[Transcript of interview with Carolyn Leone, recorded as part of the Springfield-Greene County Library District's 2010 Big Read. For more information contact the Library at 417-883-5366 or visit us on the web.]

My name is John Rutherford and I’m the project coordinator for the Springfield Library’s Recollections and Connections Project, and today we’re talking on March 2, of 2010, with Carolyn Leone, and Carolyn, what would you like to talk about today?

Well, I kind of wanted to tell some of my stories from, mostly family stories, and they’re mostly like jokes, I think, and I’d like to share them with other people.  Only the family has heard them, I think.  Some of this, my stories, are about my Grandpa who was a great influence in my younger life.  And Grandpa had a grocery store and he lived in a small town in south Florida, Kendall, Florida.  And we went and lived in Kendall when my father was in the Navy during World War II, and he took care of the family while my dad was gone.  And so a lot of the stories are about Grandpa and the grocery store.  But the grocery store especially was attractive to my older sister and I because there was a candy counter and we had complete control of the candy counter. And it was hysterically funny, I thought, afterwards, but Grandpa got, during World War II, I don’t know if everybody remembers, but we couldn’t get candy.  And one time during the war he got a whole box of Hershey bars.  And he was thrilled, you know, to have the Hershey bars.  He never got to sell a one of them.  My sister and I stole them all and ate them, so we were, we were the candy thieves in those days.  That was one of the memories and I don’t think he really ever forgave us because he never got to sell any of it, Hershey bars, but we sure enjoyed them. 

Then also when I was in the first grade we had a rhythm band that we played in, in the first grade, and somehow this young man became known as my boyfriend and I, in the first grade I don’t know how you have a boyfriend, but anyway, he, when I did a toe dance in the rhythm band with the rhythm band, and he announced my appearance loud and clear so everyone heard it, and my family has laughed about this for years but anyway I was set apart by that.  Then also this young man, some reason we couldn’t ever figure out, my poor mother had went to her grave not knowing this, but this young man came to my desk in the middle of class one day and dropped his pants, and my mother was mortified and I just couldn’t believe, you know, I didn’t know what was happening, and I never knew and nobody ever told me, so when I went to my fiftieth class reunion I called his attention to the fact that he, I thought that he had tried to introduce me to a sexual thing before I was ready, and he finally, he told me, I think he had to think and think and think, and finally he said I remember now.  He said when I was in the first grade I had the new fangled underwear for young men, and I don’t know what else to call it, and he said he was showing everyone his underwear because he was so proud that he had this new fangled underwear that I was the first one that he showed I guess, anyway my mother didn’t live to find out what happened.  She wondered for all my growing up period why he did that.  That was the answer to that one.  Just his, he was so proud of his underwear. 

Then my grandfather again was another example of one of the jokes that happened in our family.  Where he lived in this suburb of Miami and there was this rare bird farm across the highway from his home.  And there were a lot of things from that rare bird farm that entered into my life especially when I would have, when I was a little older, and we’d have a date and a boyfriend would take me home, and these birds would make a noise and scare the daylights out of the poor guy that wasn’t expecting it.  The bird was going [makes bird noise]. [laughter]  Scared everybody to death except me and I didn’t know what they were so afraid of because I heard these birds all the time, anyway, that was one of the things that had happened. 

And then the birds also had a thing with my grandfather.  One time there was something that upset the birds and they were all gathering around and they were crying and making a big rumpus, and my grandfather got out his gun and he took aim at the birds.  He thought a bird was going to do something to his animals.  And he, my grandfather we always said couldn’t, he was blind in one eye and couldn’t see out of the other, is what how we talked about grandpa seeing.  He shot the bird and he hit it, and we didn’t know what to do.  Here it was probably a protected bird we had killed and we had bird for dinner, rare bird farm bird, in fact.  I probably shouldn’t tell that maybe, maybe we shouldn’t put that in.  But anyway, that’s one of my big experiences from my youth. 

Then the last one that I remember that the Seminole Indians would come in from the, from the, what do you call it, I can’t remember,


Well, it wasn’t reservation, but where they lived.  They lived out in the country in the long canal and they would come in during the war and buy their groceries at my grandfather’s grocery store.  And at that time I would work in the grocery store on Saturday night to help him out, and so we were tending the grocery store and my mother happened to be in the store this particular night and she never, usually was not there, however, this Indian went to my mother and asked, he wanted to buy me and he wanted to know how much she wanted for me.  So, I, that was an experience that I don’t want to repeat.  But my mother was so terrified of this Indian coming back to get me that she worked in the grocery store every Saturday night from then on.  She never left me there by myself.  So, that was my Seminole Indian phase, I guess, and I was protected by everybody around there.  And that’s my biggest expectations of what I remember.

Thank you.  I appreciate your stories, Carolyn.  That is wonderful material.

But I don’t know much. I don't know.

I think people would really be thrilled to learn about those experiences because that’s stuff that you just don’t get around here.  I mean,

I know, oh, well, yes, it’s where I grew up and everything and it’s a problem.  I don’t know about the birds from [garbled] maybe we ought to come after us and shoot us for stealing the bird.  Anyway,

I have one follow-up question.


When did you live in Florida?

Well, it was during the World War II.  I don’t remember.  My father had been in the Navy when he was a young man and he went home on leave, and he met my mother and he was intending to go back to the Navy but he didn’t because he met my mother, and that was, I know he went back, he volunteered again in, in, I had it on the tip of my tongue and now I’ve forgotten, in 1937, I think, he went back in the Navy or something like that.  He was 37 years old.  I don’t know, I’ve forgotten.  37 is in there somewhere.  But he didn’t go back to the Navy until, he did volunteer then and my mother said it was ok because she didn’t think they would ever take him.  He was, he was 37 years old, had three children, and my mother thought they’ll never take him.  And they were so thrilled to get him because he taught the, during the war, he taught the green pilots how to land and take off of the aircraft carriers.  He knew how to do that from being in the Navy many years before.  So they were thrilled to get him and mother lost out.  But, thank God, that was, it was a good experience for our family.

That was a wonderful series of stories.  Thank you ever so much.

That last, I don’t know [garbled] right, the way I talk, but that’s the way I am, I guess.

That's terrific!  Thank you ever so much, Carolyn.

Oh, you're very welcome.

Appreciate your joining us for sharing a few memories with us.

Well, a few memories, yes, and I'll never forget them.

I appreciate you joining us and sharing a few memories with us.

[Transcript of interview with Carolyn Leone, recorded as part of the Springfield-Greene County Library District's 2010 Big Read. For more information contact the Library at 417-883-5366 or visit us on the web.]