to try it and that meant you put it on your plate and you ate it. The only exception to that rule was the scalloped oysters and we never had to take them because all of the adults wanted the scalloped oysters and didn’t really want to share the scalloped oysters. And we really didn’t mind either because I don’t remember any of us liking them. I remember playing with him and I vividly vividly remember the night the phone call came. Mom came in an woke me up and told me that LR was sick and that dad and grandma were going to go see him. He was in Wisconsin and I remember wanting to go along and they wouldn’t let me. I don’t remember how old I was but I wasn’t very old. Terry was probably about 2. (m – two to three)
M – You certainly weren’t old enough to go
D – that was a rough night. A rough time to go up and sit in the hospital and listen to a respirator breathe for your brother that’s why I’ll come back to haunt anybody that tries to resuscitate me or put me on a respirator or anything like that because that was pure hell
Me – red roses – I have two memories about red roses – The flowers in memory of LR. Grandma put some red roses on the church altar – it was probably about a couple of years later. But Every Christmas eve grandma would have red roses. The memory of those roses is much more pleasant than the memory of the red roses on the altar. Because Grandma’s red roses were for her anniversary. She had gotten married on Christmas Eve. On their first anniversary, granddad bought her a red rose. For her second anniversary, grandad bought her two red roses. The number increased every year until he hit a dozen and then it stayed at a dozen. Every Christmas Eve he would buy her a dozen red rose. So when I see red roses, I think of those two things: LR and grandma and granddad.
Me – totally change the subject – how did you and mom meet
D – well your mother sold tickets at a local movie theater and that’s how I actually met her. Now I got to know about her in a different way. She was with her date at the local truck stop which is about where Price Chopper grocery store is right now and she was very attractive, easy to look at. She seemed to be having fun with her date and her date was we call him digger o’dell because he worked at a funeral home and he was also a biology major and we walked together down to the high school for student teaching. That was the weekend and so the next Monday I asked him about her and asked him if it was a serious thing for him and if it was alright if I asked her for a date. He said no, he enjoyed her company but it wasn’t that serious. So I made myself known at the theater, got to know her, invited her out to go to a move and tried to make sure she hadn’t seen the movie and lo and behold she had. But she was the kind of person that still enjoyed the time, enjoyed the movie and enjoyed your company so that’s how I met her
Me – I’ve been told that a lot of the homecoming decorations and floats for her sorority had your help. Can you talk about that
D – I remember two in particular. One was a float. It was built so it could be picked up and set over and down onto a car. Course the drive had to be in the car to begin with because there wasn’t any way in or out after the float got placed on the car.
The other time, I helped design and build a display of a magician dunking the opposing team in oil. Besides helping build it I designed and put together a mechanism that would cause the arm to go up and down so that it was pretty realistic about being dunked in oil
Me – Where did you live when you were in college
D – lived on Highland and if I’m not mistaken it was 1324 I think Highland avenue.
Me – was it an apartment / somebody’s house
D – It was somebody’s house. Actually I also lived on Exchange. In both cases it was somebody’s house. I rented a room – basically what it was spare room
M – someplace else
D – Biggerstaff
M- there were several of you – about 8 or 10 weren’t there
Me – after you were married and you and mom – and me too- you lived here in Emporia in an apartment Who were some of your neighbors
D – Well Fritz and Imogene Markowitz was the neighbors the only neighbors I can think of
M – there were a couple of older people
M – we used to go out for root beer with Fritz and Imy
D – there was a music
Me – do you have any memories of camping trips
D – Do I have any memories of camping trips. Ya I remember a lot of them. I remember one going to Yellowstone and the Tetons. I remember several going to New Mexico and Taos, New Mexico. And I remember one going to cacheras Colorado with the Brehms.
Me – Do you remember one with just Dave and I, grandma and granddad, you and mom
D – ya – that was to Estes Park and it rained.
M – We used the potty chair. Dave was in the potty chair stage
M – why I ever camped after that I don’t know. It was a miserable camping trip. It was bad weather and cold and rainy. Basically, one of the tents we had was an open floor – it didn’t have a floor in the tent. Like Marcia said, it was cold. Everybody enjoyed it We ended up having a good time, but it was miserable camping
Me – Do you remember being gone on vacation – I don’t know exactly where but coming home but turning around and leaving again
D – I don’t remember where we were but we turned around and went to Taos
Me – Why did we turn around and go to Taos
D – well we didn’t want to stay home
Me – wasn’t it the telephone ringing all the time
D – ya
M – we decided we still had some vacation time